The Future Plans of the Modesto & Empire Traction Company Layout

Discussion in 'Layout Design Discussion' started by Trucklover, Oct 12, 2009.

  1. Trucklover

    Trucklover TrainBoard Member

    Hi guys,

    For the past year or so, ive had my heart set on modeling the Modesto & Empire Traction Company which is a shortline railroad in Modesto, California.

    I got the idea from a buddy of mine, Tom Huffman, and ever since then, i have been crazy about this shortline railroad. Its RIGHT up my alley being that the M&ET serves the Beard Industrial Park which is a 2000 Acre Industrial Park. The M&ET is a family-owned corporation and has been in operation since 1911. The M&ET was initially intended to operate as a passenger service, but for over 80 years now, the M&ET has succeeded in satisfying local industry's rail freight and transload needs.

    The mainline of the M&ET is only 5 miles long, but it operates on an additional 28 miles of sidings and spurs servicing nearly 50 rail customers in the Beard Industrial District. In total, the M&ET operates on nearly 40 miles of main line, yard and industry tracks. A brief list of industries served by the M&ET includes: Brake Parts Inc., Bunge Foods, Continental PET, Del Monte, E & J Gallo Winery, Frito-Lay, Georgia-Pacific, International Paper, Liquid Container, Nestle, Sierra Pacific Distribution, Seneca, Stanislaus Food Products Company, Watkins Shepard, and Weyerhaeuser Lumber. The M&ET also has connections with 2 Class I Railroads, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and the Union Pacific, with interchange yards for each railroad.

    The BNSF Interchange yard also has connections with the M&ET 70 acre rail/truck transload facility encompassing 6,000 feet of unloading/loading tracks. These tracks are surrounded by 52' to 78' concrete aprons. The facility offers full security lighting and fencing, as well as a single location access with checkpoint office. Also, a 70' public truck scale and fuel dock are on the property. Basically the old Intermodal yard serves as a HUGE Team Track. Businesses rent out space on the Transload yard, etiher for storage of bulk materials or other large, bulk materials such as lumber, and other building materials. The Transload facilty also has a 40-Ton crane on site.

    The M&ET's first locomotive was actually a gas-powered passenger coach. Later, several steam locomotives gave way to the GE 70-tonners starting in 1947 with engine #600.70-Tonner #'s 600-604, 607 & 608 are currently still in operation today. #605 & 613 were retired in early 2009 to make way for the 2 new Genset RP20BD's they ordered back in October 2008. The M&ET also has 2 SW1500's that were ex. SP units. In total, there are 11 locomotives that serve the M&ET today.

    I will be starting a new thread on the M&ET locos and my plans for modeling each and every one of them for this layout.

    Well now that some history is out of the way on this shortline RR, ill post the plans for it that i have spent about a year developing using Google Earth, Google Maps "Steet View" and Windows Live Search. ALL the structures on this layout will be 100% scratchbuilt. All street and structure names on the plan are the real prototype names as well. Structures were somewhat compressed to fit on the plan, or slightly changed in order to better fit the plan

    So here we go. Ill start with the color coding and Layout/Track specifications:

    Name: The Modesto & Empire Traction Company
    Scale: HO (1:87.1)
    Size: 25' x 15'
    Prototype: Modesto & Empire Traction Company, Beard Industrial District, BNSF/M&ET Interchange Yard (Modesto, CA)
    Era: Modern Day
    Style: Shelf Walkaround
    Mainline Run: 25' for BNSF Mainline, about 120' for M&ET Trackage (not including Helix)
    Minimum Radius: 22"
    Minimum Turnout: Central Valley no. 8
    Minimum Parallel Track Spacing: 2" (3" on helix)
    Maximum Grade: 2.6%
    Helix: Helix contains a 28" radius on outer track and 25" radius on inner track. 4" between turns; 5-1/2 turns traveling a total of 22" between decks
    Benchwork: Shelf and Modular design
    Height: Top Deck: (to be determined) , Lower Deck: (to be determined), 22" between decks
    Roadbed: Woodland Scenics Foam Roadbed
    Track: Central Valley Code 83 on BNSF Mainline and Interchange Yard, Central Valley Code 70 on all other Trackage
    Scenery:plaster with Foam Board
    Backdrop: Painted Walls and Masonite Backboards
    Control: MRC Prodigy Wireless
    Grid Spacing: 6"
    Color Code:

