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We have to start somewhere and create a focus for the UK.

I have registered ModrailUK as the name of our group/society.

We will have the aim of promoting modular layout standards and construction in the UK.

We can create a website in due course.

We should be able to have our own section at Model Rail Forum in the club area to keep the topics, sub topics and discussion together and I'll have a word with Doug about this.

ModrailUK will showcase UK modular layout construction at exhibitions covering all gauges and scales and any member participating in the group can join in!

It sounds like this could be fun and thats what its all about!

4ft x 2ft will be the basic module standard with code 100 track being used for OO gauge. We can move forward from here and create a UK standard.

Now I am not into this treasurer, chairman, secretary thing although to run a group some form of structure may be required. Somebody has to keep records. Somebody has to manage finances if ultimately there are any to manage. Somebody has to act as group PR spokesperson. Somebody has to bring it all together and chair things. Somebody has to promote the group and organise exhibition venues.

This is all for the future.

If you wish to register an interest then please do and we can move forward.

When the initial UK module standards have been agreed on by our relatively small group and the website has been created we can then move forward and start promoting the group and the standards. I will contact various folk when we are ready!


Happy modelling
Gary
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Here is that article by Steve Chapman again. The standards that should be considered are at the bottom of the article:-

QUOTE The first thing to consider when talking about designing cf modular layouts is to decide exactly what we mean by modular. For the purpose of this article I am considering a modular layout to be one which is :-

made up of a number of modules
that the design is such that the modules can be assembled in different orders to produce effectively different layouts.
Therefore a layout is not a modular layout just because the layout is built as a number of different sections which are capable of being pulled apart. To be a modular layout, the layout must be made up of a number of modules which can be assembled in a number of different arrangements.

The advantage of the modular layout approach over conventional layouts is inherent in the above definition. The various modules which make up the layout can be rearranged in various ways. Modules can be removed, moved, or added at any time. Therefore when a new layout is desired all that is required is to build a number of new modules to replace or add to the existing ones, or alternatively just the order of the modules in making up the layout may be changed. A modular layout may be easily adapted to fit the available space simply by adding or removing modules and once a single module is built (assuming that each module has a yard or something on it capable of independent operation) the builder has a layout and need never be without a layout again since new modules can be built before all of the old ones are pulled apart. Also if a number of people build modular layouts to the same set of standards then the layouts can be combined together whenever desired to give an even bigger modular layout.

Depending on the size of each module, the modules may themselves be broken down into sections for ease of transport. Thus when we speak of a fifteen foot module we do not imply the there is one board fifteen foot long (there may be three or four sections to make up the fifteen foot length) instead we mean that the entire fifteen foot module must be considered as a unit when determining where in the layout the module is to be put.

To be a module therefore a section (or number of sections which join together) must satisfy a number of conditions. The exact conditions that a module must satisfy depend on just how modular that the modules are intended to be. By this I mean that a layout is modular if two modules of the same size can be swapped over, it is even more modular if, in addition, one module can be pulled out, rotated through 180 degrees and put back into the layout and have the layout still able to function. For this to be the case a larger number of standards must apply to each module than would in the first instance.

The major requirement for a modular layout is one of standards. Each module within a modular layout system must be designed so as to comply with the same set of standards as otherwise the various modules will be incapable of being joined together and running trains from one module to another will be impossible.

What therefore are the standards that must be applied to any modular layout design?

Standards for modular layout systems can be broken down into three groups.

those which are essential for the modular system to function
those which are desirable for the layout to look like a complete layout and not like a number of independent parts which have just been thrown together
those which may or may not be included depending on the requirements of the builder.
Let us consider each of these types of standards separately to determine which standards belong to each.

There are a number of standards which must be applied if a modular system is to function at all. These standards are the first things that must be specified when designing a modular system. The first thing to consider with modular standards to decide what scale the modular system is to use. This consideration is particularly important when more than one person is going to be building modules. It becomes awkward to join modules together if one is N gauge and the other is HO. This may be obvious to everyone, but I mention this standard because a great number of the other standards are dependent on the choice made when setting this standard. Standards are also required with regard to baseboard construction. Standard lengths must be defined if modules are to be capable of being assembled to allow for a continuous run. Standard widths ensure extra flexibility (and are essential if boards are to be reversible - ie able to be rotated through 180 degrees). Different types of module are also possible (in fact essential if a continuous run is to be achievable). In addition to straight modules, curved modules will also normally be needed. Curved modules can be classified as inside curves or outside curves depending on whether the centre of the curve lies inside or outside the layout. Inside and outside curves are equivalent if boards are reversible.

