About the High 'N' Xiety
The High and Xiety is an operations
oriented, DCC controlled, 'freelanced-prototype" HO railroad based
primarily on the coal carrying Clinchfield Railroad of
the Appalachian region.
If you want to see some other cool model railroad pictures,
be sure to check out the pictures of our garden
The golden spike was driven on
October 23rd, 2003! Operations began in 2006! The
mainline is now 497 long. All the track for industries and
The Loops and along the
long "highline" is complete.. The 81" long Copper
Creek Viaduct is complete! We only have two industries
left to wire which should be complete by Christmas. We have
two expansions planned and we will probably begin wiring signlling
in 2007. Now we just need to get scenery and structures built.
This is an exciting time on the High & Xiety as we transform
the benchwork into scenery. During the next year, it will no
doubt begin to take on the character of the Appalachian region.
This latest view of the High & Xiety.
This is the "Highline."
It is about 14 feet long and 2 feet tall. That is Dante Yard
in the lower left. Currently there is a team of two people working
year round to scenic the
Visiting the High & Xiety
The layout is open to the public only during
the January Plano Train Show. For more information on this show,
Please note that this layout is in my home - which is not a museum. The
layout is not open to the public any other day of the year. Thank you
for not showing up on my doorstep on other dates.
This is probably
the most prototypical model railroad in the area. The towns
are in the correct
order and many structures and features of the Clinchfield
included. We don't obsess on following the Clinchfield, but
following the prototype the best we reasonably could has
created many operational challenges that are real life, rather
contrived. For example, in a mountainous region, how do you
turn a train around? You don't. Therefore, local "turns" will
return to Dante backwards!
The railroad occupies the entire second
floor of my home - over 1100 square feet!
This isn't the whole layout, but this is all that
will fit in one photograph. Level 3 is the unscenic'ed third level
on the upper right. It is above everyone's head. Mirrors on the
ceiling and a JMRI computer monitor helps manage it's 8 track,
yard with a balloon track at the far end. To the left is the highline.
Dante Yard is to the left on level 2. Bear Wallow Hollar is across
from it on the right. It is next in line to be scenic'ed. In the
far back of the photo are the Loops that get a train up from level
Hollar is level 1. Under level 1 you can just see a portion of
level 0 as trains come up from the floor and Breaks Gorge.
I have the luxury of doing what most
modelers can't do - spread things out. You will not find
any convoluted messes of businesses piled on top of each other. Each
business gets all the space it needs.
The coke works facility is over 8 feet
long and consumes about 20 square feet. The Clinchfield didn't
have a coke works, but it easily could have. The coke works
was a suggestion by one of my crew that was fantastic. Coal
in, coke out, AND 5, yes, 5, by-products out! This adds a
nice variety to a railroad that otherwise pretty much handled just
The coke works has its own dedicated
locomotive and machine shop. The coke works was sized to
prototypically consume the proper amount of coal in 24 hours and
generate the appropriate amount of coke for the same period.
permits a significant difference over other operating model railroads. This
facility can keep a person busy. Some people who operate
railroads like to stay put and not move around the room a lot. This
facility permits this.
Now where the real difference with other
operating model railroads - if not enough people show up to operate
this facility, we don't have to. Many operating model railroads
need a fixed crew size. Mine has several optional facilities
like this one that allows for variable crew size without ruining
the fun for anyone.
Another, non-coal facility that was
seeded by members of my crew was the stone facility. It provides
crushed rock, cut slabs, and a bottled-water plant. The mountains
are full of businesses that require just a few employees. This
facility occupies about 15 square feet. It, too, has a dedicated
Hysler - a locomotive frequently used in stone operations. All
the benefits of the coke works apply here as well. If you
want to run the facility great. Or we just swap out the cars
present if a small operating crew shows up.