    GREEN = Module/Layout Base
    RED = BNSF Mainline
    YELLOW = BNSF/M&ET Interchange Yard
    WHITE = Helix
    BLUE = Track on Lower or Upper Level
    BLACK = M&ET Trackage
    ORANGE = Scratchbuilt Structures
    GRAY = Roads
  2. Trucklover

    Trucklover TrainBoard Member

    Island #1

    I have planned this layout to have 3 Islands of modules on the Top Deck of the layout. One (1) island can be hooked up at a time to the top deck. When switching is done on the Island, the modules will be taken down and stored away. Then, another island can be brought in from storage and hooked up to the top deck. Ill build a set of legs to go with the three (3) islands and make them interchangeable so that they can be used on any one of the three (3) islands. Storage for the modules will be under the lower deck of the layout

    This first picture is of the Top Deck with Island Module #1, or the Del Monte Island


    The Del Monte Module has two (2) modules that are 60" long x 32" wide. Tracks will serve the backs of the structures. The gray areas next to the buildings are Truck Dock Ramps and Loading Docks. The loading docks along the tracks will be covered docks with overhangs and platforms.
  3. Trucklover

    Trucklover TrainBoard Member

    Island #2

    This picture shows Island Module #2, or the Georgia Pacific Island


    The Georgia Pacific Island has four (4) modules, 3 of which are 60" long x 30" wide, and one (1) module which is 30.5" long x 30" wide. The Georgia Pacific building is the big one on this island. This island also is home to the Siligan Container Corp. and the Stanisiaus Food Products Company. There is also a small yard, the prototype is 7 tracks wide, mine is only 5 due to lack of space. Nathan Ave. is on the right end of the island and Doherty Ave. runs along the bottom of the island.
  4. Trucklover

    Trucklover TrainBoard Member

    Island #3

    This picture shows Island Module #3, or the Versa Cold Logistic Island


    The Versa Cold Logistics Island has two (2) modules, one (1) of which is 60" long x 32" wide, and the other 42" long x 32" wide. All of the structures on this island are Versa Cold Logistic Structures. This is a very large company, and they occupy quite a few buildings on the M&ET in this particular area i have modeled. The gray areas on the island are truck loading docks. There will be road which is actually an alley way in front of the 3 loading dock areas on the left side of the island.
  5. Trucklover

    Trucklover TrainBoard Member

    Top Deck

    Here is a pic of the top deck without any of the islands


    The Top deck of the layout features the BNSF Mainline which is the red tracks at the top. Parallel to the BNSF mainline is Santa Fe Ave. Below the BNSF mainline in the yellow is the BNSF/M&ET Interchange yard. To the far left, we have Yosemite Blvd. Intersecting Yosemite Blvd near the top is Codoni Ave. then South Riverside Drive. Intersecting South Riverside Drive is Lapham Ave. Intersecting both Yosemite Blvd. and Lapham Ave. is Doherty Ave. (lower left) and Spenker Ave (bottom left). Lapham Ave. ends at Daly Ave. Daly Ave. connects back up with Yosemite Blvd. Further down the line (compressed for lack of space) we have South Santa Cruz Ave.

    This brings us to the HUGE Gallo Glass Company Plant. Gallo also has a Winery Plant with literally 100's of storage tanks and more huge buildings just above the Glass Plant, but i chose not to include part of it in the plan for again, due to lack of space lol. The trackage around the Gallo Glass Plant will require some custom trackage, meaning the 3 crossings by the large square building in the lower right corner will all have to be scratch built.

    I did a copy of the actual structure for the truck loading docks, made to be a backround relief structure. It will have 52 truck docks, and will be 110" long x 7" wide. All docks will be at ground level with slopped loading ramps for the tracks. Will make an excellent place to spot some of my trucks.

