L&N RR Knoxville Division

L&N RR Knoxville Division

L&N RR Knoxville Division - L&N RR Knoxville Division

July 2014 – Update

Well, its been a few weeks now since the last update and the May Ops Session. Due to going on Holidays for a week, the amount of tasks I set myself and the readiness of the AT&SF Boise City Sub layout, I decided to push back my next Ops Session until mid August.

I had set myself a few objectives to be done before the next Ops Session.

The first of these was to have working signals between Oak Ridge and La Follette. These are a pair of intermediate signals to protect against head on accidents as trains round the end of the peninsula through the tunnel. Happily this task is done and the first 2 of my Signals have been built and installed.

Also built and installed are all the remaining track detection ccts. The Main Line and passing tracks are all detected, The main line is detected all the way down to the Staging yards. I have used 2 variations of the Coil detectors in that I have some using Remote Coils and others with distributed track feeds from a group of detectors.

Since I have Detection working it was time to start making freight cars detectable. With 300 Fox Valley wheel sets, a pack 10K surface mount resistors, Super Glue Gel and some wire glue on the work bench, it was time to start production.

The Production Line.

The Production Line.

Once you get started you can knock out 15 axle lots in under an hour. But it is still going to take a while to get them made up and fitted to over 300 freight cars. FVM wheels are really nice, but need the black finish removed for the wire glue to work. Also the treads need to have the black taken off to help them work.

There are still plenty of tasks still to be done but these will be placed on hold for now.

Over the next few weeks I will be working on preparation for the next Ops Session. Sorting out the freight cars, waybills, repositioning trains and sorting through a few things that came out of the first session.


May 2014 Update

To say that May has been busy on the Knoxville Division would be an understatement. The first 2 weeks was consumed by getting as much as possible done in preparation for the Ops Session. Since then I have reflected on the night and there are plenty of things to be done before the next session in July.

I had a few projects on the go for the Ops Session such as the Staging yard control panels. These use the 751D cct boards from Ken Stapleton in Canada. A really nice cct to control the Atlas code 80 turnouts in staging and provide feedback on the panel as to the way they are set. The first of the 2 Arrival/Departure staging panels is now completed.

Etowah Tn South Staging Control Panel

Etowah Tn South Staging Control Panel




I also decided that the Layout Signals needed to start getting made. So, after searching the room for all the parts I decided to build a single head Searchlight signal. This wen fairly well and i was very pleased with the result. So much so that I built a 2 head signal the next night. That was after making a jig to cut the brass tube for the signal masts and hoods. I also made a jig to help assemble the masts.

Bass tube cutting Jig (top) and Signal assembly Jig below.

Bass tube cutting Jig (top) and Signal assembly Jig below.

Now that I had started building signals I needed to get back into JMRI and start adding everything there that is needed. But first I had to test the Signal LED’s I plan to use on my Digitrax SE8C. I used 2 Digitrax Signal masts to understand how to operate the 3 signals that sit around a turnout. Once that was done I built a Signal test unit with the Common Cathode red/Pure Green 2mm

Double head and Single Head Searchlight Signals.

Double head and Single Head Searchlight Signals.

LED’s I purchased from http://www.led-switch.com/ 10K resistors to feed the green and 1K on the Red, mounted 4 LED’s and the resistors on vero board, added the ribbon cable and after a few wiring issues I had a Test Signal.

Test Signal for Common Cathode LED's. The B and C signals on the left and the 2 A signals on the right.

Test Signal for Common Cathode LED’s. The B and C signals on the left and the 2 A signals on the right.

Test Signal connected the SE8C

Test Signal connected the SE8C

So what is planned from now until mid July? Hopefully a few working signals on the layout. With Detection working from Oak Ridge to La Follette I will probably add some signals there first. Some updates to the train packs we use for the Car Cards, some refinement to the Train Schedule and work on the Corbin Staging Yard Control Panel. But I’m sure there will be other things as well.






Historic Event on the Knoxville Division.

After making a commitment about 2 months back. last night the L&NRR Knoxville Division held its first full operating session. The invitation went out to my group of 11 fellow N-Scalers and the crew arrived ready to go. After checking out the layout and the usual chit-chat it was 8:00pm and time to allocate the crew to the jobs. Brendan Volunteered to run Knoxville Yard. He may have been informed that he was running the yard. Either way he does the yard job exceptionally well. Ron took on the La Follette Local, Big John started with the Oak Ridge Local, Noel and Charlie headed off to Butler Paper in Morley and took charge of the mill switcher. John C ran the first through freight, a northbound produce train. The timetable quickly got behind which was not totally unexpected, but this was more due to the Local’s not being ready to go.

By the time we stopped for supper we were running well behind the clock, which had been slowed from 4:1 to 3:1 to help the road crews. Even though we were behind time we had run 2 local’s and about 8 through trains. After the break we finished of running the schedule and by about 10:30 – 10:45 when we called and end to the night we had run 2 locals, a transfer job and 12 trains over the layout.

A very pleasing result given that this was the first session with a full crew. Thanks to the Crew. Rod, John F, John C, Barry, Brendan, Charlie and Noel . A special thanks to Ron for helping over the past 2 weeks in testing the layout and the timetable which I’m sure contributed to how well the night went. Thanks All.


