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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Grant Whipp Posted - 04/12/2009 : 05:04:27 AM

The idea for a local On30 gauge modular model railroad club/group had been bouncing around a local RR hobby store for the better part of the last half of 2008. “Local” for us is Redding, CA ... the far north end of the state, at the head of the Sacramento Valley, where the Sacramento River almost finishes cutting its way through the foothills, after cutting its way through the mountains, on its way down from Mount Shasta to end up in the San Francisco Bay.

My primary interest is in N-scale, but as the talk ‘round the hobby shop progressed and I looked into it a little, I became much more interested in this On30 thing. The thought that I could build a couple of modules, spend some time scenic-ing them, not have to buy any locos or rolling stock, and still be a part of a group and run some trains started to appeal to me ... to the point that I bought myself a Bachmann Railbus & Trailer for my birthday at the end of the year! A few weeks later, in mid-January or so, four of us got together in a member’s garage to see just how many of us were seriously interested enough to start building modules. As it turned out, there was a fifth member ... he’d just had other obligations that night (I think it was homework!).

That first meeting was at the home of Randy Rouse, a high school history teacher & fanatic about the rich & varied railroading history of far-northern California, and already heavy into the On30 movement. With a functioning micro-/shelf/switching-puzzle layout still demanding his attention, he’d begun the major construction of a 2’x4’ module for us to check out and use as a base example for the rest of the club to follow. The guidelines we agreed to adopt that evening are those of the California Central Coast On30 Modular Group, which are an adaptation of the Texas Outlaw Group’s, as well as a few others’. Basically, the modules must be 2’ wide at the face-plate, and 2’, 4’, 6’, or 8’ long. The basic “common” face-plate (the one each members’ modules must plug into) is 4” high and 24” wide with 2” of extruded foam sheet on top, faced with a piece of 1/8” hardboard or “Masonite”, making the end 6”x24”. Two 3/8” bolt-holes 12” apart are centered on the ‘plate, 4” down from the top surface of the foam. Track setback is 6” on center from the front, and the top of the rail will be 48” from the floor. There will be “feet” on the bottom of each leg that have 2” of vertical adjustment.

Admittedly, Randy had gotten his materials form a local “big box” store, and he wasn’t too impressed ... getting dry straight lumber from these types of stores seems to be more & more difficult, and nobody, it seemed, had any 2” extruded foam sheet, so he’d used two pieces of 1” pink board (that turned out to be slightly less that 7/8”!). All in all, it ended up being a really solid module, and a great source of inspiration! We ended the meeting in high spirits, knowing we had a solid core group, and agreed to have a list of names for the “club” to consider the next next time we got together.

My background is in boat and RV manufacturing, with helping some friends build their airplanes along the way, and I own a very small business building teardrop camp trailers and selling parts & accessories to the homebuilder. At the first meeting, I’d suggested that some might consider using 1/2” ABX plywood as the basis for their modules ... it’s much more dimensionally stable than much of the lumber that’s currently available, and it’s easy to work with. As it happened, I had an extra sheet of 1/2” plywood just hanging ‘round the shop, but it was 7-ply cabinet grade baltic birch. No matter, I thought, and started carving it up to make a couple of modules for myself.

It didn’t take long for me to discover that if I shaved the end-plate & side frame measurements to 3-7/8”, I could get the framework for six 2’x4’ modules out of a single piece of 4’x8’ plywood, complete with module cross bracing and cross bracing for the legs, as well as all the needed leg pockets! And, if I shaved the overall width down to 23-15/16”, I could get 4 decks out of a sheet of 1/4”x4’x8’ luan! Since 1/4” luan isn’t really 1/4” thick, and since our 1” pink foamboard wasn’t really a full 1”, by the time it was all put together, it came out so close to 6” that the difference wasn’t worth fussing about. And, with 1/8” hardboard Masonite eventually facing the side-frames, the 1/16” difference in overall width won’t be noticeable, either!

So at the next meeting, shortly after the first of February, I had two “standard” modules for the group to examine & compare with Randy’s, the pieces for two more stacked & set aside, and the pieces cut for my own two personal modules that featured a lightening technique that I use in my trailer construction. I had also purchased some redwood 2x4s, cut them in half, and then cut them down the middle to make the legs. The differences in construction can be seen in the following photos ...

Here you see our members, from L to R: Ross Graham, Conner Rock, Randy Rouse, and Corey Buck. I’m the grizzled old grey-goateed goat behind the camera.

... and one more of the members & modules ...

15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Rick Posted - 01/09/2019 : 05:25:46 AM
Grant, those reads are most likely a combination of all the possibilities you listed plus guests perusing the forum.
Grant Whipp Posted - 01/08/2019 : 9:03:14 PM
I'm in Grants Pass, OR, now, Rick ... but the modules (except for my Southwest Corner) are still in Redding. I'm making about two trips down a month and could easily bring back one or two on my return leg ... ...! Thanks for the interest!

RickW Posted - 01/08/2019 : 3:37:40 PM
Grant, I am a member of the California Central
Coast On30 modular group now living in Oakridge
Oregon.. was wondering where you live. I have been checking in here every other day or so. Am working on my layout (a permanent one) as I gave away my module prior to moving here.. and John Roth has been helping me get the layout "right". Enquiring minds want to know....
Grant Whipp Posted - 01/07/2019 : 10:58:51 PM
Happy New, Year, Gang!

Well ... so far, only one little nibble at these modules ......! I'm not giving up on finding these things a new home, though ... attending a local HO club meeting next week, and there's still a chance someone in the NCNG or CCC bunch might want one or two and I could deliver them to the Barn Meet in Mar./Apr. ... and, I'll have a little better idea as to how much time I have to move them, in the next couple of weeks.

