My Sonjora Branch begins at the town of Rio where there is a small yard, turntable and two stall engine shop. The small yard serves as a starting point for all trains running up the branch. Locomotives for the day’s run are prepared outside the engine shop and proceed to get coal and water. Either the road engine or a switcher makes up the train, pulls a caboose from the caboose track and makes its way out of Rio Yard on the way to Ojito.
A typical morning sees the road loco at the ash pit. From here, the loco moves forward to the sand tower. The model is a scaled down combination of the sanding facilities at Durango and Chama. The storage bin is reminiscent of Chama with its round posts while the actual sand drying building is quite like the one in Durango. The two sections had to be offset to fit into my model railroad.
After filling the sand dome, we move forward to the “Red Devil” coal loader. (model still to be built) Due to the small size of my railroad, space for a full sized coaling tower was not available so the idea the “Red Devil” with its coal receiving bin, conveyor belt and coal delivery structure was an attractive alternative. The D&RGW used this style of coal loader in Antonito and Alamosa. Although my model railroad is based on the late 1930’s, I will have to use a little modelling licence to incorporate the Red Devil loader.
Once finished with loading coal, it is on to the water tank. This is a scratch built model of the D&RGW water tank at Los Pinos, CO. The tank has 128 staves as does the prototype. The roof is covered with hand made cedar shakes made from styrene sheet. Each shake is individually glued to the roof. The steel hoops are made from monofilament fishing line then finished off with Grandt Line hoop fasteners. The fireman fills the tender with water, closes the hatch, then backs down into the small yard at Rio where the crew will assemble their train. Once complete, they set the cars off on the main line then run around and pick up their caboose and tack it onto the end of the train ready for the day’s run.
Rio yard offers several opportunities for operation. Cars can be set off at the ash pit where the ashes are hand shovelled into a waiting drop bottom gondola. Normally, the service track for the ash pit would be depressed but this could not be done due to lack of room.
The sand house shares the same siding as the ash pit. Cars are spotted along side the storage bunker and the sand is hand shovelled into the bin.
The third setoff location on this service track is the coal receiving bunker for the Red Devil loader.
A loaded drop bottom gondola is spotted over the receiving bunker grates. Locomotives are not permitted to cross the coal receiving bunker while switching the sand house and ash pit. This requires the use of an idler car which adds to the operation.
There is also a coal shed on the caboose track which supplies coal for the caboose stoves. Coal has to be delivered here occasionally.
The engine shop also requires locomotive maintenance and repair parts to be delivered and scrap parts and metal removed when needed.