Welcome!
To Allan "Need Another Locomotive" Gartner's Clinchfield-based
A Dallas, Texas area HO Model Railroad

Club-sized, operations-based, layout without the club-sized problems!

 

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 railway!

Layout Status

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 yards have been layed. Scenery on 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.

HNXT Highline

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 High & Xiety.

Visiting the High & Xiety

The layout is open to the public only during the January Plano Train Show. For more information on this show, visit http://www.dfwtrainshows.com. 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 have been 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 than 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!

Breaks Gorge

The railroad occupies the entire second floor of my home - over 1100 square feet!

HNXT Layout Room

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, double ended 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 2 to level 3. Below Bear Wallow 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 coal.

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.

This 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, adds a 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 of the Clinchfield 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 beer!

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 for being 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 will serve as an example for others. Be sure to check out my web page,  www.Wiring for DCC.com.

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 railroads.

The Clinchfield 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 the Southeast.

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 built.

Breaks Gorge

Clinchfield 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

Coaling Trestle - made from actual Clinchfield blueprints!

 

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 is not a condemnation of the 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 mines 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 not located 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 apple trees.

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 is that?!

Thank 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 hundreds of cars we need. Email Eric Cote at accurail@accurail.com 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.

HNXT Custom Hopper Car

Operations

Operations on the HNXT began in 2006!.

Just as important as coal, was the bridge traffic that the Clinchfield handled.  The 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).

Highline Loops

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 modeled are:
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.

Before every turnout is laid and business is planned, thoughts to how 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

The 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 the Jack & 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 for Elkhorn City.

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 Creek Viaduct.

HNXT Elkhorn City Yard Throat

Click 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 for a 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 out.

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 bridges. 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, nearly 2000' above sea level, winds can make this a frigid place during the running of the Santa Claus Express.  I 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 to 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 three.

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.

Leaving 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!

Coal 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 Viaduct - just like the prototype! - to the final hidden storage yard. The operator will be looking upward at the train as it leaves just as railfans do today.

Copper Creek Viaduct

The 81" long x 23" high Copper Creek Viaduct
It cost 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 awaiting landscaping to complete 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 on life!

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.

We 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 panel 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.

Wanna Help?

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 areas:
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 kits.

The Benefits:

There are no dues and dinner as well as soda and beer of your choice is provided. Work sessions are 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 standpoint.

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, why not?

Policies:

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 the spouse rule eventually kicks in and we loose a valuable member of our team.

Consistency 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.

Therefore, we 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.

Don'ts:

1. When you need to plug in a saw or something, do not unplug the refrigerator that keeps the beer and sodas cold or the cordless drill battery chargers. I may not be able to protect you from the posse if the cordless drills become useless, or worse, the beer is warm!

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 Country!

Allergy Sufferers:

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 Chief Engineer!

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 to argue!

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 North Carolina.

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, TN.

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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