Author Topic: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?  (Read 2038 times)

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Ike the BN Freak

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2021, 10:02:53 PM »
0
All code 55 modules will need to have a proper transition to Code 80 on both ends of the module.   If out-of-spec modules due to sloppy construction are already a problem, it follows this will only make things worse.

For any modules that aren't going to be a derailment magnets, the different tie spacing between each and every module is still going to be an eyesore.

As is, without any changes, all code 55 modules need to have a transition to code 80. NTrak specs still call for code 80.

The only code 55 I've seen that was allowed per the specs is Peco 55, and it has the same tie spacing as code 80.  And as mentioned by CRL, Peco code 55 already is 80.

Hiroe

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #16 on: April 17, 2021, 10:14:09 PM »
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I mean, to be fair, by changing these modules to blunt rail ends with frame pins (with or without unijoiners), we're already operating outside the Ntrak specs. However, one of the advantages to blunt rail ends, is the freedom to use lighter rails without having to worry about transition sections at the end. As long as the rail tops match at the joint, the rail height is irrelevant.


We're also likely to retrofit these modules with our height-adjusting legs, so we can set up the layout at 50".
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peteski

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2021, 10:49:34 PM »
+1
I mean, to be fair, by changing these modules to blunt rail ends with frame pins (with or without unijoiners), we're already operating outside the Ntrak specs. However, one of the advantages to blunt rail ends, is the freedom to use lighter rails without having to worry about transition sections at the end. As long as the rail tops match at the joint, the rail height is irrelevant.

We're also likely to retrofit these modules with our height-adjusting legs, so we can set up the layout at 50".

Sounds like your club is on their own already, as far as standards go.
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basementcalling

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2021, 11:35:55 PM »
+2
UniTrak ends would not allow the modules to be firmly clamped to lock the layout in place if you did it TTRAK style where there can be, and is, space between module ends because the end of the joiner section hangs over the edge of the module slightly.

My old club measured and cut flex track and color coded the ties to try to simplify the process of adding joiner sections, but it's still a tedious and time consuming process. Modules that typically get set up in sequence can have dedicated joiner tracks made. I know several clubs that do use the Kato sliding tracks successfully, but there is no 100% effective method when using NTRAK standards. Like other aspects of module design that advanced over the years since 1974, this is one more area where trying to update the modular standard with backwards compatibility has led to stagnation.

Peter Pfotenhauer

Doc Frankenfield

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #19 on: April 19, 2021, 10:16:23 AM »
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I have been doing N-Trak since 1976, from what I have seen from pinned and mated modules which have butt track joiner systems, you spend as much time fixing damaged rails from handling as you do putting in joiner tracks.
 plus you have the issue of slight variations in track alignment, even with seasoned, well used modules.
Add into the mix that larger modules are subject to more expansion, contraction and construction variances, and you come right back to those terrible connector tracks.

peteski

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #20 on: April 19, 2021, 06:26:12 PM »
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I have been doing N-Trak since 1976, from what I have seen from pinned and mated modules which have butt track joiner systems, you spend as much time fixing damaged rails from handling as you do putting in joiner tracks.
 plus you have the issue of slight variations in track alignment, even with seasoned, well used modules.
Add into the mix that larger modules are subject to more expansion, contraction and construction variances, and you come right back to those terrible connector tracks.

Preach it brother, preach it!  Ao, we are both NTRAK old-timers, with plenty of hands-on experience.  Glad we agree that  what is proposed here is not realistically feasible, and more trouble than it is worth (not mentioning revamping the standard and making everybody comply).  We had (and still have) enough problems with PowerPole conversion.  To be honest, in practice Cinch Jones connectors were way less hassle to deal with than PowerPoles. But since Cinch Jones hard to find, the PowerPoles conversion was a necessary evil.
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C855B

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #21 on: April 19, 2021, 07:14:19 PM »
+2
... in practice Cinch Jones connectors were way less hassle to deal with than PowerPoles. ...

OMG, I strongly disagree with this, Pete! I've been working with Cinch Jones connectors in 2- to 12-pin formats since the 1960s and hated them every inch of the way. Even with as much soldering experience I had even back then they were finicky to solder, and subject to pull-out and internal short-circuits when handled less-than-carefully.