The 42 sq. ft. Moss
Facility, modeled closely in operations to the real facility,
real, unusual operating
twist to model railroading. The Moss Facility
cleans and sorts coal. Much of the coal that came onto
the Clinchfield comes here. Strangely, it is located
at the end of a branch about halfway between the north end
and Dante, the main yard. Most coal comes southbound
to Dante and is turned around heading back north to
Moss. This forces heavy traffic in both directions
between Dante and Moss. I will have one long passing
siding and about 80' track between Moss and Dante. So
things should be very interesting! Moss is again sized
to handle a prototypical quantity of coal for an operating
day. It will keep operators busy keeping up with the
coal traffic. Moss will definitely need one full time
operator; maybe two.
Due to the size of the Moss
facility, you are only looking at about 35% of it!
All electronics is mounted on a shelf near the
front edge of the layout. Troubleshooting is as easy as it gets!
Below right is the all-important refrigerator
for the crew. Any outlet in the room is free game for plugging
in a power tool except this one. No one wants a warm soda or
At all tipples on
my model railroad, a computer will slowly move cars under tipples. This
will help animate the facility and give the operators a reason
without having to fake tipple operations.
With adequate space and a great crew,
this model railroad is definitely becoming a dream railroad. See
the Want to Help? section
below if you are interested in joining my crew.
As an electrical and computer engineer, it my intention
that this railroad be a showcase and test bed for new model railroading
technology. While operators, not technology, will run this railroad,
appropriate technology is justifiable. After all, we do not have
the luxury of even scale miles between towns and we do not have
conductors riding the cabooses with their waybills! If technology
is properly applied, operating can be fun for all.
All wiring will be done to industrial
standards for nearly trouble-free operation. It is hoped that it
as an example for others. Be sure to check out my web page, www.Wiring
Creating the Signature Look
All three railroads share spectacular mountain scenery.
All three strived to get the job done no matter how challenging
the terrain. The High 'N' Xiety captures the look and feel of these
was one of the finest engineered railroads in the world built
to unheard of standards
of its time. The most obvious examples are its penetration
of Clinch Mountain and Breaks Gorge, the Grand Canyon of
Breaks Gorge is now fully forested - 3100 trees! The mountain through the gorge is
built standing 40" tall. Both the Skaggs Hole and Pool Point bridges are
Country is the land of articulated steam. These large locomotives
used a lot of coal. The Clinchfield
needed a way to fill its coaling towers as fast as it was
emptying them. Coaling trestles were ramps used to dump coal
cars directly into the tops of their coaling towers. The
Clinchfield has so many large locomotives, they needed a lot of
coal and the tenders needed filling fast. There were two
of these coaling trestles on the Clinchfield.
Coaling Trestle - made from actual Clinchfield
Making a straight shot through Clinch Mountain
took more than just a long tunnel. It required a short bridge
on the north side, a short tunnel, and then the famed Copper
Creek Viaduct. V&SWRR (now N-S) and the highway
department took the easy way out by using a path
through the mountain cut by a river. This little
detour took the V&SWRR
30 miles out of its way. The V&SWRR also crosses Copper
Creek but its trestle is dwarfed by the Clinchfield's. This
V&SWRR, but rather just an example of the Clinchfield's determination
to lay a straight track!
Bear Wallow Switchback,
or as we like to call it, "Bear Wallar Hollar," is
the coolest mining feature on the Clinchfield. Where most
were switched off
the mainline or one of several branches, BWH is 24' long,
involves a 4% switchback, a runaway track, and two mines. Since
the tipples are
adjacent to the main, these will be the only tipples
up on a hill and will contain foreground scenery.
This will be a great scene that is fun to switch, too.
Map by Ron Flanary
There are a number of places where the view
of the Clinchfield is a lone track running high on a mountainside
or right along the river. Both of these scenes occur in numerous
places just like the prototype.
The Clinchfield "Loops" is a section
of track only a few miles long, but contained many closely-spaced
tunnels. The Loops shared the mountainside with apple orchards.
