On30 Modules: NMRA Standards & Recommended Practices

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by TinGoat, Sep 23, 2002.

  1. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all

    On30 Modules: NMRA Standards & Recommended Practices

    *** Warning *** Verbose submission!

    As some of you may know, the NMRA Convention is being held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in the summer of 2003. The Maple Leaf 2003. They are having a day for just Narrow Gauge! Check the web site at: http://www.ml2003.com/

    I would really like to build a module to bring to the convention and I have been in contact with Clark Kooning who is coordinating display space for layouts at the convention.

    I had heard a while ago that Standards & Recommended Practices for building Modules, (In any scale/gauge) didn?t exist (With the exception of Ntrack). It was up to individuals interested in modules to find a local group/club and go with the standards that they set for them selves. (Or else, start their a group them self.) It wasn?t until I mentioned this on the Bachmann Message Board ?Ask the Bachmann? http://www.bachmanntrains.com/
    that someone pointed me to the NMRA web page.

    I have been looking at the NMRA Standards & Recommended Practices for On30 Modules (On2 ½? sic.). See the NMRA web page on Standards & Recommended Practices: http://www.nmra.org/standards/consist.html#module I have also been looking for a local group who does On30 modules.

    So far I haven?t been having much luck.

    In my quest, I have found out that the NMRA?s St&RP?s for On30 Modules is out of date. It was hammered out several years ago and was based on the Ntrack modules. At the time, On30 had very few supporters and even fewer who made modules. It circulated around the NMRA and was put to several committees before being accepted. Since that time when the On30 Module St&RP?s were published, they have been languishing and are virtually unused.

    It seems that the On30 crowd is a cantankerous bunch that doesn?t like to follow rules. ;-) That?s one of the reasons why I am so attracted to modelling On30! But that?s no way to run a (Modular) railway??

    I have volunteered/been conscripted into rewriting the St&RP?s for On30 Modules.

    I am posting this thread simultaneously on a couple of different forums in order to gather as much input (Support) as possible. I know that I will be leaving out a lot of people, because I can not manage to coordinate more than a few forums. Many people belong to more than one forum and they will hopefully pass information between them so that I don't have to join every forum on the internet. For the most part, I will be concentrating on http://www.the-gauge.com and The On30 Conspiracy since they appear to have the largest memberships. I will try to keep the process as democratic as possible by utilizing polls and building consensus.

    My hope is that new and collectively acceptable Standards can be hammered out, and that in the end, anyone who is interested in On30 Modules will be able to build them and have them be universally compatible.

    In order to maintain some level of organization, I think that the best way of going about this project is to do it item by item.

    I first ask that everyone interested in On30 Modules and/or would like to have input on the subject to please go to the NMRA web page for more information on modules. Take a look at: http://www.nmra.org/standards/consist.html#module for detailed information on the NMRA Module Standards and Recommended Practices.

    I have downloaded the documents and edited out any non On30 information. I will post the edited version shortly so that we don?t have to sift through non On30 material. For now, you can go to the NMRA web page listed above to see the originals.
  2. Catt

    Catt Guest

    Ron ,you old conspirator.If you would like a place to post these let me know as I have plenty of webspace and am more then willing to donate the space.

    While I can't even pretend to speak for the On30 Conspiracy (Not Tuna Half) I would most rigorously promote module standards for the Great Lakes Conspiracy.

    Being an NTRAKer as well as a On30 fan I would have to reccomend that the standard module be set at 24" x 48" inches.Yes I know these are NTRAK standards but there is a very good reason for them. A 24"x48" module will fit in just about any vehicle you can think of.I would also reccomend anther NTRAK standard and that is for the electrical connectors.Use the Cinch-Jones (or simply Cinch) connectors as they should be available at any electronics supply store (Radio Shack stocks them).

    I also would reccomend a uniform colour code for the wiring such as NTRAK again uses 9doesn't need to be the same colours though.

    By the way On30 has always had a lot of supporters we just usually play by our own rules(you will soon know this as fact :D :D :D )
  3. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    My opening comments for the "On30 conspiracy" thread, and those concerning "degree of curve" pretty well cover my input to standards.
    I concur with Catt about 24" X 48" modules being easier to transport, the problem here is "The Module Interface". This is where the tracks have to be located at specific distances for compatibility.( this assumes that each module is intended for use at any point in the layout). Module "sets" only have to conform at the ends where they meet other modules.
    That's my two cents, if you need the change.:)
  4. pcentral

    pcentral Member

    Kudos to you, Tin for taking on such a task. I agree Sumpter on the track alignments on the ends. Here is my opinion on the main standards that need to be set.
    1. Module size
    2. Wire size, colors and connectors
    3. Track spacing and alignment on ends
    4. Type of rail for mainlines
    5. Module height to top of rail
    After these are established then you can set recommended practices such as module construction materials and methods, etc.
    AS for the module size, I would like to say 4' long is great but 2' wide is limiting. I have O gauge and 24" in O gauge is alot less real estate than 24" in N gauge. I have seen many modules where the owners have incorporated a loop of trackoff of the inside track usually a third mainline. This way they can setup their modules at home and run trains without having all the modules setup. All of this is just my opinion coming from about 8-10 years of traveling with and building modules. I am glad to help out with these standards. I don't have On30 now but do have plans to get started in this scale.
  5. Catt

    Catt Guest

    I agree that 24" is limiting ,but then so is the carrying space in most modern vehicles.