When I joined an N-Trak club ~2000 and was blessed with the manual, I could not believe my eyes that even at that late date they were espousing C-J, an interconnect system the industry $#!+canned in the '80s. I am still convinced FitzGerald and Co. adopted the system because they were super-cheap. The two dozen or so surplus electronics stores in the Bay Area had them coming out of all their orifices due to the Silicon Valley companies' big push to rid themselves of a connector they couldn't automate, so the hobby electronics stores paid pennies on the dollar for 'em.

I could do nothing but cringe every time I had to fix an N-Trak module with C-J plugs that shorted or opened, put together by some train-runner who didn't know which end of the soldering iron to hold.

I was introduced to PowerPoles 30 years ago when I got my Amateur Radio license, bought the proper crimping tool and the proper selection of connector sizes and did not look back. The system is butt-easy and incredibly reliable. I can't for a second comprehend that, in your considerable experience, how you consider it to be way [more] hassle? Educate me!

Hiroe

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #22 on: April 19, 2021, 07:50:03 PM »
-1
I have been doing N-Trak since 1976, from what I have seen from pinned and mated modules which have butt track joiner systems, you spend as much time fixing damaged rails from handling as you do putting in joiner tracks.
 plus you have the issue of slight variations in track alignment, even with seasoned, well used modules.
Add into the mix that larger modules are subject to more expansion, contraction and construction variances, and you come right back to those terrible connector tracks.

I got a ton of pushback from the HO Free-Mo folks much the same way, about a decade ago.
But we went ahead and did our NECHS HO layout the way we wanted, which included blunt rail ends, and our direct experience has been that we don't spend even a fraction of the time fixing rail ends that everyone predicted. And not having to install joiner rails at every show setup, saves us about 3-4 hours worth of time (compared to clubs who use joiner tracks/rails in the same hall). Honestly, it was one of the best decisions we ever made, w/regard to our modular standards. And not making that same decision with our Ntrak layout feels like a step backwards, so it's pretty likely we'll experiment with it and see how it goes.

Keep in mind that these are former DARN modules, and DARN was always pushing the envelope even in Ntrak, for decades.
DARN's achievements include:
-First Ntrak club to build end loops and break out of the "Fortress Ntrak" closed circle setups
-First Ntrak club to turn the 4x2 module sideways (Helter Skelter, which connected the Mountain Division Green to the Blue)
-First Ntrak club to build junction modules (the Diamond Mill)
-one of the first clubs to use laminated curved framing for modules
-one of the first Ntrak clubs to build full coffins for modules
-one of the first Ntrak clubs to abandon Cinch Jones plugs

So finding a better solution for track ends at joints would address one of the issues that many original DARN members (myself included) complained about for a long, long time.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2021, 07:59:43 PM by Hiroe »
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nickelplate759

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #23 on: April 19, 2021, 08:12:39 PM »
+1
If you run track to the module edge it's possible and worthwhile to build protective covers for the rails to keep them from being damaged during transport.
That said, rails-to-the-edge is less forgiving of imprecise module construction, and you also have the challenge of maintaining alignment as the modules age.   I've seen it work well.
George
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I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

Hiroe

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #24 on: April 19, 2021, 08:28:45 PM »
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OMG, I strongly disagree with this, Pete! I've been working with Cinch Jones connectors in 2- to 12-pin formats since the 1960s and hated them every inch of the way. Even with as much soldering experience I had even back then they were finicky to solder, and subject to pull-out and internal short-circuits when handled less-than-carefully.

I could do nothing but cringe every time I had to fix an N-Trak module with C-J plugs that shorted or opened, put together by some train-runner who didn't know which end of the soldering iron to hold.

I was introduced to PowerPoles 30 years ago when I got my Amateur Radio license, bought the proper crimping tool and the proper selection of connector sizes and did not look back. The system is butt-easy and incredibly reliable. I can't for a second comprehend that, in your considerable experience, how you consider it to be way [more] hassle? Educate me!

At one point, DARN had some military-surplus 60-pin Cinch Jones plugs on the Kirkwood Yard modules, and they were absolutely brutal to deal with/troubleshoot. Even the two-pin versions were trash after a year in a humid basement. The contact surfaces would get all corroded (especially with certain old-timers using acid-flux solder to install them); so at the point of use during a show setup and electrical block testing, someone would inevitably take a steel file to the pins to 'clean' them, which just made the problem worse in the long term.
I don't miss dealing with them.

