Welcome to Kudzu Country!

Allan "Need Another Locomotive" Gartner's Clinchfield-inspired

"Home of countless pieces of flex track that are too long to throw out and too short to use."

A Knoxville, TN area HO Model Railroad

 

 

Listen to your wife. "Go play with Allan's Trains!"

About the Kudzu & Tennessee

The layout that COVID-19 built.

The pandemic has given me a lot of time to work on my layout. I am much further along at this time than I thought I would have been. I have repurposed one of my businesses as a vaccine factory..

May 16th, 2021 Click here to see the latest pictures!

I have retired to Maryville, TN near Knoxville. The new layout is being built in the 49' x 16'6" room over the garage. Like my last model railroad, I will be trying new thngs that you probably have never seen done before.

The layout is a folded loop capable of continuous running when viewed by guests. For operating sessions, there is a wye in the middle of the loop that will allow trains to be served by a yard that will effectively will be two terminating yards.

So that I don't have to lay on my back under the layout, all the wiring is being done from the front via hinge-down smoked acrylic facia. This will also allow me to store things under the layout without having to move them.

Further, to avoid having to get under they layout, there will only be switch machines for turnouts that are hard to reach. It gets better, there will be no ground throws!

Faster construction doesn't mean cheaper. For example, using IDC's (Insulation Displacement Connectors, also called "suitcase connectors") will be faster at connecting feeders to buses than soldering them, but cost more than using solder. I'm also using terminal strips to connect feeders to buses. They cost money, too.

I started using Peco Electrofrog turnouts and switched to Peco Unifrogs when they became available; both with the sprung throwbars. I'll just change the turnout position by flicking the the points with my finger. With few switch machines and no ground throws, I need a way to power route frogs. I will be using Frog Juicers. They cost a little less than Tortoise, but don't require access under the layout. Since I had Tortoises that I sold, once again my construction technique will be faster, but not cheaper.

Ah, but in one way, it will be cheaper and so much faster. That is, there will be no control panels. Control panels traditionally consume about half the time it takes to wire a layout. When I've been in clubs, that's all I did was wire. As most model railroaders aren't good at wiring, I often worked alone.

For speedy construction, the layout will be one level instead of the four levels of the old railroad. Another reason is that the room has slanted ceilings. Trying to go multilevel would drastically narrow the railroad. I don't have a set timeline for finishing, but surely it will be faster than the 14 years of the previous layout.

With all the facia panels being hinged-down, the benchwork will be octogon shaped for the turn around loops. The smoked acrylic hinged-down facia will allow viewing of status lights without having to drill the facia for all of them as well as label them - another speed booster.

All the town names used on this railroad are real places in Tennessee. They are: Big Boy Jct, Bitter End, Boom, Boring, Bucksnort, Difficult, Falling Water, Frog Jump, Hornsbeak, Lick Skillet, Moodyville, Regret, Sawdust, Screamer, Suck Creek, Sweet Lips, Three Way, Tiger Tail, Tater Peeler, Top of the World, and Yum Yum.

Yes, this will be a long, narrow layout. The middle of the "E", shown above, will contain the yard. The top and bottom of the "E" will run down the two walls. (The west side is shown started in the far left.)

The benchwork is shaped like the letter "E". The yard will be located on the middle leg of the "E". The turn around loop are at the ends of the "E" and shown in the foreground on both sides.

Another view facing north showing the end of the penisula.

The north wall were the west and east wings are joined to the penisula. The penisula will contain a yard that will act as both ends of the railroad.

Februrary 10th, 2020

I tried using stencils to make my mountains, but I wasn't happy with my handiwork. So, I hired a local mural artist, Gale Hinton, to work her magic. www.galehinton.com Above is just one view where she gave me rolling mountains, a waterfall, a cabin, birds, and even a still. Can you spot the still? This scene is on one of the vertical walls I have. To the right, is the slanted ceiling.

The benchwork is complete with plywood tops installed. I'll give you a hint, Go to Harbor Freight and spend the $48 for a rotating laser level. Yes, you may never need it again, but after trying to install 302 risers without it, I broke down and spent the money. In one day, we adjusted the 70 risers we had installed so far and completed the remaining 232 risers.

