Hello everyone, I'm back......

Discussion in 'Modular Layout Forum' started by trainsteve2435, Jan 14, 2008.

  1. Hello everyone, after a long break from my modelling, i'm back and need some help. Maybe some of you can remember last year i lost my job and have been forced to move into a much smaller home and give up my 24' x 32' garage layout. Now im thinking of building a switching layout and need some guidance from you pros. i want to have a operational switching layout that i could build in several modules, problem is that i dont know anything about building modules. does anyone know of some good track plans and information or a good site to read over? also, are modules very hard to build? thanks for all of your help!
  2. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    Steve welcome back, hope everything is working out ok. Sorry dont know much about mods but im sure others will chime in.
  3. Thanks Roger, things are looking up. I have actually been considering useing the Woodland Scenics Mod U Rail system to get started, anyone have any thoughts on these systems?
  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Hi Steve,

    Welcome back! Take a look through here, inculding the "sticky" resource list at the top of the forum.

    There are a variety of standards you can build if you are taking a truly modular approach. THis requires that you follow a standard in order to be able to connect to other modules that follow this standard.

    If you really only need sectional or "domino" so you can take the layout apart to move it at some point, then your standards can be your own.

    In either case, there are some considerations to be made:

    - Wiring connections between sections

    Trailer plugs are good, and can be had is some fairly substantial sizes (e.g. 10 AWG). They are cheap, robust, and easy to use.

    - Weight and size of modules/sections - will you be handling them yourself, or with helper(s)?

    Consider that for storage, you might pair them and stand them on end, so 6 feet long is about the longest you want to go. A pair of modules 2x6 boxed together will require ~2x2x6 feet, so do you have storage and transportation that can accomodate this?

    Getting through doors is a consideration too, so keep the modules small enough. Even though you are currently planning to house this in a garage, you will eventually have to go through a 24" pocket door in a house...! ;)

    A pine or plywood frame, with 1.5 to 2" styrofoam decking is strong, and dramatically cuts the weight versus a plywood deck.

    - Height for operations

    You will need legs or brackets (see below) at your desired height.

    - Shelf type on brackets, or free standing on legs (or something else)?

    A fairly narrow module (up to ~24 inches) can be put on large shelf brackets. Wider than that, and you will need legs. The brackets have the added advantage that you have nothing in the way underneath for additional storage, or whatever.

    Take a look at the standards for www.hotrak.ca. This is my local modular club, and we set-up and take-down a good size layout every 6 weeks or so. Usually only takes a few hours to do; most of the construction standards are aimed at keeping the weight low, and the modules portable.

    Hope that helps get you started.

  5. stdguage

    stdguage Member

    Hi Steve!

    I am also "new" to sectional railroading (30 year absence) I am have started a sectional that can be portable, transportable, and showable. Not reaching for the stars, I only don't want to be embarassed. Not museum quality, but fun to operate.

    I have decided on light weight and thus 1/2 inch ply end plates, 1/4 inch ply frame sides, 1x3 clear pine cross braces and 1 1/2 foam set into and glued into the frame. This should be good enough to support the base foam and additional foam and scenery. The great thing with foam and weight is that you need not be limited to a 24 or 30 inch depth, 4 ft length, or a perfect rectangular shape.

    My plan is HO scale. If you are looking at a larger scale, then a more rugged (and heavier) section will be needed. The same method can be used on free standing legs, shelf brackets, or any other method to hold and display a model railroad scene.

    I had looked at and rejected module club frame standards since the layout will not be getting that rugged of use amd will not ever be hooked up to a club set up. Other light weight methods such as steel frame seem to also have problems. A custom frame and structure is not cost effective.

    The first sections (about 9 1/2 ft total) will also be a switching / steam maint area. If you have not yet decided, I would reccomend portable and transportable.

    Good luck on whatever you decide.
  6. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    For some step-by-step tips and tricks on how to build some lightweight modules, check out these pages on my website.
    Module Construction

    Bob M.
  7. stdguage

    stdguage Member

    Re: Light Weight Modules

    Yes! I have used your site and methods as a starting point. Good stuff.

    I am using a bit lighter weight with thinner materials. Only time will tell if they will hold up. If other people would be handling the modules on a regular basis, I would use your methods preciely as written.

    P.S. I'm using a tan paint as a base color on the frame and foam. Is black used by you group as a standard. Certainly not to simply make your photography task harder? wall1 Once again, without your site I would still be trying to start construction.:mrgreen:
  8. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    As a member of Ottawa Valley HOTRAK, the standards require the sides of the module to be painted a flat black. I use a flat Tremclad black before I install the styrofoam because it's easier to paint. Painting all exposed surfaces of the module frame also prevents the wooden frame from warping in damp weather. We go from one extreme to the other here in Ottawa (snowing right now with temp around -8°C) so the wood needs to be well sealed when I transport my modules.

    Don't use a Tremclad or alkyd paint on Styrofoam. The Styrofoam will disappear before your eyes. Only use a latex paint. The objective here is to "get rid" of the pink (or blue or green) of the Styrofoam. I use a flat latex paint so that the surface doesn't "shine". Regardless of what colour of paint you use, it will mostly be covered up when you start adding the scenery.

    Another trick is to use some spackling compound to cover the joints between the module frame and the styrofoam. Spread it on with a wide putty knife in several coats. The first coat takes 24 hours to dry, subsequent coats about an hour. This will give you a smooth surface so you can't see the wooden frame. You can also fill any dents in the styrofoam with spackling compound.

    I use spackling compound because it's as light as styrofoam. Stay away from plaster because it weighs a ton of bricks when applied to your module.

    For creating hills and mountains, carve some styrofoam and glue it to the deck of your module. The transition between the block(s) of styrofoam and the module deck can be smoothed out with spackling compound.

    With thinner materials, you might have to be concerned with warping, something you might want to keep an eye on.

    Bob M.

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