As for the Powerpoles, I have considerable success using a pair of nonserrated square-jaw glassbreaking pliers to do the pin crimping, and those are available for as little as $20.
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Hiroe

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #25 on: April 19, 2021, 08:33:39 PM »
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If you run track to the module edge it's possible and worthwhile to build protective covers for the rails to keep them from being damaged during transport.
That said, rails-to-the-edge is less forgiving of imprecise module construction, and you also have the challenge of maintaining alignment as the modules age.   I've seen it work well.

All of the modules that will be involved so far, have full coffins for storage/transport. The ends are protected, as the module lives inside a closed box whenever it's not actively set up.

We also have the ability to adjust the alignment on the rail ends, simply by loosening a roundhead screw and squinching the PC tie pair over a bit, then retighten the screw.


« Last Edit: April 19, 2021, 10:18:57 PM by Hiroe »
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Hiroe

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #26 on: April 19, 2021, 10:05:00 PM »
-1
Glad we agree that  what is proposed here is not realistically feasible, and more trouble than it is worth (not mentioning revamping the standard and making everybody comply).

I think you're getting ahead of yourself here. I'm not expecting or intending to force this on Ntrak as a whole. The nice thing is, the hobby is big enough for all of us, even with different approaches. What's also nice is that I get to decide for myself what's worth doing. For me, that's meant spending the last decade pushing the envelope in HO, advancing the state of the art for modular modeling. Now I intend to do the same with my N work; because doing anything else would not respect my roots with DARN.

This whole topic was about soliciting the experience and opinions of folks who want to build a better mousetrap; not to waste a lot of time being scolded about how it'll never work. (I got my fill of that a decade ago.) More clubs than just mine have proven that it works; so can we skip past the part where you invest a lot of energy on fighting me, and focus on the part where we build consensus on the best implementation to move forward with this?

Thank you.
--Drew
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peteski

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #27 on: April 19, 2021, 10:13:36 PM »
0

This whole topic was about soliciting the experience and opinions of folks who want to build a better mousetrap; not to waste a lot of time being scolded about how it'll never work. (I got my fill of that a decade ago.) More clubs than just mine have proven that it works; so can we skip past the part where you invest a lot of energy on fighting me, and focus on the part where we build consensus on the best implementation to move forward with this?

Thank you.
--Drew

Good luck to you (and to NRAIL) Drew.
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peteski

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #28 on: April 19, 2021, 10:20:46 PM »
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I was introduced to PowerPoles 30 years ago when I got my Amateur Radio license, bought the proper crimping tool and the proper selection of connector sizes and did not look back. The system is butt-easy and incredibly reliable. I can't for a second comprehend that, in your considerable experience, how you consider it to be way [more] hassle? Educate me!

PowerPoles (electrically) are excellent connectors, but they are just damn too easy to reconfigure into many possible arrangements!!  I would be ok with them if people stack theirs properly in the first place, and stopped dickign with them! Heck, I would even prefer each shell to be standalone.  Every time I have to assist in NTRAK setup with Power Poles my fingers are raw (and sometimes even bleeding) from having to rearrange the individual shells.  Cinch Jones connectors were just "match color, and plug-n-play.
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Hiroe

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #29 on: April 19, 2021, 10:49:55 PM »
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PowerPoles (electrically) are excellent connectors, but they are just damn too easy to reconfigure into many possible arrangements!!  I would be ok with them if people stack theirs properly in the first place, and stopped dickign with them! Heck, I would even prefer each shell to be standalone.  Every time I have to assist in NTRAK setup with Power Poles my fingers are raw (and sometimes even bleeding) from having to rearrange the individual shells.  Cinch Jones connectors were just "match color, and plug-n-play.

With the HO layout (and a 4-track mainline), we came up with a PP stacking arrangement that all four tracks are one big plug, they only fit each other one way, and it automagically corrects for a polarity change of any modules spun 180*. And once stacked, the club members who own the modules realize not to reconfigure them.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2021, 10:51:26 PM by Hiroe »
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