Also important with modular standards is track standards. There are a number of things to consider with track standards, some obvious, some perhaps not so obvious. Track standards are required for :-

number of through tracks passing across between modules
track centres (ie distance apart) for multiple tracks across modules
the angle at which the tracks cross the join between modules
the code of rail to be used
minimum main line curve radii
loading gauge (ie clearance above the track)
back to back wheel standards
whether the track is to go right up to the edge of the board or, if short pieces of rail are to be inserted to join the modules together, how far back from the edge that the rails ends are to be
the position of the track as it crosses between modules is also important if the greatest flexibility is to be achieved.
Each of the above must be specified before construction of modules can commence.

Wiring standards for track wiring are also essential in order that trains may be driven across module joins without it being necessary to switch controllers as the train crosses the join. The track wiring system to be used can increase or decrease the flexibility of a particular modular system irrespective of other standards selected and so should be carefully designed to ensure that the desired flexibility is catered for.

Intermodule connectors need to be standardized or (if non standard sockets are used on a module) converter cables to connect various connector types together will need to be available if the greatest flexibility is to be achieved.

If the standards specified above are clearly defined and adhered to an operable modular system will be achieved but modules built only to those standards will, when assembled to make a layout, still look very much like what they are, a series of separate modules attached together.

Further standards are required if a blended rather than a patchwork effect is to be achieved. These standards, while not essential to make a functional modular system, are what is required to make the modules appear to be part of the same layout rather than separate layouts which just happen to be connected together at the moment.

Standards of this type are concerned with baseboard construction and scenic effects. All baseboards should be to standard widths with tracks crossing the edge of the board at the same place on each module. A scenic profile for the ends of the modules needs to be defined (and if boards are to be reversible need also to allow for matching up both ways around).

Backscene height is another item which should be standardized. Also if modules are to be capable of being viewed from either side the backscenes need to be removable. Means of attaching backscenes may also be something which should be standardized. This would then permit backscenes to be interchangeable independently of the modules. Thought can also be given to having the last inch or so of scenery as part of the backscene as well, this will assist with board reversibility.

Baseboard framing should all be of similar dimensions (there is no real point in using a ply frame two inches deep on one module and a four inch by one inch timber frame on another). This will enable boards to be joined more easily and neatly and will provide a tidier appearance. There is some room for variation in this area without too great an effect on the overall appearance particularly if there is to be a curtain hung from the outside.

Perhaps hooks (or some other means) are to be provided at set intervals for hanging curtains along the outside edge of the layout to improve its appearance when at exhibitions.

The third set of standards are those which make the modular system complete, but which, if not included, do not affect the primary functioning or appearance of the layout.

These standards are mainly related to wiring for operation and do not affect the actual track wiring of the layout although some do affect the accessories wiring.

Standards of this nature include (but are not limited to) such things as :-

wiring of inter module communication using buzzers or track occupancy indicators
intermodule interlocking of multi-aspect signals
standard control panel designs
bell code charts for intermodule communication so that everyone is using the same codes
coupling standards for compatibility of rolling stock
type of signalling system to use.
While none of these is something which is required for the modular system to function, or even for it to look like all of the modules are part of the one layout, the inclusion of these factors in the modular standards not only makes it easier for one person to operate another persons module, but makes operation of the modular system more interesting as a whole. In fact if all of these aspects are included then the layout can he operated as a layout rather than as a group of independent modules while still having the full flexibility of modular design.

So once we have defined the standards for our modular system as a whole, what is the next step ? In fact little more remains to be done. All that remains now is to design and build each individual module. In this regard each module can be considered in the same way that you would handle the design and construction of a complete layout which was not being built in a modularized way. (Assuming of course that you design your layouts and that they don't just grow by themselves).

The first step in designing any layout is to specify the standards which are to apply. In this case some (but perhaps not all) of the required standards are specified by our chosen modular system. Further standards not specified in the modular standards may apply with respect to a particular module (and not necessarily to any others) should the builder so desire. Any track plan desired can be chosen for the module in the same way that you would choose the track plan for a complete layout. The constraints are slightly different for a module since we perhaps have a greater number of standards specified which have to be complied with.

Construction of a module also follows normal procedures with the module standards being applied where appropriate.

So, as you can see, designing a modular layout is not really that much different from properly designing a conventional layout. The flexibility of a modular layout is however much greater than with a conventional layout although standards must be applied much more strictly with a modular setup.

