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Sir Madog

The Beginnings of a Desktop Layout

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Sir Madog

I have finally gotten around to start work on my new desktop layout, using mini-modules similar to the T-Trak design.

 

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Unfortunately the photobucket account is no longer there so all the pictures are missing from the thread, but luckily Ulrich did a great article on his work for the JRM website and there is a photo album there with most of the pictures that were in this read!

 

http://japanrailmodelers.org/pages/modelingjapan/minimodules.html

http://japanrailmodelers.org/photos/minimodules/index.html

 

Moderators

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P1020187.jpg

 

P1020189.jpg

 

Progress will be slow, as I have to save up some funds before I can continue. But even this little roundy-rounder is also lots of fun.

 

The track plan I´ll be going for looks like this:

 

Layout3.jpg

Edited by cteno4
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Martijn Meerts

Nice.. You used the exact dimension the Japanese guy uses for his mini-modules?

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Sir Madog

That´s what I did, Martijn. It´s a near perfect fit for my desk. I do use the slightly bigger radius, though. 249 mm is not enough...

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Martijn Meerts

How sturdy are the connections between the modules? I'm guessing the only thing keeping them together is the Uni-joiner right?

 

I'm tempted to use Unitrack for my mini-modules as well instead of Peco flex, but I can't imagine the connection between the modules will hold up in the long run...

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disturbman

Well, you can always improvise something sturdy and cheap, like screwing temporarily the modules together.

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Sir Madog

How sturdy are the connections between the modules? I'm guessing the only thing keeping them together is the Uni-joiner right?

 

I'm tempted to use Unitrack for my mini-modules as well instead of Peco flex, but I can't imagine the connection between the modules will hold up in the long run...

 

Yup, connection is made only via the rail joiners, but that´s quite OK, as the modules are resting on my desk and are not going to be moved. They are strong enough to keep the modules in place. As you can see in the picture, there is a 2 mm gap between the modules. This is to slide a screwdriver in between the modules for disassembly.

 

I more or less strictly followed what I saw in that link from Japan, and all I can say for now is that it works nicely.

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Darklighter

Well, you can always improvise something sturdy and cheap, like screwing temporarily the modules together.

 

As the rail extends 1mm beyond the module end, you might damage the track if you screw the modules together, I guess.

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Martijn Meerts

Screwing would be possible, but there are some issues with that. For example, if you take the module in the rear with the bridge, once you've added scenery, you can't really use screws anymore, or at least, not in an easy way.

 

Just the Uni-joiner connection works fine as long as the modules are just for yourself, but I fear that if the modules are taken to a show, they won't stand up to being bumped into repeatedly. In this case, it's not an issue since it's more of a personal layout, but if you're building something that's to be set up at shows, something a bit more sturdy is required. Also, the strength depends a bit on the layout as well. If you have a small-ish oval, there's enough rigidity from just setting up the modules. If you have a long stretch (say, a point to point tram layout of about 15-20 modules in length), it's a lot more vulnerable.

 

(I might also be overthinking this, I have a tendency to do so :))

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Sir Madog

I have seen videos of meets they have in Japan, where they put up huger layouts consisting of these modules. They are always set up on tables with some kind of "clearance" to avoid spectators "bumping" into the layout.

 

The rail joiners will eventually wear out, but that´s no big deal, as they can easily be replaced.

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disturbman
As the rail extends 1mm beyond the module end, you might damage the track if you screw the modules together, I guess.

 

A detail I had overlooked but you can add a 2mm thick buffer piece between the two modules that will be part of the scewing mechanism.

 

Screwing would be possible, but there are some issues with that. For example, if you take the module in the rear with the bridge, once you've added scenery, you can't really use screws anymore, or at least, not in an easy way.

 

Good remark. This is a real problem. But I can see a way out of it, you mostly need to let 2 to 3 cm of bare wood under the lowest module floor.

 

Anyway. I'm really interested to see how Madog's layout is going to turn out. I've been thinking about that type of layouts since 2009. Back then, I even had started to build something only out of foamcore and with the help of a hot glue gun. They are still somewhere taking dust.

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keitaro

A cheap and nasty alternative is to get the child proof door locks you would put on you cupboard doors to stop the little ones from getting in have the attaching from one mode side to the other tightly. Then can easily clip off and on when wishing to move.

 

We use these clear ones that stick using some adhesive and can handle a fair amount of pull so would definately keep this held together nicely

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Sir Madog

A cheap and nasty alternative is to get the child proof door locks you would put on you cupboard doors to stop the little ones from getting in have the attaching from one mode side to the other tightly. Then can easily clip off and on when wishing to move.

 

We use these clear ones that stick using some adhesive and can handle a fair amount of pull so would definately keep this held together nicely

 

Good idea - I always like the quick & dirty approach. Might look into that, should I be going to a meet.

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Martijn Meerts

I have seen videos of meets they have in Japan, where they put up huger layouts consisting of these modules. They are always set up on tables with some kind of "clearance" to avoid spectators "bumping" into the layout.

 

The rail joiners will eventually wear out, but that´s no big deal, as they can easily be replaced.

