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Author Previous Topic: What to do with it all Topic Next Topic: Martin G. Jones Machine Shop
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Grant Whipp
Engine Wiper



Posted - 04/12/2009 :  05:04:27 AM  Show Profile  Visit Grant Whipp's Homepage  Reply with Quote

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 ...


Edited by - Grant Whipp on 04/12/2009 06:01:50 AM

Country: USA | Posts: 436

Grant Whipp
Engine Wiper



Posted - 04/12/2009 :  05:13:56 AM  Show Profile  Visit Grant Whipp's Homepage  Reply with Quote

Another difference in the construction is my use of “leg pockets” to hold the supporting legs ... I was never too thrilled with the use of bolts & wing-nuts and all the monkey-business that goes with that type of support, so I decided to try a set with these leg pockets, and they seem to work quite well. Notice, too, that with both methods, the weight of the module is not resting on the top of the legs themselves, but on the top crossbeam between the legs. The bottom crossbeams are all on the same level, so a shelf can be set down on them to hold boxes of rolling stock, electronics, or anything else we might need to keep out of the way.









Now, I’m not saying that my method of building modules is better than Randy’s or anybody else’s, and it is certainly different than what I have seen elsewhere, but it seems to be working quite well, and is a much more efficient technique, at least, for me. For some reason, the Group has decided that I am now their official carpenter ...



Country: USA | Posts: 436 Go to Top of Page

Grant Whipp
Engine Wiper



Posted - 04/12/2009 :  05:17:50 AM  Show Profile  Visit Grant Whipp's Homepage  Reply with Quote

That second meeting was held in my shop, where I share 3,300 sq. ft. with my father and our Bonneville Salt Flats LSR (Land Speed Racing) project. Although cold in the winter (I do have some supplemental heating), there is plenty of room to work on modules, bolt a couple together, and still be able to move around without tripping over each other ... it also has a bathroom! And when the time comes, we’ll even have room to bolt all the modules together to run some trains. So it was that the decision was made to hold all further meetings there! Also at this second meeting, the form & specs of the four main corner modules were discussed & agreed upon, and the list of possible group/club names was passed around for consideration, with each of us making a pitch for our favorite(s).

During the discussion about corner modules, it was decided that four of us would each take responsibility and ownership of one, all would have a base measurement of 3’x3’, and that at least two of them would provide the ability to have another module plug into it in a “T” type fashion. Randy expressed his desire to have a canyon with a curving trestle over it on his, along with a winding dirt road that dropped down under the trestle, crossed the creek, then followed the creek downstream a bit before disappearing off the end. We all liked the vision, and then the talk turned to just how the construction of this particular corner piece would look & function. Well, as you can imagine, with five enthusiastic individuals contributing to the conversation, it got a bit lively at times ... everyone had their own ideas on how best to build it. I listened patiently, made a few suggestions, wrote a few notes ... then, after everybody had left, decided to do it my own way! Believe it or not, I built it with scraps and bits & pieces I had laying ‘round the shop. I think it turned out just fine, and most importantly, Randy is thrilled with it ... and the rest of the group are impressed, as well! I’m looking forward to seeing how he finishes it off!








Country: USA | Posts: 436 Go to Top of Page

Grant Whipp
Engine Wiper



Posted - 04/12/2009 :  05:29:51 AM  Show Profile  Visit Grant Whipp's Homepage  Reply with Quote

Here are the pictures of Ross’ corner module. Conner’s will be the same, only a mirror image.







About the middle of March, I had the two other 2’x4’ modules all framed up, along with some progress on my own corner module, so at that meeting, we had a “foam party” and glued two layers of 1” pink foam to each of four modules.





Country: USA | Posts: 436 Go to Top of Page

Grant Whipp
Engine Wiper



Posted - 04/12/2009 :  05:39:13 AM  Show Profile  Visit Grant Whipp's Homepage  Reply with Quote

A post or two back, I mentioned my technique for lightening the construction of my own personal modules. Basically, it simply involves drilling a series of 2-1/2” holes in the side & end frames and cutting out the wood between a few of them. Because I don’t like splinters when I’m handling wiring or fishing around the bottoms for some other reason, I took a 1/4” roundover bit in my router and dressed the insides. Before wiring, I’ll lay on a coat of white or tan latex paint.

I recently compared the weight of one of my 2’x4’ module frames with one of the “standard” frames, and mine came in at 4-1/2 pounds lighter. The framing on my corner module is a little more involved, but I think you can get the idea. This piece will eventually have an 18” high mountain that will extend onto both adjoining 2’x4’ sections, with an On18 switchback mining line climbing to the top ... that line will have a dump station at the bottom where limestone will be transferred from the mine cars to drop-bottom gondollas on a spur that runs the length, diagonally, of the right “wing”.









