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Thread: Solo Modular Lines

  1. #1
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    Default Solo Modular Lines

    So I'm finally moving up from running on the floor at home and tabletops at show time with a new module setup! Sadly I lack both a club of N-scalers and time to acquire the Unitrack expansion pieces to do actual modules before the Christmas display show, so I'm building these on my own and when it comes show time I'll just set the track on these instead of on tables, maybe some white felt to simulate snow so it's not just bare boards. Hopefully by next year though I'll actually get some permanent track and scenery on these puppies! I plan to run a double-main with a few sidings here and there if possible, not really following any standard though for now, Corners will be simple curves and the yard areas will be a flow-through design and an estimated 20+ tracks wide.

    Anyway, a while back I bought a set of shelves that had been a garage unit that I'll be using as my starting point. This set included about 36 composite wood shelf tops measuring roughly 36"x18", 44 legs, and enough braces to hold probably 32 of said shelves. After doing a little experimenting I found I could put together 4 corner modules using just the short sides and large yard modules using just long edges, I'll just have to cut 2 boards short to make the corners.



    After counting out all the pieces I discovered I had enough shelf rails to make all 4 corners, 4 yard modules and 26 regular sections all at about a 36" viewing height, but only enough legs for 17 modules . So I brainstormed a bit and decided that by sectioning the metal legs into thirds and adding wooden legs to them I could bring the total back up to a whopping 30 modules worth! I ended up ordering some 2"x2"x30-ish lumber from a local farmer/lumber mill for only $60 for all 120 legs I'd need and when it was ready I drove out to pick it up. It's a good thing I was riding solo though as he didn't cut it to the 3-foot sections we had discussed but instead to about 8 feet! Luckily I thought ahead and had removed the passenger seats from my 'lil Subie and it all fit with minimal room to spare.



    So to bring this all up to speed tonight I borrowed a chop-saw from a friend and cut all the legs down to their final length of 32" each. This time I used my dad's truck as a workbench while I cut it all, then stacked it to try to eliminate any warping in both the legs and shelf tops.



    Tomorrow I'm gonna try to cut the metal legs so I can hopefully attach them all next week.
    Last edited by Celidude; 26th Dec 2017 at 01:40 PM.
    Tim

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    Managed to get the metal legs chopped today, still need to run them over a bench grinder to remove the leftover burrs from the cutting wheel and smooth the ends out a little. After that I'll have to measure each leg to length before attaching them so I have them all even. Also got the 4 corner boards cut while I was at it. Not too much further to go before I can have them ready for show time!
    Last edited by Celidude; 26th Dec 2017 at 01:41 PM.
    Tim

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    Not much for updates, just got done cleaning up the metal sections. Little bit of grinding on the stone, some burr removal on the wire wheel and we have some smooth brackets ready for assembly.
    Last edited by Celidude; 26th Dec 2017 at 01:41 PM.
    Tim

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    Finally another update!

    Today I was able to get all the legs assembled, just 4 weeks ahead of showtime.

    First 4 together:


    Corner module assembled to test my handiwork:


    121 legs ready with only 2 wood legs left over and about a dozen brackets, the box of screws I picked up advertised 270 screws (by weight) but was short by about 30. Fortunately I only need 120 legs for the display, the other 3 are spares just in case.


    They're definitely not perfect but will be close enough to get me to the show and serve their purpose. I opted to go with 2 screws per leg (one top and one bottom, one on either side) since they would cross each other if I used all 4 mounting holes. This will suffice for now but I'll drill new holes in the brackets and revamp (and repaint?) them for next year. I also found they're a little bit wobbly since the side panels aren't fully seated when assembled but, again, it'll get me through the show and I can make adjustments later. I plan to improvise by tying the legs of adjacent modules together.

    Next step now is to make a runner for around the display to hide all the not-so-nice-ness of how it's put together and a tiny bit of scenery to avoid a bare board setup again. But that's all for a later post!
    Last edited by Celidude; 26th Dec 2017 at 01:43 PM.
    Tim

    Shoot for the stars, anything less and your selling yourself short...