 

I did see pictures of the layout at a show .. Guess the joiners are more sturdy then they initially appear :)

 

 

Screwing would be possible, but there are some issues with that. For example, if you take the module in the rear with the bridge, once you've added scenery, you can't really use screws anymore, or at least, not in an easy way.

 

Good remark. This is a real problem. But I can see a way out of it, you mostly need to let 2 to 3 cm of bare wood under the lowest module floor.

 

The disadvantage of that is that there's little space to get good grip on the screw/bolt/but. These modules are mostly set up on tabletops, so you won't be able to reach them from underneath. You can't lay them on the side either once you've connect several modules, or have them set up as an oval. You'd likely need some more space, but then you might end up with the modules not being deep enough.

 

It's all theory though, in practice it might actually be very doable.

 

 

A cheap and nasty alternative is to get the child proof door locks you would put on you cupboard doors to stop the little ones from getting in have the attaching from one mode side to the other tightly. Then can easily clip off and on when wishing to move.

 

We use these clear ones that stick using some adhesive and can handle a fair amount of pull so would definately keep this held together nicely

 

I was thinking of using something like this to keep the modules together http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/303828695/Display_Box_Clamp.html . Disadvantage is of course that people can just reach out and undo those clamps :)

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Martijn Meerts

I was thinking of using something like this to keep the modules together http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/303828695/Display_Box_Clamp.html . Disadvantage is of course that people can just reach out and undo those clamps :)

 

The ones in your link look like they can be locked by a padlock...  :grin

 

Hehe.. Would be a bit expensive on the padlocks though.. But, one could use cable ties to "lock" the clamps. Cheap and easy :)

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Sir Madog

One thing just came to my mind - the easiest (and, most likely, cheapest) way of keeping the modules from making a move is to put some rubber tape underneath them. Stops them from moving on slick surfaces.

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Martijn Meerts

One thing just came to my mind - the easiest (and, most likely, cheapest) way of keeping the modules from making a move is to put some rubber tape underneath them. Stops them from moving on slick surfaces.

 

That might actually do the trick in combination with the Uni-joiner connection.

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Sir Madog

I will run to my local home improvement place and give this a try. I am pretty sure it´ll work.

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Sir Madog

I tried my hand at ballasting the Unitrack and the result looks like this:

 

d51-498C.jpg

 

Far from being perfect, but still a lot better than the plastic look.

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Bernard

I tried my hand at ballasting the Unitrack and the result looks like this:

 

d51-498C.jpg

 

Far from being perfect, but still a lot better than the plastic look.

 

I like your results....in particular the rust on the rails looks great!

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Sir Madog

Just one more pic, this time taken with a flash:

 

d51-498E.jpg

 

The rust on the rails was done by spray-painting the track with a dark brown color, using the good old rattle can.

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cteno4

Madog,

 

great little modular layout! going to be quite fun. i have looked at that style of module a lot and will be interested in seeing how it works out for you.

 

we ran into the similar set of module connections on the jrm layout. our modules are a bit bigger and usually have 4 or more track connections between modules so really the unijoiners can hold all the module connections, but we decided that it would be best with a larger layout to take some extra steps.

 

first i pre drilled all the end pieces of the modules with two 6mm holes about 5cm in from each side. in these then we put alternating dowel pegs that stick out about 20mm. this gives us a very tight positional lock on the modules to guide in the unijoiners and take most of the strain if for some reason the module joints get a nasty whack or bend somehow. only downside is that you really need to do this before you build your modules to get things to line up well and universally. i built a little jig so i could drill all the end pieces before assembly identically (and made a bunch extra for future expansion modules).

 

second we put threaded inserts into the bottom side of each end of each module in the center. we have a sort of girder system that is slightly smaller than the modules that rest on sawhorses or tables and the modules rest on these. we then have cross pieces in the girders where each of the module joints is and have a small thumb=bolt that goes through a hole (larger than the bolt to give us some wiggle room) and into the threaded insert in the bottom ends of the modules. once all the modules are clipped together by the track joiners the thumb-bolts lock it down to the girder and thus the whole layout is then locked together very solidly. You could perhaps do this with your layout and a sheet of plywood and just counter sink the bolts or raise the plywood up with a strip of moulding around the edges. this then would lock the modules onto your bottom board well and thus make a very tight connection w/o having to try to bold modules to each other. then you could pick the whole little layout up together and move it or even store it vertically or transport it.

 

im thinking that any sort of latch between modules is going to tend to kink up your track some. in both my ttrak modules and the jrm modules once you clip the modules together you need to do a tad of wiggling to get all the joints to settle in just right. with your 2mm module gap, using a clamp or latch would then probably undo your settle in wiggle and thus may cause problems. thats why i think perhaps bolting to a sheet of plywood may let you keep your wiggle (just drill your holes in the ply base a bit larger for some wiggle room) but at the same time really lock the modules down in the settled in configuration. we looked at latches with the jrm layout, but in the end they had the above problem, were very bulky even with our larger modules (05.m x 1m) and they aint cheap...

 

keep the picts coming, great to watch this evolve!

 

cheers

 

jeff

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Sir Madog

Been working on my bridge module today:

 

Bridge2.jpg

 

Bridge4.jpg

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Bernard

Will you be adding water to the module?

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Sir Madog

Yes, definitively! There will be a little stream under the bridge.

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