semi-modular problem

Discussion in 'Modular Layout Forum' started by Dansco, Jul 28, 2008.

  1. Dansco

    Dansco Member

    Hi you module experts! I have a particular problem that perhaps you all can help me with...

    I have a great "basement" area, lots of room, great space etc.. the only problem is that occasionally, about every 10 years, the river rises and completely floods it! In reality, its not an official basement, rather its the space under my house that just LOOKS like a basement, but as far as the insurance company (and FEMA) is concerned its a "non-living" space providing the necessary lift to raise my home out oft he flood plain. Which id DOES do, thank goodness. However, the space is just to useful, and I still use it for all sorts of things. It did flood this last December, and I was able to get everything out it time, specifically the small layout, which was a 4x8.

    Now I want to signifagantly expand my layout, so where I need your help, is choosing a suitable module standard that will be cost effective and flexible enough for my "occasional" hasty exit.

  2. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    I am assuming you are talking HO. Unless you are planning to connect your modules to those of others at shows or meets, I would avoid adopting any of the widely used standards in total.

    I personally like Free-mo, with its avoidance of multiple track oval raceways.

    The downside of Free-mo for your situation is:

    • consuming 12" for a module boundary (6" each side of the module boundary) where the scenery has to flatten and the track has to straighten
    • Free-mo states a goal of realistic operations on realistic track and scenery. Reasonably long trains, suggested 48" minimum radius, and focus on the area adjacent to the railway right of way for scenery work well for set ups in malls and exhibition centers. It's not so great for the limited spaces typical of home layouts unless you intend to participate in Free-mo setups.
    • Free-mo does not regulate internal section boundaries, only where the module set will connect with other module sets. Internally, there are track standards (minimum radius and turnout #, main must be code 83, track 4" from edge) and wiring standards (DCC and Loconet). This means you are on your own anyway for the internal section boundaries.
    Which gets back to the point - for a home layout that is to be moved occasionally, but does not connect to other modules, I would pick the ideas and standards that would work best for you. Some suggestions:

    • sections 6ft long or shorter for ease of handling
    • if you can't guarantee exactly the same spot upon return, adjustable height legs, and straight fitter pieces of rail or track at least 2" long across section boundaries. If you can guarantee perfect realignment, track to the edge of the section looks better, and curved track at the joint might be acceptable.
    • strict wiring color code and use of buses and plugs for separating and reconnecting modules
    • wireless DCC or similar, with on-section local control of any turnouts and/or uncoupling ramps - no central control panels!
    just my thoughts
  3. Dansco

    Dansco Member

    Thanks Fred,
    Great points, why limit my self to meet some arbitrary standard. I have no plans of being in a club (im too remote to the rest of civilization.. i live near Mist Oregon, likely you know where that is!)

    I looked at a web site that had a nice simple module design, utilizing 6 x 2 sections with extruded foam base. I like that.

    I think that what Ill end up with is a layout that "can" be moved out quickly in an emergency, but will need a bit of repair to be operational once reinstalled. I just don't want to risk a total loss! Even my little layout lost all of its trees in the emergency "floods a commin" move.. hasty exit will do that to you.

    FYI: I had three locos IN the flood water overnight. I flushed them with alcohol, let them dry out and they work fine! Even the DCC decoders are OK.

    I found this works pretty well, most gadgets seem to fair OK fully submerged for a while, so long as you displace all the water once it hits the air.
  4. Dave1905

    Dave1905 Member

    Instead of "modular" I would think "sectional". the difference being modular (whether it be N track or Freemo) uses a standard track position at the joint between modules. A sectional layout does not. The tracks are wherever required and there is no attempt to have anything standard as far as elevation and location. I would also suggest open grid benchwork set at a "standard" size to make storage easier and a size no bigger than 30x72 in to fit through doors. DCC would simplify wiring between sections (two wires min). You could use an "N trak" method to bridge the joints with a piece of sectional or liftout track or if you were confident of your abilities butt joints.

    I've had good luck with 72" long grids in a variety of widths (current layout uses 18") and 3x3 sections with a corner clipped off for the corners.

    Dave H.
  5. hotrak

    hotrak New Member

    Might try something like the HOG RR at It could be used an idea for a sectional layout. It is sectional, easy to build and lightweight.

    The site appears to be down right now. Try searching for the website

  6. CarlFidy

    CarlFidy Member

    Floating layout?

    Build your sections with enough wood and foam and you just let the layout float when the flood waters come in.sign1
  7. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Some really good suggestions from various folks. I'll go along with not adopting any standards,unless you plan to make them interoperable with another layout or group. Weight and size are probably your two primary concerns. If you are in a hurry to remove them from your basement, you also don't want to be disconnecting a bunch of hard wiring between modules. Think about trailer connectors or something similar.
    I've found that adjustable legs are a necessity. You might even want to think about having some dedicated containers available for rolling stock. Not good to be looking for boxes at the supermarket when the water is rising.
    I do know where Mist is at by the way. I have friends in the Astoria area, so after last winters storms, I can understand your reluctance to build a permanent layout. Good luck. Jim K.
  8. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    One thing to consider in planning the layout sections is to avoid making connections between sections in areas with complicated track work. Every track that crosses a section/module joint will require some sort of joiner track. Our modular club once had a 20 foot long yard made up of 5 4 foot long sections with at least 10 tracks. That meant 50 joiner tracks with a rail joiner at each end of each rail that had to be installed at every set up and removed at every tear down! The entire layout would be up and running and we would still be installing joiner tracks in the yard 2 hours later! Since you are considering a sectional layout, the only restriction you have on size of the sections is what you can carry or move that will fit through doors and up stairs in emergencies. If you can design your layout so that only 2 or 3 tracks actually cross a joint, it will go up and come down much more easily. I'm going to post a link to a web site for a company that makes benchwork that I looked at at the recent NMRA National Train show at the NMRA Convention in Anaheim. It is a very well designed product to consider. The price appears to be a bit high until you start pricing lumber to build from scratch, and being made of aluminum extrusions the benchwork is much lighter than lumber would be.
  9. Maybe just blast the whole layout with this :rolleyes:

    Attached Files:

  10. bnsf_mp_30

    bnsf_mp_30 New Member

    I'm a HUGE fan of extruded foam with as little wooden framework as possible - it's light ( = easy to move), cheap, and requires minimal tools to cut, form, etc. Module boundaries can cause some heartburn but there are a variety of methods to keep 'em square, mate them with other modules, etc.

    (I'm also a big fan of the HOG - there's a Yahoo discussion group just for that.)

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