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    Well this weekend was the club show and the modules performed exceptionally. With the help of 3 other members for assembly the whole framework was up within the hour and taped together for strength as we went. A few more minutes and I had the boards on and was laying track, only the yard sections were troublesome as some of the runners were bent and the boards were millimeters from falling through



    It wasn't long until I had the yard filled, although I was shorter on tracks and total length than I had anticipated; I had to park my VIA power separate from the coaches and same with a few other longer trains.


    After I got a half loop that cut through the yard running smooth I cut the felt "snow" and the skirting and put it in place. Didn't turn out too bad but the skirting kept getting pulled down since I only used magnets to hang it lol. I was short about 5 yards on skirting but it made getting in and out a little easier. With a little minor shimming the whole layout ran well although I only had the inner main operational, I ran out of extender cables for the unitrack drops


    Once the show was over I took the track, scenery and boards off, and once a few runners were removed the whole thing basically collapsed, thank goodness for duct tape


    I would have taken more pictures of the scenery and trains running but all the help I was counting on never showed, so I was at the helm all day both days until tear down. There were a few small towns, an urban battle between 4 giant robots, and the crew of the Millennium Falcon stopped in to get some Burger King . I even combined my Troop Train, 70-ton offset hopper train and Ore Hopper train into a single 74-car consist behind my EM-1, also pushing an old school snow plow, which ran incredibly smooth.
    Last edited by Celidude; 26th Dec 2017 at 01:45 PM.
    Tim

    Shoot for the stars, anything less and your selling yourself short...

    B&LE SD18 project
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    All I can say (as a very new MRRer) is WOW!
    Thanks!

    Bob

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    Thanks Bob! It still has a long way to go but the little bit of dress up I did for the show hid a lot of the problems, I just shot for basic functionality and was happy that it did what I needed it to.


    Speaking of doing what I need to do, I finally got started brainstorming on Phase 2 of this monstrosity and how to make it much less unwieldy. My main objective of Phase 2 is to make construction much faster and increase stability so the whole thing isn't a plate-spinning act. The drawings are starting to edge on schematics (thank you 2 years of High School Mechanical Drawing/Architecture) but they convey the idea pretty concisely I think.

    First for the legs I am going to replace the (2) long wood screws in favor of (4) T-nut anchors per bracket which will ensure stability and I won't have to worry about screws crossing each other. I will also be shaving off the extra shelf attach points below the top 2 used for the module sides, also assisting in a flush fit to the legs. (Top Right and Lower Figure)

    Secondly I will add an additional T_nut to the bottom of each leg, in which will sit a long bolt that has a felt pad on the head to avoid marring the floor. This bolt will also have a secondary nut secured to the head for quick height adjustment. (Bottom of lower figure)

    Finally, in order to keep the modules tightly interlocked and creating support across the entire module array, each pair of legs will have 1/2 of a screen door latch system which will be installed through one of the shaved off tab holes. During setup the modules go end-to-end, the clasp is secured and both modules become tied together into a larger unit. (Top Left Figure), when it's time for teardown, simply unclasp and they are separate again. I was suggested to use door hinges which is what they do with the club's O-scale modular but I thought that would be unsightly sitting on top and would require installing pins which would require perfect alignment, however the boards for my bases aren't snug-fitting and have gaps so my way will allow a little breathing room and flexibility in the assembly process.
    Last edited by Celidude; 26th Dec 2017 at 01:46 PM.
    Tim

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    It's been a while since I made any updates so Here's a minor one just to show the project isn't dead lol.

    I've been doing a lot of thinking on how to do the legs for this thing and make it easier to assemble and transport. I want to weld the sides to the L-brackets to make them one piece which will reduce a lot of fiddling but the legs were still my biggest hurdle. One thing I realized was that if I bolt the legs on, said bolt heads would create gaps between the modules which is definitely not ideal. The second issue would still be the (still) large amount of assembly/disassembly time just getting the legs on and off; 4 bolts per leg, 4 legs per module, that's over 550 bolts! That's way too much time to be fiddling with just the legs, so that method is out.

    So I thought about how I could streamline the process and I came up with something else:
    After welding the frames together I plan to mount a 2" long, 2" diameter PVC pipe. With this in place I'll round off one end of each leg to fit into said PVC whcih should make them fit snugly and eliminate a lot of the wobble, and the non-rounded "hilt" would keep the leg from going too far up the pipe. Attached below is my new schematic.

