Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Module Fest - Spring '09

For the past few days I have been working on TTrak modules, new and old, N and HO. First, there are three club-owned TTrak-HO modules.

The first has the Atlas rerailer/grade crossings spliced into the Kato Unitrack. If you're new to this, check a previous blog entry for details. At any rate, the TTrak-HO loop will have the rerailer functions that Kato does not provide. The track is just sitting there, not yet fastened.

Certainly, a bit of work will be needed to make the ramps from plywood up to the edge of the Atlas pieces. This module will have a small town with buildings along the road from the front to the rear, probably angling a bit.

Several club members have generously donated more structures than I can use here. The open space behind the tracks is about 19" wide x 20" deep.

The second of the club-owned TTrak-HO modules (not shown) has a 'sand hill' running front to rear, with a small cut for the tracks. It is nearly finished. The third (also not shown) is bare, but will finish out quickly. A bit of 'grass' and a fence, some sheep, and a pair of old codgers looking at them. I have all the pieces and supplies, so it won't take long to finish them.

Then, there are three TTrak-N double length modules. These frames are left over from my teardown a year ago. Since then Allen, a local modeler, has become involved in TTrak-N. This winter he has built four corners, four single and four double straights, and a junction. We had a test day recently, and interconnected his and my modules in an expanded double-loop layout. It was fun. Anyway, that has re-ignited the N fire for me. So, I've pulled these carcasses out and started re-doing them.

The first has a grade crossing and the double cross-over on it. The light and dark gray areas represent gravel roads and business lots. A hedge or two, a little grass, some trees and plop down the structures (I did keep most of them from the tear down) and it's complete. Since it has the double cross-over, I think I will add power connections to this module.

The dark gray is an attempt to capture the look of recycled paving material. I think it turned out a bit dark, but it's okay.

The next also has a grade crossing. The gray is concrete colored paint for streets and driveways. Again, there's the dark gray gravel parking lot. If you look close you can see the names of the businesses that are planed here. On the left end will be a small terminal for the railroad.

The third one will have a grain elevator. Don't worry about the irregular light stripes. That area is under the track, out of sight (all pictures.)

I have found that it is best for me to mark the Kato roadbed outlines, then ballast from just inside the line to the desired width outside. The track is added last, after everything is sealed, and can be easily removed and replaced without disturbing anything else.

The big holes allow the Kato turnout control leads to drop under the module. Some holes are left-over and will be covered by track. Where they are visible, they are plugged and filled. This applies to all recycled modules.

The final module in the old group is a TTrak-N junction, ala the design of Steve Jackson (NVNTRAK.) After seeing Mike Moore's (North Texas T-Trak) junction with a trestle, I knew my trestle had finally found a home after laying around here for a couple of years. The blue foam areas will get a lighter "sandy dirt" color and grass, bushes, etc. The roadbed will get gray and ballast, and the somewhat vertical surfaces along the cut and the washout end will be an experiment. I'm going to try to streak them with a dry brush using the light color, to represent erosion washing down the faces.

Now, for the new. Both Allen and I have ATSF Super Chief sets. He pulls his with an E8 A-B set, as I remember, while I use an F7 A-B-B-A in front of mine. We moaned about the lack of space for such long (locos + 12 cars) trains. I remembered something I had considered once before, and he cut the wood for me. He's a cabinet maker, and has the shop to do precision cuts quickly on sheet plywood.

He cut some 2 1/2" rails from cabinet grade 1/2" ply he had left over. I bought some 1/4" birch ply and he ripped it for me. With this ready to go, today I assembled two new module carcasses. They are 12" wide and 6' (yes, a 6x module!) long.
Yes, the cross braces are not evenly spaced along the bottom. The top was only available in 60" lengths, so it had to be spliced. That located the first brace nearer one end. The other brace is centered from the first to the far end.

Why so long? To create a long, open plains type space. Why 1/2" ply? To be self supporting when spanning between tables, and not requiring one under it. Why 6'? Because I can carry them in the enclosed bed of my pickup, weather protected.

Just for a feeling of size, that's an Alco PA sitting there in SP&S green and yellow.

I've got plenty to do, and about seven or eight working days to do it. I can do it. I did seven modules from bare wood in three weeks part-time effort last year. Several modules need the same thing (adding 'grass' for example) and I can set up once and do them all, one after another. A module finishing assembly line, if you will. The long modules will get only basic ground cover for now. Possibly, by the time for my club's October show, something else will show on them. Or not.

After sub teaching for the last three days of this week, I'll be concentrating on the modules and the show deadline. I am having fun, a lot of fun.

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