Roadbed for Santiago Yard


New sub-roadbed for Santiago Yard and some other stuff in the back of my car on arrival home from the building centre.

Having found the original sub-roadbed to be a bit warped, I drove over to the local Home Building Centre.  For the price of a 4′ x 8′ sheet of good-one-side 3/4″ thick fir plywood and a cutting fee of a dollar per cut, I get the needed sub roadbed cut to my desired width.

The staff pulled a sheet of plywood off the top of a pile of sheets, and took it over to a Skilsaw mounted on vertical rails, with its blade pointed horizontally at a wall.  With the saw set for a seven inch wide cut, one person slid the plywood past the saw, which cut the plywood at an accurate width.  Two passes, and I had sixteen feet of sub-roadbed for Santiago Yard.  While they were cutting this plywood, I had the staff also cut four more strips of plywood three inches wide.  I will use this in place of dimensional lumber in layout benchwork in future.  Dropped the back seat in my Hyundai Elantra, and slid the cut plywood in.  I’d never fit 4′ x 8′ sheets in this car, so cutting the plywood at the building centre made both my sub-roadbed and allowed me to fit the wood in my car.


7″ wide sub-roadbed for Santiago Yard on the right, four three-inch wide strips of plywood on the left, and the remainder of the sheet standing vertically almost for later use–the west end of Lindsay yard, perhaps?

I stacked everything on my deck, and cut one piece of Santiago’s sub-roadbed to 5′-6″ long.  Joined to the 8′ long piece, I’ll have a 13′-6″ long piece of subroadbed.  The distance point to point of the east to west switches of Santiago is 12′-6″, so this will give six inches of single track beyond the points to join the sub-roadbed to adjoining pieces of sub-roadbed as I incorporate this into a layout.


Sub-roadbed for east end Santiago Yard cut to suit CN No. 7 turnout angle on Santiago Yard lead.

I traced out the roadbed’s edge on the sub-roadbed, and cut the angle of the lead’s roadbed using my Swedish cross-cut handsaw.  I can always use exercise, and this saw makes short work of cutting lumber.  The sub-roadbed is purposely wide on the turnout side to accommodate headblock ties.  The east main track switch will eventually receive Rapido Trains’ Rail Crew switch machine, which has a neat feature that moves the target on the switchstand as the machine moves the points.  Which means that the roadbed has to be overwide here, too.


Apologies offered for the ugliness of this affair set up in the basement for test-fitting of sub-roadbed and roadbed.    But I can visualise how this all will go together.

I dry-assembled the sub-roadbed and roadbed temporarily in the basement on supports from an old layout to check out my work.  Clamps hold it all together for now.  Success!

Now to glue it all together and draw track centre and tie-end lines for handlaying track on it.


Test-fitting the joint between sub-roadbed pieces for Santiago.  


Another view of the whole thing.  Track centrelines are accurate on half the roadbed, but have to be re-drawn on the other half before ties are laid down.  Careful work is called for when laying out the centrelines.

Santiago–two steps forward, one step back…

I had a bit of free time this morning to cut some plywood.  I’d already cut the 3/4″ fir plywood sub-roadbed to the rough shape necessary for Santiago.  I prefer 3/4″ fir plywood for a sub-roadbed due to its strength. With the time and money that I’ll spend laying track on it, I prefer using what to me is the most stable means of roadbed construction.  This is not easy to cut, but a power saw makes short work of cutting it.  I also find that a good Swedish crosscut handsaw does a decent job, and is a far safer tool to use.

I placed the full-size trackplan that I’d made earlier on the 1/4″ poplar roadbed.  The main track centreline was placed about 3/4″ from the edge of one side of the roadbed.  With pushpins, I established a diverging line following the angle set by the ends of the ties of the turnouts diverging from the main track towards the south side of Santiago Yard.  As I removed the pushpins, I twisted a pencil tip in the resulting holes.  Took up the paper trackplan, and I had a series of dots to connect, marking a cut line in the roadbed.  I drew the cut line on the west end roadbed first–the east end roadbed is a simple pencil tracing job from the roadbed cut for the west end, as the east end will be a mirror image.

I took the sheets of poplar outdoors so as not to fill the house with sawdust and wake my sleeping wife, and cut out the roadbed using the Swedish handsaw.  A few minutes’ work resulted in some new roadbed cut for Santiago—


Success–so far….

I trimmed up the cut roadbed using the saw blade to shave off sharp slivers of wood, followed by 100-grit sandpaper—


Don’t throw away the scraps!  They can be used later.  I’ve marked them for future roadbed projects.  The use of a sturdy work glove to hold sandpaper when sanding the cut edge of a sheet of plywood is good practice, as it prevents getting slivers in one’s hand and/or fingers.  The edges don’t have to look pretty, as they’ll be covered by ballast when the track is completed.

