Kansas City West Bottoms Layout

Discussion in 'Divisions' started by Boomer John, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. Boomer John

    Boomer John Member

    Hello again:

    I've been off line for sometime with computer issues. But all seems working now. Was anyone getting some goofy maleware issues when trying to log on?

    Anyway, the West Bottoms has made good progress and I am about to send some pictures. My layout is 26 feet down one wall, 12 down another. The long side is 1 1/2 foot, the short leg 2 feet in width. It starts moving right to left with a small fiddle yard disguised as the adjacent GM&O freighthouse, goes past the Frisco freighthouse, under 12th street bridge and down Santa Fe switching several warehouses, Rudy Patrick, Sunshine and down the short alley track. Turns left into Henning Street Yard and Armour.

    From John Szwajkart's booklet "Train Watcher's Guide to Kansas City" (1991) here is what I am modelding

    "Just north of 19th Street Yard at 12th Street, a short SLSF branch leaves the KCT and goes north. Running in Santa Fe Street, the line crosses the UP at Old Union Depot Crossing and then crosses the MP a block north. A short distance north the line turns and heads west into Henning Street Yard. The line also extends north a short distance to a connection with the CGW at Ohio Avenue Yard. This line was used by the CGW to reach connnections in Kansas City"


    "There were a number of small yards in the ara, one of which was Henning Street Yard in the West Bottoms. It handled interchange and stockyard traffic, but no power was kept at the yard".

    It s a fairly simple linear plan and somewhat mirrors the SLSF SLIC diagram that can be found on this website. I have drawn out a trackplan in Excel, but can't figure out how to upload it to this website. Also, how may jpg files can I send at one time?

    Pictures to come.

  2. Boomer John

    Boomer John Member

    West Bottoms Pictures

    Moving from right to left on layout (south to north)

    1) Off stage-fiddle yard lead and storage


    2) GM&O Freighthouse-fiddle yard


    3) Holsum Foods folds down to reach throat of fiddle yard


    4) Frisco freighthouse, picture of real freighthouse on this website.


    5) Under (a much compressed) 12th Street Bridge.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 19, 2013
  3. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    Re: West Bottoms Pictures

    That's looking really good. That highway bridge is cool. Is it scratchbuilt using styrene? I also like the weeds and grass and it looks very convincing. Glad your computer issues are resolved.
  4. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member Staff Member

    Re: West Bottoms Pictures

    Very Nice work John,
    Who's switches and ballast did you use? Looks like a lot of fun to do some switching on.
    Thanks for posting photos.
    Tom Holley
  5. Boomer John

    Boomer John Member

    Re: West Bottoms Pictures


    I had some old Peco100 I used in the fiddle yard. The rest is Atlas 83 with a little 70 in front of Frisco freight house. Ballast is Arizona Rock NP. On sidings I mixed the ballast with dirt until it looked about right to me.

  6. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    John -
    First of all: this is going to motivate me to be in the workshop tonight to work on our Northern Division. Besides, I may need a distraction from Mizzou basketball. :{

    The 12th Street freight house and adjacent viaduct look VERY good. Even without the distinctive viaduct, I think the Frisco freight house really stands out. And, I must know what you're using for the tall grass; I can't decide if it's fake fur or static grass?

    Thanks for the update; it's good to have you back online.

    Best Regards,
  7. Boomer John

    Boomer John Member


    The grass is Heiki 1575 and 1576
  8. dricketts

    dricketts Member Frisco.org Supporter

    That is looking really good John. Wouldn't mind coming over and seeing it sometime.
  9. Boomer John

    Boomer John Member

    West Bottoms Update

    I've been silent for awhile on my West Bottoms. Here is a rambling narrative that might be instructive to others not yet building a layout. From earlier post I model the Frisco going up Santa Fe Street in the West Bottoms. "L" shaped 28 feet turning left into Henning Street yard 12 feet switching Armour reefers.
    Early last year I sort of lost interest. Some things were just not working out and I was having a hard time getting interested in working on the Plywood Pacific Railroad. So my eye started wandering, Lance Mindheim's modern era, Tom Johnson's INRAIL (check out website, amazing work) and Trevor Martin's Port Rowan in S Scale. Starting drawing alternative track plans. That's why I took the name "Boomer", railroad slang for a person switching railroads. Never saw a railroad a didn't like, except maybe over modeled Colorado narrow gauge. Should I start over? I took a hard look at what I was doing, here were my issues.

    1) In an earlier post I showed how I had connected Caboose ground throws from the facia to the switch by under the table wires, clever right? First one worked great, of course. But about four of the twelve are constant problems causing derailments and fiddling.
    2) This was my first layout (after 25 years of drawing track plans). When I started some of the scenery looked OK to me. But I have raised my standards, it just did not look good.
    3) A center piece of the layout is the 12th Street bridge. This is a big structure, mine just did not do it justice and did not look good.
    4) This layout would have a lot of street track, how to model that?
    5) I needed background pictures of the bluffs. None of the available prints looked right, and man are they expensive.
    6) Some of locomotives stalled in some switches, some did not. A FM was fine, SW7 and MP15 came to a dead stop at the frog. This drove me crazy.