    Continuing up the right past the Gallo Glass Plant, we connect back to the upper part of the top deck. This area will have the helix. Helix will have a 28" radius on the outside track and 25" radius on inner track. 4" between turns; 5-1/2 turns traveling a total of 22" between decks. There will be 3" of space between each track of the helix. The Blue tracks on the left of the helix are the tracks that are on the lower deck.
  6. Trucklover

    Trucklover TrainBoard Member

    Lower Deck

    Here is a pic of the Lower Deck of the layout


    This is the lower deck of the layout. Starting from the upper right section of the picture, we have the helix. Again, blue trackage is the tracks on the upper deck. Black tracks start on the left side of the helix, this is the bottom of the helix, 22" below the top deck. The 2 tracks curve around to the left to the upper stretch of the lower deck. There is also a track that runs behind the helix and curves to the right stretch of the lower deck to connect back to the lower stretch of the lower deck to allow for continuous running

    We have Codoni Ave. which dead ends at Finch Road. Liquid Container Corp is the medium sized structure right next to Codoni Ave. It has 12 truck docks and is 40" long x 12" wide. To the left of this is the Sierra Pacific Distribution Building. This one is a large structure and is 70" long x 12" wide. it has 24 truck docks. Just to the left of this one is Brake Parts Inc., it is also a fairly large structure, being 65" long x 12" wide with 23 truck docks. All 3 of these structures have docks at ground level with slopped loading ramps for the truck docks. Rail docks serve the rears of the structures.

    Continuing to the left side of the lower level we have Service Craft which has a few buildings in this area, 3 of which have been modeled and included in the plan. To the left of the top Service Craft Building is the Wel Comp Building. Just below these 2 is Garner Road. Below Garner Road is the other Service Craft Buildings, and to the left of those is the 2 California Fruit & Tomato Kitchen Buildings. Below these 2 we have a building that im not sure what company occupies it. Im thinking its for lease at this time, but not sure. Various run-around tracks have been added on this portion to better operate and switch buildings.

    Continuing to the lower section of the layout is the M&ET engine house with a copy of the yard. Tracks in the yard are really close together, so i did 1-1/2" spacing for these tracks. To the right of this we have South Riverside Drive, then the Dawn Foods Buildings. To the right of these buildings we have Ferguson Heating & Cooling and then to the far right we have QT Reload which is a lumber building materials based company as far as i can tell. After QT Reload, the tracks connect back to the top of the lower deck.
  7. Trucklover

    Trucklover TrainBoard Member

    Here is the specs as far as track and turnouts for the layout:

    ~~approximately 654' of flex track on this layout, and this doesnt include the helix. (Ill be using Central Valley Tie Strips which are 12" a piece and form a seamless joint when connected to other Central Valley Tie Strips and Central Valley Turnouts)
    ~~4 Walthers #7 curved turnouts
    ~~2 Walthers #6-1/2 curved turnouts
    ~~1 Walthers Wye #4 Turnouts
    ~~45 Central Valley #8 Lefthand turnouts
    ~~56 Central Valley #8 Righthand Turnouts

    And thats about it for the plan, i seem to be pretty happy with it is as it is now. I dont think any major changes will be made anymore. I do find some small minor changes every once in a while that i make like adding in a track to make it a little easier for operational purposes.

    Comments, questions, suggestions??
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 13, 2009
  8. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Changing modules in and out as you finish your switching may get old quickly. This afternoon I tried to figure out a way to use your modules but keep them up all the time. I came up with this:

    It is still an around the room design, but I moved the helix to the left side of the donut at the base of a peninsula that extends across the middle of the room and made it a single track (Although it would be possible to make it double tracked, if you have your heart set on it, I think a single track will suffice, especially if you wire the helix as a reversing section. Aisles are minumum 36 inches, except narrower at the base of the peninsula and wider at the right end of the peninsula.

    You indicated you planned 3 levels but your plans only showed 2 decks separated by 22 inches, so I separated the upper and lower levels by 22 inches and put the middle level about half way between them.

    The upper level is at 58 inches and is about 1 foot wide. The BNSF/MET Interchange is along the north (top) wall, the Intermodal Yard is on the east (right) wall, Gallo is along the south (bottom) wall, 3 staging tracks are along the west (left) wall, and the Del Monte modules will be on the top level of the 3 foot wide peninsula.

    The MET main line is green and the BNSF main is red. The dashed green line provides an upper level continuous running connection between the MET main near Gallo Glass and the MET main just after the tracks break off to enter the Del Monte modules on the peninsula.

    The middle level is 47 inches high and is about 2 feet wide. Most of the tracks will be in the front half of the middle shelf so they can be easily seen (not covered by the upper level), and most of the buildings will be in the back half of the shelf.