The tracks were so close together at points, the conductor
could get off the caboose, grab a juicy apple, and get back
on the caboose as it passed by on a lower track. We have
recreated the close track, numerous tunnels, and even the
Just north of Copper Creek, the area is riddled with swinging
bridges - another Clinchfield area signature.
A view of the scenic'ed "Loops." A
pair of double-headed articulateds are on the upper track
of the photo.
The Loops serve a unique function on the High & Xiety. They are
a creative alternative to a helix. Like the real Loops, trains
dart in and out of many tunnels. So unlike a helix, you can see
your train as it progresses. Also, unlike a helix, it is scenic'ed.
So rather than be an eyesore you try to hide, this little bit of
trackwork is a Kodak moment that raises the train 24"! How cool
you Accurail! Accurail
offers a custom car service. They painted the car
the color I wanted it, and printed the name,
logo, and car data all to my specifications. This
is truly serving the modeler! Custom decals
were nice, but this saves us tons of work for the
of cars we need. Email Eric Cote at firstname.lastname@example.org for
more information. They have a 48 car minimum and
are priced at approximately their list price for
the car. Not a bad deal for custom work!
What? You never saw a dark green hopper? Well,
the CEO of the HNXT likes dark green! Have no fear,
once they are weathered with a nice layer of coal
dust, the CEO is going to have nearly black cars.
Operations on the HNXT began
Just as important as coal, was the bridge
Clinchfield ran about 30% on-line originated coal, 30% bridge
coal (about half of that was cleaned and weighed by the Clinchfield
for the C&O), and the remaining was bridge mixed freight
with a good bit of fruit from Florida. The Clinchfield interchanged
with the C&O, N&W, Interstate (L&N), ET&WNC,
and the Southern (ACL & V&SWRR).
Another view of the Loops as a train travels down from
level 3 to level 2.
While the on-line originated traffic
was largely coal, to make the model railroad interesting,
every non-coal business has been modeled as well as
the inclusion of industries that were typical in the
mountain region - if not on the Clinchfield, they were
on its neighboring railroads.
The existing Clinchfield non-coal business
1. The McClure lumbering operations as well as the
river front McClure lumber yard.
2. The Speers Ferry gravel quarry.
3. The Trammel company store.
4. Dynamite shacks and mine supply warehouses.
every turnout is laid and business is planned, thoughts
it will ultimately affect operations are considered. Flying
switch situations are avoided, but not completely. Runarounds
are provided, but not usually at the small mines
with the flying switches - this was rare. So
to add operating interest, you may have to work
a little bit.
The Clinchfield had a single track mainline.
We have included five passing sidings. Given that the
railroad will be about 450' from end to end, with sometimes
150' between levels, the passing sidings will be as
essential as in real life to keep from choking traffic.
Ah, but what fun is it if we don't choke
the railroad? We don't have to contrive anything to
cause this, the prototype took care of this for us.
Southbound trains went to Dante. From Dante, they were
switched and returned northward to the Fremont Branch
- which could only be reached by a train originating
from the south such as Dante. At the end of the branch
was the Moss coal cleaning facility. The Fremont branch
was about one-third of the way back north from Dante.
Therefore, the track between Dante and the Fremont
branch not only handled normal traffic, but also the
additional coal cleaning traffic. This will cause the
amount of traffic on this one stretch of track to be
nearly double that of the rest of the railroad. On
the HNXT, these two points are about 48' apart. The
Fremont siding has been included to relieve the congestion.
Trackside Tour - Construction of the HNXT
H&X is a four
level model railroad that occupies the entire
second floor of my home. The lowest level
is called level 0 since it is close to the
floor and has no real operations on it. This
level runs through a walk-in closet, a bathroom,
and the "Jack & Jill" vanity areas.
At right is the throat for the Elkhorn City
Yard. It consists of 5 #8 curved turnouts. One
of my crew considers this a work of art. Since
the yard throat is located in a hallway and two of
& Jill vanity areas it is difficult to photograph.
