Welcome to SouthwestTrakers blog. We are dedicated to sharing N-Scale model railroading through the use of T-Trak modules. We are in Lubbock, Texas, USA and currently number 7 modelers, well over 50 presentable modules, with over 24 modules cut out and in some stage of becoming presentable.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Home Layout Becomes two levels

The upper level for my home T-Trak layout is becoming a reality.  Over last few days, I have cleaned off the existing shelf, removed the lighting and facia, removed the wire shelving, lowered the brackets 6 inches and mounted the plywood.  Below are some progress photos.

Facia, lights and wire shelves have been removed.
The sky boards are just laying forward protecting the modules beneath them.
I had to purchase a couple more shelf standards in order to lower the brackets.
In order to mount the plywood securely to the shop walls, I mounted 2 x 2 's
to the wall, using the level to make sure they were at the same height as the
shelf brackets.  I then screwed the plywood down to the 2 x 2 's from the top.
After both pieces were secured to the wall, I added a plywood splice to
reinforce and level the joint.  After clamping in place, I used eight 2" flat head
screws to make an absolutely solid joint.
The result is two 16-foot shelves.  I still have to add facia and lighting and sky boards.  Stay tuned for a future blog post.  These photos show the final result of tonight's work.

Next up, facia and lighting.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Since the last post, I've been slowly working on the paper mock ups of the structures.  To do this, the laser cut panels of the building kit are copied. This way, I have reasonably accurate buildings when done.  I'm not putting much time in on each one, just enough to cut and tape the mock-up for size and placing each on the layout.  So far, I'm about one-third done.  Here's some snaps of how it's working:

This is the west end of Tomix Crossing.On the far end loop are some some company houses from AMB, three to a box.  I'll probably need a few more of some sort here.  

The next module is a 1x with a loop on the inner track. Currently, there are six (two packages) of Grandt Line Reese Street houses.  Both of these modules represent a poorer area of town, and will need detailing to suit.

The next module is a 2x, and has a Bachmann 1930's school (long discontinued, I think. I was lucky to find this one.)  It has no roof, but that's fine. I can see the space it'll need.  There will be some playground equipment behind it.  Also, a business building is to be placed. Behind it I'm considered a couple of buildings (the yellow boxes) between the tram loop and the main tracks.  It may prove to be a bit too tight.  If so, I can adjust the tram loop size a little bit.

Moving on to the second 2x module, we find the county courthouse (from Woodland Scenics) and a small, old style hotel.  Somewhere in there should wind up holding a service station from Micro Engineering.  At the front, there is a small station structure, laying in its package.  

Next to see is the wye, with the tail crossing the main lines.  The turnouts and trackage is all Tomix, hence the name.  It fits nicely on the double-deep module. Not really creative, but at least it serves as a "project code name" until when or if another one is chosen.  Across the tail track is a country church from Osborn Models.  Also, two or three middle-income houses will fit here.  Shown is one of them, with the copy of the main pieces ready for cutting and taping.  By the way, for those who worry about such, the wye turnout is properly insulated for reverse wiring.  I plan on installing a reverser under here on a permanent basis.

From there, we cross onto the next space, another 1x module.  The row house kit shown is one of two to populate the space.  The six houses will form a compact neighborhood.  

The sixth (and final) module is barely shown.  I'm really not sure what will go there, but there are two worthy candidates lurking in the project pile.  We'll see what develops. For now, I think I'll close this blurb with an overlook of the layout.

Friday, October 3, 2014

My workbench has been evicted to make room for a home layout (Yea! At last!) so, no workbench picture.  However, at the end there's a link to a short video of the new layout. 

The layout of made of double-deep TTrak modules, covering both sides of the usual table.  It's a conventional double-track loop, with a couple of small deviations.  First, a wye connection is made on the inner loop, crossing both loops on the other side and being available for expansion.  Yes, I've done an expansion connection on another module. So, that's a real probability.  It could be an industrial park, or perhaps a flavor of something like FreeMo-N.  Exactly what remains for the foggy, foggy future.

The other deviation is an inner loop of Tomix Wide Tram track, and is featured on the video.  The whole layout is to be a town, so the tram track is fitting.  The trams to be used are not the modern Tomix light rail unit shown but something more 1930-ish from Kato, the 14-070 Hiroshima Hannover Tram units. The design dates from the late 1920's.  Live overhead, we'll see, and maybe DCC in there, too. Looong term dreams.

