Author Topic: NTrak track section ruler  (Read 1120 times)

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CNR5529

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NTrak track section ruler
« on: January 26, 2018, 08:23:04 AM »
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In an attempt to reduce setup time for our Ntrak club, I was thinking of creating a color coded stepped measurement tool that would allow us to quickly figure out what size track sections are needed between each module. The colors would correspond to track sections of varying lengths, so we wouldn't have to spend so much time finding the "right" section for each spot.

Turns out NTrak already thought of this. Some of the older members in the club remember a tool that did just that, and I understand there was even an existing Ntrak color code. I've been searching for a few days now and can't find any official reference to a measuring tool, dimensioning or color code. Does any one here know what the length increments and associated colors were?
Because why not...

casmmr

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Re: NTrak track section ruler
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2018, 10:33:11 AM »
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You might want to send an email to ntrak and see if they remember which newsletter it was in.  One of our club members found the info and made us several to measure the openings and he also cut the track to the correct length, unfortunately he passed about 1 year ago.  I had thought it was in the Ntrak manual, but, a quick look at the on line version did not show anything.  Might be in an older version.

x600

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Re: NTrak track section ruler
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2018, 01:30:35 PM »
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I have an older Ntrak manual and found the information on page 92.
the color codes are as follows;

Brown    4.790"
Red       4.850"
Orange  4.910" standard Atlas section
Yellow   4.970"
Green   5.030"
Blue      5.090"
Lt Blue  5.150"

Our club uses this color system with two small divided plastic boxes, the type used for fishing tackle or small craft parts.
The color codes are printed on an insert inside the top of the box, and for simplicity,
 is marked in 1/16ths" , such as "Standard","3/16 under" or "1/8 over" etc.
It is helpful to assign one member to be responsible for the joiner tracks and their upkeep, as they tend to need replacement on a regular basis.


Greg O.
mrns.org

CNR5529

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Re: NTrak track section ruler
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2018, 01:33:24 PM »
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Excellent, thanks! I will make mine match this system.
Because why not...

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: NTrak track section ruler
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2018, 01:45:15 PM »
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We've got some of those for BANTRAK. It's incredibly helpful!

Point353

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Re: NTrak track section ruler
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2018, 07:00:35 PM »
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Another approach uses a modified inexpensive digital caliper:
https://nrmrc.org/sites/default/files/publications//ntrak_joiner_track_measuring_gauge.pdf

POVC

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Re: NTrak track section ruler
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2018, 07:51:07 PM »
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Ntrak originally sold those gauges...

I bought some additional ones for BANTRAK from Rodney's Railroad Tools several years ago, not sure if he's still in business or not.

Tim


jpwisc

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Re: NTrak track section ruler
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2018, 10:46:22 PM »
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This may sound like an odd question and the NTrak club I was in could never quite grasp the concept. Instead of developing color coding systems and having and inventory of different lengths of track, why not just fix the modules so they meet the standards so you can use the same off the shelf piece for all your clubs joiner tracks?
Karl
CEO of the Skally Line, an Eastern MN Shortline.

JanesCustomTrain

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Re: NTrak track section ruler
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2018, 10:56:55 PM »
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This may sound like an odd question and the NTrak club I was in could never quite grasp the concept. Instead of developing color coding systems and having and inventory of different lengths of track, why not just fix the modules so they meet the standards so you can use the same off the shelf piece for all your clubs joiner tracks?

They all fit when the modules are new but over time the track moves, the wood dries out and at some stage the off the shelf piece will not fit properly anymore and then it is easier to use one of the off length pieces. Did my answer help ?   ;)

Jane
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jpwisc

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Re: NTrak track section ruler
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2018, 11:24:10 PM »
+1
They all fit when the modules are new but over time the track moves, the wood dries out and at some stage the off the shelf piece will not fit properly anymore and then it is easier to use one of the off length pieces. Did my answer help ?   ;)

Jane

Jane, I am more than well aware of module contraction over time. That’s no excuse. I had an NTrak module for years, and I kept it compliant to the standard. NTrak clubs allow members to get very sloppy. At a recent show an NTak club I know well took 6 hours to get set up because they refuse to hold Modules to the standards and had to spend so much ch time trimming and fitting. If the module shrunk, file the rails back until they are compliant. If they are too short, cut a section out and add a longer piece in until the module meets the standard. Having 10 different joiners is a bandaid for the real problem.
Karl
CEO of the Skally Line, an Eastern MN Shortline.

