Lenexa Industrial Park Area

Discussion in 'Kansas City Subdivision' started by Boomer John, Aug 2, 2016.

  1. Boomer John

    Boomer John Member

    I am convinced it is time to scrap my West Bottoms layout. Things I have done that I would never do again,

    1) The track has to be bullet proof. I have sections that seem to derail and turnout stall.
    2) I have truncated buildings at the front of the layout that you have to reach around to uncouple.
    3) Modeling street track is more like work than enjoyment.

    So, what to do next. My wife and I went to a lighting store out around 87th Street in Lenexa and I noticed three great industries with switching possibilities. On the website I found the track diagrams, thanks to Karl of course. I ended up following the line further south to 107th Street. There is an interesting section just west of the mainline on 107th Street that includes a three track yard in the middle of the industrial park. According to Karl's post there were a couple of big customers in that section including the JC Penney distribution center, no longer served.

    A lot on money was spent putting in all that industrial track. There are similar sites all over the country, lots of sidings little activity today. For example, there is a big park up by the KCS yard. I am trying to salvage as much equipment as possible, so my question is when did the country go nuts putting in all this industrial park rail service. I have a BY SW7 and a BY Baldwin. I also have a lot of 40Ft boxcars. To get this to work it seems the period would be late 1960's to early 1970's. Would this park in Lenexa have been built then?

    I worked in the area in the early 1980's and remember a OW SW usually parked along Santa Fe Street.
    I don't remember a lot of rail cars in the industrial park at that time.

  2. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Frisco.org Supporter


    Most of track-laying activity occurred during the 1963-1975 period. Just before a particular lead was laid, my dad occasionally would take my brother and I with him to set center stakes for the industrial lead. It was a great experience to learn some rudimentary surveying. I will claim credit for manning the transit on the RCA spur.
    MadeTheHill and rcmck like this.
  3. rcmck

    rcmck Member Frisco.org Supporter

    John, this area would be very interesting to model!

    I recall driving up and down the Kansas City Road (probably a thousand or so times) when I was a teenager in the mid-70's, with driver's license, and idle time on my hands. The freight carried was surprisingly diverse and the volume was greater than it is today (as you can see by the existing empty track - with quite a bit of track dismantled).

    Example - just to the south of the RCA lead that Karl refers to, exactly where Bass Pro Shops is today, was a large lumberyard (Mission Lumber - I believe). There were always cars on the adjacent sidings - loads and empties. This time of year, with windows rolled down, you could smell the cedar while driving by - ah! Another example is on the other side of the mainline, where large auto parts - 86 ft., high-cubed, boxcars were spotted. I believe this was a Ford auto parts distribution center.

    I can't recall the names of the industries in that little three-track yard you referred to, but there were several served, again, with diverse freight cars - tank cars (believe there was some type of chemical plant there), as well as the usual covered hoppers, box cars, and so forth.

    Just to the the north of 95th St., where it crosses Santa Fe Trail Dr. (also the same as the Kansas City Road), Smith and Loveless used to ship interesting loads in and out of their facility - usually on large flatcars.

    Another large customer, was Johnson Controls - believe they had a plastics division in that area. From recollection, I believe they would receive carloads of plastic pellets what were used in the plastic fabrication. In the past, I've seen decent length strings of those covered hoppers that were staged on adjacent siding tracks.

    I've likely missed other examples - but you get the idea.

    One advantage to modeling industrial areas, like this particular one, is that you can utilize building flats or incorporate photos against backdrops, and so forth, as the customers are spread out and not just crammed into a confined area of large buildings, like the West Bottoms.

    During this period, there was a daily Lenexa Switcher job. Switch Engine was usually parked on one of the sidings between 95th and 107th.

    The Lenexa depot would be manageable to model, and there was a small freight house situated along the house track at one time - it was gone by the mid-70's. Rick McClellan turned out a nice model of the depot. He's reminisced about spending lots of time rail-fanning in this area, during it's heyday, as well with me.

    It would be interesting to know whether the Frisco netted a sizable return on the investment they made in laying all the track and dedicating crews to switch this area. There is one spur that comes off the mainline (might be the RCA spur Karl spoke of) that goes for probably a good mile or two back to the west and over toward Lackman Ave. and J.C. Penny Distribution Warehouse.

