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Planning a modular layout


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Hi all.

 

I have been here for a while, and I am starting to plan a layout, in N gauge. I had a lot of started layouts and very few layouts ever done, so I need to be carefull with this one.

 

So I want to have a go with a modular design: I havn an with one year old  kid, and I want to spend the spare time with him, or next to the family. The layout will be a spare room with 5,2 x 2,2 meters.

 

I want to build something in the 70's or the 80's, because I like the way that the big diesels like the 37's or the 47's  looked like their big yellow nose, and the big logo on the blue body. 

 

I was thinking about Cyril Freezer's Minories, and add something to make it a continuous run. I have been following EveradJunction's Videos on Youtube, and I like the way that he has the town scene in an high level that the track, and that could work, to hide the return loop.

 

I dont'w want to have the modules wider than 40cm on the main scenics part, but I could have them a bit wider for the return loop.

 

What are your thoughts?

 

Thank you for your time.

 

 

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  • RMweb Gold

40cm is quite wide enough to produce good modules in N. And with 5.2m x 2.2m, you have plenty of space to produce something really good.

 

Only advice would be to keep as many modules as possible the same size (e.g. 1.2m x 0.4m) so that they can be stacked for storage and transport. That also makes for the best use of sheets of ply.

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Bit of a terminology issue here, I take modular to mean standard size modules with standard track spacing which can be assembled in a variety of formations, I think the US  NMRA has a standard specification, so guys from all over can fit their modules to other peoples modules and form a layout, though the people concerned may live hundreds of miles apart.

 I would describe your plan as standard size baseboards.

The problems are keeping multiple baseboard edges level, they do tend to sag over time and the ends lift.  I avoid this as far as possible with old reclaimed and well seasoned timber for framing, which when planed up and sanded with an orbital sander can look as good as new, and careful use of baseboard covering Sundela if you can afford it, screwed down, that way you can take it off when anything goes wrong and plane it true again.

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Hi all.

 

Thanks for your replies.

 

A modular design is always a modular design: A layout that is made by sections. That does not mean that you must stick with a standard for module construction. You can make up your own standard. ;)

 

If you used something between the modules to keep them aligned, like C&L alignment dowels, you will have no problems.

 

I am searching for a "dog bone" style trackplan. I searched a lot, but I haven't find any example... can you help me?

 

(BTW, sorry if I misspell any word, or if I have grammar errors...)

 

Thanks for your help 

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For modular layouts in N you need to follow the N-trak system.  You can find details of this at http://ntrak.org/.  There is also a couple of related standards.  You need to follow these standards.  Inventing your own standards is a fairly stupid idea as stupid ideas go, especially as a new to the hobby, as no-one will follow you.

 

In North America they often have meetings where you take your module along and slot it into a big layout.  It sort of works best for North American railways (I won't say railroads) where things can be generic with a bit of imagination.  I'm sure it's all good fun socially as well.

 

I don't know how common this system would be in Portugal or Neighbouring Spain.  There is obviously no point in building a modular layout if you can't attach it to modules built by other people.

 

Furthemore, British outline will certainly be a niche interest in Portugal   British N gauge stock will look odd next to European stock because of the different scales.  (Also is there are third scale for N gauge with the 5'6" Iberian gauge? That would have a greater scale difference).  But if you just want to play trains, rule 1 applies.

 

So, you might have the intersection of two niche interests (modular layouts and British outline layouts).  This makes modular layouts look less and less of a good idea.

 

So, unless you can identify an N-trak meetup near you and then try to produce something generic which all stock would look good on, my advice would be to steer well clear of modular layouts.  Just don't do it; it will be more hassel than it's worth.

Edited by TonyMay
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It sort of works best for North American railways (I won't say railroads) where things can be generic with a bit of imagination.  I'm sure it's all good fun socially as well.

 

You may have noticed that here on RMWeb we are trying to develop a OO gauge "modular" standard for UK based layouts rather than simply adopting one of the overseas standards that may or may not work for us.

 

We recently had our first ever "meet" - you may wish to have a look at this thread for our report.  There were only 6 of us with an approx. 50ft end to end run but it proves the standards.

 

http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/100628-secag-modular-meet-27615-final-report/

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Hi all.

 

Thanks again for your replies.

 

Perhaps, I am not explaining my self.

 

I don't want to use any kind of standard to build my own layout: N-Trak, T-Trak, Fremo, Fre-Mon, Maquetren, AmericaN, M31... That is not the case. I just want to build the layout in sections, because that way, I can be on the living room building the thing, being close to the family, and when a section is done, I can place it on the spare room, and start to build another section.

 

My main concerne is: Should I build a continuous run, or should I do an end-to-end layout? One thing is decided: It will be modern image!!

