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Southern Pacific Dayton Avenue Signal Tower

A scratchbuilt model of a Southern Pacific concrete interlocking tower that once controlled a busy intersection in Los Angeles.

Southern Pacific Dayton Avenue Signal Tower

2023-04By Jurg Lutscher/photos by the author

The “Orange Empire,” my O scale two-rail layout, located in the urban region of Southern California, represents the postwar transition period. Trains of the two large railroad companies, Southern Pacific and Santa Fe, operate on this network. The main line connects at Arroyo Junction to Taylor Yard and to the Taylor engine terminal. Right at the introduction, let me clarify the dimensions of my layout. I do not model a greater part of this large railway network. My available space would not allow that to happen. However, I try to replicate in a limited segment the busy activities related to an important section of this railway network.

For a busy hot spot, as described above, an appropriate signal tower is required to control the traffic. After a few search activities, I located my preferred building. Southern Pacific constructed a modern concrete signal tower in the 1930s at Dayton Avenue in Los Angeles. This building fits my layout both functionally and geographically.

Dayton Avenue Tower

Searching on the internet, I located a pretty good copy of the original Southern Pacific blueprint for that signal tower. This enabled me to determine the outer dimensions of the building. With a true scale drawing, derived from the original blueprint, I determined that the dedicated signal tower would fit perfectly in the intended location on my layout. My decision to build this model from scratch was made; I wanted to take on this challenge.

For the tower’s structure I simply used polystyrene sheet material from Evergreen Scale Models. Material with a thickness of 1.0 mm/0.040” ensures the necessary stability of the walls. With additionally applied styrene strips, I built up the raised elements on the building’s facades. This functional Art Deco styling makes this signal tower very distinctive. I used plastic windows from Grandt Line; they fit perfectly in the structure…

2023-04Read the rest of this article in the July/August 2023 issue of O Scale Trains Magazine!

This article was posted on: August 15, 2023