In the lead up to the night I have built 2 control panels for the north and south staging which I hope to complete before the next session. These will replace the Atlas slide switch controls. The new panels utilize the 751D turnout controls by Ken Stapleton. Nice cct that works really well on the Atlas code 80 turnouts in the staging level.

Lots happening in Knoxville Yard.

Lots happening in Knoxville Yard.

Charlie, Ron and Noel at work in Morley.

Charlie, Ron and Noel at work in Morley.

Yard Master Brendan with Barry and Rod in Knoxville.

Yard Master Brendan with Barry, Rod, John C and John F in Knoxville.

A study of concentration. John F working the Oak Ridge local.

A study of concentration. John F working the Oak Ridge local.

Barry running a Northbound through Knoxville under the eye of the yard master.

Barry running a Northbound through Knoxville under the eye of the yard master.



The New Quarry Building – March 2014

While attending the Sandown Model Train show I picked up the Walthers
Glacier Gravel kit.
After spending some time over the next few days I had the kit built and the
track realigned to suit it.

A photo backdrop will finish this off at some time down the track.


Greg Johnstone
Division Superintendent
L&N RR – Knoxville Division.

April 8 – 2014

Just a quick update on what has been happening in the layout room.

Over the past month or so there has been a lot of planning and plenty of work getting the room and layout ready for operations. Car Cards checked and ready. Waybills on the way. Train Schedule still a work in progress. Temporary Car Card boxes have been knocked up, pained and added to the layout.

A fair amount of work has been done under the layout with most of the old heavy DC and AC bus wiring removed. New Power supplies to replace a big old 12V AC supply and the rewire for that was well worth the effort.

The next few weeks will be fairly busy.


16 Monthly Update ????

 16 monthly update ????

Just over 16 months ago I started a blog for my L&N RR layout with every intention of posting regular updates. Hopefully I can get that part back on track starting with this post.

So what has happened in the layout room over the past year and some? I have a spreadsheet that I use to keep track of what I am doing with the layout.

Loco conversions: 

Currently the Locomotive Roster stands at 66. A few more that I had intended, but sometimes a bargain comes along. All but 4 are DCC equipped. There are also a few DC only loco’s that could go to a better home.

Caboose Roster:

21 Cabs make up the fleet. Mostly in L&N Early scheme Grey with Red lettering, Red with Yellow lettering and Family Lines Grey with red and yellow stripes. A couple of red Southern cab for the transfer trains from the Southern and an Orange Clinchfield cab which lives on the breakdown train.

Signals and CTC.

After seeing a Rod Warren convert his Santa Fe Southern Division layout over to a fully signaled CTC controlled layout I decided to have a look at it myself.
I always wanted to have signals on the layout and was going to just connect them to the turnout switches. That would only give a basic indication of how the tracks were set. I designed a small protection circuit to add to that to give red signals to trains about to head around the end of the peninsula if there was a loco coming the other way. Designed but not built as there were other things to do.
After looking at how the signals operated and how that made the layout take on a new life I knew what i wanted to do. I looked at my track plan and decided to cost up adding Tortoise motors to the turnouts on the main line, but only for the main turnouts at each town. There were only 15 turnouts to give the level of automation I wanted and that would only need 2 Digitrax SE8C boards to connect them.  Also 2 boards would be enough to connect the signals to and I would have 16 inputs for train detection. Nice work. All the numbers balanced. time to order.
With the order placed I started to look at this a little more. I could really use more than 16 detection blocks, so I had a good look at what I needed to detect and decided, after some help from Brendan Dennis, that I needed to get a RR-CirKits TC-64 Tower Controller I/O board. Now I had 64 inputs. Some of these will be for track occupancy detectors and some will be for Turnout indication for manual turnouts on the main line and in several passing tracks.
All of this to be displayed on a JMRI CTC panel for a dispatcher to take control. Here is the current CTC panel using Layout Editor in JMRI. Currently I only have a black background, but I will make the Typical USS CTC panel with all the switches on the Green sections.

I have moved the 2 15″ PC monitors up to the valance at the end of the operating area so the train drivers will be able to see the fast clock and a small track diagram.

In these photos you can see the Dispatcher Panel and the overhead screen that will show the Fast Clock and track Diagram for the Drivers.

I still have a fair amount of work to do to get all of this done, but I am expecting to have all the Tortoise motors and local switches installed before the 2013 Australian N-Scale Convention in April. Track occupancy detection and indication on the CTC panel might have to wait until later in the year.
Building signals will also be done as time permits, with only 40 or 50 to make.

If you are attending the convention I hope you can have a look at the layout on the Saturday Bus tour.

Time to get back to it. hope you enjoyed this update. Hopefully the next update wont take 16 months to get posted.  :)

L&N RR Knoxville Depot – October 2011

L&N RR Knoxville Depot.

There has been a little work done around the L&N Depot at Knoxville in recent weeks. The Depot Building has been completed. The Platform has been installed, a second track added to allow splitting of long passenger trains and to allow freight cars to be delivered to the Depot.  The second track required the platform to be split so that the freight tracks serving Knoxville Cold Storage and Bruno’s Bakey were not impacted to serve the Depot. The Road bridge and road leading to the station is now in place and road traffic is already moving over the bridge. It won’t be long until “The Southland” stops at Knoxville Station for regular passenger services.