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Martijn Meerts

Sort of club for Dutch/German/Belgian members?

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Kabutoni

The 5th of May there is the Modelspoorbeurs in Houten again. We could also meet up there -I haven't visited such a fair/trading show in quite a while anyway.

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Claude_Dreyfus

RailZ is a really cool place. I was there a couple of years back. I'm back in Rotterdam next month visiting Mrs Dreyfus' family...although sadly won't have time to go model railway hunting. I do enjoy playing on the RET trams though...especially when the older ones come out.

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Martijn Meerts

Toni, I'd be fine with that, never been to the Houten show at all yet. I do believe JapanModelRailways usually has some Dutch representative there.

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cteno4

 

By the way, if we decide on T-Trak, I'm for having a 7~10cm high base, since I really would like to do bridges and/or lower (shitamachi-like) scenes. However, with a higher base, it doesn't mean you can't mix it with lower bases. It would even be possible to do overpasses on modules with combined high and low bases. I remember seeing examples of these somewhere, but I don't exactly recall where...

 

Toni

 

you can still have deep modules with thin ones. just have a frame or small legs for the thin modules then the ones that need to go deep can be deep modules. no reason to make all your modules have really deep bases when only a few might go deep, just takes up a lot of material, storage space and transport space (and in my opinion looks really bad).

 

the frames i made are just two pieces of wood like 18x60mm stock that are 4 modules long. then 4 hunks of 12mm dowel to hold them apart about 15-20cm (depending on how deep of modules you want to support). then 4 leveling bolts to adjust the height. they could be pulled apart for easy transport.

 

something else i played with was to use two hunks of wood cross wise on each module that could just slip into a slot in the bottom side of the module. each could have a pair of leveling bolts. it would sort of look like a traditional japanese sushi platter. i mocked one up and it looked nice, propping up the thin module up about 50mm. i just didnt go down that route as the frames are easier and allow fast leveling of 4 modules at once, but the other is always an option to retrofit.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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Kabutoni

Jeff, that's some great food for thought. Deep modules indeed do take up quite some space, but hey, they look pretty sweet IMO. *see attachment for a shitty picture of two old modules I have in my room atm, these have a 75mm base height* If we follow this, it'd be a good idea to adapt two height standards (standard T-Trak at 70mm base height and maybe double at 140mm or so base height).

 

Also, I think that if we go on presenting the modules, we need to bring sufficient black tablecloth (which we can reuse of course) and paint the bases of the modules black. This way, the bases sort of vanish and the higher modules don't stand out too much. Next to that, if we would like to present something to read, flyers, business-cards or something like that, they would also stand out on the tablecloth.

 

... I'm thinking too much ahead now, am I? :P

 

---

 

Regarding meeting in Houten, it's a bit remote where the Euretco Expo is, but there is a some kind of shuttle bus from Houten station to the place IIRC. Having a bite somewhere afterwards is a bit hard, but Utrecht is in the vicinity, so that could be an option for later that day.

post-224-13569930582257_thumb.jpg

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Martijn Meerts

The higher modules are interesting for some interesting scenery, like that in the picture. To me that's a fairly typical rural Japanese scene.

 

On the other hand, low modules are even easier to build the base than the higher ones, since you don't really need to sides.

 

It should be easy enough to mix and match though, we could do some corner modules with a helix to transition between heights. Could also be various versions to bridge heights from say ground level to 70mm, 70mm to 140mm, or even ground level to 140mm.

 

Oh, and you can never think too much ahead ;)

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Kabutoni

Hey Martijn, I like that idea to make a ground level -I presume by ground level you mean table-top- to 70mm (standard T-Trak height) helix! This way, setting up a simple yard/loop with sectional track is pretty easy.

 

Thinking in heights of 70mm is a good idea in any case, since this is a great height under which trains can easily cross tracks and such.

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Densha

On the other hand, low modules are even easier to build the base than the higher ones, since you don't really need to sides.

And don't forget cheaper.