    Track charts and diagrams are contained on a thread (as I recall) regarding the Lenexa Industrial Park area.

    On my bucket list: scan all of my old Kodak prints of the Frisco in this area and post on-line.

    Good luck John!

    Bob McKeighan
    Lenexa, KS
  4. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    Sorry to hear that the West Bottoms layout is on its way out, John. But, I will offer a resounding "here here" to #1. I can tell where I've laid track when I was tired.

    That being said, a quick look at all of the late 1970s schematics for Lenexa show a lot of potential for operations. Hopefully we'll have a chance to peruse, cuss and discuss a layout plan before long.

    Whatever we all can do to hold you accountable for this, Bob, I'll be happy to help. These would be some real gems. :)

    Best Regards,
    rcmck likes this.
  5. Boomer John

    Boomer John Member

    The zone maps posted by Karl ( Northern Division,Kansas City, Lenexa-Olathe Industries) shows two industries adjacent to the yard, Whirlpool and Continental Can. Karl reported heavy traffic coming from both of these industries. If you Google Map the location today, there are now three buildings. You also have a multiple door complex at JC Penney. In that section there was also a large multi-door customer called, Bayvet, don't know what they did. Anyway, with about four or five customers with multiple spots you have all kinds of car movements going on out of that three track yard.

    One thing I learned with the West Bottoms, it does not take that much railroad to entertain yourself. Sure this won't work if you want eight people to operate it. But I find myself operating much like Lance Mindheim suggests, 20 minute increments at the end of the day. I need to post on some of the things I do to enhance the brakeman's job; switch stand, uncoupling lift bar, crew placement, locks, air hoses, brake checks. It can take me ten minutes to pull a track and replace a boxcar.

    I have gone over the zone maps for Lenexa, I can't find the RCA building.

    One thing I did not mention in my first post of things I don't like about my West Bottoms, too many Walthers, DPM modules. i.e. there is the Walther's freighthouse, there is the Walther's elevator, there are two building built with DPM parts, etc. I think I can fix this with modern warehouse type buildings with plastic outside skin over a wooden frame. Docks, roof details, color, shape and doors would give some variety.

    Operationally, I am encouraged on Keith's post of putting a Tsunami 2 with capacitor in a Broadway Limited SW7. That should fix the stalling going over turnouts. Did they ever make these in OW? I also have a problem with what I will call wobble. My track looks good, one truck is tight one truck loose on freight cars. I think is is because I did not sand the N scale cork before I laid the track.

  6. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    John, the BLI SW7 was made in Frisco O/W livery; I have one. With the New Tsunami 2 TSU-PNP board, one can now have the correct EMD 567 non-transition prime mover and also Digital Dynamic Exhaust, which will cause the prime mover to notch up based on changes in motor load (plus lots of other neat stuff). I just completed on-site SoundTraxx training in Durango, and I am contemplating replacing the original Tsunamis I installed with the new T2s.
  7. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    John, that's rather along the lines of what I'm hoping to do with our first "sea trial" later this year for our version of Olathe. Even when we get the Fairgrounds Branch/29th Street interlocking, I see us having an operating session where we just switch the branch.

    I honestly don't know that I have more than 30 min. at a time to operate. And I most certainly do not have room for more than 2-3 people in my layout space.

    At any rate, I look forward to details on how you "pace" your sessions with the brakeman's job. And, I look forward to more thoughts and sketches as your Lenexa Industrial layout takes shape.

    Best Regards,
  8. Boomer John

    Boomer John Member

    Last Sunday I visited the proposed prototype that my layout would be based. You can find it on Google maps by typing Lenexa Ks, Gill Studios.
    This will put you in the area where you can find the three track yard. Pretty depressing, the fact if was a dreary day weather wise did not help.
    There were no freight cars in the park. The ones you see in the Google map in the yard looks like some kind of BNSF training facility.
    But there were tracks everywhere. What was interesting was the different materials, heights and colors of the buildings. I have posted a couple of pictures.


    Whirlpool, Continental Can Looking East.jpg Bayvel from Mid American St West.jpg New Holland, Gill Studios 109th St. North.jpg
    Ozarktraveler likes this.

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