    The pale blue line represents the MET main in the helix. The solid green upper level MET main enters the northeast edge of the helix at 58 inches after swinging around the east edge of the helix from the south (running parallel with the dashed line of the upper level continuous running loop). The MET main (now in pale blue on the helix) descends one loop to 54 inches, then a second loop to 50 inches, and finally 3/4 of a loop to 47 inches where it changes color to dark blue. One track arcs outside of the helix onto the middle level shelf from the southeast side of the helix. This track serves industries 10, 11, and 12 near Leckron Road in the MET map. The other dark blue track continues around the helix to the northeast side where it switches off of the helix, bends around the north west corner and enters the McClure Yard (the Georgia Pacific modules) along the north wall. The VersaCold Logistics modules (which I think represent buildings/industries 120,121, 113, 133, 131, 136, 138, and 139 on the MET map) are positioned along the south wall and may even extend up the east wall if you want. The solid dark blue MET main at east end of the McClure Yard tracks meet the dashed dark blue line of the continuous running connection near the northeast corner.

    If the train did not exit the helix to go to McClure Yard on the middle level, it would continue down on the pale blue MET main in the helix one loop to 42 inches, and about a third of a loop to a turnout on the west side of the helix at about 40 inches. The MET main changes color to purple to pass out onto the lower shelf at 40 inches elevation and continues descending about 1 inch every 4 feet as the track goes east on the lower level along the southern side of the peninsula (which I've refered to as the Nathan Ave industries) until it reaches 36 inches elevation. The track will be very close to the outside edge of the peninsula (the outside 6 inches of the lower shelf) so it is not covered by the Leckron Rd industries of the middle level. After passing around the end of the peninsula, it will go past the Beard Ave Industries.

    The pale blue MET main in the helix will descend the final loop to 36 inches and will change color to purple and pass along the southern wall aisle in the front 12 inches of the lower shelf serving the Tenaya Drive industries. The Riverside Drive Yard runs on the lower level along the east wall of the layout. Exiting the other end of the Yard and turning to the left, the MET main travels along the north wall past industries near Spenker AVe and Daly Ave. (Sorry, I couldn't incorporate your Spenker Ave and Daly Ave modules in this plan.) The dashed purple line provides a continuous running connection for the lower level. (Hmmm...I just noticed that there should also be a dashed line to make a continuous running connection between the Nathan Ave industries and the Tenaya Drive industries.)

    If you add a continuous running connection on the upper level from the MET main in the northwest corner to the west side of the helix, you would be able to make a grand loop from the upper level to the helix, to the lower level of the helix, around the lower level and then back up the helix to the upper level; but you would not be able to run a train on the middle level continuous loop at the same time because the middle level uses a portion of the helix to make the continuous loop.

    I tried to make a shelving arrangement that let you
    1. model the MET track configurations as shown in their map,
    2. use the modules you described, and
    3. always have the modules up instead of having to take one down and set another up every time you wanted to switch a different industrial area.

    I don't know if this plan meets all of your givens and druthers...but I sure had fun trying. I hope there's something here that you find helpful.
  9. Trucklover

    Trucklover TrainBoard Member

    Holy cow Dave! That is awesome! :thumbs_up:

    thanks for taking the time to do all of this, i really appreciate it and im glad you had fun doing it as well :D

    You have given me some ideas that i would like to try and change about the plan.

    Im not sure where you got the idea of it being 3 decks, its only 2 decks LOL. I looked back in my posts and i couldnt find where i might have said 3 decks, but if i did, please let me know so i can go back and edit it out to 2 decks LOL.

    I also like the helix over in the left center, and the island that comes out down the center of the room. Im going to try and incorporate that into another re-work of the plan. I think i like the interchange yard where it is, it needs the full 25', and id rather not shorten it even more to move it to a different side. My ultimate goal is to copy as much of the real M&ET as i can, and the Interchange yard is something i would like to have complete and looking as much like the real thing as i can, which i pretty much got it now LOL

    Imma work on the plan some more, and ill post back with some changes when im done :D

    Thanks again Dave :D
  10. Trucklover

    Trucklover TrainBoard Member

    Another thing i think i would like to do is to increase the minimum radius from 22" to 30" with the helix having a radius of 33" on the outer track and 30" radius on the inner track. This would allow me to run my big 6-axle diesels comfortably on the M&ET tracks, and not just be limited to the M&ET engines. I mainly just want to be able to include my other engines too, and not just run the M&ET ones exclusively on the layout. Plus ill need a place to run my 8 new Intermountain DCC/SOUND ES44AC's (all 4 BNSF and UP #'s) i have on order hehe :D
  11. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Well Josh....I looked through your posts, too, to see where I got the impression there were 3 decks and couldn't find anything that even vaguely hinted at 3 decks...Dang, tripped up by another senior moment!!

