Transition over module gaps (cross posted from tips & tricks
#1
Cross posted from tips & tricks (hope that's ok, maybe this is more appropriate section anyway)

I'm back to building my baseboard but stalled on choosing a method for module connection and track transition. I could really do with some advice from those more experienced than I.

My layout is modular to allow it to be moved when I move house. However it will probably stay up for a year or more. I have an aversion to really obvious module joins. I can cope with a fair amount of time necessary in setting up again at new property including some rework on the track at joins as I'll use PVA glue for adhering the track direct to plywood baseboard, ballest will be adhered with dilute PVA. That should allow me to rewet and nudge the track if necessary.

I don't have a lot of experience with modules so I had planned to follow an approach used often in the UK for exhibition layouts. DCC components baseboard dowels and bolts with wing nuts. The track cut right at the baseboard join with brass screws or PCB sleeper and soldered. However I'm now wondering if I'm over engineering this for my purpose.

Option 1

PROS: fast set up, accurate realignment of track, ballest fixed right up to module end
CONS: accurate drilling and initial alignment paramount, more obvious module gap?

So I thiigh again and looked at ending the fixed track before the module ends and using a transition section of rail that can be dropped in. The idea being, I understand, is a higher tolerance in module alignment. I could then use clamps or just bolts to secure the baseboards together.

Option 2

PROS: higher tolerance to misalignment aka my bad building skills, less obvious track gap?
CONS: concern over robustness, trouble with fixing ballest on transition track piece.

I would quite like to minimise the work I need to do, especially if accuracy is so crucial. As this is semi-permenant it's important to me that I disguise the module gaps and track transitions as best I can. I had though that I may bridge the gaps with thin styrene sheet extending a way onto each module where it can be disguised. Then cutting it when I move and repair it somehow. Possible it could only be lightly glued to the baseboard allowing removal so it can be replaced entirely.

My concern with option 2 is how to ballest the transition piece so it blends in with the rest of the track. As it needs to be removable and the fishplates/track joiners need to be easily moved after a year. Has anyone had any experience with this?

I am of course willing to consider other options but I'm keen on using my recent found motivation to get the bench work up in the spare room and lay track:-) it doesn't come often to me for a variety of reasons!

I appreciate any advice.

Kind regards,

Steve
UK Engineering fan, from the tiny artistically engineered to the huge and powerful
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#2
Engfanuk Wrote:However I'm now wondering if I'm over engineering this for my purpose.

Gidday Steve, firstly I’d like to say you’re not alone in over engineering stuff. Nope
Modules are always going to look like modules; at least with you doing all the scenery yourself the joins should not be too obvious.
Here is an example of a join made more obvious because the face board is not painted and different scenicing techniques....
   
But here is another with the face boards painted.
   
This is the local modular groups method for joining modules.
   
Hope this doesn’t confuse the issue,
Cheers, the Bear. Smile
"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."
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#3
Orange County Module Club (CA) made a jig for drilling the bolt holes so all are in the exact same locations on every module. T nuts could also be used instead of ordinary nuts. Also check the Sipping & Switching Society of North Carolina website & Yahoo Group forum. Their rail ends are "permanent" so no track joiners are needed.
Andy Jackson
Santa Fe Springs CA
ATSF/LAJ Ry Fan & Modeler
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#4
Thanks "Bear", what you describe is pretty much option 1. Do you find much issue in alignment when modules are reassembled? I assume it's just alignment by the bolts themselves rather than dowels for alignment. I like the idea of using the bolts to bridge the power bus:-)
UK Engineering fan, from the tiny artistically engineered to the huge and powerful
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#5
lajry Wrote:Orange County Module Club (CA) made a jig for drilling the bolt holes so all are in the exact same locations on every module. T nuts could also be used instead of ordinary nuts. Also check the Sipping & Switching Society of North Carolina website & Yahoo Group forum. Their rail ends are "permanent" so no track joiners are needed.