It should be easy enough to mix and match though, we could do some corner modules with a helix to transition between heights. Could also be various versions to bridge heights from say ground level to 70mm, 70mm to 140mm, or even ground level to 140mm.

I think that's much too difficult while you can create pretty nice bridges with 7cm high, and 14cm is a real big difference. Sir Madog's modules are 10cm high and that's high enough in my opinion, just like in these if I'm right.

 

This way, setting up a simple yard/loop with sectional track is pretty easy.

Could you explain what you exactly mean by that?

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Martijn Meerts

Densha, a single track helix is simple enough to build really, so the height differences is really no problem. I wouldn't mind building the helix modules should we at some point need some. 14cm is definitely high, but with the right scenery (some mountain pass line for example) it should work.

 

 

Toni, with ground level I mean a module base with (almost) no legs/feet. From there it's be doable to make a transition piece to tabletop and bring separate track pieces to build a yard right on the table.

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Densha

Densha, a single track helix is simple enough to build really, so the height differences is really no problem. I wouldn't mind building the helix modules should we at some point need some. 14cm is definitely high, but with the right scenery (some mountain pass line for example) it should work.

But it would cost quite a bit, wouldn't it?

Toni, with ground level I mean a module base with (almost) no legs/feet. From there it's be doable to make a transition piece to tabletop and bring separate track pieces to build a yard right on the table.

Hmmm... if you're thinking about a helix anyway, shouldn't you think about making it in a way so that it could reach the table-top?

Another solution for a yard is getting some bits of wood and putting some tracks on it, as I saw somewhere on the internet.

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Kabutoni

This way, setting up a simple yard/loop with sectional track is pretty easy.

Could you explain what you exactly mean by that?

 

Well, if we work out a way to get the track to table-top level (0-level) and we lack modules for a yard, we can set it up with just some loose tracks. It's really an emergency solution though.

 

Martijn, something like the modules I made some time ago (see attachment)? Those had a base of only 12mm or something like that. They were also pretty sturdy and lightweight.

post-224-13569930583141_thumb.jpg

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Martijn Meerts

Densha, the helix modules would be relatively expensive, but I believe it's worth it if that means we get something more unique. Japan has a lot of mountains, so I believe that's something that should be reflected in parts of the layout one way or another. It's really mainly something we can keep in mind as a possibility though, not something we definitely HAVE to build.

 

Toni, those do look what I had in mind for ground level yes. Basically like those Tomix module kits, except that those are somewhat bigger than what we want :)

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cteno4

Also, I think that if we go on presenting the modules, we need to bring sufficient black tablecloth (which we can reuse of course) and paint the bases of the modules black. This way, the bases sort of vanish and the higher modules don't stand out too much. Next to that, if we would like to present something to read, flyers, business-cards or something like that, they would also stand out on the tablecloth.

 

... I'm thinking too much ahead now, am I? :P

 

actually this is not the case. folks are doing this all over with ttrak and it really does not work well at all. it creates a huge negative space of black (or other chosen color) that fights for the eye with the scene on top. whats needed is the simple framing effect of something simple, clean and elegant that gives a visual distinction of the edge of the area you want the eye to focus and the rest of the world, but not over do it. this is why i really like the simple thin module edge. its just enough to create something that can easily be made to look nice for the moment the eye registers it (you can get fancy and do very nice wood effect by using your choice of hardwood veneer strip that can just be glued onto the front face), but be simple and thin enough that it stops the eye from going off scene, but does not fight for it once registered.

 

deeper modules are great, but to then have all the other modules with huge faces is just overwhelms the very small scene area on the top for the eye. floating a scene so that it removes it from the surroundings is a really tricky thing with the eye. just putting it into a large negative space does not float it, you have to do some subtle contrast/shadow/etc visual things for the eye to really float it and not distract. we have to deal with this a lot in exhibit stuff all the time with artifacts, graphic panels, cases, supports, etc so im just hyper sensitive to it. but i have seen the light from years with my design partner who is a master at this stuff and seen how well it can work with some seemingly subtle differences making something really pop and the eye being perfectly focused and the opposite where the scene is destroyed by the setting.