Consider modularizing your next layout. You may never need to start over again from scratch if you do.

Figure one : Modular layout standard specifications.

Scale :
Straight module length :
Straight module width :
Right angle module length :
Number of tracks :
Track centres :
Angle of tracks :
Code of rail :
Back to back wheel standards :
Loading gauge :
Platform edge to track centre :
Main line minimum radius :
Track set back :
Distance (from edge of board) :
Distance back from front edge :
to centre of front track :
Wiring standards :
Type of connectors :
Scenic profile :
Backscene height :
Frame dimensions :

I have filled in some of the desired specifications and provided some thoughts on others for consideration. Some may not be relevant or important.

Scale : OO
Straight module length : 4ft
Straight module width : 2Ft
Right angle module length : *to turn modules 90 degrees*
Number of tracks: 2
Track centres :
Angle of tracks : straight parallel with front edge of board
Code of rail : 100
Back to back wheel standards : *what about running older rolling stock?*
Loading gauge :
Platform edge to track centre :
Main line minimum radius : *second radius curves dimension?*
Track set back : *this could affect right angle boards and curves on these*
Distance (from edge of board) : *this could affect right angle boards and curves on these*
Distance back from front edge: *this could affect right angle boards and curves on these*
to centre of front track :
Wiring standards :
Type of connectors : *plug type would be best*
Scenic profile :
Backscene height : *NMRA height?*
Frame dimensions: *important consideration for module joining*

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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In this day and age cant we go code 75?

I know the "how about running older stock" still applys but just about anything made in the last 15 years can run on 75 and an awfull lot before that.

Could i also add that each module must be entirly self supporting so as not to put any stress on the adjacent modules. this is becomming more and more important with people making modules out of foam core and even composites.

Peter
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
As a reminder here is the NMRA standard module design and a link to the NMRA and NTrak module standard specifications. We are looking for a specification that suits the UK hobby scene:-

NMRA and NTrak



Happy modelling
Gary
 

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Thats fine for strong timber modules but totally useless for composite or foamboard modules unless the end is reinforced.
also i wonder if a better arrangement could be invented for the ends of the rails. on NMRA boards there is always that 4 inch gap that cant really be balasted incase someone elses module dosent fit yours. its ugly.

I dont know the answers i am just throwing ideas around. i like the idea.

Peter
 

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Having had a previous brush with the idea of defining a module standard in 4mm , hope you won't take it amiss if I offer a few comments

1. A critical dimension not in the list is height of boards from ground . Unless someone can come up with a very good reason for being different , I'd suggest quite strongly you use the NMRA height standard

2. I tend to agree with Pedro - why be locked into code 100 when code 75 will run everything produced for at least the last 10 years? Peco code 75 will take pre 2001 Hornby , so back to back will not be much of an issue

3. Track centres are another absolutely critical dimension if 2 tracks are to cross every inter-module joint . Is there any reason to deviate from Peco's 50mm centres , given that 90+ percent of modules will inevitably use PECO track?

4. I think you'll find it pretty difficult to set out a credible through station in just 4' , especially if the position of the tracks is severely constrained by where they have to be to cross the module joint . Having your through tracks close to the front is going to make things very awkward in this respect . You may want to think about having the through tracks relatively close to the centre line of the module (say 9" in from the front). It may also be sensible to allow for 6' and 8' modules. On the Continent both 4' and 6' sizes seem to be recognised and 6' seems more popular .

Also a 6' module can be a pair of 3' boards , which can box together for transport and go in the back of a car , on the back seat between the wheels. A 3' long board will fit on the back seat of pretty well any car - a 4' board normally won't, meaning a hatchback or estate car is required for transport

5. What stance do you take about DCC ? In many ways DCC is an ideal way operate a group of modules as a unit (just 2 interboard connectors required ) , but is that a bridge too far for conservative British modellers at this point? And if you mandate DC only - does that risk being overtaken by events and looking unduly restrictive in 5 years time.

6 Personally I think 2nmd radius is a bit tight , especially for some superdetailed modern models - perhaps a main line min radius of 2' might be easier
 

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Any station or large feature will involve one member with a couple of modules or a combined effort between two or more members using two or more modules.

I think these modules should have wiring that will work with DC and DCC. And why not allow the two tracks to be controlled independantly. Those TRW-Cinch speaker plugs are a bit dated. Why not use XLR plugs?
 