I prefer to avoid curved turnouts, but this was
the only way to get 12.5' long yard tracks in
the Jack & Jill area and the walk-in closet.
Located in the walk-in closet is the balloon track
This area is not scenic'ed. It is intended
to be walked on, yes, walked on. Notice the light-colored
plywood plates surrounding the points. These
protect the points from foot traffic. As unconventional
as this is, all this actually works!
The layout then runs through one
of the bedrooms. Level 1 and level 2 are
the normal operating level typical of double
decked layouts and occupy what would have been
two bedrooms and a game room where the dividing
walls have been omitted. The final level
is about 72" off the floor. This is obviously
too high to operate, but provides a prototypical
perspective of the famed and picturesque Copper
here for the HNXT Mainline Track Diagram
Determining the operating height,
and that I would even have multilevel operation was
no small decision. I'm 6'6". With normal
multilevel layouts, both are operated standing up. However,
selecting good heights for myself would be bad for
everyone else. So the first normal
level is 32" for operating sitting down. The second
level is operated standing up or sitting on a stool.
To go between levels, the train runs
along the back wall. This allows the train
to gain elevation without the need
helix as well as create the classic Clinchfield scene
of a lone train high on the mountainside. Also,
unlike a helix, the
operator can see their train - rather than it disappearing
into a helix and praying the entire train comes
The Elkhorn City Yard occupies the
closet, vanity, and bathroom area.
|Leaving Elkhorn City,
scenicked track begins as the train exits Skaggs
Hole Tunnel and enters The Breaks occupying the
entire one side of a bedroom. Here the
floor to ceiling distance is nearly identical
to the scale distance from Clinchfield Overlook
- about 920' up. To best mimic this, the track
is a mere 7" off the floor! Other than
the coal loader in Breaks Gorge, there is no
operation here due to the low proximity to the
floor. The view for the average adult
will be about a scale 600' up. Note: The
bridge extends 12 scale feet into the tunnel - just
like the prototype!
Passing through spectacular
Breaks Gorge required four tunnels and two
Each of the two bridges is paired up with a
tunnel making rather picturesque
scenes. Breaks Gorge features class six rapids (read deadly for all but
the best kayakers).
You can't hear the rushing water
of the Russell Fork. Only the horn and faint
rumble of the diesel engines can be heard - otherwise
the train passes through the gorge as if
it was floating on air. Perched
on the rock outcropping of Clinchfield Overlook,
above sea level, winds can make this a frigid
place during the running of the Santa Claus
know from experience!
|Pool Point Bridge is a box truss
deck bridge. Skaggs Hole is a deck girder. Both
have open decking and both have a walkway. There
is a Carl Sagan's worth of trees (billions and
billions) planted here in the Breaks. The
Breaks has a usually dry waterfall, which we
have modeled and a very unusual tunnel at Stateline. It
has a third portal on its side where rubble
was dumped into the Russell Fork rather than
taking it back out one entrance or the other. This
third portal is still there today and was modeled.
Trivia question: How many rabbits
do you see in the above picture? One? Some
railroads have hidden
Santas, Elvis, and even Jimmy Hoffa. This one has rabbits. The railroad
is covered in them and more are being added as construction continues. Be sure
look for them when you visit. Don't be mad if you leave without finding them.
This isn't a game for wusses! You can practice on the above photos. There are
After crossing through Pool Point
Tunnel, the train comes around to the isle and is
scenicked as it gains elevation. It takes about
150' of mainline to rise to the first operating level.
Haysi is on the first operating level
as well as Delano Siding and Fremont Junction.
the first level the train travels along the picturesque
background to travel
through Sandy Ridge Tunnel - the longest tunnel
on the Clinchfield. Also the longest on the H&X!
is brought into Dante on the second level (Pronounced
Dant or Daint by the non-Italian residents. Dante
was an Italian cook when the railroad was built.). Here
a turntable and two double-ended yards are placed
end-to-end so that trains can cross the scale. Here
trains may arrive from the C&O and the Clinchfield's
northern coal fields. Cars may go back north
to the first level to go to the Fremont Branch. Dante
is a very busy place.
