Author Topic: T-TRAK  (Read 7164 times)

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arbomambo

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T-TRAK
« on: January 23, 2019, 03:23:32 PM »
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a nice little video of the North Raleigh Model Railroad Club's combined set up last November. Their Apex Junction (Apex, NC) series of modules are beautiful.

 
"STILL Thrilled to be in N scale!"

Bruce M. Arbo
CATT- Coastal Alabama T-TRAK
NTRAK Board of Directors
https://nationalt-traklayout.com/

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arbomambo

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Re: T-TRAK
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2019, 10:57:49 AM »
+2
Building a Kato/Woodland Scenics pre-production T-TRAK module test kit.

Kato is considering offering a T-TRAK 'single' module kit, aimed toward the younger folks, in the US/NA. (Kato Japan already offers something a little different). To that end they are talking with Woodland Scenics about a joint venture...remember Woodland Scenics already offers a diorama and shadow box based line of products in their Scene-a-rama Division line, geared toward school projects.
 I was sent a test kit to build and evaluate, contingent upon writing an unbiased review of the build; focusing on quality of product, ease of assembly, clarity of instructions, etc. Test kits were also sent to other suggested modelers and non-modelers, hoping to get feedback from folks who have had no modeling (model railroad or otherwise) experience, as Kato wants to attract new model railroaders, both young and old.
Here is a step-by-step report of my particular build:
*note-kits were, either, 'singles' (14" deep x 12-1/4" wide) or corners.

My review kit was delivered to me, personally, by Hiroshi Kato, during our dinner together in Kansas City, at the NMRA National Train Show. Hiroshi, and the Kato USA reps invited 4 of us, and our significant others,  (Organizers of the record-breaking T-TRAK Layout, now called the National T-TRAK Layout-to be displayed, annually, at the National Train Show) to dinner to discuss the future of the relationship between Kato and T-TRAK; specifically how T-TRAK, growing exponentially, can help market Kato products, and likewise, what Kato can do for T-TRAK to help accomplish this.



The kit came in a sturdy box, similar to other Woodland Scenics boxes and was well labeled. (shown below is the box and directions from the corner that was subsequently sent to my wife, Denise)





The contents comprise foam profile boards, foam risers, foam 'nails', WS foam glue, glue dots, masonite panels with leveling bolts, a large roll of WS 'Shaper Sheet', a sealed bag of Shaper sheet plaster, and corresponding sections of Kato concrete tie double track, depending on the single or corner.
Per the scene-a-rama kits, the shaper sheet is to be used to create scenery forms over an otherwise open grid 'box' formed by the assembly of the foam pre-cut profile boards and masonite panels.
At first glance, the kit would appear to be 'flimsy' and unable to hold up to the stresses that a typical module would encounter...and, starting the initial build, I was concerned about this.



The foam glue, along with the foam nails, did an excellent job of gluing the profile boards into the box structure, and the masonite panels, containing the leveling bolts, doubled as reinforcing panels.
I was not familiar with 'glue dots', but found them easy to use (Remember the 'kids' angle). You can see them in the photo above, applied along the top edges. These are used to adhere the shaper sheet to the foam box.
As provided, the kit makes no allowance for a flat surface, only below or above track level scenery forms. So, if one wants to mount a building on a flat surface, you would have to purchase a foam or thin plywood sheet. This isn't mentioned in the instructions and I advised that it should be.

Here I have formed and applied the shaper sheet, after cutting it to fit my module box. I decided to build my test kit as a working module (something I could use in our setups, and also test a couple of scenery techniques. For that reason I needed a low hill with a flat sided 'cut' alongside the trackage. You may notice the track here...although it is the Kato concrete tie double track, I've gone ahead and painted the ties to resemble wooden ones; most viewers won't notice the 'dip' profile in the center of the concrete tie.


"STILL Thrilled to be in N scale!"

Bruce M. Arbo
CATT- Coastal Alabama T-TRAK
NTRAK Board of Directors
https://nationalt-traklayout.com/

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arbomambo

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Re: T-TRAK
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2019, 11:27:49 AM »
+1
...I then mixed and applied the shaper sheet plaster.
I intended to build the test module per the instructions, and use all of the contents, in order to offer a fair assessment. I am not the 'plaster' guy; I think the last time I used plaster was in 1st grade, when we cast plaster of paris figures in Catholic school!
But, here, I mixed the plaster, per the directions, and applied it over the shaper sheet, being careful to avoid the track (I masked the track with tape).
After drying, the plaster was both hard and quite heavy. By this point, I had already realized that the foam module has quite a bit of structural integrity, and, after the plaster was applied, had even more.