There are going to be some tight spaces for structures, so I'm making paper mockups of them to test the fit.  Hopefully, nothing too drastic.  


Friday, September 26, 2014

My shop on 9/23/2014

I decided to take a few photos of my shop weekly just to track my projects and progress (if any) I'm making on them.

I have three projects going on right now.

Project one: restoration and upgrading Jay Morrow's module 

Jay Morrow's module
I received this module from my deceased friend's estate.  It needs some work to make it show-able. The electrical is really in pretty good shape.  I've added some Kato pigtails to the barrier strips, and friend Joe and I confirmed that the streetlights work.  They're grain-of-wheat bulbs, and Jay had the circuit completely wired with power pole connectors. Sweet.

The track needs a little work. I need to anchor it down in a few spots and clean up some soldered leads.

While I have it on the bench I decided to convert the adjusting legs to the top-adjusting variety.  I'll clean up the dust and repair some fences, cars and streetlights, and then spruce up scenery a bit.

Project two: rolling stock maintenance and inventory.

Next ongoing project is to inventory my rolling stock and do some maintenance as needed.  Mostly I'm checking each car's weight and making sure it rolls freely. I have an inclined test track.  I remove the wheels and make sure the pockets on the truck frames are free of gunk, and liberally add graphite before re-inserting the wheels.  Some times I have to add new Mirco Trains trucks, and sometimes just new wheels.  Most of the cars are very light according to NMRA standards, so when it's practicable, I'm adding fishing weights.
Workbench showing my car maintenance area.
Current box of cars and my scale.
My supply of extra trucks and wheels.

Project three: upgrading the Amish Farm junction

My third project is a much needed upgrade to the Amish Farm junction.  Right now I'm working on a grade crossing across the two tracks and the stream between them, to connect the houses with the barns.  Plans are to add people, farm animals, wagons, carriages.  And of course, I'll add to the scenery, especially around the trestle.  There is still some bare plaster showing and the run-off stream from the pond dam needs to be added.

Amish Farm junction
There is always lots going on ...

Sunday, February 16, 2014

I've got a couple of major projects going right now.  The largest is the new Pinedale Township Ttrak layout consisting of 8 modules that will connect to form a layout on a single 30" x 72" banquet table.  I've got two more buildings to finish constructing and gluing down.  Once that is done, I'll post pics or videos to show you what it's looking like.

When I get burned out on large projects, I generally put together a smaller project that has been waiting in the wings for a while.  This weekend, it was my long planned troop and army equipment train.  Two years ago, Walgreens sold sets of small military vehicles which fit perfectly on an N-scale flat car.I bought 6 sets, and they've been sitting on the shelf until this weekend.  I decided it was time to mount them onto flat cars and create the train.

I would up with 15 loaded flat cars, and they are very heavy, so I am pulling them with a pair of Kato heavy Mikatos.

I quickly made a video of the train passing through Pinedale Township.  See it on YouTube here  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kDpWmNLBFo

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top Adjusting modules - how to conceal the hole in the top of the module

I've been building N-Scale TTrak modules with top adjusting legs, by drilling an access hole through the top of the module, and then using 2 inch set screws rather than hex head machine screws.  This works great, except that you have this hole in the top of your module.

I recently created a new module with 8 adjusting legs (yes, it's a rather large end loop).

Here is a before and an after photo showing how I chose to conceal the holes.

You can see the 21/64" hole and the tree stump attached to a 5/16" dowel that's about 3/8" in length.  I attached the stump to the dowel with thick AC adhesive.

Here is the scene with the plug in place.  You'd never know there was anything there.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Another look at the micro layout

Here's a link to a Youtube video of the first test-run on the micro: First Run
For a time of slowing down for the winter, it's getting busy.  We have an added show on Jan. 3-4 at the Museum of Texas Tech University.  We are participating in the "First Friday Arts Trail" in Lubbock, TX.

This is the second time for us to be a part of the Trail, and we want to put our best efforst forward to promote the hobby and attract potential new members.  More on the layout later, it's still in the planning stages.  I need to get to the shop and lay track on two new modules, as well as a Christmas gift layout for some friends at church, as well as - - - .  It just never ends!