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Winchester Paston & Portsmouth » Blog Archive » N-Trak Modules in a Home Layout

N-Trak Modules in a Home Layout

Posted on November 11th, 2011, by Mike

This layout design is built around a number of N-Trak modules, and was conceived on behalf of a friend in my N-Trak club. Two standard 4-ft. modules and one 6-ft. module are intended to plug in and form the scenes labeled as “Aplphaville” and “Betatown”. These are just proxy names, since this design is more about accommodating the modules and not as concerned with the specific route or locale.

N-Trak modules in home layout

I used a principle that I’ve used on my own layout, in making the aisles triangular. This opens up places where operators can get out of each other’s way; sort of like passing sidings for people. The four foot width at the end of the cul-de-sac might seem generous on paper, but it will feel just about right in practice.

There are a few staging tracks, long enough to hold significant trains, or perhaps two shorter trains per track. The three tracks of N-Trak standards are treated here as passing sidings on an otherwise single-track mainline. The squeeze happens in one spot, meaning that you could have fun keeping three or four trains roaming the road and having to obey signaling for the one stretch of single-track. The modules themselves are already built and feature industry switching, so while one siding (the aisle-side track, or “red line”) is primarily for mainline meets, the inside siding (the “blue line”) would be more for the use of locals while they work the towns.

While the grades can be steep in some areas, a lesser ruling grade could be achieved by changing some of the vertical relationships. For instance, if Betatown was lower than Alphaville, and the staging was on a constant shallow grade, one could reduce the grade through Gammaburg. The constraining factor, though, is that the modules themselves are built without any grade, so all ups and downs must happen in the connective tissue of the rest of the layout.

To remove the modules, I envisioned them sliding out, like drawers. I would not use their legs (since they are set at varying heights anyways) but rather have them rest on a firm ledge built into the benchwork. The aisle space was planned to ensure that there is enough room to pull each module out horizontally, which is another reason for the extra aisle width, since there must be space to manipulate the module and stand there even when two feet of aisle width is gone.

This design has gone no further, as the space available for the layout changed afterwards.

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