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modules Here are some comments on Module construction, collected by Ted Larson.
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From: "Arthur A. Armstrong" <>

The question is whether to go for the light or the rigid.

I was in an HO modular group for many years and dropped it (in part)
because of the work involved in setting up.  There are designs for
modules using luan plywood with clever bracing that are supposed to produce both
light and rigid.

Flexible modules can also be maddening to run on but I think there are
ways to have light AND rigid .  3/4 plywood is over-kill.


From: "Tom Troughton, MMR" <>

Here's a link that shows what our HO modular club did when we were making
our new set of modules. Some fellows in Texas are using our guidelines to
construct a series of Sn3 modules. The fact that the legs stay with the
module units is a very good selling point.

Tom (Sn3) Troughton

From: Bill Lane <>

Use "shop grade" birch plywood. It is more attractive and has more
layers. I used ¾ for the frame and ¼ for the deck.


From: "Bill Porter" <>

I organized a modular club a few years back - in HO scale. We used our
own standards that were based on the NTrak approach. Several of us tried
different approaches and I carried the modules all over.

The key factor is weight. These things need to be lifted, carried and
placed often. Some of the vehicles are arranged so that there is no good way to
lift and place the modules for transport. Every ounce that must be moved
at arms length is a serious effort. One extra ounce and someone may 'throw
their back out' for the weekend.

The designs that made the most sense to us were the ones that used 3/4
inch plywood as the sub road bed and 'one-by' lumber for the frame. The rest
of the module top was mostly foam covered with drywall joint compound
(thinly). There was no 'table top' as such. The frame was sturdy. The track was
well supported. The scenery was light and repairable.

We used detachable legs that slipped into sockets and were then bolted
home. Pairs of legs could be nearly free standing and could be carried
separately from the modules. We also used diagonal braces from the legs to the
centers of the modules - also detachable. The backboards were bolted on at the
show. One person could set up or tear down, if necessary.

Everyone likes to plan for 6 foot modules to make the track work easier
and the number of joints fewer. But, big modules are very hard to handle -
the bigger, the harder. So, we were happiest with four foot modules. If
someone has a design that requires more feet, they make a set of 'sections' with
the standard, modular connections only at the extreme ends of the set.

All in all, it was fun. I am working on a plan with a friend of mine to
make a mobile S display. It is a little smaller in scope. We are thinking
about using two doors and two bridge sections between them. This plan will
require two people for setup and transport.

Good Luck,
Bill Porter

From: cbrf <>

Iíve built most of the modules for the CT "S" gaugers over the past
13 years and have found that the best, (if there is a best") seems
to be 3/8" plywood for the top. I also found that by dadoing and
rabbiting the 1" X 4" frame work, to receive the 3/8" top and 1" X 4"
braces that I installed at 16 " centers worked well. I glued everything
and used ring panel nails to hold the framework together, along with
smaller ring panel nails or 3d coated nails to hold the top. Iím not sure
what you plan on using for legs, but I have found that the pre-cut
2" X 2" cedar wood balusters work out best. I also dado for the legs
in the frame before putting together, using one 3/8" carriage bolt with
washer and wing nut per leg. The cedar legs are much better to use
then fir or pine, lighter and better grain and they come 4í long. You
must cut the top ¾" shorter all around in order to make unit 2í X 4í

Bill Fuhrman
CT "S" Gaugers


I have built several modules using 1x4 lumber with 2" eps foam glued
with liquid nails.  Rip saw extra 1x4 and use as joists under foam on 16"
spacing.  This is very strong & lite!  Coat with ext. latex house paint
and it will be waterproof.

Marty Wik


From: "Mellon, Jay E." <>

For our Modules we decided to go with expanded polyfoam board
(blue board) imbedded in a standard wooden frame (1" by 4") to provide
support and protection from the sides and below.  We have been
operating the layout for 5 years now and have not had too much problem
with the subroadbed (blue board) sagging, although time will tell.  I have
never read anything about it, but I guess it's possible for the hydrocarbon gas
to escape from the foam matrix, allowing collapse into the resulting space.
I am currently writing a manuscript describing our experiences with our
layout (including construction) which I plan to submit to the Dispatch (NASG
publication).  You know, blueboard sandwiched between two layers of luan
board (1/8" thick) might be a neat way to go...strength and lightness,
although cost may be prohibitive.  Good luck with your module

Jay Mellon
New Orleans, LA

From: Roger Delthony <>

Chris' idea on the sandwich construction sounds good, but using the two
luan layers separated by a 1" to 1-1/2" thick honeycomb made of plywood
(1/4"). This should make an incredibly strong and relatively light weight
Another important part is to use good true lumber and cut everything
square.  Using 1/2" or 3/8" plywood for the perimeter frame might help.

Roger Delthony

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