Author Topic: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?  (Read 2596 times)

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peteski

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #30 on: April 19, 2021, 11:02:27 PM »
0
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.

Ah, I know all about stacking them properly and how easy they are to use that way.  But our club (its members) doesn't seem to get their act together, plus when we connect modules with other clubs and shows where multiple clubs participate, the stacking gets all messed up.  It is like trying to herd cats.  It's been like that since Power Poles were made mandatory (several years ago), and the problem continues.  That's why I said I would even prefer if all the shells were separate than trying to dick around with incorrectly stacked shells (while sitting in the dark, under the module, my neck hurting from looking up).   Yes, I realize it is not a hardware problem but a people problem, but the bottom line is that this problem exists and persists.
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Hiroe

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #31 on: April 20, 2021, 12:04:49 AM »
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(while sitting in the dark, under the module, my neck hurting from looking up).

Modular standards are kind of a blade that cuts both ways. The more popular a standard is, the easier it is to fit folks into the layout; but the harder it becomes to make improvements to the standard itself without encountering complications, poor implementation, and/or resistance. This is part of why we eventually chose to rebrand from a Free-Mo group to the Northeast Corridor Historical Society, as it freed us from the explicit rules of the Free-Mo standards, to explore better solutions to some of the challenges that Free-Mo still struggles with (as well as allowing us to refocus the group more around the Corridor itself as our subject matter). We do still frequently set up with Free-Mo, as we built all our modules to provide Free-Mo Compatibility (but chose not to worry about Free-Mo Compliance), and many of our solutions are starting to gain traction in other groups.

We will likely approach Modular N modeling in the same way, w/regard to Ntrak. While none of our modules will be explicitly Ntrak Compliant, all of them will remain Ntrak Compatible.
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Sokramiketes

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #32 on: April 20, 2021, 09:09:19 AM »
+1
That's a great attitude to have, Hiroe.  If there's a group of like minded modelers for whom the standards don't quite work, try some of your own standards!

I've seen it crash... once when an offshot of folks from our Ntrak group split off and tried a single track BraNch-trak setup.  The group that built the new modules were the same group that worked on all the Ntrak modules, so the folks that just showed up to run trains were grumpy that the "workers" weren't working on their layout anymore... it caused a rift.

I've seen it work well, where one or two folks started Modutrak and it grew into a group of friends who all understood what the layout was (and maybe more importantly wasn't!) and through some trial and error designs have a 20' x 60' layout that transports easily, sets up in 2 hours, and tears down in less than 45 mins. 

Per the rest of the thread, track right to the ends of the modules, no connecting tracks, and Molex 12 pin connectors... one shot and no rearranging of powerpoles.

It can be done! 

randgust

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #33 on: April 20, 2021, 02:06:44 PM »
+1
There's always guys that run off into the weeds.   I'm one of them, only with T-trak.

What I really wanted was essentially a 'single track' T-trak, and that's how my two adapter modules came to be, putting the inner track behind the skyboard of normal T-trak geometry.   That gives you one main line, which is what Hickory Bridge is and also what Thompson will be.

When I started doing historic portable modules based on some  PRR history, it was either Ntrak or Ttrak.   My first module, West Hickory, had to have a crossing across the mains looping to the interchange, and with 3 wide-spaced mains and curve restrictions, couldn't get geometry to work.  And, they were rather unwieldy in size, and there weren't any Ntrak groups locally or even regionally that responded to me.   I found I could do what I want with Ttrak and easily manipulate a triple where a 48" was about too heavy to carry.

But honestly, if you look at the SURFACE geometry of Ntrak, and would pull the same stunt with the third main as I did with the second main of Ttrak (extend it to the back edge and hide it) and tighten up the two remaining to 33mm you could make adapters in and out of Ttrak geometry that was essentially a 'table-top' Ntrak that could match up.   I've done my bridge module with thick plywood over a triple length, it's plenty stiff, so extending it to 48" is probably not a killer either to fit Ntrak standards and be tabletop.    Connectors in Ttrak aren't wonderful either, it can take a long time to match up and test a sizeable Ttrak layout.   I made carry boxes for my Ttrak that have holes drilled in to fit the joiners to protect them in transit.

Between the 'hide the track' stunt and bring the scenery edge down as an embankment, I got kind of branded already as a Ttrak rebel, and I also only use Kato track just for the connectors - everything else is Peco C55 unless a section isn't available like crossings or sharp switches. 

