Spring Creek Railroad
G Scale Model Railway
Conductor Jerry Barnes
Engineer Jerry Barnes
| Like many garden railroaders I got my start with a Lionel
train set when I was 6. I kept it over the years and my kids even got to
play with it, when they were young. My dad moved around a lot in
construction work and we sometimes took the train back to Oklahoma. I still
remember waiting at the station for my aunt and uncle to come in on the
Santa Fe streamliner, returning from the Philippines. Later, I used to
ride the UP streamliner from the University of Wyoming to Ohio, when my
parents moved there when I was in college, I even took Sylvia on the train
one Christmas to meet my parents. All these experiences affected my ideas
for my layout.
About 17 years ago, I had a few issues of Garden Railroads Magazine (the B&W ones) when my wife thought it would be nice to have a small pond in the yard, I said fine if I could have a garden railroad, and the planning began.
My first train buy was a Aristo-Craft FA1 A&B units. Little was available back then except for LGB and a few Aristo units. The magazine had many articles on building your own trains using Stomper mechanisms. I had to repaint the FA's in Union Pacific colors of course, lettered with Larry Larson graphics. No one made streamliner cars then so I made my own diner, coach and dome car. I had an article on the dome car in the Aug 1995 issue of GR.
This was my first layout, when I lived in town. It was about 130' of code 250 NS Garich Light Transport Track(now SVRR). I like the looks of code 250 with our trains, I feel they look too toy-like with the larger code of track-although it's sturdiness can be a factor in choosing it. I made a jig for my trestles and made the bents from redwood left over from my deck build, I later used them on my layout you see in this issue, they have held up well. When I moved out of town 14 years ago, it was only two miles, so I hauled many pickup loads of rock, track, bridges and plants out to our new place.
The first summer we had a huge dump truck of dirt delivered. I mentioned it to a fellow teacher and a few days later her husband suddenly showed up with a front end loader and asked how we wanted to spread it out. My wife and I stood outside for a few minutes and quickly came up with a plan-so much for a well-planned layout! This became what is now the inner loop. We got the pond dug out that summer and had track and trains running by fall. We live just a few hundred feet from Spring Creek and that is how we named the railroad. It is roughly based on a 50's time era, running both passenger and freight trains, with a bit of whimsy thrown in on occasion, note the dinosaur and dragon figures. I have a bit of narrow gauge that I run on the inner loop.
Sylvia(my wife) takes care of the plans for the plants. I have been trained to weed properly most of the time, but the look of the layout is due to her good eye and gardening skills. We have tried many plants over the years and now have a fairly stable, filled in layout. Dwarf Alberta spruces do well here, we usually plant them in their pots, just trimming off the top edge of the pot. We have had good luck with Arborvitae's, keeping them pruned for trees. When we first started we planted some Yellow Acre sedum, it grew well, then got out of hand, I would advise not using it, unless you want just one ground cover. I fight to keep it out of our thyme and speedwell areas. It does grow well where nothing else would, so can be a last resort. We've found on thymes that some types of it will die back, we got some from High Country Gardens that has done real well and does not seem to do that. We try to group the rock together by type/color. We have a lava rock section a limestone section, trying to avoid having several types in one area.
We both really enjoy the pond, despite the headaches they can cause. We used a rubber roofing liner and it has held up well. Our Koi and goldfish all came from Walmart and have grown quite large. We did have to rebuild the waterfall this year, it was leaking on the tunnel underneath, and rotted it out, that worked out well, since I was able to make a new double tracked tunnel and separate the old inner loop from the new outer loop we put in 3 years ago, using SVRR track again for that.
The outer loop is 135', the inner loop is 115', the whole layout is about 62' long and 24' wide at it's widest point. The outside loop has about 20' diameter curves, the inner about 16' curves. I have track power on the outer loop, my battery cars mostly run on the inner loop-most just have a simple on/off switch, some have remote control. I also made the covered bridge from scrap redwood deck boards I found in my son's backyard of his new house. The gray bridge is made from blue styrofoam, scribed with a block pattern and painted with artist's acrylic colors, which have held up well.
Most of my buildings are made of clay. I was the art teacher here for 32 years and making a clay building was one of the projects I taught for awhile in my clay unit. They hold up well outside-if fired to a cone 5 temperature. The Texaco station is a wood based building, the second that I've had with this design, the first one was not made with the best materials. It is based on one that I saw in a picture of Jack Verducci's layout in GR many years ago-thanks Jack! The log cabin is my latest, from a Timberlines kit Sylvia got me for Christmas. It is a very well made kit with good directions. My farmhouse is my other wood building, it has been beat by the weather over the years and I love how it looks. I think I will have to try and stabilize it though. All buildings have lights, mostly on the outside, with our hard water clear windows get frosted over with lime quickly. The lights run off Malibu timers and their landscape wire. Quite a few Malibu lights shine on key elements of the layout at night.
