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The Next Station Is...

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The Next Station Is...

I’ve come up with a modular system based on T-Trak and designed for squeezing layouts into an even smaller space, to use with really small trains like Bandai’s B Train Shorty range which I have a few of in my collection. In recognition of this, I have decided to call this system ShorTy-Trak!


The standard module size is nominally 186mm x 186mm x 10mm. In order to ensure that modules fit together without issue, the actual size of the modules should be cut to 184mm x 184mm x 10mm, leaving a 1mm gap on each side and a track overhang of 1mm on each side. This is the same principle as T-Trak, although with the modules I have made so far I experimented with a 0.5mm gap/overhang. Despite the accuracy of lasercutting, I found that the smaller gap made it more difficult to ensure an adequate overhang of track.


The fundamental modules of the system consist of:

A single track straight module has an S186 Kato Unitrack track section, placed 21.5mm from the front edge.


A double track straight module has two parallel S186 Kato Unitrack track sections, the first placed 21.5mm from the front edge and the second placed at the normal Unitrack centre-to-centre spacing of 33mm.


A single track curve module has two R150-45 Kato Unitrack track sections, joined to make a 90 degree curve, with the ends of outer edge placed at a distance of 21.5mm from the front of the module.


A double track curve module is similar, with an additional pair of R117-45 track sections placed inside at the normal 33mm track centre spacing.


In addition to these module types, I’ve also got plans for modules with turnouts to convert between single track and double track.


So far I have had 6 modules made up. The modules had fixing holes cut into them, so that the track could be screwed down in precisely the right place, and in one of the corner modules there are holes for the feeder wires to the track to go to (using the same wiring convention as T-Trak. Unfortunately I mixed up my measurements on the corner modules and didn’t account for having a very slim gap between the track sections. I’d also used a looser fit for the tabs and slots between parts, whereas a tighter fit would have helped the parts fit together more accurately.


With these issues, I wouldn’t consider my designs to be ‘production ready’. However I’m still really pleased with how the modules turned out and of course I’m happy to now be able to run trains on them! The challenge now is to get round to decorating them with scenery...



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Looks like great fun! I guess the biggest challenge will be now building and scenery bits fit and lay out on the non track space. Have you laid anything thing out for buildings and scenery yet? The small space is going to back building up to the very back of the modules so will literally back into the scene of the module behind it (luckily in many Japanese scenes that’s realistic!). Also the eye even focused in is going to take in both modules deep. Ttrak was designed around the space they eye takes in when focused in. Just going to be different than Ttrak when doing scenery.


It’s going to be really fun to see how scenes play out in these. It screams for ultra compressed scenery.


nice lasercutting, did you send out to a service? Nice thing about this size as well is that it could be done with foamcore easily and cheaply. Foam core works for Ttrak, but these being much smaller should work well. Other simple materials might also work for the sides and top.


have you played with floating the modules off the tale! Using some like 20mm square stock/sticks on the table that the modules sit on (with the stick recessed some) might look nice floating the modules some. Also may help when you span tables or even on rougher tables as always the issue with Ttrak and the damn leveling bolts. Easier to shim some sticks laying on the table to get level than trying to shim a lot of modules.


wonder if ther is a unitrak combo that could curve the track to the back so that you could have a section with modules reversed and main scene in front.


Kudos, great work! I may have to whack a few of these out to play with here, got gobs of shorties and was contemplating a little portable shorty layout, but this may be more fun with hyper compressed scenery modules. 





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The Next Station Is...

Thanks for the feedback Jeff! I'm not very good at planning scenery, so I haven't yet had a go but you might notice one of the modules is 'inverted' as I'm planning on adding rice paddies to it. It's certainly going to be challenging with the limited space but I love the idea of focusing on the little details of scenery.


I rented time on a laser cutter from a local company, which worked out well and it was great seeing modules appearing before my eyes out of sheet plywood! I have a short video on my blog.


I haven't designed in a way of shimming the height of these modules but I like your ideas!


I've been trying to find a combo that works but I've not found one close enough to match a multiple of 186mm - but adaptor track and flexi track is an option. I hope other people can invent some cool track combos, I'd love to see more variety - maybe even purely scenic modules, for bigger layouts that would normally have a gap in the middle?


Finally, I have a plan to make modules that go 'underneath', to model things like tunnels and subways! But I should really sort out that scenery first...

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Will be fun to see it evolve! Btrains look best on curves btw, helps hide the shortness some.



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