    My main concern is what should I use to affix said pipe section to the module frame? I was thinking Gorilla Glue or something similar with a lot of holding strength. I can't use much as far as harware goes without fouling the leg hole or compromising the pipe integrity.
    Last edited by Celidude; 26th Dec 2017 at 01:47 PM.
    Tim

    Shoot for the stars, anything less and your selling yourself short...

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    Please use something other than photobucket so we can see the pics.
    Karl

    CEO of the Skally Line, an Eastern MN Shortline

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    Unfortunately I can't go back to edit older posts or I'd just switch it all over to something else. I'm still trying to find something that will work for me as smoothly as PB used to but it still leaves the old post issue. Hosting here is a bit of a hassle due to my phone/camera taking pics that exceed the file size limits.

    HOWEVER

    If you use one of these browser plugins it will bypass the 3rd party issue. I personally use the Chrome one and I can see everything from before the change without issue.

    Chrome plugin

    Firefox plugin
    Tim

    Shoot for the stars, anything less and your selling yourself short...

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    The plugin for Firefox doesn't work unfortunately. It may have been broken by the recent update, I'm pretty sure it used to work.

    Edit: I tried Chrome as well and it didn't work for me there either.

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    That's unusual, it still works fine for me...
    I guess I'll need to find something fast that I can update my posts with, and maybe somehow fix old posts.
    Tim

    Shoot for the stars, anything less and your selling yourself short...

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    Thread updated with all new picture links hosted here on NSN!
    Tim

    Shoot for the stars, anything less and your selling yourself short...

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    While I've been stuck here on the deployment I've been contemplating how to do my yard leads and I could use some input.

    In the pic, the center version is how I've done it the last 2 years but the outer leg radii is kinda hard on longer trains and certain locos coming on and off the mains. My other issue now that I'm running a flow through is my yard tracks are shorter and I'll have to set up some kind of reverser section. The upper two pics retains the double-wye but gives the leads a little better radius and a longer run out, the top has the lead run between the mains and uses #4s instead of #6s to shoot for compactness. The lower keeps the long runs but uses a double crossover for the yard throat.

    Any opinions or thoughts on how I could improve the setup?

    *edit: added a 4th option at the top


    Last edited by Celidude; 1st Jan 2018 at 04:22 PM.
    Tim

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    I would vote for the lowest option - it gives the impression of a larger yard.

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    There IS a larger yard, it's up in Post #5 .

    The problems I'm trying to resolve are that I only have about 160" (144" on the yard modules themselves) to come off the main, pull into the yard, open to as many tracks as possible and then do it all in reverse on the other end.
    Obviously using the double crossover would help with isolating the yard for the "reverse loop", but if I were to go with one of the other versions how/where would I isolate it at? As soon as it comes off the main or before it balloons into the yard?
    Tim

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    If you need access from the lower double track, could you not make cross-overs from them to the upper double track and then eliminate the current y access from the lower tracks? Would that involve an unacceptable "S" curve though?

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    You could switch to #4

    Seriously could you make a compound ladder to make the best of things? As I understand it in the prototype compound ladders require crossing over the line - a hazard in any era. You probably cannot get away with #6's arranged in a #4 alignment because that would require flex track (and yes I know Mr. Fifer has done wonders with Kato flexing but this application is not permanent - although you could build ladders on hardboard for insertion).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scotian_Huntress View Post
    If you need access from the lower double track, could you not make cross-overs from them to the upper double track and then eliminate the current y access from the lower tracks? Would that involve an unacceptable "S" curve though?
    I probably should have mentioned that at this time, and probably until Phase 3 which may be next year, I'm running DC so a regular crossover would require the inner main to pause (or reverse) operations to bring in or send out another train. I did that my first show and it was not fun .

    Quote Originally Posted by Scotian_Huntress View Post
    You could switch to #4
    I updated the possible schematics with one including #4s, I've heard they can be problematic but in the squeeze for space may be what I need. The entire yard ladder is #4s and I didn't have much trouble last year but then I wasn't doing loops through the yard. If I did go that route I'd probably have to shorten legs on the diamonds and really rework some other pieces to make them fit but if it would be the better option then why not I say.
    Tim

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