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why on earth would it matter if it was DCC or not. its just 2 rails straight through. it would be isolated when used in conjunction with other peoples modules anyway. somewhere there would be 2 banana plugs. so you can plug in DCC or DC controllers at will.

I would not go for DCC for several reasons

1. not evryone can afford it (i fall into this catagory. with over 100 loco's i just cant afford to convert them)
2. you would have to re-adress loco's when 2 adresses were the same
3. DCC loco's can be operated perfectly well on a DC layout but not the other way around.
4. Decent DCC controllers are not as easy to use as DC ones.

Peter
 

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Skill levels will vary from module maker to module maker. How many have issues with derailments because track is not flat?

Courser standards are stiffer and offer safeguards. And a standard is normally that most widely used and available.

And you have to consider soldering wires to the track also and you have more metal to work with on courser rails.

On the other hand if you fix track straight to a baseboard how can it not be flat?

And Code 75 is a better exhibition standard.

Putting unfamiliar standards to modellers could put them off.

Do you go with the biggest common denominator permitting modellers to use both set track and Streamline track?

Just fanning the flames with this.

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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QUOTE (pedromorgan @ 1 Nov 2006, 13:54) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>3. DCC loco's can be operated perfectly well on a DC layout but not the other way around.
I think there are caveats both ways. DCC locos are incompatible with HF track 'cleaners' and I'm not sure how well they work (if at all) with feedback controllers.

With DC I presume that each module will have its own control for points/signals whereas DCC would allow them all to be controlled from a single point.

The readdressing of locos is trivial --- it could either be done on the spot or you could organise the numbering in advance (before a meet).

As for code 100 vs code 75, if you standardise the location of the top of the rail at the board join it wouldn't matter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
QUOTE As for code 100 vs code 75, if you standardise the location of the top of the rail at the board join it wouldn't matter.

That keeps everybody happy. Any issues with this?


Happy modelling
Gary
 

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>Is there any reason to deviate from Peco's 50mm centres
My experience with code 75 is that when you use insulating joiners in a crossing it pushes the rails about a mm further apart. Sure you get 50mm if you use standard joiners but there not much use with live frogs...

So I would recommend going for the distance between centres created by crossings with insulating rail joiners in.

David
 

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I would strongly recommend that we stick with 50mm track spacing as this is a standard for both Hornby and Peco and Peco do a handy tool called a Six-Foot Way Gauge SL-36 that every modular builder should purchase. It sets track at a precise distance apart which happens to be 50mm. The tool costs around 10p!

Peco also do a dual type joiner to easily connect code 75 track to code 100 track SL-112 and this also includes special sleepers. However this is going to occur at the edge of the board anyhow so really its for information.

Any issues with insulating fishplates and crossings will have to have work around, maybe by trimming some track.

The idea of going for a board height similar to NMRA standards is worth considering.

Can we also take it that we will be using track with wooden sleepers or does this matter?


The proposal also is that track is laid and fixed directly to the baseboard with no underlay used so that track height is consistent.

Nobody has yet mentioned the issue of using point motors and other items that are motorised. We need an electrical expert on hand unless each module is to have its own switch system. Modular electrics and wiring should really be a totally seperate subject so I'll create one!


Happy modelling
Gary
 

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QUOTE (Doug @ 1 Nov 2006, 13:50) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Those TRW-Cinch speaker plugs are a bit dated. Why not use XLR plugs?

Both RS & Maplin do very good plugs & sockets based on the familier "choc-blocks" - very simple, robust & relativly cheap.

regards
Brian
 

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QUOTE (Mark Thornton @ 1 Nov 2006, 14:44) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I think there are caveats both ways. DCC locos are incompatible with HF track 'cleaners' and I'm not sure how well they work (if at all) with feedback controllers.

Basically it's bye bye decoder time.

regards
Brian
 

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>I would strongly recommend that we stick with 50mm track spacing as this is a standard for both Hornby and Peco and Peco do a handy tool called a Six-Foot Way Gauge SL-36 that every modular builder should purchase.

I have one. That's how I know the insulated rail joiners throw the geometry out.

>Peco also do a dual type joiner to easily connect code 75 track to code 100 track SL-112 and this also includes special sleepers.

I've got those too. You have to pack the track on the code 75 side to make up for the 0.25 mm difference in rail height.

>Any issues with insulating fishplates and crossings will have to have work around, maybe by trimming some track.

I am _not_ going to trim points or even more expensive slips.

>he proposal also is that track is laid and fixed directly to the baseboard with no underlay used so that track height is consistent.
My comment on the dual type rail joiner applies here too.

David
 
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