Friday, August 17, 2012

Lightening the load

This is the point where I want to take some of the weight out of the module itself.  The deck and frame are made of sturdy 1/2 inch cabinet grade plywood and because I plan to place foam insulation board over most of the surface, I can remove some of the deck where it will be covered.

This photo shows the holes I made.  The black horizontal lines show where the tracks will be and those areas were left solid.

In case you were wondering what a hole saw is, it is a round device that fits into an electric drill motor with saw teeth along the leading edge that cut a nice circular hole.  There is a 1/4 inch drill that guides the alignment of the larger saw blade.  After cutting about halfway through on one side, I switched to the reverse side to finish the hole.  The drill bit will have made a hole all the way through that will insure the cuts on each side will line up.

This photo shows a set of hole saw blades along with the drill motor and the wood disks that were removed from the module.

Because of the density of this wood those disks represent about 3 pounds.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New beginning for an old module

In the previous post I mentioned cleaning off the old module.  Here is a view of the top of the module with the sky board removed.  All of the track, roadbed, buildings, and scenery have been stripped off and anything that could be salvaged set aside for re-use or to sell.  When I first started this module almost 20 years ago I had sprayed a good coat of clear urethane on the top to seal it to stabilize the wood.  I think this also makes it easier to remove scenery materials later without damaging the wood.

The front of the old module was at the top of the photo, some marks can be seen from the tracks and the bridge abutments at the edges of the river.  I plan to turn it around for this project and use the bottom of the photo as the front of the module.  Many small holes can be seen and those were from turnout machine linkages, and uncoupling magnets.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A new chapter begins

Things have been slow on the Musashi-Koyama modules over the past few months.  I also have had Ntrak modules for about 20 years and have noticed that I seem to be more motivated to work on a module when I know I have a show coming up.  The AsiaNrail layout, and the Musashi-Koyama modules have not been displayed since July 2011.

I mentioned that I also have some Ntrak modules.  Specifically I have a pair of 2 x 4 ft modules that I have had since 1992.  These were heavy modules that were very well built with cabinet grade plywood and I had loaded up over the years with motors, power supplies, and other hardware.  They were always used as a pair and had gotten increasing difficult for me to set up, particularly at home to do work on them.  They were also paired up for transport and storage and in that configuration were almost 100 pounds.  Having had a favorable experience of working with the light weight module design of the Musashi-Koyama modules over the past couple of years, I realized I needed to make a change my Ntrak modules.

I had considered selling the original Ntrak modules and starting from scratch but decided instead to rebuild them and this began on one of the two modules in September of 2011 and it was ready for it's first layout in April of 2012.  Here are the basic changes I made to this module.

  • Made many 2 inch and 3 inch holes with a hole saw on the 1/2 inch deck and rear frame to remove weight.  Section under tracks was left solid.
  • Replaced 1/2 inch sky board with new 1/4 inch sky board with 1/4 thick frame for added stability.
  • Added mountain division track and used foam board to build up area and cover all the areas of the deck that the holes had been made in.
  • Built new leg system based upon the design used on the Musashi-Koyama modules.  Material from the old sky board was used for the legs.
  • Any needed power supplies would be separate and would hang on the leg system after setup.
  • Built lightweight cover for storage & transport similar to those built for Musashi-Koyama modules.
  • Designed to be used as a single 4 ft module.

I tell this story because the second re-built Ntrak module is going to be a Japanese themed scene and will provide a junction between AsiaNrail and Ntrak mountain division and will follow all of the design elements listed above.  This process is just beginning now with the cleaning off of everything that was on the old module.  In the months ahead I will be posting on the progress of this new project as well as the continued progress of the Musashi-Koyama modules.