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Welcome to My HO Model Railroad Blog

About Me / My Layout

About Me

I am a Retired Radio Communications Manager having worked for 50 years in designing and maintaining Public Safety Communication Systems.

I have been an avid HO Model Railroader since 1951. I got my inspiration from John Allen's Gorre and Daphetid Railroad. John was a professional photographer and his hobby was building and taking pictures of his HO railroad. John Allen was my hero, when I was 14 years old I went to the store with my Mother and found an issue of Model Railroad Handbook and she bought it for me. It's a Fawcett Book Number 133, it cost 45¢ in 1951. That was a lot of money in 1951, a 24 bottle case of Cokes was 65¢ back then. There is an article starting on page 28 on John Allen's railroad, there is only 4 pages on his layout but I was hooked on HO scale from that day on.
 

I still have that book and it is still my greatest railroad treasure because of the article about John Allen. The book also gave me all the information I needed to get started on building my first HO layout. The handbook is a little worn but still in very good condition. That trip to the grocery store set my model railroad life in motion. I have loved model trains since 1945 when my dad gave me a 2-6-2 three rail O-27 gauge Lionel train set for Christmas but that issue of Model Railroad Handbook locked me in to HO gauge for life.

There is an article starting on page 36 on hand laying track and I did that for years. I made my turnouts and laid track by hand with the help of that book and the H&H Hobby Shop on Pershing Drive in El Paso, Texas.

I grew up in El Paso, our next door neighbor worked for the Southern Pacific. He arranged for me to ride in the cab of a Cab Forward (4287) from El Paso to Alamogordo New Mexico for my 14th birthday present, on the return trip I rode in the cab of an AC-9 (3807) back to El Paso. That day is still my greatest railroad moment.


When I entered High School I attended Austin High and I would walk the mile to school everyday.  The route took me past the SP tracks going north to Alamogordo New Mexico.  Every morning there would be a northbound freight stopped on the siding waiting for a southbound Golden State passenger train.  I would often talk to the Engineer & Fireman of the huge Yellowstone AC-9s and occasionally a AC-11 or 12 Cab Forward while they were waiting for the passenger train to pass.

The process of getting the huge articulated engines moving again was a thing of beauty to me, their wheels would slip several times before they held getting the long freight moving up the 1½% grade to Alamogordo.  I was often a bit late for my first class.  My Wood Shop Teacher would ask "Was the passenger train late again this morning?"

I used Google Map Technology to capture the picture below.



That picture brings back a lot of great memories of the 1950s.



I now reside in Bakersfield California so I have lived on both ends of the Southern Pacific's Cab Forward Southern Route.

I model the Southern Pacific Railroad of the mid 1950s Steam Era. I have a fleet of 13 Cab Forwards, 3 AC-9 Yellowstones (all 3 are kitbashed Rivarossi Cab Forwards), 3 GS-4 Daylights and 3 GS-4 War Babies, 5 three truck Shays, one 2-6-0 Mother Hubbard Camelback and one 2-6-6-2 articulated logger. And of course my very first HO locomotive an MDC 0-6-0 slope back tender from 1951. I have total of 39 steam locomotives and 28 diesels from the 1950s era.

I'm in the process of converting my layout from a DC operation to DCC with sound. I have one Cab Forward, one AC-9, one GS-4 and one E8A and two E9A Units operating on DCC. I'm using an MRC Advance Controller and a mix of decoders, all but three decoders have sound.

I plan to convert my MDC 0-6-0 to DCC. In 1991 I contacted MDC about purchasing a new frame for it because a front step was broken on the original. They sent me a frame that used a can motor. They apologized for their error and sent the correct frame for the DC-71 motor and said to keep the can motor frame too. I installed a new can motor on the new frame and now I can have it both ways, original DC or DCC operation by simply swapping frames, that's a one screw 2 minute change. By the way, they didn't charge me for either frame . . . That was "Excellent Customer Service", Good Customer Service is something that other manufacturers should follow occasionally.

There are many more pictures in my archives, click on "Archives" or "Older Posts" and enjoy My Model Railroad.

