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Dave Stanley - Morada Belt

Featured as cover stories in both the January 2014 and November 2019 issues of Railroad Model Craftsman, the Morada Belt Railway is a freelanced HO railroad based in the west, with sessions alternating the periods of 1950-1960 or 1955-1964. Used by the four major carriers of the day (SP-WP-ATSF-UP) to reroute traffic when their own lines are congested, the MB Ry also hosts several “money losing” locals operating from the Pacific Northwest and the Great Basin via trackage rights (SP&S, GN, MILW, RI and CB&Q). Regional short lines will also make an appearance with interchange moves.

Housed in a separate 20x28 building, the layout is constructed on both two and three levels, connected by three single-loops (blended into the scenery) providing a grade not exceeding 2.5% with a minimum mainline radius of 30 inches. The railroad was designed as a point to loop railroad due to space limitations but is run as a point to point operation (East staging yard to Morada classification yard). A separate yard (Junction City) is used by trackage right carriers and regional short lines as an interchange point. A branch line, plus a quarry, cement plant, produce district, and lumber mill, all located on the main line, provide ample industry work for local freights originating from Morada Yard. After 20 years of construction, the railroad is virtually complete with just a few structures to add.

Operating sessions require a train dispatcher (TWC-type train orders, transmitted via FRS radios) from the crew lounge, one yard engine at Morada Yard, one combination operator/switch engine at Junction City, and up to three road crews. Easy DCC (CVPUSA) is our operating system and sessions normally last all day. All mainline and yard turnouts are Tortoise-powered while branch line switches are hand operated. Freight traffic is forwarded using simplified JMRI Panel Pro two column lists. We have retired our car card system used in the past. Aisle space is somewhat limited so five guest-operators and a train dispatcher, plus my “coaches," will fill the room. We are not able to accommodate walkers or wheelchairs due to aisle width.

Here's a TSG Video of the Morada Belt:

Schedule notes: Dave is about 75 miles from Oakland International Airport and 81 miles from San Jose International Airport for your Sunday getaway.

Updated 10/20/2023