    I'm as deeply enamored of the Peoria and Pekin Union Ry, as you are of the MET. The P&PU is a 20-mile long terminal railroad that I've been modeling for 3 decades. In all of my versions of the P&PU, I've tried to stick with the prototype buildings, street names, and track configurations as closely as I can. In some of the early versions, I had much less space than currently, and I was forced to handle staging and interchange with the outside world in a way that allowed lots of traffic onto the layout but didn't take up lots of real estate... I would often model tracks right up to an interchange track or the entrance to a foreign RR Yard, but the "yard" itself was really staging in a fiddle yard located off the modeled portion of the layout. Cars would come into the fiddle yard from one RR but would often exit the staging/fiddle yard via another RR, something that could never happen if the entire yard or interchange was modeled.

    Using a similar concept on your layout, you could set up "hidden" MET interchange tracks where you push a cut of cars under a bridge or behind a building on the way to "the classification tracks" or the interchange tracks, but you would be parking them behind some Gallo buildings to be pulled out from the other end when you work the Gallo sidings.

    On the other hand, if the BNSF/MET interchange is one of the signature features of the area you want to model, then hiding the interchange tracks would save real estate while simultaneously undermining your goal of reproducing the entire MET...Decisions, Decisions, Decisions. (Good luck!) Continue to articulate your givens and druthers, and keep us apprised of which details or elements you want to keep and which you can sacrifice with the least amount of discomfort.
  12. Trucklover

    Trucklover TrainBoard Member


    the more and more i look at the plan, start changing things around, the more and more i start to miss what i had. I find myself removing important aspects of the plan, such as Yosemite Ave and Lapham Drive along the left and bottom walls on the top deck. Those are a major part of the layout, and just as important as the tracks that run between them i think. Imma do some more thinking, probably when im laying in bed trying to fall asleep, that seems to be the only time i have time to think about the plan LOL. i do like some of the things that you suggested, but in the meantime, ill keep it like it is and just broaden the minimum radius on the mainline runs to accept my larger 6-axle locos.

    Once again, i thank you for all your input and suggestions, and im glad you at least got a kick out of it and found it to be fun :thumbs_up: :D
  13. chrismears

    chrismears TrainBoard Member


    Model railroader ran a great "Railroad You Can Model" article on the M&ET back in the late -80's. I can't remember the issue but I will dig through my stack and try and find out. Some great pictures inside of the 70 tonners in both the yellow and red, and also the red, white and blue colours.

    It's a line I'd sure like to railfan some time.

  14. dave n

    dave n TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Very cool, keep us posted w/ updates. You know I'll be watching w/ interest, being a fellow Modesto modeller :). I agree w/ you, I think you need somehow keep Yosemite Ave since it's integral to the railroad.

    One thing I've realized as I continue to build my layout is that you never have enough room to fit everything in that you want (and if you did you'd probably need more than a lifetime to build it all!). I really like your plan so far - the one thing that I don't see is the streetrunning down B Street, along side Stanislaus Foods and into the Gallo complex. I used to love watching them trundle down the middle of the street after switching the SP (now UP interchange). Here's a shot I took in '98 for inspiration for you :) :


    I'm looking forward to seeing your layout progress!
  15. Trucklover

    Trucklover TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for the picture Dave!! I commented on it in your thread you started for it

    Your right, I don’t have any street running. When I stumbled upon the Gallo complex, I only had a small area left in the plan where I could incorporate a section of the complex, so I chose the small warehouse with the 52 truck docks (yes I counted LOL) and a small portion of the large warehouse. Ill add some of the machinery in on the bottom left above the large warehouse. I had to re-arrange the layout of the complex to fit my needs, so everything is kind of reversed from the layout of the real thing.

    I’m going to do another revision of the plan, and add another 5' to the width of the layout to make it 25x20'. This should give me a little more space, and with that I could probably fit in a little section of B street to incorporate a small section of town and street running :D
  16. rehpot73

    rehpot73 New Member

    Hi there, my father-in-law might of worked at the tomato processing plant in the 1960's...any chance you know if it was Hunt's back then? He drove a truck over hiway 99 between Modesto and Tijuana My son just inherited some ho scale equipment from the great-uncle, your project has an appeal. Perhaps some older photos exist with a simpler scheme?

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