Vancouver Island Model Engineers
Major Track Expansion, Grand Opening and continuing work
latest images from February 2008 are at the bottom of the page.
The Vancouver Island Model Engineers are building a 2,350 foot extension to their track located 10 miles north of Victoria, BC Canada. The extension will cross an active Salmon creek 5 times on four bridges as it winds its way through the woods. Needless to say, because of the environmental sensitivity and difficult access of the location, the planning and construction discipline of this extension has been of the highest standard.
In many cases jobs that would have normally been done with excavators, tractors and cranes, as the images show, are being done with pick, shovel, plain old manual labor and, some ingenious engineering.
In the image of the track plan below, the existing track-age is shown in red on the left with the raised small gauge track inside that. The location of the new bridges are shown in orange crossing the salmon creek. The Silver bridge is shown at 1 pm, the red bridge at 4 pm and the black bridge at 7 pm with the double track connecting (to the old track-age) bridge beyond that.
In September 2003 the planned path of the track through some very old growth woods and very rough terrain is marked with stakes
By January 2005, most of the permits had been acquired and much of the track bed had been cleared and rough graded
A view of the grading work next to the Mitchell Bridge on the existing track-age
Drainage culvert to allow the Salmon to pass under the railway. Dug out single handedly by Steve Vadeboncour using just a pick and shovel in less than one week after permits were refused to use machines because of concern that the salmon habitat would be disturbed. The story goes, after permits were refused, the authorities were asked was if manual labor could be used , they laughed and walking away said "have at it" Steve did....It is seven feet wide, six feet deep and over ten feet long.....
The finished culvert allowing the Salmon free access to their spawning grounds
The first of four bridges being delivered to the railway
Club President Manfred Rose working on one of the main bridge supports
Two of the three 25 foot bridges waiting to be installed. The three bridges are painted Red, Black and Silver respectively to keep location identity simple until names are chosen
Claude Jolviet's (pulling) neat invention for moving the bridges into place along the track bed. In this image he is testing it out by moving the girder into position over which the bridges will be drawn into place.
Test fitting the first of the three 25 foot span bridges to the dolly device
By mid September 2005 it was time to place the first bridge
By the end of September 2005 all three of the 25 foot span bridges had been placed.
No more work can be done on or near the bridges and creek until the end of the Salmon spawning season in March 2006
Track panels coming out of the lean-to panel shop built on to the back of the main workshop.
Steel bar-stock rail welded on to a steel chair, then screwed on to a recycled plastic tie.
Built to last!
January 2006 and work continues.....
Fresh delivery of tie material. 2800 feet of steel track panels to the left.
More fill to finalize the grade
Bridge trestle section being wheeled from the weld shop to the paint shop
Painted, it is lowered into place at the silver bridge
View up grade from the silver bridge showing trestles in place
Test placement of two switch panels at "Mitchell bridge" station
Plenty of water in the salmon steam at the moment
Use of concrete test coupons to contain ballast should reduce future ballast cost and maintenance.
Final grading leading up to the black bridge
Andy Leonard with his finished graded track section sweeping behind him between the black and silver bridges. The footpath crossing is in front on him.
Final grading leading to the red bridge
Final grading at the s-curve before the black bridge.
Dave Cormie & Rob Alder fitting decking
Bill Smith finishing a concrete base for a water tower
Two images of John Yardley welding up the huge main bridge structure.
Track laying will commence after this bridge is painted and set in place. It is required to join the old and new track-age together.
Decking in place leading to and on the Silver bridge
Final grading leading to the Red bridge
Three images showing the installation of the first of two switches cutting off from the existing track-age leading to the new extension.
Dennis Weaver painting the last corner of the 60 foot long main bridge
Main bridge components painted and ready for installation
John Yardley rolling through where the second switch will be located with a service train. John Purdy on the hi-rail to the left with the new track extension showing to the right.
The VIME mobile tool car built for working on the new extension sitting in the early morning sun
James Powell decided he was going drive the first steam loco round the new extension!
shown here crossing the black bridge on his 4" scale Fowler Traction Engine.
Water and power boxes are now set in place every 200 feet.
A view from the new extension across the pond to the boat house museum
Dave Cormie and crew installing the second switch from existing to the new track-age
Finished installation after ballasting
Don Friebe building (another) retaining wall
Claude working on final preparations for bridge girder installation
John Yardley at work on the main bridge installation
A final coat of paint on the new water tower
Final ballasting of the high and low level tracks
Three views of the new lead in from the existing track-age to the new main bridge.
