The Spokane and BC Railway

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The Spokane and British Columbia Railway is an HO standard gauge model railway based on a precursor to the Kettle Valley Railway that ran south from Grand Forks, B.C. to Republic, Washington. It operated under a variety of names before being abandoned in 1919. The final name was the "Spokane and BC", reflecting their desire to extend all the way to Spokane, Washington. The model recreates a rendition of the line that was constructed as far as Republic, but never reached Spokane, as if it had survived and prospered into 1955. One objective of the prototype that was never achieved was to be associated with one of the large railroads serving Spokane. In my version of history, that railroad is the Union Pacific, hence the many UP locomotives. Management of the line is patterned after the Camas Prairie Railroad which was owned jointly by the NP and UP. For the S&BC, the joint owners are CPR and UP.
The layout can be considered a work of "historical fiction", and portrays what might have happened if it had been successful and was still around in 1955. The modeled line begins with the northern terminus at Grand Forks. The right of way then runs south through the border crossing at Danville, south of Carson, B.C. Additional stations will include Curlew, Republic as well as a rendition of Spokane itself to mark the final staging tracks. Other sidings will no doubt find their way onto the layout. Being that the specific location is known, all of the station names are real and can be taken from maps and don’t need to be invented. A 1917 US topographic map shows the entire line between Grand Forks and Republic, complete with siding names.
Numerous interchange opportunities exist, including the CPR and GN in Grand Forks, the GN in Republic, and railroads in Spokane such as the UP, NP, SI, etc.
The construction philosophy is to have a full spectrum of stages under construction at all times. This will range from the mostly completed Grand Forks area right around to areas that do not even have benchwork yet. The layout will eventually fill the entire room. This approach to construction provides numerous benefits as it allows the design to evolve as experience is gained (and more history unearthed!), and it avoids the monotony of construction stages that involve only one task.
Operationally, the layout currently features two permanent staging yards representing lines running north/west and east from Grand Forks, with the S&BC mainline heading south to an eventual third staging area in Spokane. Currently, that track has just been started and now ends in a simple portable "turnback" track. Future plans include extending the line around the remainder of the room.
Some specific things to note about the layout:
The room is illuminated using 5000K "full spectrum" fluorescent tubes. While they can't easily be dimmed, they provide even lighting without producing a lot of heat. The colour balance is good enough to simply shoot photos using the room lights. Use of a portable "turnback" track that allows running trains and offers some switching possibilities. This section will advance around the room as construction progresses, always providing a return path.
Construction on the layout has been stalled for a couple of years while I develop my own software for car forwarding. It produces switchlists for all trains, and all of the car movements are predicated upon specific shipments from a shipper to a receiver, instead of some form of random movements. Testing has been underway for some time now, and many characteristics of how cars move over the layout have been discovered. One major issue is that there really needs to be more tracks at Grand Forks, something that was not immediately obvious when the layout was initially designed. The program will be used to both generate switchlists for operating sessions as well as simulate the future layout as the rest of it is designed. This will hopefully avoid major design issues. By running 30 to 100 day simulations, any bottlenecks or other issues with the flow of cars should become apparent.
Superintendent Greg Madsen
Prototype LocationGrand Forks BC and south to Spokane WAInterchangeGreat Northern,Canadian Pacific
Size 12' x 21' current then 12' x 40'ScaleHO Standard Gauge
Era1955ControlDCC Digitrax duplex radio; WiThrottle/EngineDriver
Clock SpeedNot currently usedSession lengthapproximately 3 hours
Car Forwarding Switchlists from personal software, all based on individual shipments and waybillsCommunication systemVerbal
jobsRoad Crews (1-2), Grand Forks Switcher (1-2)accessibility 5 steps down
WebsiteSBC  Currently under development Prototype/Freelance Scale Historical Fiction, The real S&BC was abandoned in 1919
Length of mainline87' currentYards; 3 track interchange at Grand Forks, 6 track North/West staging, 2 Track East staging, 1 Track South staging
Number of passing sidingstwo% scenery completed; 20%
Number of car spots12 for 45 carsearly dieselsPrimarily FM units, with a few others
Rolling Stock 75Train Lengths up to 10 cars
Track Construction Peco and Atlas code 83 Session Atmosphere Informal, minimal ceremony