    But with all the problems, some things were pretty good.

    1) A must have for me is to model a proto type location with identifiable features. 12th Street bridge, Broker's Building, Rudy Patrick Elevator all there.
    2) I've run some operating sessions myself, I like it. Various jobs; industry, freight house job, switching Armour. It is a good track plan if you like slow speed operation.
    3) I have all the equipment purchased. Might buy a couple of Baldwins with Loksound if Bowser comes out in Frisco.
    4) A lot of help available for Frisco friends through this website and local connections.

    So what to do? After months of no activity I decided to fix my problems and see if it changed my attitude.

    1) Caboose ground throws coming out. I have another operations oriented solution, I assure you have never seen. Stay tuned. The brakeman has to do something.
    2) Scenery around the freight house was ripped out and redone. Used various materials to do away with the sea of green. To my eye, looks really good.
    3)Pulled out the 12th Street bridge. I built a new one that was more of a wood working project. Only models a portion of the arched piece. Not as good as the one posted on this website made out of foam core (I think), but I like it. Big improvement.
    4) Poured the street between KCT crossing and freight house under the bridge using Woodland Scenics product. After a lot of sanding and dust and painted grey, looks good.
    5) One day I was down at Doc's in West Bottoms and there was some kind of event where lower section of 12th Street bridge was closed off to traffic.
    I walked up to the crest, hung off the bridge and took pictures of the bluffs with my I phone. Now have those picture behind freight house, including "Cow in the Sky". KC'er will know what I am talking about. Looks good to me.
    6) After a lot of cussing discovered stalling was caused by the wheelbase of the locomotive being too short. Powered the closing rails, problem solved.
    Who would guess the wheelbase of an FM is longer than an MP15, it is.

    So, my West Bottoms lives. Making great progress, ready to move on. Soon as a finish a couple of things, including the freight house I will post pictures. My goals for 2015 is to finish between KCT and MP crossings, weather my freight cars and have my first operating session.

    So here is what I learned that maybe some will find useful. My opinion, which may or may not be for you.

    1) As I've said before, just build something. I wasted 25 years being swayed by model railroad magazines I needed some big layout to be worthy. My opinion, go for quality over size of layout. Check out Trevor Martin's Port Rowan website, something like six switches. It does not take much layout to enjoy it if you do it right. It is easier to make a less complicated layout bullet proof. Having to use the 0-5-0 switchers will ruin your layout.
    2) If something is not right, don't be afraid to rip it out. Keep improving.
    3) If you have your own Plywood Pacific Railroad lurking in your basement or garage, figure out if you can salvage it. If not, tear it out to clear your head.

    Thanks for letting me take up a lot of band width. Stay tuned. I have to go switch the Broker's building and Rudy Patrick.

  10. Coonskin

    Coonskin Member

    Re: West Bottoms Update

    Good read, John! Lots of good tips therein.

    As I recall, you are having better success at capturing prototype scenes than my layout space was going to allow me to do, so it's good that you've distilled what was bugging you and have got into action again.

    Looking forward to some pics!
  11. SteveM

    SteveM Member Frisco.org Supporter

    Re: West Bottoms Update

    Good to hear of progress. You are right about working toward quality. It can be discouraging to look around the corner and see how much grass/backdrop/trees, etc. there is to get to the "basic" level.
    I hope to see your work during one of our trips to KC area, hope you are having some of the locals by occasionally for input. I cleaned the room up and had an open house for neighbors and friends in November. Folks were very complimentary and it gave me impetus to keep on making mistakes and trying new techniques.
  12. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    John, glad that you didn't stray to "the dark side!" Glad that you're keeping the West Bottoms locale; I think you're concept looks fun and you're much further along in your construction than I.

    Excellent summary of pluses and minuses; it sounds like you took a critical look at the layout and will be focusing on what can be improved. And, I'm quite intrigued by your solution to the turnouts, vis-a-vis a brakeman! I'll look forward to hearing more.

    Best Regards,
  13. Boomer John

    Boomer John Member

    Here are two pictures of West Bottoms.

    1) Sw7 rumbles past the SLSF freight house just south of 12th St viaduct with bluffs and "cow in the sky" on the horizon.
    2) Same shot looking north. Brokers building and Tower 2 in the background.

    I need to improve my lighting.


    Attached Files:

  14. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    I like the mood of the lighting and the backdrop is really nice. You've done well giving a sense of scale between the rolling stock and huge concrete structures. Very nice!
  15. gstout

    gstout Member Frisco.org Supporter

    Re: Most recent photos posted:

    I had a somewhat similar setup on my previous Kansas City-based layout with a bridge that more or less terminated on one end at a wall and on the other at an aisle, and I continually got comments fro visitors regarding my "bridge to nowhere" (thanks, I guess, to that airhead from up in Alaska). Question, and this is just for fun, do you ever get comments like that?

  16. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    John, It's looking really good; you captured the idea of the hill to the east.
  17. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    Nice work, John. The freight depot's especially nice. Anyone who knows the West Bottoms area can immediately pick out where they are by the key landmarks.

    The Cow in the Sky is a really nice touch - I'd probably have overlooked it in the photos if you'd not noted it!

    Best Regards,

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