Southbound trains from Dante go through
the "Loops" for a final spectacular exit
on a high mountain side and then across Copper Creek
- just like the prototype! - to the final hidden
storage yard. The operator
will be looking upward at the train as it leaves
railfans do today.
The 81" long x 23"
high Copper Creek Viaduct
about $600 to build using Central Valley and Micro
Engineering materials. It is the correct scale height
and about 2/3rds of the scale length. It is shown
the scene. When the scene is complete, a highly detailed
photo will replace this one on this website.
Computer-aided Model Railroading
Give your old computer a new lease
We are very excited about JMRI
- Java Model Railroad Interface. In a fraction
of the time it would take to wire a control panel
with 64 turnouts on it, we have a computer-based
control panel. Check back here periodically as we
phase in the use of computers to aid operations.
are also very pleased about how fast we could
implement JMRI. Thanks to Brad Glass for configuring
JMRI for the High & Xiety.
Perhaps the best part
about using a computer is the cost - free. Well,
almost. The only thing I had to buy was the computer-to-Loconet
interface - about $40. The computers were perfectly
good, old computers that are too slow to run XP and
other modern software. Luckily, JMRI doesn't tax
these old machines. I just saved my old computers
rather than discard them.
We have an old 900 MHz
Win98ME machine acting as our main dispatcher control
and server. It displays all the mainline turnouts,
is able to control them, and even is able to align
all turnouts for the mainline. It also has throttles
so we can control trains.
We have an even older
90 MHz Win98 machine connected via ethernet to the
server. This computer is used to display the state
of the ladder tracks to a hidden storage yard. Rather
than display each turnout, logic is used to determine
which yard track the turnouts are aligned for. It
also displays whether a yard track is occupied
by a train or not.
Do you now have the itch for the Clinchfield and fresh
mountain air? Are you now wondering why I didn't put
this section at the top? If you live in the Dallas,
Texas area, we need to talk.
I am lacking help in the following
1. I'm desparate for someone to do scenery. It is no wonder so many layouts
never get past benchwork and
trackwork. No one wants to do scenery!
2. Car and locomotive assembly,
decoder installation, couplers installation
3. Model building - especially kitbashing, scratch-building, and craftsman
There are no dues and dinner as well
as soda and beer of your choice is provided. Work
held on Thursday nights.
In return, you get to operate on
one of the largest layouts in the Dallas area for
free. You don't get the usual arguing of the typical
club. This is perhaps the most prototypical
layout in the area, is the only Appalachian layout,
and one of the best thought out from an operations
You also get to network with all our unemployed
members. We even have a few that have jobs! For those
who don't, we offer free dental. With all these tools,
I ask that you not be a member of another
club unless you are single, divorced, or want to
be divorced. I have found spouses grow tired of
you playing trains twice a week. Also, there seems
to be more clubs than members in Dallas. Clubs
seem to think the best source of new members is another
club. That may be true, but is not very courteous.
Besides this website, I spend money on fliers and
other efforts to recruit people. I ask that you
not try to recruit for other clubs as
a valuable member of our team.
has become very important.
1. When people only show up occasionally,
we are not sure where they left off.
2. The tools they didn't put up are now lost under
the layout somewhere.
3. With occasional members, it gets crowded when
everyone shows up on the same night.
ask that you be willing to make an effort to make
it 75% of the time. Life will present many reasons
why you will not be able to make it. We just
ask that you be interested enough to try to attain
this level of attendance.
