Joining two layouts togheter How do you join the track.

Discussion in 'Modular Layout Forum' started by Tap, Mar 7, 2006.

  1. Tap

    Tap Member

    Hey all,
    for my modular layout, where module 1 meets module 2 i have 5 tracks that pass the gap, what do i do to make them continue but when the module are separated the tracks are on both sides.

    do i:
    1 cut the track at the gap or,
    2 cut the track one inch before the gap and add a "joiner" a removable rail that fills the gap

    thanks in advance,any other thing that i should know (of course i know that both modules should be wired "separately"
  2. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Most module systems (NTrak, Fre-mo, etc) have standards for this so that one MR's modules will mate with another's. If you want your modules to be set up at a show with others' modules you have to follow the group's standards. If the modules are only for your own layout, then you can use any standard you like.

    Most of the club module systems use a space and a fitter track. Fitter tracks are commonly standard pieces of sectional track or a specified length of flex track - the longer the fitter track (especially flex), the greater the tolerable misalignment of modules. As you stated, a gap is left on each side. The rail joiners are slid back, the fitter pice dropped in, and the rail joiners are pushed into place. Note that this will NOT provide a reliable electrical connection so most module systems use electrical buses and feeders with jumpers between modules. Disadvantage of the fitter track method is it is ugly. The fitter track area cannot be ballasted, and so sticks out.

    An alternate method, which I personally prefer, is to have precision alignment plates and pins on the end plates of each module. Since good alignment is already provided, track is brought right to the module edge and rigidly fastened in place. Either a PC board plate or multiple PC ties are used at the track end, and the rails soldered to the plate/ties. You could use brass screws and solder to the screw heads instead. The disadvantage of this system is that the alignment pins and plates have to hold alignment through humidity changes which can make wood swell or conract. Also, legs must be carefully adjusted to remove stress from the alignment pins. Again, jumper wires across the module breaks are essential.

    yours in module mating
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Fred has really captured the two main methods of getting the track to match up. We use both at the local modular club ( A few of he guys have created ballasted joiner tracks by gluing the 6" piece of snap track we use to a thin piece of styrene. It will somewhat mask the join and appear better than the usual "unadorned" joiner.

    For modules that always go together, you can lay the track across the joint and cut it with a dremel. You will need to secure it in place. This can be done in a variety of ways, including soldering it to screws in the end plate, or using some other "permanent" fix.

    Take a look through the Modular Railroading Resources thread at the top of the Modular forum for some ideas. Also look here:

  4. Tap

    Tap Member

    i saw you guys when i went to a train show in montreal very nice stuff! i realy like the scrap yard and the heavy metal company.
  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Thanks Tap.

    Those modules are the work of Gilbert - you can see pictures of them at the web site ( He is one of the more prolific modellers in our group. He has enough modules to do his own shows...!

  6. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    It depends on your club standards or maybe you want to use the NMRA standards. Just type NMRA into your browser then look for modules, recommended practices.
  7. CarlFidy

    CarlFidy Member

    Ballasted joiner tracks

    Our local N-trak club uses ballasted joiner tracks. Rather that styrene, we use duct tape on the bottom of the tracks. Either way ballasting the joiner tracks "hides" them considerably. One suggestion if you go this route, add a few inches of styrene/duct tape under the last few inches of the fixed track on the modules, to prevent vertical stresses on your spike heads near the joiner tracks.
  8. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Another trick I've seen used is to lay ties to the edgeo of the module, but have 1 or 2 inches of back spacing on the rails; then lay 2-4 inch bare rails over the ballasted ties and connect them with rail joiners.
  9. stagingyards

    stagingyards Member

    cut track back to acomadate a 9 inch straight so 9 inch is in centre on table joint
  10. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    If you decide to use "joiner tracks", terminate the track on the ends of the module (back 1 1/2" for 3" joiner track, 3" for 6" joiner track, etc) with a piece of 3" snap track. Removing the joiner track will subject the module tracks to a lot of stress and will ultimately pop out of the plastic ties. Snap track will stay in the ties better than flex track. Better yet, tie down the ends of the rails with some track spikes.

    If you decide to bring your track flush to the end of the module, there are a couple of tricks of the trade to consider. Tape two pieces of duct tape across the end of each module (ie 4 pieces in total). Attach each module together. Lay your track. Then, cut your track with an Atlas Snap Saw, Razor saw or Dremel tool. The duct tape will compensate for the thickness of your cutting tool(s). Remove the duct tape, refasten the modules together to see how well they fit.

    You should use some kind of alignment system so that your two modules will be correctly aligned when fastened together.

    If your trackwork comes flush to each module, you will have to exercise great care. It is very easy when assembling/disassembling the modules to smash the rails out of the plastic ties. If you use plywood carryplates to transport your modules, router out a groove where the tracks meet the carryplates. This will provide some protection to the rails when transporting the modules.

    If you use joiner tracks (at their simplest Atlas Snap track), remember that the rail joiners should go onto the rails on the modules. Be careful when disassembling the modules that the joiner tracks are removed before removing any clamps or fasteners. When inserting the rail joiners for the first time, you will have to get the rail joiners underneath the rail. Slide the rail joiner onto the rail. Hold a soldering iron to the top of the rail until the plastic gets soft. Concurrently, push the rail joiner onto the rail so that it fits fully onto the module rail.

    Joiner tracks can be as short as 3", can be Atlas Snap Track or custom manufactured rail soldered to PC Board.

    It's up to you as to which method you use.

    Bob M.

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