Bridges & Trestles

At this point, the SCLCo sports a single bridge in the form of a trestle. A second bridge is planned for Mick-elangelo Falls.

The reasons for the trestle were two-fold. First, I wanted one. Second, the garden plants were in almost a year before the railroad, and couldn't, according to the Local Conservation Authority (namely, my wife), be disturbed/dug up/overshadowed/killed or in any way damaged. A patch of Myrtle about six-feet wide had been planted under a trio of Cypress trees, the only original thing left after the back yard makeover. The need to go over this Myrtle patch with minimum disturbance, combined with reason No. 1, provided all the justification needed for the trestle. Since the length of the span was 120 feet (6'), with an average height of 12-1/2 feet (7-1/2"), company management agreed, and decided a trestle would be an ideal solution.

A trestle was forthwith designed, based upon prototype practices explained in Kalmbach's "Model Railroad Bridges and Trestles." Materials were ripped from Redwood Select 2x4's in the local sawmill (on my table saw), and construction proceeded apace. Total construction time from start to finish was two weeks.

An overall shot, which shows the curved approaches on each end needed to traverse the area with no disturbance to surrounding vegetable matter.

A closer overall shot. The Myrtle has really filled in since this was taken.

I really like this photo, though the final result was unplanned. Actually, I'd have preferred a pile trestle, but couldn't find 5/8" redwood dowel, and I didn't feel like trying to turn it down. My justification for posts instead is that old growth redwood trees don't grow in a diameter suitable for piles, so the
SCLCo opted for rough-sawn posts from its own mill.

Bents were constructed in a jig using carpenter's glue. When the glue was dry, they were removed from the jig, drilled, and bolted together using 4-40 stainless steel threaded rod cut into one-inch lengths at each sway-brace/post intersection (eight per bent). The nuts used were special small-pattern stainless steel jobs I snagged from work from a job we no longer build. Caps and bottom sills were pinned in place with 1 x 18 brass escutcheon pins in pre-drilled holes. The deck (rails, ties, and stringers), was installed first, then clamped to a 2 x 2 x 1/8 wall steel rectangular tube borrowed from work to keep it straight and level. Trenches were dug under each bent location, bents clamped to the deck, and the trenches filled with mortar to completely cover the bottom sills. Once dry, this prevents the bents from moving. The trenches were then filled in, covering the mortar, and giving the illusion that the posts are driven into the ground.

The aforementioned Local Conservation Authority had two Paeonia (peony), plants (actually three, but only two figure into this discussion), which are planted according to Feng Shui, an ancient system which, among other things, tells ya where to plant stuff for certain spiritual results. Accordingly, removal or disturbance of these plants would be upon pain of death. These were right where the eastern approach needed to be located. To get between these prized examples of vegetable magnificence, the railroad was obliged to build a retaining wall. A cribbed wall was considered best from both an aesthetic and materials point of view.

A close-up of the eastern bulkhead.

And another. Plastic lawn edging stapled to the plywood roadbed was used to eliminate having to fill the entire space with ballast.

And a view looking somewhat North of West.

Rail was hand-spiked to individual ties for the trestle. I dislike flex track or sectional track ties used on bridges or trestles, since there's no ballast to "hide things." Ties were also ripped to size, and fastened to stringers using glue and, in this case, 5/8 x 20 stainless steel escutcheon pins. Rail spikes are Micro-Engineering.