Layout work 2005-2006

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To start this train season off, I thought it would be appropriate to provide an overview of what has been accomplished so far.  These pictures clearly show how weak the flash is on our little digital camera.  Still, you can get an overview of where I stand this fall.  All pictures will open a larger view when clicked on.

The original Layout map can be found here...  The main change is that the peninsula in the room with the work bench has been eliminated.

As you enter the train room, you'll first see a pair of California beaches with the track running along the beach, as it does in Southern California.  The second beach, which still needs a rolling swell, some surf, and some beach blankets, is known as Haack's beach.  It is the local nudist beach.

  Additional pictures and commentary on Haack's Beach can be found here.  Some other beach shots are available on last year's page.


After the beaches, there is a small transition space and then San Luis Obispo.  SLO, will be the major focus of work this fall and winter.  Here is the space for it with my started, but not yet complete, scratchbuilt station.

As you can see in the picture above, several diesels are waiting to help trains over the Cuesta Grade to Santa Margarita.  Some purists insist that since Cuesta means grade or hill in Spanish, saying Cuesta grade is redundant.  It may be for those who speak fluent Spanish but for the rest of the population it seems to make sense.  Anyway, here is the grade out of SLO.

  As you can see, the far side of the track has at least had it's scenery started.  The near side will also be on the work list for this winter and spring.

After crossing the Cuesta, the track drops down into Santa Margarita.  This shot shows Santa Margarita, and then in the darkness beyond, the oil storage facility, a small ranch, and some oil wells.

In this second shot of Santa Margarita you can see the houses, station, motel, and gas station a little better.  If I have a lot of time on my hands this winter, then more work will be done here too.  There are a couple of close ups of this area on last year's page.

Here is the oil storage facility.  When I was last there, in the 90's, it wasn't a Union 76 facility.  However, I remember it as being one in the 50's so it is a Union 76 facility on this Layout.  Obviously, I need to a little bit of work on the back drop here.

After leaving Santa Margarita, the tracks proceed up the Salinas River valley.  It first passes a small ranch and then goes by some oil wells while crossing over the Salinas river.


From here on the Layout is pure plywood and, barring some incredibly productive winter, will still be plywood next year.


I'll post updated pictures as the winter progresses.


With the help of a fellow I met on our winter Cruise (Larry Rosenblatt), I've managed to get the exposure setting under control for my old film camera.  With the help of a warming filter, I've managed to get the color closer to actual.  And, with the help of a new lens, I have managed to get more depth of field as shown in these three beach scenes.



These scenes show some of the work that has been done this winter.  We are back to the small digital so the weak flash is evident.

First we have a freight entering San Luis Obispo from the south.  The large flat area in the background is for something to be determined, maybe  a drive-in theater?  In the foreground is the "new" Park Hotel.  Here is a close-up of the front showing some of the interior decorating.

This is the south end of the depot and a house across the tracks.  Still need to finish the fence.

Another view of the depot showing the tracks to the north, the daily mail train, and the Fairview Ave bridge in the distance    Obviously, I still need to finish the depot and the area in front of it.

Last but not least, for this time, is this shot of a freight climbing the hill between San Luis and Santa Margarita.

  This scene needs a ton of trees and brush.



I finally "finished" the depot at San Luis Obispo as well as several other buildings near the depot.  Here are two scenes showing the depot and most of the surrounding area.  For those who are familiar with San Luis Obispo, you'll note that I have taken some liberties with the parking lot and the area on the street side of the depot.


Here are a couple of other pictures from around the Layout.

This one is taken at the Cuesta summit as the trains go from San Luis Obispo to Santa Margarita

This picture was taken between the beach and San Luis Obispo



One of the problems with photographing anything that is fairly close to the camera is something called "depth of field".  Basically, this refers to what is in focus.  In the old days of film, the way you increased depth of field was by using a very small aperture on your  lens (big f number).  Of course, this requires a lot of light and and a slow exposure  which means tripod, dedicated lights, etc.  Now, in the digital age, you still have the same problem, as can be seen in some of my beach pictures, but there is now software that can solve your problem.  The following picture is a product of software and the five that follow it are the raw pictures.  If you look at them, you can see that in #1 the lead engine is in focus  and in # 5 the boxcar is in focus, and the ones in between are focused on point in between.  Those five pictures were combined into one using a program named CombineZ5 (found here).  As you can see, the finished product is in focus from the lead engine to the boxcar, something very difficult to accomplish with one shot.

Final picture  

#1   #2   #3

#4   #5

While in the basement with camera on tripod the other night, I decided to take a couple of night shots.  So here we see an F7 sitting next to the depot.   As You can see, so the moon must be nearly full, and it can't be too long after sunset.

Later that night, our intrepid photographer took a picture of the Park Hotel, as seen from in front of the depotAgain, there is a diesel of some sort sitting on the tracks near the hotel 


Train season is about over so here is what the Layout looks like now as we follow a northbound freight up the coast.

  by the beach.  No real change here.

  through the hills approaching San Luis Obispo

  into San Luis Obispo

through San Luis Obispo

climbing the Cuesta grade

  at the summit

down the hill towards Santa Margarita

entering Santa Margarita

leaving Santa Margarita

by the oil storage facility and the ranch

by the oil fields and across the Salinas River

and into the next year's work area.  Somehow,  I need to redesign this area to incorporate more staging and some sidings to represent the vegetable shipping area of Salinas and the sugar beet refinery.   


Trains in 2004-2005   Trains 2003-2004