My Layouts - BC&SJ Railroad - The Jallen Branch
Switching South Jackson

The Jallen Branch of the BC & SJ Railroad
The Timesaver and Bear Creek Salvage modules.

The Jallen Branch of the BC&SJ Railroad

Oct 1999 - Oct 2002

Contest Attempts
Contest Entries

Extending the BCSJ Mainline

After building the timesaver module it was only a matter of time before I began searching for a way to connect it to the main (4x8) BC&SJ to extend operations.

I built a u-turn module (that later was dubbed East Jallen and became the home of the Bear Creek Salvage Co., site of my contest winning photo). This new module butted up to the end of the 4x8 where the branhline terminated. After removing a little plaster the modules fit. The legs of the timesaver were too short so I built new ones, lengthened them an voila! There was now a little town area at the end of the branchline.

Related links:
My John Allen Timesaver with scenery too!
The BC&SJ I - the 4x8 layout
The BC&SJ II - the garage layout

The Jallen Branchline - 1999
(The day the Jallen forest grew)

I hadn't planned on putting detailed scenery on the Bear Creek Module. It kind of snuck up on me. In Bear Creek there is a single stub ended spur track. It connects to the Jallen Branch line through a Micro Engineering #6 turnout and that turnout caused the scenery to get built. Seems I'd modified that turnout to make it more electrically reliable and written an article on the process - an article the friendly folks at Model Railroader had liked. But they didn't like the article's lead photo. What they wanted was a picture of a train going through a ballasted turnout in a sceniced part of the layout - and here was the turnout, squarely in the midst of the great plywood flats.

Over several weeks I built a rigid extruded foam scenery base carving it into shape with a hot wire foam cutter to reduce mess, the coating it with Sculptamold, paint, plaster rock castings, more paint, a bunch of ground foam, ballast, forest debriss, a 3/4" deep Envirotex pond, stumps, and a few trees. Suddenly there scenery on the Bear Creek module! But here's where the story gets really fun.

Pete, the owner of Canyon Creek Scenics (in Hillsboro Oregon), and a purveyor of extrodinarily good model trees needed some pictures of his products and I thought it would be fun to forest photos. Pete arrived one Friday evening with 73 detailed foreground and several Deep Woods® series super-super detailed trees! We pretended it was Arbor Day and planted them on the Bear Creek module. Seventy-plus trees, some of them 24" tall, on a 14 sqft module makes for a breathtaking woodlands scene. I shot six rolls of slide film documenting the module with its wonderful forest hairdo. The trees went back home with Pete leaving the module looking a lot like it was clear cut (until I got some replacements). But the pictures remain as evidence of the forest the once grew near Bear Creek.

Click 'em to expand 'em.

Jallen Branch - Contest Attempts - 2000

Have you ever gotten carried away with something you're working on? I mean really carried away?

I wanted to enter the Model Railroader photo contest this year (2000). But when I started going through my slides I discovered a sad fact - none of them were good enough.

So being of stout heart and somewhat unsound mind I went out to the garage and pulled out the Bear Creek module. The 4x8 BC&SJ got sold this summer to make room for the new and improved BC&SJ II but I'd retained the Bear Creek module. So out it came along with camera, flood lights, tripod and a pile of tungsten slide film.

The first pix were disappointing but no matter, there was plenty of time before the contest deadline so I kept trying. The routine became:

Come home from work * Stage scenes and take pictures until 2am * Take the film to Wy'East color in Portland the next morning * Drive back to Portland at lunch and get the slides (it helped having a professional photo lab with 3 hour turnaround on E6 slides!) * Load the projector after work and look at pix, decide what was wrong and what I should do to fix it * Repeat starting at "Take pictures until 2am..."

It got really old really quick... I was flabbergasted by how many dumb mistakes I made. For example:

Trees planted with a gap underneath * Dust on vehicles * Dust on rolling stock * Fingerprints in dust on rolling stock * Sky backdrop misaligned so the garage door is visible in the picture * Lighting not balanced between backdrop, sun, and fill * Loco lights not on * Bits of scenery on rolling stock * Dust on water * etc...

Someday I gotta make up a checklist!

After shooting 14 rolls of film and coming close to the limit of my wife's patience ("Are you going to spend all night in the garage AGAIN?" and "When can I put my car back in?") I came up with 3 shots I felt were worth entering in the contest. You'll have wait for Model Railroader to recognize me as winner to see any of those pix but here are some of the near misses.

Charlie Comstock
President and Chief Photographer Bear Creek & South Jackson Railroad
November 2000

Entry #1
Entry #2
Entry #3
The Winner!
Jallen Branch - Contest Entries - 2000

I like trying to make my pictures look real enough so a viewer has trouble telling whether its a model or prototype, not an easy task.

Well the contest results are in and I did pretty well. In fact one of my pictures won!

I loved doing the photography (despite the work) and now my wife feels much better about the time spent in the garage with the lights and camaera.

Culled from 14 rolls of slide film here are my entries for the 24th annual Model Railroader photo contest. Model Railroader

This page Copyright © 1998-2005 Charlie Comstock