L&N Defiance, KY track plan HO

  • Size: 11′ x 14′
  • Scale: HO
  • Minimum Radius: 27″ 
  • Minimum Aisle Width: 35″
  • Designed by Dan Bourque

L&N LogoThe L&N’s Eastern Kentucky (EK) Division ran through the eastern Kentucky coal fields. It consisted of a long line between the L&N mainline and the heart of the EK at Hazard, Kentucky. From Hazard, lines went up a number of streams and hollers including the Carr Fork of the Kentucky River. The Carr Fork Branch served more than a dozen tipples in the several miles between Jeff, KY and Anco, KY. Defiance, KY was about halfway up the Carr Fork Branch. A short spur went geographically north from Defiance to serve the tipple, and a twin spur went south to serve the tipple at Scuddy, just across the river.

The Layout

This layout is designed to provide continuous running and a bit of coal-field operations in a bedroom. To get the continuous running, it models the middle of a branch to give an excuse for mine runs passing through. In addition to the main track, this area was home to three tipples in a short distance along with a crossing of the river giving it good scenic potential as well as interesting operations. The interesting operations come from the spur and stub nature of the tipple tracks which make things interesting when assembling loaded trains heading back to Hazard, KY (staging).

The single deck with scenery sits on top of a double-ended staging yard and includes most of the tracks in this area albeit slightly compressed. The track arrangements are designed for the ’50s-70s when these operations were all active. It’s essentially a folded dogbone with 1.5 turn helixes at either end to reach staging. As drawn, the main level tracks are only 6″ above staging, but additional helix loops could be added to increase this space. An entry level DCC would be more than adequate to power the layout, though walk-around throttles would greatly aid operation.

L&N Defiance, KY track plan HO scale

Operations

L&N C420 1315, Red Star, KY

Typical L&N mine run power of the ’70s, a pair of C420s

This layout is designed for 1 or 2 operators operating as a crew. At least in the 1970s, this branch was usually served by two mine runs each day, Carrs Fork No 1 and Carrs Fork No 2. The tipples on the layout were usually served by Carrs Fork No 1 while Carrs Fork No 2 worked tipples further up the branch toward Anco, KY. The first move might be the Carrs Fork No 2 mine run leaving Hazard with empties, transiting the scene and ending in Anco Staging. The Carrs Fork No 1 mine run would start in Hazard staging with a pair of Alcos (RS3s, RS420s) and enough empty hoppers for all three tipples (about 20 cars). This could be a separate train or the Carrs Fork No 2 recycled. The crew would start by working Defiance, clearing out any loads in the way and shoving empties up into the stub tracks at the end of the branch. Next, the mine run would cross the river and work Scuddy by first pulling the loads and placing empties behind the tipple. The loads would probably need to be pulled up to the siding at Stoker so the crew could run around the cars after placing empties behind the tipple at Stoker. In reality, the mine run worked more tipples further up the branch, for this layout, it makes sense to turn back at Stoker, pulling the loads from Stoker and Scuddy back to Defiance. Loads would need to be pulled one cut at a time and run around to be added to the loaded train. Once assembled, the mine run would head back to Hazard. Finally, the Carrs Fork No 2 (a new train with loads or No 1 recycled) would head back down the branch back to Hazard. For variety, more mine runs could run by recycling, and the work at the tipples could be split between two mine runs. In real life, work was balanced between mine runs as needed based on the coal market and which tipples were loading at the time.

Things I Like About this Plan:

  • Continuous running
  • Track arrangements add challenge to operations
  • Decent scenery potential

Things I Don’t Like About this Plan:

  • Limited variety
  • Limited number of trains
  • Tracks in corners tough to reach

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