Redoing the Outdoor Portion of the Chile Verde Line
My website often presents a conundrum for me. For example, when I make major changes to my RR should I remove old photos that depict portions of the RR as it was rather than as it is? Maybe I should just add a caption under the photo that says that this photo no longer represents what the scene looks like today. On the other hand, I doubt if anyone really cares. Hmmm, it seems that I’ve forgotten why I’m even writing this. Let me think for a minute…….. Oh yes, I need to update the section of my website on the outdoor part of my RR. Over the last 18 months I’ve completely redid the outdoor track and elevated yard. From March to November 2021, I redid the outdoor portion of the railroad. The code 250 AMS brass track did not hold up well under New Mexico’s intense UV light. For seven years it was for the most part doing okay. The biggest problem to that point was rail expansion and contraction.
In March I noticed that long sections of rail had separated from the ties. Having no other viable option, I started removing approximately 400 feet of track along with the 12-gauge electrical feeder cord. Part of the track had been laid on cedar boards. They were also removed. In addition to removing the track I improved drainage, widened the return loop, extended the roadbed and track out an additional 30 feet, and recompacted the roadbed. I also had to replace one of the wooden bridges as it was falling apart at the joints.
In addition to removing all the track I completely dismantled the 45-foot-long elevated yard. The yard was constructed out of cedar posts, redwood, and fir framing, and Trex and fir decking. After six years, it, like the track, had to be replaced. To rebuild the elevated yard, I reused and added cedar posts. I used a combination of the old Trex decking with new Trex decking to frame and deck the yard.
On October 18th, 2021. I completed the re-construction of the elevated yard platform. I didn’t start to replace the track until August of 2022. It was completed in September of 22. For the elevated yard I decided to use code 250 track. I replaced the rest of the outdoor track with mostly LGB code 332. I also decided to go with durability rather than prototype appearance. It was a difficult decision to make. I could not get enough track in the longer lengths that I wanted because of the lack of availability. I had on hand over 100 feet of LGB track and several switches. In addition to needing additional track, I needed lots of rail clamps. They were hard to come by as they were usually out of stock. I decided to use mostly Massoth rail clamps. In the past I used mostly split jaw rail clamps with some success, but they were not available in the quantities that I need. As I decided that most outdoor operations will be utilizing battery powered trains, I simplified the track plan to have a single track going out to the far end with a return loop. I also added an extension and some sidings. Because I had a few structures that I wanted to place on the elevated yard I had to simplify the yard track plan (see photos). It has less switching potential that I had originally planed for. The Army warehouse took up more room that I wanted.
One of the biggest decisions that I had to make was whether to continue using DCC powered track or just go with AirWire dead rail (battery power). I decided to go ahead and power the outdoor elevated yard track and the first 40 feet of track as it left the building beyond the bridges. Obviously, there are pros and cons to both options. With track power I must keep the track clean. With track power, I will have to deal with separation of rail because of thermal expansion and contraction. I will have to maintain continuity of power and signal. Good rail clamps or more permanent solutions is almost a must do. Rail clamps add considerable cost. On the other hand, because of the cost of batteries, battery power cost more per locomotive. If I didn’t go with track power on the elevated yard outdoors, I would have had to either not run the majority of my locomotives outdoors or I would have had to convert more locomotives to AirWire. I ended up converting more locomotives to Airwire and I still can operate DCC locomotives on the elevated yard.
I covered the top of the elevated yard deck with a mesh and a combination of vinyl plaster, stucco, very fine sand and concrete adhesive. When that was dry, I painted the surface with exterior paint mixed with concrete adhesive. While that was wet, I applied ground cover. Ground cover being very find sand with small stones. On top of the ground cover, I sprayed more concrete adhesive. I ballasted the track with fine gravel and roof granules.