Missouri-Kansas-Texas, St. Louis Subdivision

An N-scale Model Railroad wth Emphasis on Operations

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The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad

St. Louis Subdivision

An operations-oriented N-scale model railroad

  • Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad


    St. Louis Subdivision


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Located in a 15 ft by 25 ft basement train room, this N-scale single deck, operation-oriented layout incorporates a separate 400-car staging yard to facilitate the “beyond the basement” concept.

The MKT’s traffic from St. Louis to Kansas City and Texas is simulated over nearly four scale miles of mainline track, with emphasis on freight, coal unit trains, and grain traffic.

Operations on the MKT, St. Louis Subdivision simulate an enhanced version of the traffic that would have existed in 1984. You can expect to see multi-unit freight and coal trains, some autorack and pig trains, and lots of local switching action.

You’ll run primarily Whitman green and yellow locomotives, with a smattering of leased power in the consists.

As the elite operators say, “No sound, no layout”, so the mighty MKT has sound-equipped locomotives.

An enthusiastic operating crew of eight can complete a nominal three-hour operating session with ease, running 17 over-the-road trains, up to five locals, and a dedicated Union Pacific switch job.

You can bid for the dispatching job and follow the trains across the faux-digicon-esque track schematic on the computer monitor. Or you can run the yard, and kick the local trains out to serve the industries. Or you can relax in the crew lounge and watch train videos with the Superintendent. The choice is yours!

During operating sessions, we keep the atmosphere loose and fun, with an emphasis on the social aspects of the hobby. The credo of the Mighty MKT: “Start slow and taper off”.

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The MKT, St. Louis Subdivision was featured in the Sep/Oct 2000 issue of N Scale Railroading
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The MKT, St. Louis Subdivision is also featured in the May/June 2016 issue of N Scale Railroading

Of all the average railroads in the country, the Katy was the most average. ~ Casey Jones

Layout at a Glance 
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Layout at a glance
  • N Scale
  • Single room, 15 ft x 25 ft. with 17-track staging in separate room.
  • 1984 MKT North End, from Sedalia, Missouri to St. Louis, plus branch line to Columbia, Missouri
  • Walk around, linear, sincere (single time through scene), single deck
  • Layout height nominally 53 inches
  • 90 percent scenicked
  • EasyDCC with wireless throttles (tethered available for yards)
  • Full ABS signalling
  • Computer dispatching console, powered by C/MRI goodness
  • Basement stairs access
  • 8 Operators (typical)
  • Verbal track warrants using radios (supplied)
  • Rule G is annulled during operating sessions
Jobs on the Layout 

Jobs on the Layout

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Franklin Yard Yardmaster - Works the yard, breaking down trains and creating locals. You will stay moderately busy throughout the operating session, but it is not a stressful job. The locals are called when sufficient cars have been assembled, so there are no time-dependent aspects to the job.

Job complexity/stress level: Moderate to above moderate, depending on your desire to put locals on the road. Work the 101-series trains. Kick out some locals. Chat with the dispatcher. Life is good!

Union Pacific Local at Boonville (a.m. and p.m tricks) - Works the wall-side industries at Boonville from a separate two-track staging yard. This is a good job for those who enjoy switching and rail fanning at the same time. You won’t need a radio, since you only work the UP-served industries. You will also work the interchange track and set out cars destined for the Boonville industries that are served by the MKT. The crew on the UP Boonville job will have the option of completing both the am and pm shifts, or swapping out the job for a road crew.

Job complexity/stress level: Easy to moderate. Lots of switching, but you have no schedule. Take your time. Do some railfanning. Haughtily deride the puny MKT trains as they ramble by. Life is good!

Four Local Jobs (Columbia, Westinghouse, St. Charles, Boonville) - These locals all originate at Franklin Yard. They work as turns, departing and returning to the yard. A couple of the locals (Westinghouse, Boonville, and Columbia) work only a single destination; the St. St. Charles local works several towns out and back. Most locals are short (9-11 cars) , so the local switching does not take all session to complete.

Job complexity/stress level: Easy. Do some switching. Dodge the through trains. Chat with the dispatcher over the radio. Trundle back to the yard. Life is good!

Road Crews - The St. Louis Sub usually runs with 4 road crew. There are 17 trains to get across the layout in a typical 3-hour operating session. Since the mainline run is not particularly long, the duration of many of the runs is lengthened by an switching maneuver or two (the autorack trains will spot and pull cars from the auto ramp at St. Charles, the pig trains will pick TOCF at the pig ramps). The 100-series freight trains will work the interchanges at Boonville and St. Charles, and will also block swap cars in the yard. The higher priority trains (coal, COFC, and expedited freight) will run the layout with no additional work.

