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socalttrak

New T-TRAK Module Design

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socalttrak

Inspired by @Roger McCarty, I embarked on a mission to create a new module that uses a replaceable deck. I can now swap out the deck with new scenery. I have always wanted to do fall and winter scenes. Think of the possibilities.

 

Thoughts???

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cteno4

Yes for many the wood box is the hard or expensive thing to duplicate so this gets you to the cheapest and easiest item to duplicate, the bit of foam! Also let’s you go down in your scenery easily.

 

i wonder if a piece of 020 styrene or even chipboard glued on top of the foam that was the dimension of the outside of the box would work to bring the scene all the way to the edge. You could cut holes in either easily if you wanted any scenery to go deep and a surface you caulk or screw to (especially 020 or 040 styrene). You can get styrene sheets cheap at plastics shop in 4x8 sheets. I just got some new m1.4 screws with nice aggressive threads that would grip well in styrene sheet.

 

I’m spoiled, with the shop knocking out 10 boxes is not all that much more than knocking out 2 or 3 so I do them in larger batches and saves a lot of time per box. But most folks don’t have the advantage of a home shop.

 

Cheers

 

jeff

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IST

The idea is nice and I see the huge plus that you can build a layout without the frame and the necessary woodwork.

I would worried about the sight of the frame itself without any scenery on top of it. If you put 2 modules next to each other there will be 1-2 cm-s plain wood frame that can be a little bit bothering for the eyes.

After you finish a module with scenery may I ask how do you plan to slide it out from the frame? Without scenery is OK, but with buildings and other stuffs it can be unbalanced when you push it from below and grab it somehow.

 

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cteno4

Just make a small box about 4” high and just smaller than the corner block. then you can set the module on the box and let the box frame drop away and the foam board should be pretty well supported to grab it unless you have a very heavy building on one corner and the rest relatively light.

 

i was thinking about the frame top and if it would help with disparate scenes next to each other distract. Frames can sometimes help in those situations. One of those things to test and see!

 

jeff

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socalttrak

Im not trying this because I dont/cant build the boxes....I have a shop and can knock them out quickly and cheaply. Im doing this because I am out of storage space. I currently own 16 modules (2 T Junctions, 2 End caps, 2 yard doubles, 2 doubles, 4 corners and 4 singles) This way, I can continue modelling and not have to worry about how much space the module will take up with a base attached. I know it is not for everyone, but for now, it is right for my situation.

 

Lifting out the deck even with heavy scenery will not be an issue.

 

I dont mind a visual break between modules, although I do like the idea of the styrene.

 

I have another design that uses a piece of 1/4" ply on top held on with magnets, but all the 1/4" ply here is warped a bit and Im afraid the magnets will not hold it flat enough. 

 

Well see....this is a cheap experiment.

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cteno4

Yeah the usual 2.75” boxes do add up in storage and transport space. One of the reasons I’ve always been a fan of thinner modules and using other things to bring them up to height. I experimented with one 1’ tall that had two solid cross pieces held in place by magnets for easy removal. Looked like a little sushi tray. Only thing I didn’t like about it is it then went backwards with 4 leveling bolts which I hate, three is much easier.

 

have you tried making any storage boxes or racks to stack up modules as tight as possible for minimal storage space?

 

jeff

 

 

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IST

Thanks the answers guys!

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RogerMc
On 8/20/2019 at 6:48 PM, cteno4 said:

4 leveling bolts which I hate, three is much easier.

 

Do you ever find that three legs have a tendency to tip if weight is placed without consideration and outside of the triangle made by the legs?

 

I presume you place a leg nearby each end of the track in front and a single leg in the rear?

 

I've been playing with this idea but haven't built one yet. Made simply with 1x2 and 1x3.

Screen Shot 2019-08-24 at 3.46.26 PM.png

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cteno4

Nope as not yet had a module with something so heavy on a corner to do this. Leaving is soooo much easier, level the front two for level along the line then the back one for front to back level. Much easier and the brain numbing trying to figure out 4 leg leaving. Works on 2x modules as well. If a module does end up with something really heavy like a very large building onthe back corner that is not balanced in the other back corner you can very easily just glue 2 leveling blocks in the back corners later. Not come to this yet though.

 

also easier for the rear leveling as trying to get your fingers upside down to turn corner bolts is hard. Doigna single in the center is easy and clear and lets you use your dominant hand easily to get the turn direction easily. Flipping back and forth onnback corners I’ve seen folks (inclunding myself at times) get flummoxed and mixed up.

