|Click to see the track plan in Vertical mode that will print on a single 8 1/2 by 11 sheet, or Landscape mode that you can scroll horizontally on your screen.
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|The track plan completely fills the two foot depth of a typical N-Trak module. It is 13 tracks from front to back. Not fully depicted in the image is a ramp leading to an elevated three track commuter platform, built from Micro Engineering viaduct parts. Micro Engineering is located in Fenton, Missouri not far from my home, and were helpful in supplying what was required to build this platform. There is a yard corresponding to each of the Red, Yellow, and Blue main lines. At the upper left is an engine service facility, and on the upper right is a passenger car yard. There are removeable 6 inch frame extensions that attach to the backs of each module, making each module 30 inches deep. This allows room for large structures to be placed between the track and the skyboards. It also allows the modules to fit inside my van. The 4 extensions stack together and are loaded separately. Many of the structures have been kitbashed to represent a false front and only partial depth. The extra pieces left over from the sides and backs of the kits are used to expand the fronts of the buildings, making them taller and sometimes wider. Most N Scale structure kits are too small to represent the downtown of a major city.
Two control panels attach to the front. They allow four people to operate simultaneously, independent of the mainline throttles. All throttles are custom built based on the design of Bob Kendall using the LM317T regulator. The power can be routed to the mainline throttles so a train can be run into and out of a yard section by the road engineer. The control panels use the "probe and stud" method to throw the switchs. Mini DPDT center off toggle switches route the power to the local or mainline throttles. There is a Snapper capacitive discharge unit in each panel. I use a Lionel type 1043 50 watt transformer to power them. Peco Electro-Frog switches and Peco twin solenoid switch motors are used throughout. There are 51 switch motors, which includes four of them on the Peco double crossover. The Blue Line passes through that unit. It has a 4 pole double throw toggle switch to control polarity. All of the switches are wired past the points, and Peco relays and auxiliary switches help carry power to the stock rails regardless of which direction the points are aligned. There are 2 bi-color LEDs on each panel to indicate whether the no. 8 switches at the extreme ends are aligned for the main line or the yard.
The entire setup goes together with absolutely no tools. Legs are attached with locking hinged brackets that fold up into the module frames. The disassembled modules are held together for shipping by linch pins; once again, no tools required.
I drew the track plan on one large blueprint that was full scale, and used the actual track sections to lay it out. Believe me, it is far easier to use a pencil and an eraser than to re-lay track. When satisfied, I used a pounce wheel to transfer the track center lines onto the tops of the modules. The modules themselves have a 1 by 4 wood frame with two cross members each. The top is extruded foam board, in two layers. One inch thickness for the main lines and city sections, and half inch for the yards. The vertical separation for the individual yards is not only prototypical, it adds great visual interest, as well as easily letting you know which tracks are the main lines. The biggest pain in the butt is putting in and taking out 32 Atlas 5 inch straight connecting tracks between modules. To make this process quicker at shows, I soldered the rail joiners at one end of each track section. That end just slips right on. That cuts the number of rail joiners that I have to fool with in half.
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