I will be the first to admit I am not a railroad historian, or an operations type railroader, I like to get the trains running then sit and relax on the deck. I do like passenger trains, based on my past experiences. Mostly Union Pacific, I have a good book on UP streamliners, that aided me in my passenger car builds and one on the Kearney and Black Hills railroad that was near here, that is where I got the inspiration to make my McKeen car and trailer. I used the same technique as on my dome car, bending plastic over a wood form in Sylvia's oven. You can see an article on it's build in the Aug 1997 issue of GR.
For me, the making of buildings, bridges, cars and locomotives is more than 50% of the hobby . It seems I am always coming up with new ideas for items to make for the railroad, or improvements to make. I have a well equipped wood shop with table saw, band saw, sanders/etc.. My little Dremel table saw is one of my favorite tools. I also have a metal lathe I am learning to use.
My locomotives consist of the FA units(battery/RC), a Aristo Pacific and Mckeen cars. My Robert's Lines Pioneer Zephyer is the jewel of my trains that I have bought. I also have a scratch built live steam shay, a Aristo-Craft live steam Mikado, a Climax A(had stomper mechanisms, now Hartland blocks) a Bachman shay that I got as a shell and put new trucks/roof/stack on.
I've made many whimsical locomotives also , a rocket car based on a tin toy I got at a flea market, coaches for my UP Eggliner, a one cylinder shay from the one I cut off to make a two cylinder shay(still not done) and a double nose E-8 made from two E-8 noses. Oh yes, my FA unit has an E-8 nose on it that I got from Marty Cozad, you may recall his article on making a B unit for his streamliner set. (date?)
My latest build was my Challenger in 1/29th scale. I used two Pacific's for the mechanism and parts. The front drive does pivot-that was the hardest part to do. I have two Aristo smoke units in it, that was a tight fit. I also made the centipede tender for it. I worked from photos I took of 3985, it comes by here almost every year and has stopped here also. There is a Challenger in North Platte also(only other one left) and I took a lot of pictures of it also to aid me in my build. UP"s #844 is my next planned locomotive, I also have a rotary snow blower in mind and a caboose.
I've made some rolling stock from GR plans for my Shay and Climax to pull and scratch built some, including my streamliner cars. I like the old MDC cars quite a bit behind my Mikado, it seems to be closer to 1/32nd scale than 1/29th, I think. I also have a mix of Aristo and USA cars. All have metal wheels and Kadee couplers.
My figures are a mix of ones I've made and bought online , including the Lemax Christmas figures that seem to work well for me. I also pick up some at toy stores, I'm always looking for items that will work on the railroad. Most of the die cast cars came from Walmart, but they don't seem to carry those anymore, not at our local store anyway.
I never thought I would spend so much time working on my garden railroad in my retirement years. When I first retired I neglected the rail road for my modeling of the gun trucks we used in my company in Vietnam. I had also planned on doing art work, but the railroad gradually took over most of my time and I'm having a blast with it. I am a member of the Nebraska Club, the River City Railroaders and you can see me at Marty Cozad's big September meet in Nebraska CIty.
You can see more of my layout on my web site: http://thescrr.com/ Scroll down to the buttons on the side for other pictures and videos. At the bottom of the Spring Creek Railroad page you will see links to my Vietnam pictures and paintings, my jukebox page and pages on my building of Vietnam gun trucks and also one on my wood ship models. On youTube my videos are under the name: gunjeep444
I know many readers are not on computers or don't like them much but the forums below are chock full of good information and you are doing yourself and your rail road a disservice if you are not getting on them to read and see pictures of other layouts. They are free to join, or you can just look around and read. Give it a try!
My favorite web sites are:
My Large Scale.com : http://www.mylargescale.com/Home/tabid/36/Default.aspx
Large Scale Central
Railway at a Glance:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
This video clip shows a good view of the SCRR
on the Spring Creek Railway which is
at their home in Lexington, NE. USA
Jerry looks after the railway end of things and Sylvia is in charge of the landscaping and gardening It's easy to see that they
make a great team.
Links to Jerry's Trains
Jerry has said in the past that
a garden railway stays outside in all kinds of weather.
Jerry took this shot on Sept 22,
2008, of the Union Pacific's Challenger steam engine coming into
You can read more about the steam trains on the UP
Webmaster John MacDonald
Hits on this page
Cookies and Web Beacons
DoubleClick DART Cookie
our site. Our advertising partners include ....
http://thescrr.com/ has no access to or control over these cookies that are used by third-party advertisers.
If you wish to disable cookies, you may do so through your individual browser options. More detailed information about cookie management with specific web browsers can be found at the browsers' respective websites.