1. When you need to plug in a saw or something,
do not unplug the refrigerator that keeps the beer
and sodas cold
I may not be able to protect you from the posse if
the cordless drills become useless, or worse, the
2. No "ooops" or "ut-ohs." I
worked at a government facility where they stopped
stocking red pens to
reduce mistakes. The "no ooops or ut-ohs" policy
works about as well! Nonetheless, if the mistake
is preceded by a loud, crashing noise, it is sporting
to make like a cat - "I have no idea what just
happen, but I didn't do it." Better yet, blame
it on someone who didn't come that night. If you
can make it stick,
that is all the better!
If you are able to do any of these
things, please e-mail me: bigboy@WiringForDCC.com
Be sure to take this little picture
tour of Clinchfield
I have several cats. We are frequently complimented
that our house does not smell like cats. The cats
are also not allowed in the train room. So mild sufferers
do not have a problem. Those that suffer more severly
may have trouble.
An Argument for
Modeling a Prototype
The last argument
your club will have!
This argument usually falls
on deaf ears - including mine at one time. Before
you turn away, read on as to why the Clinchfield
is an easy and ideal reason to model a prototype. The
argument for modeling a prototype is simple. You
don't have to think everything up. It has already
been done for you. Modeling the prototype
keeps the model railroad from being hokey.
You can tell from everything
above that there will be plenty of interesting features
and operating challenges derived from the prototype
without having to resort to making up things to make
the railroad interesting and fun.
So what makes the Clinchfield
an ideal railroad to model? There is a limited
number of reference materials on the Clinchfield. It
won't take you long to read the few books or watch
the few videos available. Fortunately, all
are excellent - two of them written by the Clinchfield's
Does reading a book take
too long? I could have read all the books several
times over as I have sat through club meetings arguing
over plans for a model railroad that has no direction
or focus. For clubs, modeling a prototype
means an instant end to arguments. The only
debate is which and how the various elements of the
real railroad will be scaled down. Just think
how much faster modeling a prototype moves you towards
a finished masterpiece! Alas, some love
Does modeling a prototype
mean everything has to be the way it was? I
wish I had a home big enough to put everything in
just the way it is! No. I make things
the way it was when I can and if practical. Still,
going this far sure has made things a lot easier
than all the completely freelanced model railroads
I had attempted in the past.
One of These Days...
When we get everything else finished,
we will find some room for the Little River and the Eastern Tennessee & Western
The Little River Logging Company was an
innovative enterprise that was perhaps a little more determined
than some logging operations to retrieve tanning bark and later
lumber. They helped develop the Sary Parker, a logging skidder
of sorts that could pull itself up steeply inclined rail to extract
lumber from the remote reaches of the Great Smoky Mountains.
To their specifications, Baldwin developed a 2-4-4-2, the smallest
articulated ever made, to carry lumber from the base logging
camps over the long trip out of the mountains into Townsend,
In the ultimate act of determination, they built
a swinging bridge up one side of Meigs Falls. Ties and track
were layed on top of steel cables. Additional steel cables acted
as guys to stabilize the bridge from side to side.
No locomotives were ever run up this bridge. A
Sary Parker was pulled up over it. The Sary then pulled logging
cars up over it. The cars rolled down the bridge after loading.
The loaded cars were then taken away by more conventional means.
When not photographing trains, the Board of Directors
of the H&X enjoys photographing waterfalls. So needless to
say, the H&X will feature Meig's Falls and the swinging bridge.
Lastly, the H&X will feature a small bit of the
Eastern Tennessee & Western North Carolina narrow gauge.
This railroad passed through the spectacular Doe River Gorge
and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The ET&WNC interchanged with
the Clinchfield. It was a well funded railroad that financed
its determination through the rugged terrain. This good funding
also provided the ET&WNC with unique covered bridges that
also had its deck truss sheathed to shield it from rain, mildew,
and rot. Along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you can find a
spot where they chose to build a serpentine trestle out into
the creek and around a rock rather than blasting it out
of their way. You know we have to include this unusual bit
of civil engineering!
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