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« Stockton Staging Interlocking | Main | The Basement Layout Plan »

Layout Tour Continued - Refinery to Christie

Grade Profile

The mainline eastward out of Richmond Terminal rises steadily on a grade of about 1%. This grade continues, off and on, all the way to the helix at the end of the lower deck mainline run. The eastward grade provides two benefits:

  1. Generates clearance of the mainline at Collier over the staging tracks
  2. Reduces the number of helix turns needed to elevate trains from the lower deck at 43” to the upper deck at around 60”

On the other hand, grades can cause problems during switching. Where there are spurs to be switched, the grade is lower to prevent cars from rolling out of position.

East of Refinery

East Switch Refinery marks the east end of Refinery siding. Here the aisle branches to the left into a blind asile.

The main continues east along the blind aisle and swings around the large horseshoe at Collier. On the prototype BNSF, Collier is located in Franklin Canyon, which is a great stretch of track to railfan, though traffic is light these days. There is a coke plant at Collier.

The plan shows three spurs near the horseshoe where this plant will be situated on the layout. The coke plant could also end up being something different, like a mill that receives lots of covered hoppers. Main reason to switch industry type would be the lack of available coke cars in N Scale.

Click image to enlarge

The industry at Collier acts as a visual distraction to the unprototypical horseshoe that the mainline traverses at this point.  Horseshoes are rare in practice, and not present on the protptype line at this location. Although there are a lot of curves in the canyon, so I’m using modeler’s license.


Martinez is no longer served by the BNSF, UP has that sewn up a little to the north along the south shore of the Carquinez Straits. The BNSF passes through Martinez on a soaring silver viaduct. On my plan, the line continues east from Collier into Martinez where there are several spurs to be switched. Operational interest is more important than prototypic fidelity in this case.

Present day Martinez on the UP has a busy Amtrak station and plenty of refinery switching options. On my plan, there’s already plenty of oilcan action at Refinery, so in Martinez, I’ll focus on some warehouse spurs and perhaps a lumber yard, LPG dealer, etc.

Click image to enlargeThere are good prototypes to borrow from on the UP at Benicia, on the other side of the Carquinez Straits, so for me this is close enough. I see Martinez as a great location to put a bunch of Lance Mindheim approaches into practice.  The space is long and narrow and there won’t be room to put full size buildings.

Maltby Siding

I’ve compressed things a little to accomodate Maltby siding. On the BNSF, Maltby lies a few miles east of Martinez, on the north side of Concord, in the heart of refinery country. If Martinez is all about oilcans, then the region around Maltby is even more so. I like the name “Matlby”. By ovelapping Maltby siding with the town of Martinez I get the best of both worlds - Martinez lends it’s character to the industrial area, while radio chat will include references to both Martinez and Maltby. At least that’s the theory. With proto-freelancing, the line of acceptability is quite blurry at times. We’ll see how it goes.


East of the Maltby on the prototype is Port Chicago, Pittsburg, Antioch, Oakley and a handful of delta locations before hitting Stockton. On my layout plan, the line heads east out of east switch Maltby and makes a looping left hand curve around the helix. The track will then punch through the lower level backdrop and enter the helix.

I’ve labeled this location “Christie” after a favorite location in Franklin Canyon. We’ll see if the name sticks. Putting Christie here would be placing it out of station order and there is a fabulous curvey siding at Christie that is begging to be modelled that just wont fit here. For now the name will do and it is easy to change later if I need to.


This is where the plan gets cute. In the first phase, the plan calls for a single track one turn helix to get the track down to base level at 43” so it can loop into Stockton staging. When the upper deck gets built (don’t you like how confident the start of that sentence sounds!!!), the helix will be rebuilt to go up grade several turns to lift the main line up to the upper deck.

Click image for larger view

As far as the lower deck phase 1 build is concerned, the  track exits the helix under the entry point at Christie and heads for the Stockton staging interlocking via the Stockton reverse loop.

That’s a good place to stop for now. Feel free to post a comment or question below.



Next up: Stockton Staging Interlocking.


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