Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tweaking the Campbell Track Plan

Scenery building is moving west; after the work at Vasona Junction, the next target is beautiful Campbell, California. Although I've built some of the buildings for Campbell Avenue, the two major canneries in town are still cardboard mockups. That's a shame, as Campbell is one of the more active locations on the layout thanks to the multiple industries and handy passing siding. My crews deserve something nicer to look at.

Campbell doesn't always live up to my expectations, though. Campbell had three or four major canning and fruit packing industries along the tracks, and the simple track arrangements let crews finish too quickly. Although the town could support a team track, I never saw one on the Sanborn maps of town, so I ask crews to spot cars on the station track… which blocks the passing siding and causes all sorts of crises when too many trains try to move on the layout at the same time.

I'd had thoughts about adding extra tracks around Campbell to increase the amount of work at the station, but those ideas never got anywhere. After seeing the SP Valuation Map for Campbell, I found there really was a team track in town. That's one of the few omissions I've found on the Sanborn maps. The team track was certainly visible on 1960's era switching diagrams for the SP crews, but that era had the team track pointing in the opposite direction! The valuation map doesn't say when the team track went in, but comparing the numbers for the GMO (general manager orders) for the team track and other track changes on the map with dates suggests the team track went in around 1924 or so, and was lengthened to 320 feet by the 1930's.

Wow - I can put in that team track! Once I was thinking about trackage changes, I also started thinking about lengthening the sidings and perhaps adding the California Prune and Apricot Growers (aka Sunsweet) plant into the scene as well. I wanted an extra siding, but I wanted the track to still match the prototype - how was I going to do it?

Here's a rough schematic of the track in Campbell around the 1930's (as far as I can figure). This is based off the Sanborn and SP valuation maps. Up is west; right heads towards San Jose and left heads towards Los Gatos. Campbell Avenue cuts across the tracks in the center of the drawing. Sunsweet's siding was small - maybe four cars - but the Hyde cannery had multiple warehouses and multiple doors for spotting. The Ainsley/Drew cannery (it was sold to Drew at the end of 1932) had two sidings, the left one for the main cannery building, and the right for access to additional warehouses. Ainsley also owned the warehouse on the other side of the tracks according to the valuation map, but the Sanborn maps just list it as a "box factory." Occasionally, I'll treat the box factory like a long-term warehouse, and direct boxcars there to pick up cans of fruit.

Here's the plan as it appears on my layout today. Note that Ainsley only gets one siding, not two, but the box factory still appears. Also note that Sunsweet is completely missing, as is the team track. Now the Hyde Cannery end of the siding is only three cars, so there's really not room for an extra siding (or even spaces for Sunsweet.) Lengthening the town is also impossible as both sides of town end in sharp curves that lead into the rural, in-between scenes. So what can I do to make more room for the canneries and Sunsweet packing house?

Here's the current plan, and I just started yanking up track to make this happen. I'm planning on moving the Hyde Cannery buildings another two feet to the left, and putting them on their own spur. Sunsweet will get the former three spaces taken by Hyde, giving me room to display their large tin-sheathed frame building. To avoid extending the town, the Hyde Cannery will be on its own spur; crews won't be able to switch Hyde from either end of town, but the other two industries can be worked either from the uphill or downhill side.

It's not a perfect track plan, but I'm satisfied it'll capture some of the feel of the original track arrangement, but still provide fun operation.

My first step is to rip out the old track, put in the needed switches, and lay the track. In the next few months, I'll be building the Hyde and Sunsweet packing houses, and then I'll be able to start putting in some reasonable scenery all around. Stay tuned!

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