March 12th, 2020

Close-up of hinged-down fascia and trackwork laid so far. In the distance are the buildings from the old layout that are waiting to see if I will have a place for them on this railroad.

Now that the backdrop and fascia are complete, the planning of towns and laying track can get underway.

Aug 17th, 2020

Here is a portion of the east side after the track for the industries has been laid and wired. You can also see the status lights of the various DCC electronics that are shining through the smoked acrylic. Here you can also see another view of the mural backdrop. Landscaping yet to come!.

December 24th, 2020

Despite the challenges that COVID-19 is throwing at the KAT, good progress is still being made.

I also put down a base coat of green paint so that the plywood doesn't show through the ground cover when I put that down. In the meantime, it also helps make the layout more presentable than bare plywood.

January 28th, 2021:

I hit a milestone of sorts this past week. I learned to spell peninsula: p-e-n-i-n-s-u-l-a! All the track on the peninsula is laid.

There isn't much good that can be said about the COVID-19 pandemic, but I have been able to get a lot of work done on the layout.

I'll put in signal or two when I'm done with the mainline wiring, but most of the signalling will be put off until later so that I don't risk damaging the signals while doing other work.

Rats! Ran out of grey paint! In any event, all the track on this layout is now down. I surprised myself. I had salvaged enough track from my old layout that I was able to complete all the trackwork without buying any.

I did switch to Peco turnouts for this layout. Towards the end, Peco came out with their Unifrog turnout. No point hinges, tiny powerable frog, and connections between the closure rails and stock rails. A primo turnout!

I collected all those short, unloved pieces of track just to see how many there would be. It turns out I have 124 pieces that were too long to toss, but too short to use. Some of them will be used in a rail salvage yard. The rest will be unceremoniously tossed.

March 19th

I'm done wiring my track! I had it as my goal that I would finish the track wiring by the time I was vaccinated and I did it.

I have added the ability control my turntable with DCC and also automatically only power up the track the turntable is pointed to.

May 16th

Now that we have our vaccine and clubs are active again, I'm not working on the layout just about every day like I was. Still, progress is steady.

I'm using foam board and lightweight spackle for my scenery base. Maybe not the cheapest way to go, but definitely light, durable, and not too messy.

I'm also building the kit of the station of my home town. How many people get to have the station of their home town on their layout? In building this kit, I have come to the realization that I should buy two of every kit I want to build. One to screw up and figure out what I should have done and figure out how to build the kit correctly. The second kit I would build with everything I learned and get it right and looking good.

If I can do the kit justice, the station should come out looking something like this.

I'm going to try a couple of new things. One, I have a large gorge in front of a window. In case I ever need to access the window, I want the gorge to be removable. I'm using magnets to hold the gorge sides in place.

Two, to make my railroad easier to photograph, I'm not going to anchor all the foam mountain pieces in place. It may be good to remove some to make some pictures possible. With the mountain sections on the camera side of the tracks removed, I'll put down some ground cover under the mountain sections that I remove. That should make many more pictures possible.

Check back in a month or two and check up on my progress.

Stay tuned for more. In the meantime, check out the original High & Xiety that I built in Texas.

"A little help from my friends." Finally, I'd like to thank the following modelers who have helped build the Kudzu and Tennessee. Some times I just needed an extra hand. Other times, they were just better than I could have done, were much quicker than I am, or just simply helped out while I was focused on wiring.

Feroz Appaiwalla - scratchbuilding wooden structures
Jim Arrasate - model painting
Don Clark - carpentry
Harley Nichols - scratchbuilding
Jim Vineyard - scratchbuilding wooden structures
Jack Wallschlaeger - craftsman kit construction and scratchbuilding

Be sure to take this little picture tour of  Clinchfield Country!

 

 

Copyright by Allan Gartner 1996 - 2021 © All rights reserved. All users, commercial and non-commercial, may link only to this site at www.WiringForDCC.com.