 

leveling I see as the bane of Ttrak! That’s why I loved the thinner modules that I would then set on a 4’ long frame so I could level 4 modules at once and level w.o modules where it’s easy to access bolts (I do 4 on these as they are so big) and easy to plop level all over to make sure it’s all good. then just plop the modules down with the base nice and level.

 

granted we have shows on the street and lawns where the tables can be very out of level and vary a lot, but I just find it a fiddly bit of setup. Helps when you have flat tables (some of Venus the well used banquet tables are pretty twisty and warped) on a nice flat floor! If the table surfaces are flat and level the its much easier to just set all the module bolts to the same length with some jigs, attach up all the modules up the do some micro adjusting.

 

our new layout we have a box joint frame work we can pop together (like a wine case insert) and it sits on caterpillar bases that have leveling bolts that can quickly level the big frame. Then just drop the large club layout modules on a flat and level base. We keep looking at it to see if we can adapt it maybe with some ply sheets to do Ttrak easier.

 

jeff

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RogerMc
Posted (edited)

I like this design very much, very clever and solves lots of issues. Completely agree with your statements about leveling. Why level a foot at a time when you can do 4 or more.

 

Have seen these 'caterpillar bases' on folding camping tables before, but have never seen them available separately. I can find no hits on google. Any other name or a link you could provide please? They seem like a lightweight stage base.

 

Edited by RogerMc

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cteno4

They are made by bora

 

https://boracentipede.com/

 

Amazon has them

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=bora+centipede&i=tools&crid=3D5S4YJZVUUWZ&sprefix=Bora+%2Ctools%2C132&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_5

 

we got them like 18 months back for like $50 so maybe a revision ours don’t have orange legs, all black.

 

using the sideways you could do like 2 strips of 15” ply on top of a simple box joint frame. Just put a few dowels in the structure and holes in the ply top to hold it in place.

 

we did the long beams as L beams to keep sturdy and straight and rest on the centipede base. Sections connect together with connector plates and knob bolts and inserts to connect together straight and firm. All made from 12mm Baltic birch ply.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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RogerMc
Posted (edited)

Thanks Jeff!

 

I was able to snag (4) 2x4' leg sets in black on a closeout deal. They'll be a train table or used in the garage or both.

Edited by RogerMc

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cteno4

They are sturdy and flat, and stabler that folding saw horses. Only real down side is the space under then is almost useless for any quick storage of boxes and such. I am working on 6” leveling bolts that fit down into the holes in the top of each upright to level the frame with when we are on the really unlevel surfaces.

 

thats a great closeout price, half what we paid!

 

the bags are really fiddly to get them into at times. Easier to just get big heavy duffel bag at surplus store to toss them into and put a couple of loops of Velcro around them to keep them collapsed. But it does take a bigger transport area. Singly then can be tucked into places like back seat foot areas.

 

jeff

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RogerMc
5 hours ago, cteno4 said:

Only real down side ...

It's always about trade-offs, isn't it? In this case the advantages far exceed (for me).

 

I'm very happy I waited rather than buying the fold in half tables. I sensed they would not be best fit.

 

Had already envisioned using Velcro on single legs sets. Part of me wonders if they will be folded very often.

 

Thanks for sharing your idea!

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cteno4

The white plastic 30” wide folding tables are nice, but really heavy and bulky to transport and even store (they seem just a tad to high where I usually go to store them!). They also are very slick so they slide around a lot in the back of the car, I have to be careful they are in just the tight spot as they have quite a bit of mass and will slide around. Also if you have a bad back theynare the right shape and weight to potentially wrench it. I’ve got a good back but I have at times felt a twinge moving them around when folded up. The 24” wide are pretty light but the 30” wide get very dense.

 

its been on the list to look at a simple frame system like we use on the layout for Ttrak and then just 5mm ply panels that pop on top. Good thing is it could be done to dimensions to perfectly fit 33mm Ttrak modules as the 14.3/8” ends mess up the length using the fold up tables. I’ve seen a few folks spread out folding tables with gaps between them to max out the length and have 2x modules span the gaps.