So I don't see any immediate reason why my adapter concept in Ttrak over to single track couldn't be applied to Ntrak.   If I had more space, and a slightly bigger pickup or a trailer, I probably would have done it that way. 

We do need to think this way, because from the shows I've been to, Ttrak is a lot of fun, but Ntrak still is majestic.   Many groups are doing both.   No need to insist one is superior to the other, I know that's not the claim here, but you'll still hear it.    I like everything about Ntrak except the truck to haul it in.

Hiroe

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #34 on: April 20, 2021, 10:15:51 PM »
+1
Yeah, the 3+1 format of Ntrak is tough for modeling most places, as is the 1.5" centers track spacing. For the NECHS though, it's not too bad; as most of the Corridor territory we model is four tracks, and the spacing doesn't look too bad with catenary strung over it. That's part of my long-term plans for the N side, is that it's wired, and we can run with pans up. (And trying to install joiner tracks without trashing the catenary ends at each joint is just not practical, so replacing them with blunt ends is necessary before the wire can get installed.)

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Also, at some point in the next year, my original superjunction is coming home and getting repaired/redone:

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I still have the jig to manufacture additional blanks, and will probably do a deeper sceniced set of them as a pseudo-Zoo Tower.
Baltimore Ntrak also has a set of these (tracked 3x3), as I sold them a blanks set several years ago.

In HO, our trackwork and joints work well enough that I can not only run a 140-car freight behind four GG1's, but I can even back it around the layout.
I look forward to doing the same in N.
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dem34

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #35 on: April 21, 2021, 01:00:28 AM »
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@Hiroe Have you considered contacting the guys with Brooklynn N Trak for input? I forget who it was but one of the head guys there has a pretty extensive set of NEC NTrak modules with fully detailed and strung Catenary.
-Al

ChristianJDavis1

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #36 on: April 21, 2021, 01:52:53 AM »
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@Hiroe Have you considered contacting the guys with Brooklynn N Trak for input? I forget who it was but one of the head guys there has a pretty extensive set of NEC NTrak modules with fully detailed and strung Catenary.

That would be Chris Oliva (spelling?) of Brooklyn N-trak.
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JMaurer1

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #37 on: April 21, 2021, 11:55:10 AM »
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I've never been a fan of the triple track main line as well which is why we usually model Red/Yellow/ALT Blue. Now it's a double track main and a single track secondary road. For us it's usually SP double track, SF or WP single track (who is this UP you talk about?). I agree that NRail (their new name) needs to adapt the standards more and probably quicker, but they also don't want to alienate people who have been with them for so many years. We hated the Cinch Jones connectors so we were very early adapters of the Power Poles (we seems to have written more than a bit about the standard). Once they are set up in a correct block, it really makes things easy, but for whatever reason, people have problems getting it right the first few times. Something else that we are trying to get put in place is running the track to the edge of the module and soldering it to brass screws so modules can be butt jointed together, but once again, it's hard to adjust if someone else didn't do it "just right" and if you don't put something to keep the rail form getting snagged they can get damaged.

The bottom line here is if you don't like the way they are doing something and you have a better way, then write it up and submit it. It could just be that nobody else came up with that idea and it could get accepted as a new standard. Either do something to make it better, or don't, but complaining never solved anything.
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Hiroe

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #38 on: April 22, 2021, 01:05:42 AM »
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@Hiroe Have you considered contacting the guys with Brooklynn N Trak for input? I forget who it was but one of the head guys there has a pretty extensive set of NEC NTrak modules with fully detailed and strung Catenary.

I'm pretty sure I've chatted at length with him, he's a good guy. However, I usually only encounter him at shows, particularly traction/transit shows (or the Edison Greenbergs), and those have been canceled by covid for over a year now. Usually at the transit shows, he sets up mostly by himself, so I suspect he'd be down with doing joint layouts (regardless of joiner-track changes).

I've never been a fan of the triple track main line as well which is why we usually model Red/Yellow/ALT Blue. Now it's a double track main and a single track secondary road. For us it's usually SP double track, SF or WP single track (who is this UP you talk about?). I agree that NRail (their new name) needs to adapt the standards more and probably quicker, but they also don't want to alienate people who have been with them for so many years. We hated the Cinch Jones connectors so we were very early adapters of the Power Poles (we seems to have written more than a bit about the standard). Once they are set up in a correct block, it really makes things easy, but for whatever reason, people have problems getting it right the first few times. Something else that we are trying to get put in place is running the track to the edge of the module and soldering it to brass screws so modules can be butt jointed together, but once again, it's hard to adjust if someone else didn't do it "just right" and if you don't put something to keep the rail form getting snagged they can get damaged.

