The Ten Mile Branch – the MCMR&HS second HO layout – – Part 2 – Building the Pudding Creek Trestle

As you can gather from the previous post the fact that I had never finished ANY layout did not stop me from building a 135 foot long HO “monster” – The Ten Mile Branch. Well, fools rush in where angels fear to tread. My next idiotic move was my decision to build a prototypically accurate model of Fort Bragg (CA) iconic Pudding Creek Trestle:

Pudding Creek Trestle from the south end

The first step was to measure each of the bents:

Height of Pudding Creek trestle calculation

I thought that I had measured everything wrong as my calculations showed that the trestle ran uphill from north to south so I went back and measured it again – with the same result. At this point I decided I was a right twit and wouldn’t tell anyone what I had found and build my trestle “flat.” Many moons later I found out that my measurements were correct and that, indeed, the trestle rises 2 foot in every 100.

The next step was to build the bents (the uprights). Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear what a shambles. My first three “freehand” bents were total, unmitigated disasters. I was in despair and about to abandon the whole project when, whilst reading a railway mag I chanced upon an itty bitty advert for Black Bear Scale Models who offered an HO jig for building trestle bents. Hallelujah, project saved.

I freely admit I am not an accomplished modeller but, if I say so myself, with the aid of the jig the bents turned about really well. Judge for yourself:

Trestle bent- that’s my finger and thumb in the bottom right corner

Mock up of trestle

Another view of the mockup

Close up of mockup

Testingstrregth with an HO loco

Side view of test

And what did the final product look like?

2-8-0 crossing the Pudding Creek Trestle

Side view of installed trestle


The Ten Mile Branch – the MCMR&HS second HO layout – – Part 1

When the Mendocino Model Railroad and Historical Society (MCMR&H) got the toss from their premises downtown and were unable to find another joint to house their “Skunk” layout my febrile brain got to wondering if it was possible to have a “Skunk” layout outdoors. After lengthy cogitation and negotiations with wife Soggy about a lease for the field at the bottom of our property I set to work designing an outdoor HO layout. This was 2002 and club members did not have computers so written reports were generated to hand out to club members at our monthly meetings.This is the club report on the project:


Site preparation for the California Western Railway and Navigation Company (CWRN) Ten Mile Branch layout at Tony Phillips’s Inglenook home is well underway. The Ten Mile Railroad and its five trestles will be modeled in full HO scale length — no puny structures shortened to fit cramped spaces. Together the real trestles measured 2,297 feet. That is 26 ½ actual feet on Tony’s railroad.

          The only real trestle still in existence, of course, is Pudding Creek. .Its piles, bents, and timbers have been scrupulously measured for building its HO replica as close to the prototype. The trestle today is the focus of a conservation effort by the California State Parks and the Ten Mile Coastal Trail Foundation. Its HO counterpart is now under construction.

          CWRN built the Ten Mile line in 1916, completing it that year up the Ten Mile River as far as Camp One. From there the first load of logs rolled south across the dunes and over the trestles to Union Lumber Company’s Fort Bragg mill on January 3, 1917. Camp one was headquarters for  logging operations in the entire Ten Mile River drainage, which yielded redwood logs for more than five decades — carried by rail until June 1949 and by truck thereafter — until January 1983 when fierce storms washed out the haul road, ending the transport across the dunes.

          Camp One was a community unto itself with accommodations to house single men and homes for families, a store, cook house, electric plant, dance hall and theater. Union Lumber had an office to manage logging operations, with drafting rooms, and even a guest house. There was a blacksmith and a machinists’ shop.

          Tony’s layout will run as far as Camp One, where a number of structures and facilities will be represented. There has been no word whether the notorious sixteen-hole outhouse will be included.

          CWRN’s line ran nine (9.1) miles from the Fort Bragg sawmill to Camp One. The projected length of Tony’s HO replica is about 135 (134.88) feet, measured from the wye in the Fort Bragg yard out to Camp One. That is nearly 2 ¼ HO scale miles or almost 25 percent (24.69%) of the actual run.

          Late last fall, eleven posts were erected, with three sacks of concrete per post to secure them in place. The posts form the “spine” of the line. The sub-roadbed is attached to the posts.

          One Saturday, March 8, 2003, construction resumed with assembly of the sub-roadbed (essentially open bench work cantilevered from the posts). Both the 180-degree reverse loop and the sweeping curve into Camp One (with its approximately ten foot radius) are laid on cross-braced bench work. Following that, about 89 feet of feet of blue sky backdrop was added to the posts. As this newsletter goes to press, more sub roadbed is being secured and Romex cable positioned. (Each length of flex track will be fed power).