 

after we had debuted the frame system for the new layout at one of our club meetings folks had asked if we could use them for Ttrak. Unfortunately the spacing wasn’t good for Ttrak, but I sketched out a basic frame that worked the same to expand as needed in length and just ply tops. With the ply I was thinking of 1/2”w x 3/4”h edging with a rabit joint to the ply sheet edges to stiffen them up, prevent warping, protect the edges, and give a nice edge. They could the. Be easily held together with some binder clips. A few little U blocks glued under the ply panels at strategic spots would lock the ply tops onto the girders  and just a few support blocks for the joist ends to keep the frame ends from having to go all the way out to the edges of the panels. I’ll dig out my drawings if I can find them. I think it was 39” x 30” for the end tops (to deal with the corner modules) and then 30”x40” for center expansion tops. End girder sections like 38” long and center expansion girder sections 48” long. Girder connect together with police plates and knob bolts. Cross joists could be 12” or 16” spacing on expansion girders and bit modified on ends

 

Great thing is the whole frame can be quickly leveled on top of the centipede so modules could all be set for the same height or flat on the tables and minimal module leveling. Setting up the frame takes all of 10min by one person, really is fun just flop out the centipedes, screw the splice plates on the girders and plop them on the centipedes and the slap in the joists with the box joint notches.

 

one thing to watch on the centipede is when folded up when you grab them hey can expand a little and some pinch points in all the leg blades that can get finger tips. That’s why a couple of loops of Velcro cable tie around each end will help prevent this.

 

Cheers

 

jeff

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RogerMc

Having not yet seen the tops of the legs, I've not given any consideration to what I will use as a deck. Would be great if you can locate your sketches.

 

It's fun to watch demo videos showing a person just tossing the legs onto the ground. Staying away from pinch points possibly.

 

We've been fortunate so far and each venue has provided plenty of tables. But that's not the case at my home. A couple of shows per year just isn't enough trains for me. I need these legs for home use and will probably rarely take them out.

 

Folding tables are too ugly for home. The gym keeps my back happy, but I've had occasions in the past, so the weight is certainly a consideration.

 

Module construction is still leaning towards Ultraboard/Masonite with Blob o' foam style. Haven't yet purchased a full sheet of Uboard to test using circular saw. If only I had a place to store a table saw. Might consider rental for a few hours to get some of the job done. But I'd have to know in advance what shapes are needed in the future. Not there yet.

 

I do a lot of experimentation but it is simply that. I can easily discard anything I've done so far. Gotta find what works for me.

 

Looks like I won't have the legs for nearly 2 weeks. I've got plenty of other things on the list.

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cteno4

The tops are circles about 2” round with an off center peg hole. The thing can swivel around. I just put a piece of dowel into the peg hole and had a hole thru the dowel so I could put a 1/4” screw in insert for the leveling bolt. I am still on the fence of drilling out large flat washers to put on top of the dowel (held in place by the insert flange but it’s tricky to get it just the right size to allow insert threads thru) or jus drill a hole thru the side of the leg top to put in a set screw into the dowel to hold it all in place (probably 2 to hold well). This is the last bit I need to finish on the whole support setup.

 

ive been thinking and it may be really nice way to do Ttrak for a few tables worth and not have to hassle with what tables they provide and not deal with the damn folding tables.

 

might look at the little table top 10” table saw at harbor freight. It goes on sale for around $100-120 and is fine for whacking up some ply or 1x material. Just get the 4x8 whacked down to a reasonable size at the lumber shop. It’s pretty small and could store under a bench. A friend got one a number of years back and has been very happy with it to get out once a month for a few cuts.

 

https://www.harborfreight.com/10-in-15-amp-benchtop-table-saw-63118.html

 

ultraboard cuts like butter. Best to get a smooth ply/plastic blade to avoid chipping and don’t go super fast (temptation as it cuts so well) as it can cause melting at times. Pain is the styrene saw dust is scratchy stuff and gets a bit statically charged so lots of vacuuming! Also a zero clearance table insert helps with chipping (but more flying styrene saw dust).

 

jeff

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RogerMc
Posted (edited)

Built a 3 legged module base today. It would take significant weight directly on a rear corner in order to tip. Leveling is a snap. Construction couldn't be much easier as long as one can make an accurate 308mm cut. No specific need for anything to be square or flush unless desired. Not sure how much I will use it because I want to get away from wood as much as I can. I've lost my nice oak front face so the furniture look is gone.

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IMG_6252.jpg

 

Here's a base for the scenery (Masonite plus a layer of XPS)

 

64918576_527405924461148_903988395586355200_o.jpg

Edited by RogerMc
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cteno4

Neat! Simple. Just glue a strip of ply on the front for a front face.

 

i may need to copy this! I have a ton of scrap 1x and 3/4” ply scraps laying around the shop and a pile of 1” insulation. Could easily cut 4” strips of 3/4” thick insulation out of all the scrap 1” I have.

 

nice thing is this could easily be cut by hand with a hand saw and miter box. Assembly is less tricky than the box.

 

nice job!

 

jeff

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RogerMc

OK so I suppose there is a solution for a pretty face.