I do have a curious observation, though, and maybe some of you can help me understand it ... ... I drop by here every couple of days to see if there has been any action/interest expressed, and while I haven't seen any since Larry's post, I DO see that the "Read Count" keeps clicking up at a rate of about 50-100+ per day, yet no one is commenting or asking any questions ... are all these "reads" new folks checking out this old thread, regulars refreshing their memory, or am I actually getting this many folks looking and at least semi-interested in them, bu then passing on 'em without a word? Curiouser and curiouser ...!

Hope you all are well! CHEERS!
BigLars Posted - 11/27/2018 : 5:56:00 PM
I hope these go to a good home.
Grant Whipp Posted - 11/27/2018 : 2:09:37 PM
Thanks, Rick! I've been trying to put a Group together here in Southern Oregon, based around these modules, but so far no go, and I'm virtually out of time, so they've got to go ... ...!
Rick Posted - 11/27/2018 : 10:26:55 AM
Grant, sorry to read about the group disbanding.
Good luck with the sale.
Grant Whipp Posted - 11/26/2018 : 9:30:00 PM
Man, I had to dig to find this topic/thread! A lot has happened in the last 7-1/2 years ... two members have died, one went off tho the Navy, and one to jail(!), so basically the club disbanded ... Ross Graham's modules were donated to the club/train store where he worked, to be finished in his memory, but they only ended up getting robbed of all the track and stripped down to the base foam before I rescued them ... now I have possession of all modules except for the two that Randy built ... I snagged the corner module that Randy had built up and am now well into re-doing it in a southwest theme (see pic, if I can remember how to do it!) ... but alas, after all these years, I am being forced to severely downsize, and all the modules are FOR SALE! ... either as a complete 14'x14' twelve-piece layout or individual modules (obviously, my 3-piece corner set must go as a set) ... $1,750 for everything, or $100 ea. for the bare 2'x4' mods and $125 ea. for the two bare 3'x3' corner mods ... if you are interested, please respond, here, of send me an e-mail at gnkwhipp@jett.net

Thanks for looking in! As always ...


OregonOn30 Posted - 05/30/2011 : 1:10:08 PM
Hey Grant...

Looking Good! I am trying to plan the July stuff into my calendar around some other doctor stuff in Portland that month. Can't wait to see the layout in operation. Keep up the good work.

Grant Whipp Posted - 05/28/2011 : 10:34:50 PM
Once again, it's been a l-o-n-g time between posts ... life is just so dang busy, sometimes ... ...!

The latest news is that I took one of my modules to the Great Barn Meet to hook up with one of the modules from the CCC Modular Group and see if we can "plug & play". Bottom line is that, yes ... we can! Because of a little glitch in wiring, I just need to make up some adaptors so our electricals can plug in.

My second biggest concern was whether or not big locomotives like the 2-8-0s could make the transition from a flat module to mine with a 4% grade without any (or much) problems. Fortunately, somebody at the Meet had one, we placed in on the tracks, and tested it ... and yep, everything worked out fine! Here's a little video I shot to document the occasion:

Next up is building a roof-top box/carrier so that I can transport my "wing" modules (either on my car or my teardrop camping trailer) while the corner module rides in my car (still gotta figure out where the legs will go, though ... ...!), and then it's on to the National Train Show in Sacramento, CA, July 8-10, where I'll be hooking up with the CCC Group to help form a mega-layout!

Not much happening with the CN&C Group, though, as injuries and illnesses and other life demands have kept most of the others from working on their modules. And, I'm only able to work on mine on occasional Thursdays (those that I'm home for), and then I'm too tired afterwards to come over here to catch up or post any progress pics. Oh well, I'll be back when I can.

Hope everyone else is doing well, and I'll look forward to catching up when I can! Thanks for looking, and as always ...


scott robertson Posted - 04/10/2011 : 6:49:45 PM
Very cool. Looks like a long run through some great scenes. Hope to see more in the future. Scott
jcoop Posted - 04/10/2011 : 2:01:02 PM
Nice to see it running, hope to see you and parts of it at the barn meet.

kewlbrew Posted - 04/10/2011 : 1:42:36 PM
Grant -

Congratulations on hitting this milestone!!!
Grant Whipp Posted - 04/10/2011 : 1:09:53 PM
Well, Gang ... I'm back ... ...!

Business, personal life, a major surgery & recovery, and simply life in general have kept me away from the forum ... but, that doesn't mean there hasn't been any progress on our (and my) modules! Before I run out of battery on my modem, I'll post the video from our first night's run on our layout:


Yes ... we finally got all our modules operational, together in one place, bolted/clamped together, wired, and run a train or two ... ...! It took us most of last Thursday night to get everything operational, but we did it, and had time left to make a few runs. I came back in and ran my Goose on Friday night, then Randy & I tore the whole thing down yesterday (had to put the shop back into "work mode").

The lighting on the video is pretty bad in places 'cause the lighting in the shop where we had the room to set up is pretty bad ... hence the occasional "spot" lights here and there ... and I shot the video on my old (8-10 years old!) Cannon digital camera, so it's kind of grainy.

I'll be back later (when I have more battery power in my modem) and post some update pics.

Hope All are well and everyone is making progress on their respective projects! I hope I'll have the time in the near future to check 'em all out.

As always, thanks for looking ... comments and constructive criticism are always welcome! 'Til next time (soon) ...


BBLmber Posted - 12/20/2010 : 4:07:57 PM
Looks like you all are making a lot of progress Grant.

Merry Christmas to all of the Cn&C members.

I have joined the MaDmodule group here in the mid Atlantic region, and hope to get started on some modules after the holidays.


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