Has anyone tried this? concept for a modular layout

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by NYCNewbie, Apr 22, 2005.

  1. NYCNewbie

    NYCNewbie New Member

    I just got started in the hobby and right now I'm building a small (2x5) layout just to get some practice with design and construction. I like the idea of a small, easy-to-finish layout, but it's also clear that a larger one would provide more interest and realism in the long run. So while I work on this one, I'm thinking of what I'd like to build in the future.

    I don't think I'll ever have the devotion, time or space for a full-fledged basement layout. I've been quite inspired by Iain Rice's idea of a number of modules connected by hidden staging tracks - this would also hide the fact that mainline runs, even on a huge model RR, are ridiculously short. I also like the idea of being able to build a bunch of different modules that represent very different parts of the same railroad so as to be able to model the sections that are most fun or scenic without having to restrict the entire layout to a very specific geographic location. For instance, I would like to have one module of a medium-sized urban scene with a passenger station, and another module going through mountain scenery, and maybe a third of an interchange with a logging line... all connected only by hidden (and removable) staging. Being able to finsh and detail a module at a time seems much more realistic and within my ability than embarking on a full-scale layout empire head-on; I would probably get bored before I finished it.
    My question is, has anyone tried this? Iain Rice's idea was to have disconnected modules representing a single theme - such as a logging line - my take would be to have disconnected modules of quite different themes. It would be interesting to see what people have tried in this vein. BTW, I'm not really looking for NTrak-style modules that are intended to be connected directly, but rather a set of stand-alone, almost diorama-style modules that would be highly detailed and operational on their own.

    Opinions welcome...
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Ian Wilson, of Canadian Branchline Miniatures, describes this concept in one of his (old) monthly columns. He was interested in creating not the entire line, but those locations that really interested him or held special meaning. They would then be connected with relatively "undetailed" sections simply to allow the train to get from one to another.

    Our modular club (www.hotrak.ca) has some modules that would create thing similar. For the "highly detailed, operational stand-alone" modules, we have the Castor River Railroad which can be operated on its own as a switching layout, or be incorporated into a full set-up. We also divide up the available industries with (more or less) generic scenery modules that help with the illusion that things are really farther apart than they are. (Having said that, sometimes things are far apart, at least by model RR standards - our Jan 2005 set-up included 14 scale miles of mainline!).

  3. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Welcome to the Gauge NYCnewbie. What you plan to do with modules sounds very interesting and could provide you with many hours of pleasure. I havent seen modules used the way you intend but the idea you have has a lot of merit. I too stuggle with main lines being too short and as many others have used staging tracks to simulate distance. I will be looking forward to hearing how you develop your modules.
  4. NYCNewbie

    NYCNewbie New Member

    Thanks for the comments and links. Ian Wilson's ideas are very much along the same lines as mine, although I'd stick to one scale rather than use several, as he planned to. Even though I'm not seeking to model a particular prototype faithfully, or have the same ambition in terms of realism, I do like his idea of doing "railway modeling" as opposed to "model railroading". Unfortunately time and space constraints will make this an armchair project for the time being...
  5. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    Taking your idea a step further, it could be done in very limited space with a helix. Imagine a helix immediately next to the layout, and you could have two or three differently scened layouts above each other, and a decent length of track that you'd send a train off one layout to arrive at the next one above or below. Meanwhile you can do some switching to prepare for that train's arrival... Hmmmm... would give you three layouts in a tiny space...
  6. Zman

    Zman Member

    That's precisely what I'm doing. I'm building 4 44" X 24" modules that model 19th-century New England. That may sound like a strange size, but it's the largest module I can fit into my bedroom closet, since I have no room for a permanent layout. Right now, I'm completing the first module which is part of a small town that includes some stores, a passenger depot, and a pipe organ factory. The next module will continue the small town with more stores, a town hall, a church and an armory. The third module will be rural scenery, and the fourth module will be a small shipyard. I can set up the entire scene in the kitchen and then break it down and store it in the closet.
  7. NYCNewbie

    NYCNewbie New Member


    that sounds really interesting. Do you have any track plans or photos you could post?
  8. Zman

    Zman Member

    I'll post some pics hopefully later this month as soon as I finish laying the track. I need a much better digital camera with close-up capabilities, but I spent all of my discretionary money on the railroad for now!
  9. KCS

    KCS Member

    I'm in a module club. The idea is ok to me but there is better. Only thing I don't like about our setup is each 6 foot module is a completely different scene. I hate it because the modules seems don't match up as far as the land scape goes. We build our own modules but like i said none of them match and blend together. it's like TV one minute it's in this place and a second later it's in a whole other place and the process just keep's going. My personal layout will be alot better, more detail, blending with out stretching it to far untill blending into another scene. Kinda like ruing a train and your in a New york style module and about 6 inch's down the track your in the desert out west in the middle of now where. It really sucks. It kill's the fun mood of it being realistic. :(

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