Steve Alder digging out the path for the new cut off
Bill Smith, Steve Alder and Dave Cormie pouring and finishing concrete for the new crossing
The new extension cut off can be seen curving away to the right
A severe test of the construction quality!
Tent in place, ready to start track laying
Andy Leonard building steps down to the waters edge at the side of the culvert to allow checks to be made on the Salmon run.
Transferring the tool and welding cars to the new track-age
Offloading the tool car
Tool, welding and work cars under cover in the moveable workshop
A gondola being used for it's intended purpose....hauling freight, in this case track ties.
Track panels progressing toward the culvert
By the April 1st the track was over the culvert and heading for the red bridge
Ballast by the barrow load moving across the red bridge with tamping and track laying just around the corner
The Red Bridge was crossed on April 15th 2007.
Steve Alder and Dave Cormie, The "Head of Iron" gang making excellent progress.
Owen Hanam and helper grading and tamping
The Black Bridge was crossed a week later on April 22nd 2007
Steve Alder and Dave Cormie looking tired but very happy with the progress.
The Silver bridge was reached on May 6th.
Note the track winding it's way up the grade beyond the bridge.
In this image the site Forman can be seen supervising operations from the three wheeled ATV on the right.
Click here to see a video clip of the last track panel on the main loop being installed
Steve Alder welding the last joint on the main loop
Steve Alder and Dave Cormie after the last weld of the main track loop is completed
Owen Hanam rolling by with the BC Rail electric on test after overhaul.
Drip pans being loaded on to the main bridge structure
John Yardley prepping edges for welding on the main bridge approach structure.
Two views of the completed track work, less final ballasting
Main bridge approach beams set in place
All loaded up ready for the first test run over the new extension
Dave Cormie rolling over the Silver Bridge and up the 1.7% grade with an estimated 1300 lb load on the first run of a train on the new extension May 27th 2007
Steve Alder brings the first steam powered train up the grade on June 19th 2007
Crossing the Silver Bridge with on the same day.
John Yardley continues to prepare the main bridge for placement.
The two main spans ready for the crane to lift
The crane arrives
First span is lowered into place
John Yardley posing with the two spans at the end of a successful mission
John and Claude fit the "Cat Walk" to enable final assembly of the bridge
This image really sums up what has been achieved......
Steve Alder readies for the days activities
Russ Noe from Seattle taking water while Josh Palanuk from Oregon crosses overhead
Alan Von Ruden also made the trip from Seattle
Dean, driving Alan's Mikado emerges from the woods with a good load
Steve Alder heading down into the woods
Lindsay McDonnell crossing the new 60 foot dual track bridge
Russ Noe in a classic live steam setting
Much of the VIME facility is dual track-age adding to the experience for Engineers and Passengers
Steve Vadeboncour on the second level between the red and black bridges
Dave Cormie in charge of the ADA car
Lindsay McDonnell gives English visitor Jim Nolan of a tour of the new track.
Jim runs the web site Northern Steam which documents his efforts to build a 1.5" scale 4-8-4 South African 25NC loco.
Bill Smith, part of the grand opening parade on his Marie Estell
The former location of the storage container after clean up
6 new passenger cars getting close to completion
The new extension has yet to see a sunny run day. John Yardley on his Pensy K4 heading for the black bridge
John Yardley with a full load
Visitors are coming from far and wide to see the new extension.
This group, with project manager Bon Buckle on the right are from the Long Island Live Steamers in New York
Completed water tower
Installation of a new by-pass track will allow trains to use the new extension without passing the steaming bays and station
Note the newly restored Grand Trunk Western passenger car in the background
Steve Alder at work on the diamond crossing
View taken from the main span leading to and from the new extension.
In this view the main line sweeps away to the left while the new cut off turns to the right in front of the passenger car in the background.
Track superintendent Dave Cormie casts a watchful eye as the first run is made over the diamond crossing.
Final ballasting and clean up
Finished and ready for the 2008 season
What do you do when you have built one of the best miniature railroads in the World?
The next V.I.M.E .project.....a Roundhouse
The club web site can be seen here
Images by Watcyn Jones, DDV and Trevor Heath