    Remember 24" is the minimum width so you can add to both the front and rear if you have the room to transport.
  6. Lighthorseman

    Lighthorseman Active Member

    Two Cents Worth...

    With regards to module width...correct me if I'm wrong here, but although 24 inches may be the "standard", or "recommended" width, a fella can make a module as wide as they like, as long as the tracks all line up, no?

    As a part of an HO modular club some years back, some people had modules that were deeper in foreground and background than the standard 24 inches. They just made sure that their modules still hooked up to the others.

    My On30 layout is loosely modelled after 2 foot by 4 foot modules, and the next time, I'll likely go to 30 inches wide, just for the extra real estate.
  7. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all

    Thanks for the vote of confidence...

    There are two websites that have been suggested that I go and see:



    the Narragansett Bay Railway & Navagation Website

    I skimmed the first one and it looks very interesting. The gang on the On30 Conspiracy have suggested that I explore the second.

    There was a third group based in Florida that I am going to have to check out too.

    I agree that the interface for modules is THE Standard that is the most important.
    The module is only a diarama, or portable stand alone layout if it can't interface with anything else.

    There is an interesting feature of the Free-mo. It requires that the interface is 24" wide and the tracks are centered within this space. There is no requirement that the rest of the module be of any size or shape. So you could have a triange module as long as there is an interface along one edge. Preferably on two edges.

    Catt! Thanks for the offer of webspace, and the support.

    I was very overwelmed with the lively debate that has opened on the On30 Conspiracy. It took me a couple of hours to sift through all of the debate and respond there. Thank goodness for the option of receiving the messages in digest form. Otherwise my e-mail would have burst!

    Lighthorseman... Are you a member of On30 Conspiracy yet? David(UK) is and there are a few other familiar folks from On30trains there too.

    Sumpter250 and Pcentral thanks to you two as well.

    I am tempted to go into business selling pre-made module end interfaces.

    Say "here, take two of these and do (build) whatever you like in between them"...

    Use your imagination! :D :D
  8. Catt

    Catt Guest

    No doubt about it Ron,we certainly got some debate going on the conspiracy:D :D :D . I have to chuckle at the ones who balk at any standards because On30 itself is a standard.Because if it were anything else it wouldn't be On30.
  9. Lighthorseman

    Lighthorseman Active Member

    Ron Is A BRAVE Guy!!

    When I saw the old "Standards" thing come up, I thought, "There goes Ron, prodding a hornet's nest with a stick!":D

    Sure enough, a frenzy erupted on the Conspiracy!:D (Yes, I'm a conspirator...) Well done Ron, for taking this on.

    I do however, wonder if (even in a "larger" city like Edmonton) I'll EVER actually meet an On30 person here, let alone find a modular group requiring standards......Hasn't happened yet, but it sure would be cool to be able to hook up with others, and to do that, like it or not, standards will be required.:)
  10. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    In defense of standards, last year, at the National train show in St. Louis, the Ntrac members, from all over the country, assembled a spectacular N scale layout. The only "problem" I could see was that it probably took the better part of the day to get a train back to where it started. The layout was that big!
  11. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    Since you're gathering info about standards, check out this site:http://trainweb.org/ocmr/

    It's HO but they have covered a lot of the issues involved in running a modular layout. The ACSG group i belong to is a lot looser. We have "guidlines" for track height, wiring, and module length. Most modules are 48x 24, but they can be anything as long as they add up to a multiple of 4', or you supply a matching odd sized module for the other side of the layout. The wiring needs to be standardized and policed. If the trains don't run at the show people get upset.

    Table height, size etc is less important than rail height and position of the track centerlines for any tracks connecting to another module. We set our two loops a specific distance off the front face of the module. We run S gauge tin plate/hi-rail, i can tell you that getting two through loops and one siding on a 24 inch wide module is about the limit. You scale guys may be able to get two sidings on a module. But you'll probably have to go wider to do much else. Mine are 30-inch wide units and i have a double siding. Will rebuild them sometime in the future so i can add a third siding and get more room between my first yard turnout and the inner loop turnout. Hard to work the siding without going onto the inner loop.

    Since our club doesn't have any rules or dues we get a lot of new ideas at each show, and members, and our techincal issues are rapidly evolving. New modules are showing up at each show and with each module comes new connectivity issues. Luckily, hi-rail is rather forgiving. I expect that your more exacting scale equipment will appreciate a more structured approach.