 

Thanks. 

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if you are doing it in N, with that space, I would say continuous run. You could have a couple of hidden loops at each end of the room with a double line running down the middle sections.

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Being used to European expressions, I understood that "modular" just meant in sections rather than to a particular standard for matching to other people's.

 

You have not told us much about the room that the layout is to be in. But I guess that you want a "dogbone" format so that you can enter the room without any duckunders. In N that will be quite easy but you will need wider modules (0.75m preferably, a minimum of 0.60m) where the return loops are situated. It would be helpful if you could post a sketch of the room that shows where the door is.

 

After that, the trackplan will depend a bit on how simple you want the electrics to be as return loops can cause problems. If you want to avoid those problems you could just have a continuous circuit with the return track perhaps hidden behind the backscene.

 

From your mention of Minories, I guess that you are looking to keep the station fairly simple with most of the layout being plain running track. But one of the advantages of a modular set-up is that you could change that later if you wanted a more complex station.

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If you don't build your modular layout to the standards, it won't work with the other modules unless you build a conversion module that has standards at one end and whatever you like at the other.

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If you don't build your modular layout to the standards, it won't work with the other modules unless you build a conversion module that has standards at one end and whatever you like at the other.

BUT, the OP is not building what you are referring to - I think he simply wants to achieve a big layout one section at a time ...... Edited by sp1
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@Sp1 - Thanks for help. I really just want to build a great a big layout, one section at a time..

 

@Joseph_Pestell - I want it to be an "L Shaped" layout, for now. The return sections can be with or without scenery.

 

I just need to have a coal mine (I am taking a bit of my "modeler's license" and have the Walthers Cornerstone New River Mining Company for the coal loader facility for coal hoppers), and I want that to be delivered some where on the layout. Anf finally, I need to have a passenger station...

 

I think that this to much to have in such a small place...

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@Sp1 - Thanks for help. I really just want to build a great a big layout, one section at a time..

 

@Joseph_Pestell - I want it to be an "L Shaped" layout, for now. The return sections can be with or without scenery.

 

I just need to have a coal mine (I am taking a bit of my "modeler's license" and have the Walthers Cornerstone New River Mining Company for the coal loader facility for coal hoppers), and I want that to be delivered some where on the layout. Anf finally, I need to have a passenger station...

 

I think that this to much to have in such a small place...

I don't think it's too much!

If you plan carefully you could even arrange to have your 'modules' connect in different ways, simply by use of different interconnecting modules/ units (which can be very simple - and therefore cheap!), which can be replaced easily as you go along.

eg start with a terminus station, then add a simple junction to connect with a goods yard, another junction of some sort to connect with an oval (looped, or otherwise, around the round), add, say, a viaduct board into the oval, or at the end of the terminus, then replace one of your 'oval' boards with a through station, etc. You can even build your terminus to fold up, which means that at some stage you could arrange to simply add it to a connection to one 'corner' of your 'oval' and set it up in the doorway (or even through it) when you want to do it.

The sky's the limit. As long as each section functions as a reasonable addition to what you have already built you could keep going for a long time - and you don't necessarily have to use all sections at the same time - again, with planning, you could build more than one station to reflect different periods/ companies etc.

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@Sp1 - Thanks for help. I really just want to build a great a big layout, one section at a time..

 

@Joseph_Pestell - I want it to be an "L Shaped" layout, for now. The return sections can be with or without scenery.

 

I just need to have a coal mine (I am taking a bit of my "modeler's license" and have the Walthers Cornerstone New River Mining Company for the coal loader facility for coal hoppers), and I want that to be delivered some where on the layout. Anf finally, I need to have a passenger station...

 

I think that this to much to have in such a small place...

 

I agree with sp1. If you build an L-shaped layout 5.2m x 2.2m, there is plenty of space to include both a station and a coal mine.

 

The coal mine would probably be within one of the return curves. You might like to take a look at some layouts in Model Railroader to see how US modellers often place these mine kits in such a way as to have empty trains arriving and full ones departing (hidden sidings behind the backscene).

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Joseph_Pestell, thanks for the idea.

 

The room have 5,2 x 2,2, but only two walls are available for now. I modelled Japanese N, made some American N, German / Swiss N scale, and tryed French and American H0. Now I want to experiment British N Gauge (I already have a Class 66 from Dapol... beautifull model, and some coal cars from PECO).

 

Heres is a video from my Japanese N:

 

 

This was on a show in 2013, near Lisbon.

 

I have two spare sections made out of 12mm plywood that have 75 x 40 cm each. Can I fit here a terminus, or a passing station, in 150 x 40 cms? 

 

Thanks again for your help.

Edited by luis_lopes
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