 

you can easily have your cake and eat it to by just doing the module face the height needed for the scene -- thin if nothing goes below grade or deeper for deeper scenes at some standard. then just lift your thin modules with something simple. the idea of the frames works well as you can quickly plop down 4 modules and level them with 4 bolts total. really helpful if you end up anywhere where things are not level or are wavy. it also works as a little setoff to do the visual floating of the modules well. there is just enough of the inset supporting frame seen to give the eye the right cues to float it (sort of like cabinet kick spaces), but is not so distracting as having 2 bolt legs per module sticking down.

 

with larger layouts the negative space boarder can start to work as the scene is usually much much larger than with ttrak and very continuous so there are different things competing for the eye. with ttrak you have tiny scenes and the keep changing and you have junction lines and potentially different types and styles of backdrops that all compete for the eye IN THE SCENE, let alone the rest of the stuff going on with the boxes, table and surrounding environment.

 

ill throw out there one other idea for thin modules, a subway... Ive got a prototype subway ttrak module that i plan on finishing off the first small loop this spring. its basically a thin module that sits directly on the table with a back wall behind the tracks and some columns along the front. then thin ttrak modules can sit on top of these so you can have two levels of running. center straight modules on each side are going to be subway stations with some underground shopping mall scene going off into the center visually. ill then plunk my streetcar ttrak modules on top of the subway.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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Densha

Densha, the helix modules would be relatively expensive, but I believe it's worth it if that means we get something more unique. Japan has a lot of mountains, so I believe that's something that should be reflected in parts of the layout one way or another. It's really mainly something we can keep in mind as a possibility though, not something we definitely HAVE to build.

You're totally right on that, but with 7cm height you can still make a hillside beneath the tracks like Toni has made, and hills in the height are possible anyway. I think going for 7cm height in most cases is the best idea, especially considering that there won't probably be an enormous amount of modules with just a few people I think that we don't have to make too extravagant plans. And making a helix for just a few higher modules is not worth it in my opinions.

Also I think T-trak isn't meant for large mountains, in that case we could better go with larger modules (which I'm not able to transport), but as someone already said we could better start an easy way without too difficult things, I experience that myself many times too.

 

 

There's also something I thought of a while ago: using a backdrop for the modules. There are some Japanese backdrops available on the internet and maybe that could also distract the eye from the modules behind them. I was planning on using them for my modules anyway. I thought of making some standing thingies on which they could be put to separate from the modules themselves.

I tried to make an impression of how it would look like in the picture below here. It's kinda confusing due to the module itself being see-through, but I guess you get what I mean. Behind the backdrop is a piece of wood to keep it standing.

post-681-13569930583902_thumb.png

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Kabutoni

With that in mind, let's concentrate first on bog standard module sizes first, of which, by the way, I've found out that the standard height is 100mm and not 70mm: http://white.zero.jp/t-trak/standard/official.html (as set by RM Models, May 2001). We can always add variations later if there is demand for it. Plus, yeah, we don't have many members/participants yet, or even any built modules...

 

Anyway, as for the presentation, I think you're right Jeff. I have no experience in horizontal presentations (I do have experience in organising quite large exhibitions though), so thanks for your help on that. :) I'll look around on the web for solutions on this. Maybe it's best that everyone just goes along by his/her own style that fits the module best.

 

Also, do we want to adapt single-track, 25mm or 33mm track centre distance? I'm secretly in favour of 25mm, but single-track (with some kind of token system) is tempting as well.

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Martijn Meerts

Densha, 7cm (or 10cm if we stick to the standard) is definitely a good height for some mountains. I think one issue is that it sounds like it's not high at all, but because the modules are so small it'll actually look much higher :) I could put a few test modules together, but we'd need to make a decision about which wood to use, and more specifically which thickness. For strength, I would say a decent quality plywood would be the way to go. The backdrops is definitely something we should add.

