Friday, February 20, 2009

TTrak Module Storage Frames

After some time of transporting TTrak-N modules to show setups as a set of individual modules, I saw a frame for carrying them built by Don Payne. While his frame wouldn't work for me (too tall) it did inspire the design I now use.

I have some limits that I had to include in my "Payne Frames" as I call them. First, the maximum height I can use is 18" (46cm). This is the clearance under the rigid bed cover on my pickup. Second, I wanted them to be 'reasonable' in size and weight for ease of handling. Third, they had to protect the modules, especially the exposed Unijoiners on the end of the modules.

My first attempt didn't take this last point into account, and I was never satisfied with them.
So, a redesign was done. These pictures show the revised design.
I made them as a three layer structure, capable of holding two layers of modules. For the first frames, I made them long enough to hold four modules. The first picture shows four Alt. (33mm spacing) corners nestled in their frame. The other frame holds four single straights, about 12" (31cm) long and 8-1/4" deep (21cm.) Together, this is a small layout in two easy to carry packages.

The wood strips that form each loop are wider than the track overhang on the end of a module. I made them 3/4" (~18mm) square. The exact size is not important, so long as as it is bigger than the overhang. This is a key part of the protection.
The openings in the wood loops are slightly larger than a module, so that it settles down in the opening there. In the second picture, note that on the bottom of the left side is a piece of Masonite running from front to back. A similar strip is on the right side of the opening. The module rests on this pair of strips, held in place by the wood loop.

The three loops in a frame are spaced apart by strips of luan plywood. I used what I had on hand that was light and cheap. They are 18" long, the maximum clearance I can have in my truck bed. I placed two strips on each end and the back, at the corners. In addition, narrow strips were added in the middle for extra support.

The third picture shows The frame for the four straights. Since the straights are smaller than the frame is also smaller than the one for the corners. Noting this, I added extra strips to the top of the larger frame for the corners. These show in the first picture. They allow me to stack the smaller frame on the larger one for storage.
By the way, the brass doors on the lower straights were installed by Don Payne when he built the bare boxes. The intent is to add built-in throttles for the two track loops. I am collecting parts for this addition ...

Also note in the third picture that the middle loop is not placed half way between the top and bottom. This was done to accommodate the taller tunnel module.
This week, as weather has been warm enough to work with glue out in the shop, I built five more frames.

Here's nine loops for three more frames. The smaller six are for two frames, holding four TTrak-HO single modules. These are club-owned modules These modules are approx. 20" (51cm) x 28" (71cm), quite a bit larger than the N modules. The construction, however, is the same. The Masonite strips are clearly visible here.

Note the top loops do not have the Masonite strips. Rather, I braced the corners with 3"x3" thin plywood gussets.

This is a view of one of this pair of frames as the construction is completed. It gives a good overview of a typical complete frame.

Since these frames only hold one larger module per level, the rear center strip is wider for more strength.

Here's the two frames for the four TTrak-HO single modules. These club owned modules are the power feed modules for the loop when it is setup. Two of the modules are in the lower frame.

I am going to take these four bare modules and apply some basic scenery before our next big show. That's May 1-2 at the Lubbock Arts Festival.

The last picture shows the frame I built for my TTrak-HO double modules. This is a large structure. The modules it holds are about 40" (100cm) wide. It is manageable, but I really think that it is about the practical limit in size for these things. It is built like the others, just bigger.
Finally, not shown are two more TTrak-N frames. Each holds two double modules, approx. 24" (62cm) wide by 21" (31cm) deep. I didn't feel that there was any need to add the pictures of these frames. They are about the size of the First frame shown, the TTrak-N corner module unit.
So, that's what I've been doing when I could this week. I did get to work (sub. teacher) two days, and I got the income taxes out of the way, too. All in all, a good, productive week for me.

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