The Clinton Subdivision in N-scale

The story of the N-scale Clinton Subdivision starts from a desire to build modules to the Free-moN modular standards.

The Free-mo standards (in all scales, not just N-scale) are a collection of modular standards which define the endplates of modules and set a few track standards (minimum radius, minimum mainline turnout size, and rail code) but leave the details of size and shape of the module, outside the endplates, up to the module builder. This allows a great deal of freedom when designing modules. A focus of the Free-mo movement is building modules for operations rather than for show running.

The First Module

I spent several years searching for a prototype location to use as inspiration for my first module. I was looking for a location that would allow some local switching, but might also be useable as an endpoint of a layout. My prototype railroad of chocie is the Frisco, so a location on the Frisco would be prefered to locations on other railroads.

There were many candidate locations, but none really jumped out and said "this is it" until Karl Brand started posting his Father's field drawings of the Frisco Clinton Subdivision to the Frisco Library on http://www.frisco.org. Karl's father was in charge of MOW for the line, and his field drawings are very nice for modeling purposes.

The location on the Clinton Subdivision I was drawn to most was the Blairstown,MO. Blairstown had several things going for it. The town was the site of a passing siding, so trains could pass, but it also had a double ended house track serving several industries. (a grain silo, a fuel oil dealer, plus the freight house/passenger station). Another bonus is that Blair Line makes a nice model of the station that once stood in Blairstown.

The prototype Blairstown location was actually the end of the line for a time durring the 1970s. There were timber tressles at each end of Blairstown. The one on the northern end of town caught fire in 1976, so Blairstown was serviced by the local from the south (originating in Springfield,MO). In 1977, the southern tresle caught fire, and the trackage was embargoed. The trackage to Blairstown was formally abandoned between October 1979 and February 1980.

Blairstown Module Track Plan

The track plan above depicts the Blairstown module as designed. The final track layout varies slightly, mainly due to the use of Atlas number 10 turnouts instead of NMRA standard #10 turnouts.

The Blairstown module currently has complete trackwork and some scenery. All of the structures are assembled, though some of them still need to be weathered. The module was in running order for the N-scale convention in Louisville in June 2008, and appeared in the Free-moN layout there. A few photos of the module in its current state can be found here.

A second module

While the Blairstown module filled several needs for an opeating Free-moN layout, I have a large interest in exploring the freedom provided by the Free-mo standards. I decided my next module would depict a crossing at grade between two railroads. Furthermore, I wanted the module to allow connecting tracks to all 4 sides of the diamond. Additionally, I wanted the diamond to be protoected by a simple mechanical device, an electrically locked gate.

The electrically locked gate is was a critical factor in finding an appropriate location. The electrically locked gate would indicate that one of the two lines was signalled and the other line was dark teritory. The electric locks prevent the gate from being opened when a train is allowed through the crossing on the signalled line.

Given my interest in the Frisco, I looked through my collection of employee timetables for a location of interest, and came up with 3 candidates. I decided on Harrisonville,MO, a location north of Blairstown on the Clinton subdivision. Harrisonville features 2 gated crossings between the Frisco and the Missouri Pacific's White River Line.

Harrisonville Track Plan

With the exception of the small industrial peninsula, the framework for the Harrisonville module has been constructed. The center section is now functional with the frisco trackage basically complete. The Missouri pacific trackage will not be completed until track is placed on the end pieces. The two end pieces are framed, but do not yet have cork installed. A few photos of the module in its current state can be found here.

A move and a new layout

In June of 2008, I completed graduate school and accepted a job which required a move to a new house in a new city. I decided I didn't want to bring my existing layout with me, but instead would build a layout around the Free-moN modules I had constructed and/or planned. The new house would allow me to build an around the walls layout in a roughly 10x10 room. I decided to make the layout U shapped to avoid blocking the closet door, which I would certainly need to be able to access.

Since I already had modules depicting two locations on the Clinton Subdivision, I decided I would incorporate these into the layout, and add a third location on the Clinton subdivision as well. Since my existing modules included the Diamonds at Harrisonville, I decided the third location should be between Harrisonville and Kansas City. This would allow continuing the Missouri Pacific trackage, which largely paralleled the Clinton Subdivision into the Kansas City Area.

The location I settled on was Dodson,MO. Dodson was the site of a diamond between the Frisco and the MoPac until 1967, at which point the Frisco line was abandoned between dodson and BV junction. After this time, the Frisco operated over trackage rights on the MoPac tracks between BV Junction and Dodson. The Frisco retained the Clinton Sub from Dodson to Harrisonville along with a short segment of the line in Dodson, which was retained to access local industries. This required two new connection tracks between the Frisco and MoPac.

On the MoPac, Dodson was the location of a pair of lap sidings. The sidings were CTC controlled, just like the MoPac siding in Harrisonville. The connecting tracks to the Frisco line were electrically locked, requiring a request to the MoPac dispatcher to unlock them.

Another feature of the Dodson location is a connection to the Kansas City Public Services Company Railroad. The KCPS was a shortline built from the remnants of a trolly system in Kansas City. I plan on modeling this connection, even though it appears to have been out of service by my 1971 timeframe. The line had trolly poles on it until it was removed from service.

The track plan for the new layout appears below.

Frisco Clinton Subdivision track plan

The trackage between Dodson and Harrisonville was retained by the BN until 1989. Some potions of the line were sold to other interest, though the trackage at Harrisonville has now been removed.

The Missouri Pacific Trackage through Harrisonville is now operated by the Missouri and Northern Arkansas Railroad.

Layout Revisions

Work on the layout continues at a slow but steady pace. The latest progress note is that the corner between harrisonville and Blairstown is being modified to include a representation of East Lynne,MO.

At East Lynne, the frisco had a connection to a former MKT line. The Frisco served a grain elevator on the line, and also used a trestle as a team-track for unloading bulk commodities

The track plan for the East Lynne segment of the layout appears below

East Lynne Module Track Plan

As of January 21,2011, the East Lynne module how has all mainline trackage installed. I still need to construct a trestle for both the mainline and the former MKT line industrial trackage. A few photos of the East Lynne module in its current state can be found here.

NOTE: Strictly speaking, East Lynne is not a Free-moN module. It does not comply with the minimum radius standard.


The content of this page is Copyright 2008, by paul.bender@acm.org