Santa Maria Valley Railroad in HO-scale

SMVRR70 2008 Bruce Petrarca

Bruce is working on a model based on the early 1960s, when light Mikado #21 shared the rails with GE 70 ton locos and the very first GE U6B ever built. This railroad will be powered by NCE DCC.

It will be located in a bedroom of our home co-located with Bruce's workshop.

It will be a high (about 53 inches off the floor) shelf style (24 inches +/- deep) layout to allow room for storage and other needs below it.

The photo is of one of the SMVRR 70-ton GE locos switching. Bruce took this photo in 2008.


We purchased a new home about a block and a half away. So, it is now time to move to the new house.

First, take down the bench work and backdrop and then remove the cabinets. Here we are in the midst of the move.


The cabinets are disassembled from each other and ready to move to the new (larger) train room.

The new room provides me some choices: continue with HO SMVRR or move to On30. If I make the move, DCC or Power On Board (POB). If POB, what control mechanism.

Stay tuned for the throught process.


I created a fictitious timetable for my SMVRR railroad as part of the Chief Dispatcher achievement certificate on the road to my Master Model Railroader certification. It was built in 2009, using the early version of Microsoft Excel.

I’m posting it here for those of you who might want to use it as a starting point for your string diagrams.


HO MORX #9204 Reefer

Billboard reefers were the rage in the early 20th century. Regulation #201 from the ICC in 1934 banned the advertisements on freight cars. Compliance was immediate for manufacturing, while existing cars would not be required to be repainted until 1937. The first all-steel reefers coming into service in 1936, signaled the end of wooden reefers, billboard or not. Iced reefers were, however, still in use into the 1970s. 

With this background, I decided to build this kit and weather it as if it had been built before 1934 but was still in service many years later. After the ICC ban, it would have been being used on a captive short line, like my Santa Maria Valley Railroad.

Here is the "billboard" side as supplied in the kit.

IMG 0707

Here is the finished car.

IMG 7955

SMVRR #8 Flat Car


After visiting the Santa Maria Valley Railroad in 2008, I got the idea of building a flat car to model the "benign neglect" I found on some of their rolling stock. Witness MOW #11, that I photographed that day: 

4-18-2008 7-55-05 AM
4-18-2008 7-55-57 AM

I present SMVRR #8, a fantasy car built in their shop from bits and pieces available: redwood decking material, metal angle and plate, and some 100 ton ASF trucks. This car will never leave the railroad, but be used to move large items around the 20 mile short line between its interchange yard with the Southern Pacific at Guadalupe CA and out to its easternmost terminus. Thus, it has none of the traditional reporting marks. It has no stake pockets and the deck has been widened a bit to keep the outside dimension the same as a traditional flat car with external stake pockets.

HO SMVRR #8 Flat Car

Bench work

This fall I finally got working on the bench work. This may turn into an article for Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine. I made the mistake of building the bench work cantilevered off the wall and then deciding to build cabinets below it later.

Here is a shot during the cabinet build process.


Moved from Litchfield Station

I moved the 8-1/2 foot long switching layout - an expansion of the John Allen's Time Saver - from Litchfield Station into our home and temporarily set it up on top of a couple of cabinets. Installed car-card boxes and we are ready for interim operations.

Copyright © Bruce F. Petrarca 2007 - 2018; All Rights Reserved