Thanks, I should have made it clear I'm nit building modules to join to any others than in the configuration I have. It's just to make transportation when I move house an easier job. Definitely a jig would be an idea should I need any module to fit any other.bdefinitely going to put that idea in my ideas box!
UK Engineering fan, from the tiny artistically engineered to the huge and powerful
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#6
Hopefully this isn't too obvious.

If both modules are clamped together in alignment and you drill through one into the other with the right bit for your bolts, they will line up next time, provided they are the same material.

Dan M.
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#7
Eccentric-Crank Wrote:Hopefully this isn't too obvious.

If both modules are clamped together in alignment and you drill through one into the other with the right bit for your bolts, they will line up next time, provided they are the same material.

Dan M.

Nothing too obvious for me Dan. Thanks. That's exactly what I'm planning for fixing but if there is enough give in the hole realignment won't be as accurate as rail over the gap will require. Hence the use of dowels or guide pins. However I'm not sure whether I can be as accurate as dowels require.
UK Engineering fan, from the tiny artistically engineered to the huge and powerful
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#8
That's why I said the right size bit.

If you want to be really sure, put some tubing that is an exact fit on the bolts and epoxy them in the holes.

Two pieces as long as the wood is thick and grease the bolts so you don't glue them.

Or you could wrap the bolts with Teflon pipe tape, put plastic steel epoxy on them and the holes, then shove them in the holes to make your own threads, no nuts required.

Masking tape or other barrier on the joint faces would ensure you don't glue the modules to each other.

Dan M.
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#9
Gidday Steve, we use a jig not only for alignment of the bolts, but also the two outside track centres as the modules are designed to be reversible. Originally the bolts and the holes were a tight fit but even with the use of the jig, not every ones woodworking skills are equal and so now the bolt fit is not crucial (the track butt join measurements are!!!).
At the module track butt joins we use a 1/8” brass screw, about ¾”long which we drill into the end plate and once the height is set the track is soldered to the head of the screw. On the off chance that there is a small track alignment problem, a quick touch with the soldering iron cures all.
Note: the top track has yet to be soldered and the rails on both need trimming.

   

All the above is done with the eye to be able to set up and dismantle the modules at shows with the minimum of effort.

However as your modules do not have to fit that criteria, you could clamp the modules together and then drill through both and fit a dowel, as well as using the bolts. At the club I used to belong to, we had made a portable layout and used 3/8” wooden dowel s, and bolts, which worked well for some years, but with a change of club personnel, and with careless handling, the dowels got broken. That layout has recently been refurbished and I see they have now used about a 3/4” broom handle for the dowels. Hopefully idiot proof!!! Having helped them dismantle and set it up for the first time I would suggest that a liberal amount of candle wax be applied to the dowel s and mating holes.
Cheers, the Bear. Smile
P.S. Like a lot of things in model railroading there is NO absolute right way!!!
"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."
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#10
Eccentric-Crank Wrote:That's why I said the right size bit.

If you want to be really sure, put some tubing that is an exact fit on the bolts and epoxy them in the holes.

Two pieces as long as the wood is thick and grease the bolts so you don't glue them.

Or you could wrap the bolts with Teflon pipe tape, put plastic steel epoxy on them and the holes, then shove them in the holes to make your own threads, no nuts required.

Masking tape or other barrier on the joint faces would ensure you don't glue the modules to each other.

Dan M.

Understood. Thanks Dan
UK Engineering fan, from the tiny artistically engineered to the huge and powerful
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#11
JaBear Wrote:Gidday Steve, we use a jig not only for alignment of the bolts, but also the two outside track centres as the modules are designed to be reversible. Originally the bolts and the holes were a tight fit but even with the use of the jig, not every ones woodworking skills are equal and so now the bolt fit is not crucial (the track butt join measurements are!!!).
At the module track butt joins we use a 1/8” brass screw, about ¾”long which we drill into the end plate and once the height is set the track is soldered to the head of the screw. On the off chance that there is a small track alignment problem, a quick touch with the soldering iron cures all.
Note: the top track has yet to be soldered and the rails on both need trimming.