    Have fun, I am.
  12. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all


    The On30 Conspiracy erupted like a volcano when I started up the modules thread.

    It's funny that a bunch of guys who are fed up with the subject would behave this way. :confused: :confused:

    I would have thought that the people who are sick of a certain thread might double their efforts in order to resolve it and put it to rest once and for all.

    If I had gone to the conspiracy and asked about standards, I would have hoped that they would have responded that they endorsed a certain set of standards and that would have been the end of it.

    As it is, the subject is going to come up from time to time as each newbie (or instigator ;) ) comes along to ask.

    Bobber Gibbs has been nice enough to open up a new forum for the discussion of On30 Module Standards and Recommended Practices. If you are interested go to: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/On30modules/ and sign up.
  13. Catt

    Catt Guest

    I think Bobber has some excellent ideas on module specs.All I can say about those individuals on the Conspiracy that were rasing such a fuss is that those of us wanting the specs have as much a right to them as they do to not wanting them.

    Funny thing is I'd wager that most of the members that were P&Ming about the module standards wouldn't build one anyway.Aside from that they seem to forget that On30 is a standard.:D :D :D
  14. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all


    Just thought that I would let you folks know that there is some real progress being made in the area of On30 Standards & Recommended Practices.

    I've been dedicating all of my online time to the On30 Conspiracy's splinter group On30 Module.

    We've pretty much agreed that the NBR&N Standards are the way to go. It allows for a lot of flexibility which is very important to the On30 crowd. :)

    There is some tweaking to be done, but we should have something workable in the near future.

    On30 Conspiracy's Module Developement Group
  15. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all

    It's still not too late...

    To join in on the fun at the On30 Modules Group.

    Have your say on what the OCUM should be.

    OCUM = On30 Conspiracy Universal Module.
  16. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all

  17. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    I think I'll stay with my HOCUM for now.
    (Half O Completely Un-interfaced Module)
    :D :D
  18. Catt

    Catt Guest

    What I want to know is why it took you guys months to do something that SHOULD have been done in two days?
  19. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all

    Hey Catt...

    Semantics got in the way from the get-go...

    People resisted the use of the term "Standard" and wanted to use terms like "requirement"....

    There was also a time lag issue. It is a lot easier for a couple of guys to meet over coffee and discuss an issue. They can hammer things out in a few hours while drawing diagrams on the napkins.

    Any issues that arise later can be dealt with as they come up.

    By working over the internet in a listserve environment, there is always the issue of time lag.

    I might post something at 10 a.m., but you might not get the chance to read it and respond until 10p.m.. Then, I might not respond to your posting until the following Monday....

    We also had some sticking points and a few blow-ups along the way....

    "A picture is worth a thousand words." This was made evident over and over again.

    We where discussing some radical module ideas.

    For example: Rail height from the floor wasn't relevant when we were trying to establish how to carry mainline grades from one module to the next. There were folks who couldn't visualize a module layout with 4% grades that would take rail height from ~36" from the floor to over 50" from the floor over the span of multiple modules.
    A diagram would have cleared up confusion and concerns right away. With the time lag issues and the lack of diagrams, the issue took a long time to sort out.

    In summery, the idea of having steep (4%) mainline grades that are typical of NG railroading, we wanted a standard that would make it possible. For most module standards, mainline grades are confined to a single module and/or module set. Then, the track has to come back to the set rail height before connecting to the next module and/or module set.

    For the OCMODS, we wanted grades to continue thoughout the whole length of the module setup.

    This involves using module legs that are adjustable in height. So we also had to figure out how to accomplish this.

    We could have just opted for adopting a pre-existing module standard, but instead, we took various standards and customized them to suit our needs and desires.

    We had a very lofty mandate of creating a "Universal" On30 module standard. We have to accomodate those that base their On30 railroads on Maine 2 footers and Western 3 footers as well as all the logging, mining, plantation and industrial roads in between.

    We wanted to try to make a module standard that would work with modules built all over the world. With accomodating various DC and DCC control systems.

    And as you are aware... On30 modelers don't like "st@#%&!ds" very much....
    So we had to make them as un restrictive as possible.

    These things take time.

    I only wish that you hadn't given up so soon.... Your input at the beginning was appreciated.
  20. Catt

    Catt Guest

    Ron,sat down with my group and hammered out our module STANDARDS in 12 hours spread over four weeks.(Saturday nights 7 to 10 pm) If that doesn't compute we are a round robin club.We don't always play with Oscale stuff.

    I just got tired of all the On30 Conspiracy guys continually trashing anything brought up concerning standards.By the way I assume you realize that On30 itself is a standard,( On30 = O scale trains + HO gauge track) Anything else just ain't On30 .:D :D

    I really am glad you guys finally worked something out.

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