At this point, the test kit was complete, given what is provided in the actual kit. It is now up to the individual to scenic the rest. (of course, WS would have you use their products, Scene-a-rama or otherwise.)
I wanted to go ahead and take this build further, and, as I had never used plaster rock molds before, decided to try my hand at this technique.
I bought a few molds, some lightweight hydrocal and started casting.





I broke a few pieces and fit them together in a way I thought feasible, applied them to the face of the cut with some more hydrocal, then leopard spotted them with various tints of the desert colors I've been using on my Southwest-themed T-TRAK module builds (all these colors have been custom mixed to match Arizona Rock& Mineral pigments)...light 'Apache Stone', Kiabab Limestone, Cajon Sandstone, then, finally, a thin wash of red earth. I painted the rest of the module hill with a Cajon Sandstone latex paint.





I then started to add a 'desert mix' of various grades of pigments, gravel, rock, and boulders....these colors and grades are what I typically use when representing route 66 'New Mexico' scenery...
 




I then added this mix to the rest of the module and fixed it with Scenic Cement.





continued...
"STILL Thrilled to be in N scale!"

Bruce M. Arbo
CATT- Coastal Alabama T-TRAK
NTRAK Board of Directors
https://nationalt-traklayout.com/

[/ur

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: T-TRAK
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2019, 11:35:07 AM »
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This looks great!

I think those kits are going to be a BIG hit if they put some good marketing around them.

arbomambo

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Re: T-TRAK
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2019, 11:43:34 AM »
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more video from a recent show...
"STILL Thrilled to be in N scale!"

Bruce M. Arbo
CATT- Coastal Alabama T-TRAK
NTRAK Board of Directors
https://nationalt-traklayout.com/

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C855B

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Re: T-TRAK
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2019, 11:48:22 AM »
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...mike

http://www.gibboncozadandwestern.com

We don't make mistakes, we have happy accidents. We just don't tell anybody. -Bob Ross

wm3798

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Re: T-TRAK
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2019, 12:31:10 PM »
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It's funny, but watching that video had me thinking that it was HO scale.  The smaller modules and tighter bends at the corners somehow make the trains themselves look larger...  Or maybe I'm just wearing the wrong glasses again!

Lee
Route of the Alpha Jets

Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

Dave V

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Re: T-TRAK
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2019, 12:45:05 PM »
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I watched the Apex Junction one.  I lived in Apex, NC while completing my PhD at North Carolina State.  I was hoping to see someone having modeled Apex itself...what a great scene to model!

Bruce, as always, your modules raise the bar.
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arbomambo

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Re: T-TRAK
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2019, 01:03:26 PM »
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...I added my usual 'Southwest' mix of 'scrub'...WS 'bush' material (in a couple of shades), torn into small clumps, and a variety of grass clumps.  I'm fairly happy with the look using these various materials and colors; IMO they do a good job of representing this type of desert scrub in N scale. However, I'm disappointed the the lack of a true 'sage' color from any manufacturer. A bush and groundfoam in a sage green/gray would really add to the mix of scrub.





I posed a few locomotives on the module before the next step...





The next step was to add a few details...I had an old Bachmann signal bridge hanging around. I shaved off some of the bulky detail, then augmented the thinned signal heads with a set of BLMA photoetched signals (probably BLMA's worst effort in N scale-I had a set and figured this was a good way to get rid of them).
I carefully painted the signal bridge then glued into place, and blended the base with more ground mix.
I also used a couple of Showcase Miniatures lineside items...an electrical cabinet, and a buried battery box hatch.






The last item to add were the telephone poles...



I used WS foam putty (suggested in the test kit instructions) to fill the little divots in the front fascia (caused by rough handling), sanded, then painted my red earth fascia color.



The module now does 'duty' in regular T-TRAK setups and is used as a photo backdrop diorama quite often.





"STILL Thrilled to be in N scale!"

Bruce M. Arbo
CATT- Coastal Alabama T-TRAK
NTRAK Board of Directors
https://nationalt-traklayout.com/

[/ur

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: T-TRAK
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2019, 01:22:08 PM »
+1
The foam putty mention made me think about the real danger in these things: I'm afraid that the foam edges aren't going to be up to the portable nature of these things. Not so much during setup but just thinking about them rattling around in the trunk of a car on the way to a show or something.

I wish they had done something a little more sturdy for those components or at least provided some sort of hardened veneer for them.