JanesCustomTrain

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Re: NTrak track section ruler
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2018, 11:34:00 PM »
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That’s no excuse.
NTrak clubs allow members to get very sloppy.
Having 10 different joiners is a bandaid for the real problem.

Yup, totally agree with you. But it is easier to use the bandaid at a show than to expect all the modules are well looked after. Most of the modules are tossed in a corner after a show to only be touched again a day before the next show.   :facepalm:

Jane
I don't want to start any blasphemous rumors
But I think that God's got a sick sense of humor
And when I die I expect to find Him laughing...

Mark W

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Re: NTrak track section ruler
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2018, 11:55:43 PM »
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...If the module shrunk, file the rails back until they are compliant. If they are too short, cut a section out and add a longer piece in until the module meets the standard. Having 10 different joiners is a bandaid for the real problem.

This can't be repeated enough!  Keeping track in alignment throughout a module's life is part of module ownership.  Same as oil changes and tire rotations are part of owning a car.
Just because a module was built to standard 5 years ago (or even 5 days ago) does not automatically qualify it as "up to standard" today.

Yup, totally agree with you. But it is easier to use the bandaid at a show than to expect all the modules are well looked after. Most of the modules are tossed in a corner after a show to only be touched again a day before the next show.   :facepalm:

Jane

It may seem that band-aids are easier, but every little band-aid adds up from one show to the next.  You could have just fixed it once the first time by maintaining the standard.   
I think it's safe to say, if I am able to keep all of my modules maintained, anyone with just a handful of modules has no excuse whatsoever.   8) ;)

« Last Edit: January 26, 2018, 11:57:32 PM by Mark W »
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ncbqguy

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Re: NTrak track section ruler
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2018, 02:17:03 AM »
+1
Even perfectly built modules can get out of spec with changes in temperature and humidity   Also, if the floor is not perfectly level it will impact the joiner track fit.   One can go crazy trying to perfectly level a large set up in on an uneven floor.
NorthWest NTRAK at one point in its development had a member who was obsessed with module standards and inspection procedures ....and was nearly tarred and feathered along with his six foot carpenter's level and micrometer.
The selection of various length joiner tracks facilitates set up in the real world.   
Most NTRAK set ups run for the entire weekend with a couple of rail joiners somewhere in the layout UNDER the rail instead of slid on it.....some attention to keeping the rail gaps to a minimum and insuring the joiner tracks are smoothly connecting the modules is a good thing.
Charlie Vlk

casmmr

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Re: NTrak track section ruler
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2018, 03:03:53 PM »
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The same club member that did the track pieces also made a jig you would place at the end of a module to mark the end of track for each line and the spacing between the lines.  Even using the jig, you need the various sizes of track, you need more orange, red and yellow than the other colors.  We have also found that after setting in a cold trailer and then being set up in a warm room, the joiner pieces need to be adjusted the next day, set up Friday afternoon, readjust Saturday morning.  Not all but some joiners.  About once each year we go over the joiners and replace all rail joiners with new ones.  later, Craig

BruceStikkers

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Re: NTrak track section ruler
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2018, 04:18:57 PM »
+1
Our club has been using specially marked tracks for several years now. We keeps 2 sizes shorter than normal and 3 larger than normal in a special box with dividers to keep them separated. This way someone can do the regular joiners and then just leave empty spaces where the regulars don't work. Then somebody comes by and fills in the empty spots. They are color coded so they can be kept separated in the box. This has reduced the frustration level at setup by a lot. Our layout stays in a trailer that is stored outside so expansion and contraction can be an issue. When possible we setup one evening and put in the connector tracks the next morning to let the layout adjust to the change in temperature.

Bruce Stikkers
St. Joseph, IL