So far, so good.  I set the roadbed aside, and went to work joining the sub-roadbed for Santiago.  It consists of two pieces of 3/4″ thick plywood, 6 3/4″ wide.  One piece is eight feet and the other 5′-6″ long.  I had already cut a splice plate of the same material and started drilling holes for the splice plate and attached a few screws to one piece of the sub-roadbed through them.

Something didn’t look right.  Sighting down the 8′ piece, I noted a slight twist to the sub-roadbed.  As twisting 3/4″ thick plywood back to a truly flat surface and keeping it that way is a dubious proposition on benchwork risers,  I have set this stuff aside–it may find use as smaller pieces or where its twist is not an issue.  A new sub-roadbed is called for.   I’ll make a trip to the building centre in a couple of days.  I have an idea….IMG_0544

It looked good when I cut it….


The start of Santiago Yard


In a Grand Trunk Railway of Canada 1922 Belleville Division employee timetable, Santiago Yard is shown .79 miles east of Lindsay station.

You, gentle reader, may have noticed that I’d written blog posts on two different locations on the CN Campbellford Sub.  Madoc Junction is a scenic location where steam-hauled tonnage grain trains did battle with a stiff grade on their way from Lindsay to Belleville.  But Santiago Yard can serve a very useful purpose to the modeller.

It isn’t often that a prototype hands the modeller justification for a visible staging yard–on a platter.  Just like the prototype, my model of Lindsay’s Durham Street yard can’t hold many fifteen-car grain trains that I plan to run on the Midland.  The three tracks of Santiago Yard were rated to hold 150 36-foot-long boxcars in the 1920’s.  At that time, a grain train hauled by a Mikado was about fifty or sixty cars long.

So I set about designing my version of Santiago Yard.  Staging like Santiago Yard has to trump Madoc Junction in the beginning if I ever want to run trains on a layout.


At the centre of the above plan is the main track turnout (P.S. 4517+13.6) leading to the west end of Santiago Yard.  Note that each track straightens out before the next turnout.  This was fine for the prototype, but I have to maximise my use of space for a layout.



My hi-tech full-size drawing of the west end of Santiago Yard.  I laid it out on three sheets of legal-size 8 1/2″ x 14″ long paper taped together.  Turnouts are CN no. 7. I’ve simplified the lead to a simple ladder to maximise use of space.


The CN property plan yeilded some interesting features of Santiago Yard.  Being laid in 1904, the Grand Trunk Railway laid the yard tracks closer together than was the practice just two decades later. I am modelling this, as it helps reduce the necessary basement “real estate” for the layout.  Every little bit helps!  The “Ties 14/33′ ” notation is a reminder of what tie spacing I’ll use on each track, following CN practice.  The main shown as a dark line will be Code 70 using 18 ties per 33′ rail length.   

I prefer drawing out track plans full size.  It’s easy to plan out turnouts, curves, and easements.  You KNOW that things will fit when one commits saw to lumber and spikes to rails.  I don’t want to be wrong when spending the time necessary to handlay track. It’s also easy to calculate track lengths.  The notations 36″ to P.S. main track” and ” 5′-6″ to mirror image of this plan” on the drawing allow me to figure out the overall length of the yard before I get too far in cutting lumber.  Santiago Yard will be about 12′-6″ main track switch point to main track switch point.

Based on an HO scale 40′ boxcar (the majority of cars used in grain service in 1956) being six inches long coupler to coupler, No. 1 Siding will be fifteen cars long, No. 2 Siding and No. 3 Siding will each hold eleven cars.  As I plan to run fifteen car trains, No. 1 Siding will be long enough to hold an entire train including the van.  No. 2 and No. 3 Siding will either hold shorter trains–or crews will have to be creative in yarding their trains.

I calculated the necessary roadbed length at 13′-6″.  This allows six inches either end for splicing the single main track at the main track turnouts to the tracks leading from Lindsay and Belleville.


A few minutes outdoors on the table saw resulted in two pieces 6 3/4″ wide of 3/4″ fir plywood sub-roadbed cut from a sheet (always an adventure) along with four pieces of 1/4″ poplar roadbed of two different widths. One of the pieces of sub-roadbed was cut to 5′-6″ long afterwards.

Next step–to laminate all this plywood and draw out the track plan full size, along with tie-end lines for when I start laying ties.  More to come….

And a reminder that I should stain my deck this summer!







Where in the world is Santiago Yard?


Looking east to the site of Santiago Yard, May 1982.  The turnout is the start of the spur line to downtown Lindsay which dated to 1857 as part of the Port Hope, Lindsay, and Beaverton Railway.  In the distance is the Highway 36/Verulam Road bridge, still standing and used by road traffic.  