Dave V

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Re: T-TRAK
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2019, 01:49:57 PM »
+1
The foam putty mention made me think about the real danger in these things: I'm afraid that the foam edges aren't going to be up to the portable nature of these things. Not so much during setup but just thinking about them rattling around in the trunk of a car on the way to a show or something.

I wish they had done something a little more sturdy for those components or at least provided some sort of hardened veneer for them.

So if you go to Home Depot or Lowes and get yourself a couple of "for sale" signs, they're like 0.020" styrene (or something...very thin!), you could make an untra-thin fascia out of it, and then attach it with Liquid Nails Projects.  It should be a thin enough fascia so as not to interfere with module connections.
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arbomambo

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Re: T-TRAK
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2019, 02:59:04 PM »
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  In my review/critique of the test kit, I mentioned that just adding a piece of heavy cardstock to the front fascia would be enough to prevent any finger dings into the foam (the sides and rear fascia are fine with just the foam board as they won't be seen).
  Apart from that, the foam holds up very well...This one, and the one my Sweetheart built have been to numerous shows (traveled quite a bit, loaded with other modules, in the trunk) and haven't been affected any more than any other wood-built module; the only mention being the front fascia being subject to possible finger and fingernail 'dings' and dents.
 I still don't know if Kato will proceed with the manufacture of these, but I do think they would be a success, especially as a way to introduce younger folks to model railroading. I haven't received any 'super negative' feedback from these test kits, especially once I re-iterate that these kits are designed for entry level model railroaders and T-TRAKers.
"STILL Thrilled to be in N scale!"

Bruce M. Arbo
CATT- Coastal Alabama T-TRAK
NTRAK Board of Directors
https://nationalt-traklayout.com/

[/ur

arbomambo

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Re: T-TRAK
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2019, 10:03:57 AM »
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In addition to the Kato test module, I needed to build a few more Southwest desert 'New Mexico' themed modules to depict that area in my 'Mother Road' series of T-TRAK modules. I had some spare T-Kits modules that I had been using as 'Show and Tell' visual aids at shows. (T-Kits is now closed; My good friend, and T-TRAK leader extaordinaire, Terry Nathan,  lost his 4 year battle with cancer this summer) I also needed to find a home for a few structures I had built this last year.
  So, I decided to build a New Mexico-inspired section of the Mother Road, using a T-Kits single and double. Although I like to build T-TRAK modules to form a 'continuous theme', I still like to build them so that they can stand alone, or be placed in a layout in different 'order' if necessary. In other words, I don't build so that a particular module must always be 'to the left' or 'to the right' of this module, but, if placed next to each other, they look as if they were 'continuous'.
  The structures I wanted to use were the 'Two Guns' Gas station by Showcase Miniatures, the 'Indian Trading Post', also by Showcase Miniatures, and the 'Yard' or 'Hi-Way Cafe', by Blair Line. I also needed a place for an old SFRD reefer reject I had used to review some weathering decals.
  For the double. I came up with this: basically, a flat module, with the highway running parallel along the trackage (similar to mt Midwest-themed Mother Road modules), featuring the tiny 'town(?)' of "Two Guns" (because of the lettering on the gas station), representing a typical tiny gas and food stop along the Mother Road.
This is what I came up with:







It's a very simple module, but the scenery helps fix the location in the American Southwest; The image for the skyboard is a scene I found on the web, sized, cropped, and printed on thin vinyl. I think it's effective in bringing life to a very simple module scene.


« Last Edit: January 25, 2019, 12:53:44 PM by arbomambo »
"STILL Thrilled to be in N scale!"

Bruce M. Arbo
CATT- Coastal Alabama T-TRAK
NTRAK Board of Directors
https://nationalt-traklayout.com/

[/ur

arbomambo

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Re: T-TRAK
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2019, 01:22:23 PM »
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I also did a single the same way, this time featuring the Showcase Miniatures "Indian Trading Post"
Apart from the actual structure, I designed and printed some 'Souvenir-style' signage on the computer and made to small billboards. I may add a 'tourist trap' teepee to the parking lot.








"STILL Thrilled to be in N scale!"

Bruce M. Arbo
CATT- Coastal Alabama T-TRAK
NTRAK Board of Directors
https://nationalt-traklayout.com/

[/ur

nscalbitz

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Re: T-TRAK
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2019, 06:55:48 PM »
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Excellent work Bruce- both the commercial support and delivery.
I'd still make that desert and road dirtier tho!
Regards davew