 

 

Toni, I don't think we have to stick to the T-Trak standard as such. We can adapt it to our needs. I don't think it's very likely there's a lot of people using the T-Trak standard for modules, so there's probably not going to be an issue if we go for a lower height for example.

 

As for the track, could always do a combination of single track modules and double track modules (25mm spacing where possible ;)) I'm so used to DCC by now though, that I'm not really sure how to go about wiring everything. It's been about 15 years since I last wired anything not digital controlled :)

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cteno4

one thing to try is to just grab some scrap cardboard and whack up some module ideas with it and hot glue or tape. really is great to see it in 1:1 scale.

 

then you can plop some track down, wad up some paper for a little hill and tape it down, plop some buildings down as well and get an idea of how the whole thing scales out to get the depth, front height effect, backdrop, etc.

 

mocking things up like this is super fast and easy and you would be surprised how much it helps conceptualize things at the size and proportions of ttrak!

 

jeff

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Densha

As for the track, could always do a combination of single track modules and double track modules (25mm spacing where possible ;)) I'm so used to DCC by now though, that I'm not really sure how to go about wiring everything. It's been about 15 years since I last wired anything not digital controlled :)

I don't think much wiring is needed. If you want to light buildings then we should make some kind of connector, perhaps using a hole in the side panels or just at the back so that you won't see it. But I think the simplicity of only using the Unitrack is much more feasible, and then maybe no other lightning. For what I have seen people usually don't use anything more than a controller for the train, with a hole under a module for the connector.

Also I think 25mm spacing is a lot of hassle. If we would go with a local train setting with mainly single track, then maybe only the stations would be double tracks and we would have to make separate curved modules for that spacing. Also it's true that you can call 'Enoden-like' trains local, but a diesel rail car too, of course the first has smaller spacing in reality.

 

one thing to try is to just grab some scrap cardboard and whack up some module ideas with it and hot glue or tape. really is great to see it in 1:1 scale.

 

then you can plop some track down, wad up some paper for a little hill and tape it down, plop some buildings down as well and get an idea of how the whole thing scales out to get the depth, front height effect, backdrop, etc.

 

mocking things up like this is super fast and easy and you would be surprised how much it helps conceptualize things at the size and proportions of ttrak!

 

jeff

Was exactly what I was thinking about.

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Martijn Meerts

Densha, I wasn't really thinking of lighting (easily done by running them off some sort of battery which you just put under the module, no need to additional wiring that way), but more like how to wire for multiple train operations. For example, if you have a station, you'll want only 1 track to powered. Should that be done using a switch, or just use power routing features of the turnouts? If you use a switch, should it be located centrally, or near the module. Should turnouts be manual or electric, etc. (As I said, I'm so into DCC and automating, that I really don't know anymore how to go about doing an analogue layout :))

 

25mm spacing shouldn't be any more difficult than regular spacing or single track. On a straight section you just put the track side by side, roadbed touching, and for corner modules there's a nice sketch here: http://white.zero.jp/t-trak/standard/k12.png

 

Probably best to start with single track though.. Start with whatever is the easiest, and work from there :)

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Densha

Kato Unitrack turnouts have (so far I have read) power routing function (can be set on and off by a switch underneath it), and because they can be controlled centrally using those levers that you have to attach to the main station, I assume it's very easy to use. Kato switches are always electric, you can operate them manually too (I assume), but the meaning of it is to use the levers. If my story is incomplete, I welcome someone to complete it.

I've never done DCC, but read quite a lot into it to make clear for myself what it is all about and how many work it is, but I've only used analogue in my life (hopefully yet).

 

That's exactly the problem I'm talking about, since you can't use those corner modules for 33mm spaced modules and so you have less compatibility.

 

Yep.