All the above is done with the eye to be able to set up and dismantle the modules at shows with the minimum of effort.

However as your modules do not have to fit that criteria, you could clamp the modules together and then drill through both and fit a dowel, as well as using the bolts. At the club I used to belong to, we had made a portable layout and used 3/8” wooden dowel s, and bolts, which worked well for some years, but with a change of club personnel, and with careless handling, the dowels got broken. That layout has recently been refurbished and I see they have now used about a 3/4” broom handle for the dowels. Hopefully idiot proof!!! Having helped them dismantle and set it up for the first time I would suggest that a liberal amount of candle wax be applied to the dowel s and mating holes.
Cheers, the Bear. Smile
P.S. Like a lot of things in model railroading there is NO absolute right way!!!


Thanks Bear, that all makes sense. I'm setting up a couple of modules tonight and will sit back with a jack and coke to mull it over.
UK Engineering fan, from the tiny artistically engineered to the huge and powerful
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#12
I thought I'd share a few photos of the two module boards I have completed the connections on. These use the DCC Concepts dowels as the alignment mechanism. I've no experience of the oft used pattern makers dowels but these are meant to be easy to get accurate results.

Both boards -

[Image: 5B6C5AFB-DB78-422A-8294-B81BC41ADCFF_zpsdf2gs5ou.jpg]

The female side -

[Image: E61ABDC8-DBF9-491A-8323-9F6AA0CA405D_zpsvgidideo.jpg]

A view of the inside -

[Image: 3752DFD1-374B-4ACF-9D10-63598086394F_zpsaezmm6rn.jpg]

The holes you can see next to the alignment dowels are for the 10mm bolts used to hold the boards together.
UK Engineering fan, from the tiny artistically engineered to the huge and powerful
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#13
Always nice seeing anyone modeling US railways in Europe. Any update?
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#14
Engfanuk Wrote:Option 2
My concern with option 2 is how to ballast the transition piece so it blends in with the rest of the track. As it needs to be removable and the fishplates/track joiners need to be easily moved after a year. Has anyone had any experience with this?
I appreciate any advice.
Kind regards, Steve

I have used thin styrene sheet, glued to the bottom of the transition pieces, to be the base for ballast. Yeah, you have to be a little careful installing / handling them, but they carry the ballast right up to the ends of the module's track.
In one place on my "new module set" the module boundaries are crossed by removable bridges. My lower in-module loop, by a rolling lift bridge, and the two "required" mainline tracks, by a two track through girder bridge ( two Atlas single track bridges, kit-bashed, side by side ) In this photo you can see the module boundary, and both of the bridges:
   
Unfortunately I do not have any close up photos of the ballasted pieces, in place, and the modules are in their trailer, waiting to go to Trainfest, in Milwaukee, on Friday 11/13/15.
We always learn far more from our own mistakes, than we will ever learn from another's advice.
The greatest place to live life, is on the sharp leading edge of a learning curve.
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#15
For a home layout that may need to be moved in the future but is not intended to be put up and taken down, I would just build the sections, bolt them together and lay track and scenery. The scenery across the joint can be on a thin base that would be easily cut through by a knife or thin saw. I would go ahead and lay the track across the joint without regard for joiner tracks. I would try to avoid putting complicated track work like yards across a joint if possible to avoid. If complicated trackwork needs to cross a joint, make a break in the tracks, put in brass screws and solder the track to the screws to keep it in alignment. Electrically, I would use plugins between sections that could be unplugged for transport.

If a move is necessary, just cut the rails at the joint, cut the scenery, unplug electrical connections, and take the layout apart. Reverse the process when you get to the new location. Just be aware that unless you do a custom design on your next house, the layout room may be a different size or shape from your current space.
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