          By mid-May, club members should see a sizeable section of the line ready to run trains.

          This June will see completion of all 135 feet of No. 100 flex track, plus sidings. Not in place, however, will be the trestles.

          By comparison, CWRN crews constructed the nine miles across the dunes, benchland and creeks in about nine months (March through December 1916). Including nearly half a mile of single track trestles. There is a precedent and challenge for our HO artisan of today.”

Here’s the plan:

The Ten Mile Branch Plan

The spine from above

Tony leaning on one of the posts that comprised the spine

Looking down the spine

The turn at Laguna Point

The 0-4-0 HO loco used in testing the rail bed gives an idea of the size of the project

The then club historian Louis Hough inspecting progress

The first track test

Looking down the back side of the layout – the structure at the far end is the Union Lumber Company pier

Looking down toward Fort Bragg


Pictures of our layout (The Mendocino Coast Railroad & Navigation Co.) taken by visitor Lynn Powell

When Lynn was at our layout he offered to share the photos with us. Well, he did share and the pics are simply stunning. Witness for yourself:

[I recommend you click on a pic and look via the gallery]

Thanks Lynn very,very, much.

#45 The Skunk Train’s 2-8-2 Light Mikado

The CWR (California Western Railroad) – The Skunk Train has but one steam loco – #45 a 2-8-2 light Mikado. Currently she is being readied for the Summer season. Kyle Stockman is not only a Club Member of our club, the Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Historical Society, he is also “mother hen” to number #45. Kyle was very curious to find out just what #45 looked like when she was “shopped out” by her makers, Baldwin. Every loco that Baldwin produced was photographed at the factory and, if I understand it properly, the photos of all the 70,500 locos Baldwin produced have been preserved. I have no idea whose palm Kyle greased but he DID get a copy of the shopping out photo of “our” loco:

#45 when she was brand spanking new in 1928

#45 when she was brand spanking new in 1928

Kyle was on a roll. His next objective was to have #45 running on our Mendocino Coast Railroad & Navigation Co. G Scale layout. Kyle soon found out that 2-8-2’s do not exist in the world of G Scale. Undaunted (and egged on by Chief Operating Officer Frank Davis) he figured if he could snag a 2-8-0 with small drivers (doable) he could do a kitbash. Well here was what he acquired:

Kyle's purchase

Kyle’s purchase

Kyle, with assistance of Frank got to work and voila, a G Scale #45!!!

G Scale Skunk #45

G Scale Skunk #45

Congrats to Kyle for his efforts in adding another chunk of Mendocino Coast Railroad history to the layout.

How many minions are there on the Mendocino Coast Railroad & Navigation Co. layout?

A very serious young lady who came to visit the layout asked me how many Minions there were on the layout. I had to confess I didn’t know. She then asked if I knew where they all were. I said, “no.” I promised her I would take pictures of them all and put the pictures here on the blog. We agreed she would tot up the number and e-mail so’s I would know. So, I took the pics and …… my e-mail is

Double click on the pics to enlarge.

Digger Creek & Northern Railroad

The Digger Creek and Northern Railroad was our club’s (The Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Historical Society) previous layout. It was entirely outside in the local gardens. You can read about it here. I was cleaning out old computer files when I came across this fab wide angle shot of the layout in its early stages. If my memory is correct the shot was taken by a friend of club member Deb Smith. Deb and I did the bulk of the work on the layout in under 10 weeks. The single main line was 210 feet long.

Digger Creek and Northern in the early days of construction

Digger Creek and Northern in the early days of construction

CWR (California Western Railroad) Diesel #66

The CWR has three diesels; 64, 65, and 66.

CWR #64 with consist

CWR #64 with consist

CWR Diesel #65

CWR Diesel #65

CWR Diesel # 66

CWR Diesel # 66

Our layout only has one Diesel (#53). The chaps decided that it was simply not good enough for us to have our layout in the shadow of the CWR’s Fort Bragg Depot and not have a #64 or #65 or #66. Research  showed that G scale versions of CWR’s diesels did not exist. Bummer. Not to be thwarted Chief Operating Officer (and VP) Frank Davis latched onto these two beauties which are very close:

Our #66 before she was #66

Our #66 before she was #66

With assistance and support from club members Lynda Davis and Kyle Stockman she was torn down, changed to battery power, and R/C added along with a sound board:

Rewiring our #66 for Radio Control, Battery Power and Sound

Rewiring our #66 for Radio Control, Battery Power and Sound

Here she is re-assembled on the work bench:

Our #66 being worked on on the bench

Our #66 being worked on on the bench

And here is our #66 at work on our layout:

Our #66 ready to go

Our #66 ready to go

Great work Mr. Davis.