In 1904, the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada had been running grain trains through Lindsay for a number of years since taking over the Midland Railway of Canada.  As trains got longer with also an increase in car weight due to the use of air brakes and automatic couplers, and more numerous with the increase of traffic through Lindsay, it was found that the existing Durham Street yard in front of the station was getting rather crowded.  Much traffic was simply passing through Lindsay and had no need to be switched.

The CPR was also building a new line from what is now its Havelock Subdivision to Bobcaygeon via Lindsay.  It needed to cross the GTR somewhere to get to downtown Lindsay, and thence to Bobcaygeon.  The original plan seems to have been for the CPR to cross the GTR at grade near here, but the GTR was having none of that.  Figuring that the CPR would cross the GTR at grade, the GTR laid a new three-track storage yard to handle its increased traffic.  Surely the CPR would not cross the GTR’s four tracks on the level?

The CPR instead stayed close to the east bank of the Scugog River, passing under the GTR’s east span of its “Black Iron” bridge over the river.  The GTR objected to this, but was forced to allow the CPR to pass under its line by the Board of Railway Commissioners.

Six years earlier, the Spanish-American war had been fought, with the US blockading the port of Santiago de Cuba.  Some in Lindsay opined that this conflict between the GTR and CPR was their own version of the blockade, whereupon someone unknown gave the new GTR storage yard the name of “Santiago”.

Lindsay0007-2Looking west at the site of the west switches Santiago Yard and Durham St. yard, Lindsay, May, 1982. The yard tracks joined together in a series of turnouts to the left of the main track.  To the right is the spur to downtown Lindsay, on the left the Campbellford Sub. to Lindsay station. 

For over half a century, Santiago Yard was used by the GTR and CN to hold loaded boxcars of grain headed east to Belleville, and empty boxcars destined to Midland from Lindsay, train crews yarding the cars of their trains here.  The train crew’s locomotive and caboose were usually run back and forth on their own between the Albert Street engine shed, Durham Street yard, and Santiago.  It’s known that on occasion, train crews originating at Lindsay would bring part of their train from Durham Street yard, filling out the rest of their train at Santiago.

Lindsay’s yard limits extended 7,920 feet east from Lindsay station to mile 84.89 of the Campbellford Sub.  With the east switch of Santiago Yard being at mile 84.94, this gave five or six car-lengths of space between the east yard switch and the Yard Limit sign for locomotives and the van to be taken off or added to trains without special train orders.


CN 1948 property plan showing the west end of Santiago Yard.  The line branching to the left at the top of the image is the Campbellford Sub. to the Durham Street station; to the right is the spur to downtown Lindsay, the original routing of the Port Lindsay and Beaverton Railway.  The “P.S.” notation beside the circled number “68” indicates the switch points of the westernmost yard switch of Santiago Yard.

Near the east end of Santiago Yard was a level crossing of Verulam Road, which became part of Ontario’s Highway 36 in 1958.  In 1959, the Ontario Department of Highways erected a new steel beam bridge just east of Verulam Road to eliminate this crossing.  An Easter weekend, 1959 photo taken by the late Keith Hansen and in his book Last Trains From Lindsay shows a westward freight hauled by a CN Mikado passing under this still to be completed bridge on the main track alongside a steel boxcar in No. 1 Siding.


We’re looking west in May of this year at the Highway 36 bridge built in 1959.  The original Verulam Road crossing was where my car is parked in the photo.  Note the sheet steel smoke deflector attached to the underside of the bridge where the main track of the Campbellford Sub. was.  You can make out the supports for the smoke deflectors over the yard tracks which were removed in the fall of 1964. The Trans-Canada Trail through here follows the rote of No. 1 Siding, Santiago Yard.

With the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, grain stopped moving through Lindsay, but Santiago Yard was used to hold cars for stone and gravel loading at area quarries.  Eventually this traffic disappeared, making Santiago Yard redundant.

In 1964, CN lifted the three yard tracks at Santiago Yard, as it had sufficient capacity for the remaining traffic in its other yards in front of the station and on Victoria Avenue.

In October, 1992, CN lifted the remaining main track through what was Santiago Yard.  Since then this area has become part of the Trans-Canada Trail.  You can walk along where once Mikadoes yarded grain trains from Midland, and imagine what was, more than half a century ago.


Looking westward in May, 2017, at approximately the site of the Yard Limit sign to what was the east switch of Santiago Yard. The turnout for each yard track can be faintly traced, as well as the tracks themselves off the trail.  The cinder ballast of the yard tracks remains, along with indentations in the ground where the ties were removed in 1964. 

More to come…