Job complexity/stress level: Easy-peasy. Run the road. Eat snacks, Railfan a bit. Run some more trains. Chat with your friends. Life is good!

Dispatcher - The dispatcher’s desk is located just off the crew lounge, near the main staging area. Dispatching tool include a typical dispatching sheet, a computer monitor with track schematic that also serves as the means to select the staging tracks, and a separate monitor to view the staging track ladders. Dispatching the MKT, St. Louis Subdivision is fun and easy - it’s a great job for the beginner or novice dispatcher.

Job complexity/stress level: Easy to moderate. Click a mouse, and select staging tracks. Talk on the radio. Eat some snacks. Embrace the power that is yours for 3 hours! Life is good!
About the Owner 
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About the Layout Owner
I received my first model train in 1968 - an Aurora “Postage Stamp Trains” set in Santa Fe Warbonnet paint.

Growing up, I was an off-and-on railfan and modeler, building a few small layouts. In 1990, I moved to Kansas City and became involved in the local N-Trak club. I spent several fun years with the N-Trakkers, going to shows, running trains, and engaging in the social aspects of the hobby. With my father, also an avid N-scaler, I travelled to several shows and conventions throughout the midwest, while I planned the basement layout.

I decided to model the Katy after hearing stories from my father-in-law about the passenger and freight trains from his early days at New Franklin and Columbia, Missouri.

When we built our house in 1990, my wife, Eileen, said that I could have the entire basement for the layout. Well, I knew that wasn’t going to work with the amount of junk we had already accumulated and the family we were anticipating. So I divided the basement into thirds: a third for storage, a third for a family room, and a third for the layout. That decision has proven to be wise, for the kids still use the family room, and our storage room is bursting at the seams.

My father’s untimely passing in 2002 left a hole in my railroad enjoyment that will never be filled. It took me a while, but I got back in the hobby with the help of several good friends in Kansas City.

For years, the layout was DC-powered using a computer cab control system integrating Bruce Chubb’s Computer/Model Railroad Interface. The layout ran great for several years, but soon the time was right to convert to DCC. We still use the C/MRI for block occupancy, the ABS signals, the mouse click staging yard, and the dispatching console.

With the help of my friends, model railroading has become fun again - or as we say in Kansas City: It’s okayyy…I guess.
Why join the Navy when you can be a pirate?
Steve Jobs
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News and Web Site Updates (scoll for older news):

August 2017 - Updated the FAQ section to correct some dated text

August 2017 - Updated broken link to Layout Definition Card

February 2017 - added a few new recipes to the Mighty MKT Cocktail Page!

August 2016 - Updated the FAQ section

August 2016 - New blog entry and added section on Remote Dispatching

July 2016 - Added new picture of the last train to cross the Osage Division High Line

July 2016 - Several new blog entries

June 2016 - Added the Mighty MKT cocktail page!

June 2016 - Added tortoise turnout machine tips page

June 2016 - Added the photo=annotated layout diagram on the Prototype Page

June 2016 - Added additional pictures to the home page (above)

June 2016 - Added details and new photos about car cards and waybills on the Operations Page


The Mighty MKT, St. Louis Subdivision proudly serves:

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Baileys Irish Cream, the official adult beverage of the Mighty MKT, St. Louis Subdivision! Imbibed by Elite Operators™ and expert decoder installers everywhere.

Cherry Coke Zero, the official soft drink and mixer of the Mighty MKT! Sipped by discriminating yardmasters and proficient dispatchers everywhere.

The official cocktail for the next operating session on the Mighty MKT is a Dark and Stormy (link opens to a youtube video of the recipe)

Link to the Mighty MKT cocktail page

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fiddle faddle is the official snack of the the Mighty MKT work sessions. Nothing makes a work session more enjoyable than a handful of yummy popped corn, roasted peanuts, and the tempting tastes of creamy caramel and rich butter toffee.

Coincidentally, Richard "Rich" Butter Toffee was the stage name that the layout owner used during his exotic dancing carrier. But that's another story…
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Dean's Bacon & Horseradish dip - The official dip of Mighty MKT Ops nights. A perfect complement to the savory flavor of bacon, this dip has a kick of horseradish to take your party dips and appetizers up a level.

Preferred by Elite Operators™ everywhere.
The Mighty Katy
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