 

There is absolutely nothing about this style that requires woodworking skill at all. The 320mm leg doesn't need to be perfectly centered, the (2) 120mm don't need to be flush.

 

One thing I would consider would be to cut the 120mm as 135mm instead. That way they could be used as spacers to center the 320mm on the 308mm without measuring.

 

(1) 1x3" x 308mm

(1) 1x2" x 320mm

(2) 1x2" x 120mm

(3) Hurricane nuts or T-nuts.

(3) 1/4-20 x 1.5" hex bolts

 

I'm in a mode of doing removable scenery because I need lots of practice. Hoping that the more I do it the easier and better I get.

Screen Shot 2019-08-29 at 9.18.51 PM.png

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RogerMc
5 hours ago, cteno4 said:

ive been thinking and it may be really nice way to do Ttrak for a few tables worth and not have to hassle with what tables they provide and not deal with the damn folding tables.

 

might look at the little table top 10” table saw at harbor freight. It goes on sale for around $100-120 and is fine for whacking up some ply or 1x material. Just get the 4x8 whacked down to a reasonable size at the lumber shop. It’s pretty small and could store under a bench. A friend got one a number of years back and has been very happy with it to get out once a month for a few cuts.

 

https://www.harborfreight.com/10-in-15-amp-benchtop-table-saw-63118.html

 

ultraboard cuts like butter. Best to get a smooth ply/plastic blade to avoid chipping and don’t go super fast (temptation as it cuts so well) as it can cause melting at times. Pain is the styrene saw dust is scratchy stuff and gets a bit statically charged so lots of vacuuming! Also a zero clearance table insert helps with chipping (but more flying styrene saw dust).

 

 

I think absolutely a nice way to do T-TRAK and have some control over tables while avoiding the folding ones. Hopefully great for home.

 

Issue with lack of saw is due to lack of storage space rather than $$$. I don't even have a workbench to put it under. Wife and I use the garage as storage for cars. I know, we are strange. Some day a saw is in my future if I can eliminate enough ~stuff~.

 

So Uboard needs about 60-80 teeth? If zero clearance insert is needed then I don't think circular saw is a good tool choice. At the moment I feel I can simulate Uboard with Masonite. Issue there is that Masonite needs to be sealed and that is extra effort, but oh well.

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RogerMc
Posted (edited)

Just learned about a terrific website for optimizing placement and generating cut list for panels using sheet material. REALLY neat!

 

http://cutlistoptimizer.com/

 

Screen Shot 2019-08-30 at 10.32.09 PM.png

Edited by RogerMc

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cteno4

Ahh I know that. Our two car started with one for the shop and one for a car but somehow I invaded the second, for now, trying to re arrange and squeeze back into one slot...

 

ply/plastics blade is best. My 90 tooth carbide works well too. Zero clearance just a bonus to be clean, but not required.

 

a regular ply/plex (non carbide tooth) on a circular saw should work. Cut on top of a piece of sacrificial ply. I’ll see if I still have a ply blade for my circular and try on a piece of ultra here, I think I still have some scrap.

 

masonite is pretty stable unless wide swings of humidity or it’s put under weight. I’ve had great success using it as a laminate with foam core and Formica to make viaduct station plates. It’s been super stable Formica/foam core/Masonite laminate. I did not seal it. It’s held up well in 16”x48” panels  on the basement joists for a ceiling. Over the years it’s drooped a small amount but not bad at all. One thing, always wear a mask cutting it. The dust is really fine and the fibers are very irritating to the sinus and lungs — I know I got a snoot full once and it was not fun for a week.

 

neat site. Been doing that so long in my head, next project it will be fun to compare!

 

jeff

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RogerMc

OK, I'll look for such a blade and consider circular saw with sac ply under. I'm starting to wonder if there is any advantage of Uboard over Masonite. The tempered Masonite of today isn't like what I remember in the 1970s. Older stuff was durable but probably laced with a toxin.

 

Surprisingly my legs arrived yesterday. Was a little disappointed to learn that when folded they are a bit longer. I hadn't considered that. Not sure what that means to me yet.

 

I've got (4) 2x4 to play with and I am certain that is overkill. I might actually do better with the 2x2 size. As you mentioned, the loss of 16 cu ft of storage volume per set is becoming a real concern given space constraints here. Gotta think about it.

 

I took the goofy rotating top thing off to see what is available to play with. Have to reflect on that as well.

 

I've had no issues regarding pinch points -- so far. My technique is to grab the two center leg tops and either pull together or push apart.

 

Doing well so far. Again thanks very much for the suggestion!

IMG_6256.jpg

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