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cteno4

25mm spacing shouldn't be any more difficult than regular spacing or single track. On a straight section you just put the track side by side, roadbed touching, and for corner modules there's a nice sketch here: http://white.zero.jp/t-trak/standard/k12.png

 

only issue with the standard 25mm spacing are those corners, they are a bit odd and make single small truck and large truck trains run a bit weird, not horrible, but not a smooth curve. with some trams like the articulated ones it actually looks good as it makes them do a nice little wiggle. there are prototypes for this kind of streetcar curves and its close to what unitram curves do, but they have no straight sections. other rub is if you want to make street track for these curves its a real pain of a cutting job for the roadway around the rails!

 

think of using screws to put your track down onto the modules so if you decide to change spacing or single/double later its easy to modify. the marklin screws work well (tough to get them here in the states but we have someone her who has made ones close to use for stuff like this).

 

some good ttrak sites for other ref:

 

http://www.ttrak.org 

http://t-trak.cincy.home.insightbb.com/

http://ttrak.wikidot.com/

http://t-trak.nscale.org.au/

 

its unfortunate that all the japanese ttrak sites i had have gone dark, i have to go poke around again to see if there are new ones.

 

jeff

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Kabutoni

33mm spacing may be more convenient to use, but it looks not very realistic IMO. Especially when you consider building local layouts. Space is expensive in real life, so trains are pretty much squeezed against one another on local/private/3rd sector railway lines.

 

Though, if we start with single track first, it's all fine by me. ATM, I'm developing a method of transporting two T-Trak modules, inspired by this video:

 

It's however not a refined method, so I'm developing some kind of system that doesn't require 'damaging' the goods, plus has extra space to stash stuff (like rolling stock and things like that) underneath the modules. I'll put some sketches online tomorrow.

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cteno4

yeah folks do this all the way up to Ntrak modules as well. it does require really good gluing down of all scenery materials as with jiggling it will slowly rain down on the module below. also your backdrop can rub on the face of the other one and mess it up. you also need to always pay close attention when joining as a slip could squish two scenes at once!

 

ive got some boxes planned for my modules that just have little rails on the side to slide the modules in on so a number stack up on top of each other. then one end just bolts on to close it all up and a handle on the top. a ttrak suitcase. folks have done all sorts of little frames to slide modules in and then put a set screw or something in to hold them, but i really like the idea of having a closed box to store and transport the modules in. keeps the dust off and wind and other things out from poking stuff or getting caught on something. probably make a drawer or two as well to hold tools, wires and such.

 

i am looking at making a box thats appprox 2' long x 13" wide x 2' high. this should hold 3 narrow modules on each level or two full depth or corner modules. most of my scenes are like 3" high (with tall buildings removed for transport) and module 1" high so i should be able to get about 5 module shelves in a box. so like 10-15 modules in one suitcase.

 

a simple option for making adjustable rails is to just drill rows of small holes down the side like 1" apart (or just where desired and more later if you want to change shelf heights) and then just bolt a rail in where needed. this works well if you want to keep very light and thin sides to the boxes. if you make a small rabit cut out of the rail you can also make a nice L rail that will keep the track ends floating nicely and hold the modules in place well (the width between rails is the 308mm module length) i was thinking of doing this so i could use 4mm ply for the sides and ends and 12mm for the top and bottom. i need to get to this as my modules are getting banged up right now when transported in various boxes and such!

 

we looked at doing this on the big jrm modules (1mx0.4m) but the modules were just too big to easily side into the larger boxes. we opted instead for individual boxes for each module that nest into each other when they stack so you can just stack up 2-4 modules and put a top on and a strap around it and you can configure storage how ever. for ttrak its much more manageable to have a small suitcase box you can slide the modules in.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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Martijn Meerts

We should probably start putting a few modules together (or at least, get an idea of the base modules we'd need for a working layout) before figuring out how to transport them =)

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Kabutoni

We should probably start putting a few modules together (or at least, get an idea of the base modules we'd need for a working layout) before figuring out how to transport them =)

 

True that. I have plenty of stuff lying around (except for the correct rails) to go buy some wood and start working on a module or two.

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