The bottom line here is if you don't like the way they are doing something and you have a better way, then write it up and submit it. It could just be that nobody else came up with that idea and it could get accepted as a new standard. Either do something to make it better, or don't, but complaining never solved anything.

While the 'two brass flathead screws with the rails soldered on to hold them at the module ends' system is great, what I've found is that 'two-tie Gapmaster installed with a #2 roundhead wood screw between the ties, then solder the rails on top' makes calibrating the track ends fast and easy before ballasting, while still being as secure and impact-resistant as the two brass wood screws. Plus, if you use half joiner tracks with the Gapmaster to convert legacy modules, setting up with standard ntrak modules is as easy as removing the wood screws and putting the halves in a storage tupperware under the module. You can even ballast them by gluing paper to the bottom of the halves with CA, then filling and gluing the appropriate-color ballast around the ties, on top of the paper. As long as the Gapmaster slot is clear for the wood screw, and you don't glue them on the module, they'll always be adjustable/removable. And should a rail end get busted in the setup process, replacing a joiner end is easy, provided you bring extra halves (or have fresh snap track, rail nippers, spiking pliers, and spikes).

That doesn't address the rail size or track spacing on the legacy module so-fitted, but now that legacy module can go directly next to a module with smaller rail/closer track spacing at a show, without it being too much of a problem. We've had some practice with doing this in HO, during joint setups with both NMRA and Free-Mo standards clubs. The layouts ran well and everyone had fun (for the most part).

Our HO standards, we eventually published them to the web, and called it Uni-Mo. HOn3 and O 2-rail has been added since then, as others have adopted it.
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Point353

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #39 on: April 22, 2021, 04:32:37 AM »
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Our HO standards, we eventually published them to the web, and called it Uni-Mo.
Where on the web are the Uni-Mo standards readily available?

Your post in the module standards link thread has a link to a Facebook page that requires a login.
https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=44863.msg702726#msg702726
Not everyone wants to join Facebook just to access certain material posted there.

CRL

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #40 on: April 22, 2021, 10:27:43 AM »
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Since my wife is on Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family, I just use her login information.

peteski

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #41 on: April 22, 2021, 05:50:31 PM »
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Since my wife is on Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family, I just use her login information.

Good for you!  What about other Facebook-averse people?
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Hiroe

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #42 on: April 22, 2021, 06:47:01 PM »
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Where on the web are the Uni-Mo standards readily available?

Your post in the module standards link thread has a link to a Facebook page that requires a login.
https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=44863.msg702726#msg702726
Not everyone wants to join Facebook just to access certain material posted there.

We were originally on Yahoogroups, when that was a thing. When they shut down, we made a Groups.io and a Facebook page, but the FB page gets exponentially more traffic, discussions, vintage photos, scanned paper ephemera, and coverage of other layouts and groups.

I can post the standards here for your perusal, but we haven't put a standalone webpage together yet. (It's on the long-term list, along with a print newsletter.)

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This is Version 9 of the basic HO file, but it's likely gonna get a V10 in the next couple of months.
In particular, the Catenary standards are going to get further filled out, and the Appendix A legs are getting revised to reduce the router-table time by half.
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w neal

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #43 on: April 23, 2021, 10:26:14 AM »
+2
Merge the two? Hey, why not. If it feels right and works for you, more power to you.

Some real gems of wisdom here from Hiroe and Sokramiketes. I too branched away from Ntrak a long time ago. When I'm displaying at a show with my "modules", I'm always amazed at how many fellas ask "Who's standards are you following?" You don't have to follow anyone's standards. If a group of guys "play well together" and want to model a location or simply follow a certain theme, then so be it. Do what works for you. If you can't merge with another groups's modules, no big deal. A gathering such as the Altoona or Ohio N scale meets prove that variety is good and that its not required to have one giant layout.

But all that aside, sure, merge away. And sorry for the thread drift.
Buffering...

Hiroe

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Re: Hybridize Ntrak and T-trak?
« Reply #44 on: April 30, 2021, 08:47:42 PM »
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One of the things I occasionally remind myself (and my fellow NECHS members) about:
This is a hobby. You started doing it at shows because it was fun. It has to be fun. Otherwise you're just torturing yourselves.
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