The Perry Fleet




This is the Perry Fleet in 1978. Starting with Michael at 12:00, to the right is Douglas and Larry is below Doug.  Susan is at the bottom center and Deborah is in the center left, John is above Debby next to Mike.  Jeanette is below Mike and the ugly one next to Jeanette is me. The beautiful lady on my lower right is my wife Andra.

My Layout

This is my fourth layout since 1952, I started this one shortly after we moved to Bakersfield. I got the main framework built and all the track laid in about 6 months. My work load at the City of Bakersfield started to increase in 1992 so working on my layout slowed down. My work load continued to grow so work on my layout slowly came to almost a complete stop in 1993 until I retired in December of 2007. I started back working on my layout in full force in 2008 and I'm enjoying it immensely.

My layout is patterned after the early to mid 1950s era near the end of the Steam Age. The location is the southern end of the Rocky Mountains near El Paso Texas. The Southern Pacific had a logging operation in the Sacramento Mountains near Cloudcroft New Mexico from the late 1800s to the end of the 1930s so going back in time a bit I have a logging operation with mountain climbing Shays too. 


Cloudcroft was founded as a railway town when the Southern Pacific Railroad built a spur line into the mountains to transport logs for railway ties, and constructed a bunkhouse for railroad workers. 

The only visible remains of the Sacramento Mountains railway line sits beside the highway on the west side of town. A trail leads down the hill to the bridge which crosses a deep canyon.
The workers' bunkhouse became the renowned Cloudcroft Lodge, and it is as fine a resort inn as one could hope to encounter -- anywhere in America.


      Mexican Canyon Cloudcroft New Mexico before restoration.

The Mexican Canyon Trestle Restoration Project was completed by the US Forest Service in 2011 and is now a Recreational Area.




This is a very nice place to visit, during the summer!  At very close to 9,000 feet it attracts a lot of snow during the winter.

This is a link to a YouTube video about the Mexican Canyon Trestle.

This is a drawing of my layout.



The upper left corner is also a removable section (Bright Green) with a 18" high scale 130' guyed communications tower and repeater building, that is the highest point on my layout. My fifty year career was in Communications so I had to have a radio site on my layout. There are two more rural houses along the road to the radio site. I also put a forest lookout tower in the middle of the
Lincoln National Forest, Sacramento Mountains. (rear center of my layout)

I would liked to have put the Air Force Telescope in the mountains at Sunspot but it wasn't completed until after 1958, past the Steam Era.

The town's (Alamogordo NM) local Railroad Superintendent's house and swimming pool are to the right of the cemetery on the smaller (Dark Green) removable section.

The upper right corner has a mountain diner along side the main highway (82). The diner has a Micro Structures illuminated
animated sign to attract visitors on the highway, very high tech for the 50s.

My layout has 92 feet of HO scale track with a 3½% grade that climbs into the mountains and then drops back down a 3½% grade in a partial hidden helix to yard level. All the viewable track is Atlas Code 83, all the hidden track inside or behind the mountains is Atlas Code 100 for better reliability in inaccessible areas. There are four tunnels through the mountains.

I have a 30" long 10" high scale 218' long 72' high trestle and a 22" long scale 160' Though Truss Bridge in the mountains.

The 18 9/16 inch scale 135 foot turntable and five stall roundhouse accommodate the large Southern Pacific Cab Forwards and AC-9 Yellowstones. There is also a two stall Diesel Maintenance Shop to the left of the storage tracks for the modern locomotives.

The power on the red section of track in the Yard can be switched from the Main Control Panel to a separate 12 volt power supply for charging the batteries in my passenger cars and cabooses.

The sharpest track radius is 18 inches, all 18 inch radius track is in the Maintenance Yard. All the Main Line track has a minimum radius of 28 inches.

I recently converted my layout to a switchable duel mode operation, 12 volt DC or DCC using a MRC Tech IV power pack for DC and a MRC Advance Squared System for DCC.



This is my simple Block layout, the blocks have current sensors to operate my block signaling system.  I built my block signaling controller from a Robert Paisley circuit.



I designed and built my control panel from 1/16" thick Plexiglas and .032" Aluminum sheet.  I used my CAD program to make the layout drawing between the Plexiglas and Aluminum sheet.  The panel has a piano hinge on the bottom for easy access to the wiring.  The switches are all a sub-miniature type mounted in ¼" holes.

Contact Information:

melvin.perry@hotmail.com