Wiring the Layout and Renewing the Sea Wall

It takes a lot of effort to have the layout operate flawlessly four hours a day. seven days a week, two hundred and eighty days a year. In this picture you can see several projects going on at the same time. Frank Davis is on the floor working on wiring. The sea wall, as you can see is being replaced (in our imagination the layout runs around Mendo Cove -the floor being the sea). The original sea wall was more “artistic” but “the little people” liked to hang on to it and it deteriorated over time so …….. replace in toto.

Workin' on the railroad

Workin’ on the railroad Frank Davis style

The stack of boxes o0f screws are for use on the addition to the west wall. The black “plate” enables us to step on the main tracks whilst working on the next level.


Toenail Ridge before it was

When you enter the western door to our layout you are confronted by a MOW (Maintenance of Way) consist inhabited by thirty plus noisy Minions located at the foot of Toenail Ridge.

Minion atop the Water Tower

Minion atop the Water Tower

The Minions and the Logging Camp didn’t get built till 2012. Here are three pics I found of Toenail Ridge whilst it was under construction.

Testing positions for the Loggers Camp

Testing positions for the Loggers Camp

he Toenail Ridge Trestle

The Toenail Ridge Trestle is in place

Toenail Ridge under construction

A very early stage of Construction for Toenail Ridge

Constructing the Point Cabrillo Diorama

Club member Mike Aplet was the man who had the vision and the skills to build the cliffs of our diorama of Point Cabrillo. He envisaged using Colin Davies prototypically accurate model of Point Cabrillo lighthouse atop the cliffs of the Point with the wreck of the Frolic on her side in the waters below. His material was old growth redwood obtained from a stump cut well over a 10o years ago. The stump was that of a redwood that probably lived for between 800 to 1,200 years.  His main tool was a sawzall. Mike took these pics as his year-long efforts progressed.

Below you can see the model of the lighthouse atop the cliff. This pic shows how Mike cut the pieces of redwood and fitted them together.

Point Cabrillo's many pieces of redwood

Point Cabrillo’s many pieces of redwood

Below you can see the finished sea with a wave breaking on the cliff.

The sea in the cove of Point Cabrillo

The sea in the cove of Point Cabrillo

These two shots are a before and after of the wave.

The sea before painting

The sea before painting

The broken hull of the Froliic was also carved by Mike.

Point Cabrillo cove sea painted

Here the sea has been painted

This pic is a close-up of the pieces that have been fitted together to make up the hull of the Frolic and the wave:

Carving the sea and the hull of the Frolic

Carving the sea and the hull of the Frolic

Here you can see the pieces that form the mermaid’s cave:P

Memsid's cave under construction

Memsid’s cave under construction

This one shows Mermaid’s Cave finished.

Mermaid's Cave

Mermaid’s Cave

Looking down on the cove in this shot. The landscaping on the top of the Point has yet to begin.

Point Cabrillo Cove - a seagull's view

Point Cabrillo Cove – a seagull’s view

The completed diorama. Dark backdrop in place. Cliff top a hive of activity.

Completed Point Cabrillo diorama

Completed Point Cabrillo diorama

Here are three shots of the detail on top of the cliff.

The west side of POint Cabrillo lighthouse

The west side of Point Cabrillo lighthouse

Watching for whales.

Whale watching

Whale watching

Charity book sale.

Charity book sale

Charity book sale

A brilliant piece of work Mike.

Mini Trestle for the West Wall

Club member Mike Aplet built this “mini” trestle. It has been worked into the west side wall hillside to extend the Toenail Ridge line.

Trestle undergoing test

Trestle undergoing test

Another view of the Trestle undergoing test

Another view of the Trestle undergoing test

The “test” engine is an 0-4-0 LGB which frequently works the Toenail Ridge line.


Constructing the base for the Homestead at the base of Three Chop Ridge

In the middle of the pic below you can see a small house and to its left the outline of a tunnel portal:

Wide angle of Three Chop Ridge

Wide angle of Three Chop Ridge

The homestead is sitting on a platform. This platform is strong enough to be stood upon so that we can reach the top of the ridge. The platform was the last piece to be installed of theThree Chop Ridge frame. The pics below show the construction in progress.

Plwood for the homestead platform

Frank Davis bringing in the plywood from which the platform will be cut after preliminary fitting. Tony Phillips is watching.

Scibing the plywood for the homestead platform

Chuck Whitlock scribing the plywood for the next cut. Frank Davis is holding.

Fitting track on the homestead platform

Tony Phillips and Frank Davis helping lay the track on the platform


Northwest corner of the layout aka Three Chop Ridge – More pics by Mike Aplet

Work on Three chop Ridge continues apace as these recent pics from Mike Aplet show. Why is it named “Three Chop Ridge”? Because, it was an archaeological dig on Three Chop Ridge of a Pomo Indian village that, ultimately, led to the discovery of the wreck of the Frolic which in turn led to the opening up of the Redwood lumber industry along the Mendocino Coast.

G Scale model of Three Chop Ridge

Three Chop Ridge in the NW Corner of the layout

Building trees on Three Chop Ridge G scale model train layout

Tree trunks ready for tree tops

Mike Aplet in front of Three Chop Ridge

Mike Aplet in front of Three Chop Ridge. The hill rises some 10 feet from the floor

Rebuilding the Virgin Creek Trestle on the (G Scale) Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Navigation Co.

The Virgin Creek Trestle was the second of the five Trestles on the Ten Mile Branch which were needed to get Union Lumber Company’s (ULC) trains from the mill opposite downtown to the Ten Mile River basin.

We have only one photo of the real Virgin Creek Trestle – this one:

virgin Creek Trestle

This picture was taken after a severe storm in 1949. The trestle was not repaired but shortened and the remainder turned into a berm with a culvert. We believe this took place in  in 1959.

A picture of our first model of the Virgin Creek Trestle is shownj below:

Virgin Creek Model Trestle

As you can see from the picture we built the model of the trestle with no cross bracing (just as in the picture). We have been told that the trestle MUST have had cross bracing. However NO-ONE produced a picture. So …… the model had no cross bracing!

A decision was made to replace the eight year old trestle which had suffered the ravages of the Fort Bragg salt air (the layout is but a half mile from the sea), the UV and the winter rains. Here’s how we did it:

The old concrete and trestle has been removed ……..

The old trestle is gone and the support for the new concrete scenery is in place

The footings for the new trestle are in pace:

The old trestle demolished

Here you can see the south end abutment and footings for the bents:

The new south end with the footings for the new bents

The new north end abutment and bents:

The new north end of the Trestle

Here’s the new trestle virtually complete:

The new Virgin Creek Trestle virtually complete

The new trestle (unlike the old) even has Virgin Creek:

The new trestle even has a creek


West Wall – Hillside Construction

Our layout is within half a mile of the Pacific Ocean. Between us and the sea is empty land once the site of the largest mill in Mendocino County – the Union Lumber Company. As they say, we are exposed to the elements. Our initial efforts to build hillsides used paper, cardboard, chicken wire and plaster. Diaster.

The method which works best for us is to make forms for the contours of the hillside or gullies, cover the forms with plastic sheeting, cover that with steel mesh and then make concrete the consistency of plasticine and work it into the mesh. Once dried you can paint it.

In these pics you can see the forms being put in place along the west wall for a hillside with a gully coming down and under the railroad track. We use plywood – mostly scrap and some new. We do NOT use nails – too difficult to get out if we change our mind – which we do – a lot!!!!.