Country: USA | Posts: 436 Go to Top of Page

railphotog
Fireman



Posted - 04/12/2009 :  05:40:56 AM  Show Profile  Visit railphotog's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Grant: Mighty fine carpentry and modules, great ideas! As an aspiring On30 modeler who has been only collecting and making models in this scale so far, your ideas a interesting. But since I don't have a carpentry workshop, nor the woodworking tools or skills, I'll probably have to muddle along on my own. This stuff seems so easy when you do have the tools and abilities, but is so far beyond what I can or could do that it can be overwhelming. I guess its the same with model photography, as I have all of the tools and abilities but someone with a simple point and shoot camera could be lost trying to duplicate what I can do.

Thanks for the inspiration though, and please keep us appraised of your group's efforts!



Bob Boudreau
My model railroad photography website:
http://sites.google.com/site/railphotog/

Country: Canada | Posts: 4026 Go to Top of Page

Grant Whipp
Engine Wiper



Posted - 04/12/2009 :  05:47:06 AM  Show Profile  Visit Grant Whipp's Homepage  Reply with Quote

The latest report is that ALL 2’x4’ modules are now foamed & “pocketed” (10 in all, including Randy’s), and ready to start the track laying and scenic-ing processes. A few need legs, still, but I’ve got all the materials on hand. At least three corner modules have foam on them (haven’t heard of any progress from Randy on his), with mine having only the first layer on. Next up is drilling all the end plates for matching & aligned bolt holes, and I’ve made a jig for that ... simply hang the fixture on the ends of the modules and drill at the designated holes!





Even though the club meets only every other Thursday, and I can only work on the modules between “paying” jobs in my shop (or in the evenings when I have a little extra energy), something tells me that it won’t be long ‘till we have some trains running!

Oh, and, I guess that I should tell you that we finally decided on a name for the club ... ;-} ;-} ... we’re the CN&C-On30-MG - the California Northern & Cascade On30 Modular Model Railroad Group
Wait ‘til you see our herald (it, too, is in the works ...)!

Thanks for looking, and we welcome your comments or questions!

CHEERS!

Grant







"Who Knew Model Railroading Could Be This Much Fun"
CN&C - California Northern & Cascade On30 Modular Group, Founding Member
DWA - Diddy Wells & Afterthought Rwy

Country: USA | Posts: 436 Go to Top of Page

elwoodblues
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 04/12/2009 :  09:13:22 AM  Show Profile  Visit elwoodblues's Homepage  Send elwoodblues a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Grant,

Looks like the group is off to a great start. I like your "lightweight" Module technique, while a little more time consuming that regular module construction I like the fact that it is 4-1\2 pounds lighter.

Looking forward to further progress pictures.


Ron Newby
General Manager
Clearwater Valley Railway Co.
http://cvry.ca

Country: Canada | Posts: 6446 Go to Top of Page

Tommatthews
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 04/12/2009 :  09:34:00 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Grant,

Thanks for taking the time to write all this up and share with us. I like your light weight module construction.

Best of luck to the group.


Tom M.

Country: | Posts: 9572 Go to Top of Page

BigLars
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 04/12/2009 :  09:36:12 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Grant,
Excellent module frames you will be very happy with the extra work to reduce the weight when it comes time for your first show. I wish I had the tools or the wood working skills to build this type of system.
I look for ward to your progress.
Larry


My current build:
http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=50375

Country: USA | Posts: 11234 Go to Top of Page

TRAINS1941
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 04/12/2009 :  12:39:49 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Grant

Very nice, great idea to lighten the load. It will great following this thread to see how all the rest goes.

Jerry


Jerry

"And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." A. Lincoln

Country: USA | Posts: 10788 Go to Top of Page

CieloVistaRy
Fireman



Posted - 04/12/2009 :  12:52:57 PM  Show Profile  Send CieloVistaRy an AOL message  Reply with Quote
Absolutely..

Grant, thank you for sharing your stuff with us.. looking forward to more and learning more about this. More pictures! Can't have enough of them!

Arthur


Arthur

http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=40645

Country: USA | Posts: 5831 Go to Top of Page

Grant Whipp
Engine Wiper



Posted - 04/12/2009 :  10:03:57 PM  Show Profile  Visit Grant Whipp's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thanks! ...

... for all the kind words and encouragement, Guys ... really appreciate it ... ...! It all goes a long ways toward validating my ideas, and our overall direction! I'll post any updates as they occur ... and, thanks, again!

As always, then ...

CHEERS!

Grant




Country: USA | Posts: 436 Go to Top of Page

Frederic Testard
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 04/13/2009 :  7:26:35 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Grant, these modules, and especially the corner ones, are impressively done. Great carpentry work!
I'm looking forward to see the layout.



Country: France | Posts: 17652 Go to Top of Page

Geezer
Engineer



Posted - 04/14/2009 :  08:48:50 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Grant - very nice construction on the modules. I have a woodworking shop, and would
deeply appreciate a PM with the spec's you used. Very interesting approach...Well done!

The Geezer



Country: USA | Posts: 12973 Go to Top of Page

Tommatthews
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 04/14/2009 :  09:38:08 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Grant,

A few measurements of the legs and leg pockets would be appreciated.


Tom M.

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