TT-Tracks

Re: TT Trak

Postby railtwister » Fri Feb 25, 2011 7:43 pm

I have decided to try building some T-Trak-TT modules using the same technique and materials as my T-Trak-N modules, but rather than using a calculator to convert metric dimensions to inches, I found a 2m/6' metric tape measure at Ace hardware (sku# 2138089) for about $4.50 US. Metric tape measures are not as easy to find in this country as I would have expected, Home Depot, Lowes, and Harbor Freight don't show any on their sites The Sears website also has the exact same item (its even marked Ace Hardware but has an "A" at the end of it's sku#) for less than half of that price, but I didn't want to wait for delivery or pay shipping charges, which would have probably been more than the item itself.

No, I didn't work on the Mars Lander Project that crashed due to faulty Metric/English measurement conversion calculations, but I have made my share of similar errors, though fortunately they weren't nearly as costly!

Regards,
Bill
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Re: TT Trak

Postby railtwister » Sun Feb 27, 2011 1:17 pm

Everyone,

I have been messing about with the old Mac and "Railmodeller" layout design cad (since they have the Tillig TT bedding track pieces in their track library), trying to come up with some track plan possibilities for T-Trak-TT modules. After already framing out a 498mm module, I have come to the conclusion that we may be better off to make the typical straight module 581mm (22-7/8") long rather than the previously suggested 498mm (three 166mm track pieces which just under 19-5/8" ). There are a couple of reasons why I have reached this conclusion. First, it makes better use of materials available in this country which are already cut in inch sizes. A 582mm dimension is equal to about 22-7/8" (so close that most people couldn't measure the difference), which means material already cut to 24" (or multiples thereof) can be utilized with minimal waste. It also means a module would be closer to the 1x2 (2x4) proportion that we have become used to seeing, and is only slightly longer (3-17/64") than the previously proposed 498mm size. Second, this size would allow for making a two track into four track transition on a single module utilizing essentially unmodified track lengths. To do this on a 498mm module would require custom cutting some of the bedding track, a task that could be daunting to some, and could allow for inaccurate construction of odd sized modules that could be a problem at a setup. The down side is that to build a simple straight through module, you would need more than one size of track pieces (an additional 2x83mm sections or 4x41.5mm), which would add slightly to the track cost, and because the module would be slightly longer, it might be slightly more difficult to transport, although I don't really think this last part is that significant. This slight extra length would also mean that a layout displayed on a single 3'x8' banquet table could consist of only the four corners plus four straight modules (two on each side), while the 498mm module size could allow use of up to three straight modules (three on a side) on the same sized table. I have already stated that I think that the extra straight sections shown on the corner modules in Bill Dixon's sketch would preclude setting a simple layout up on a single 3'x8' banquet table, and because of that, should be eliminated, but the extra foot of table space wasted by having the 581mm modules could be put ot good use at a show for displaying flyers & handouts, or power supplies to operate the layout (they have to be somewhere).

Let's keep this discussion going and see what we can come up with, I really think that T-Trak-TT is the best option right now for showing off TT models and getting more exposure for TT scale in general.

Bill
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Re: TT Trak

Postby Tom Dempsey » Sun Feb 27, 2011 2:25 pm

Is the Tillig bedding track a definite? The reason I ask is that it seems that that track is essentially unavailable while the flextrack and traditional hard track is available. I'm ready to build as soon as things get finalized, however, I'd just as soon use cork and readily available track so as to move things along. I do, though, think that we need a standard everyone agrees to ala N-Track, Fre-MO, etc.
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Re: TT Trak

Postby railtwister » Sun Feb 27, 2011 10:48 pm

Tom Dempsey wrote:Is the Tillig bedding track a definite? The reason I ask is that it seems that that track is essentially unavailable while the flextrack and traditional hard track is available. I'm ready to build as soon as things get finalized, however, I'd just as soon use cork and readily available track so as to move things along. I do, though, think that we need a standard everyone agrees to ala N-Track, Fre-MO, etc.


Hi Tom,

If table top modules are going to work, the Tillig bedded track is pretty much a must, because of it's rail joiners (they are clones of Kato's) which are what boyh align and hold the modules together. Because the T-Trak-TT modules have no legs of their own other than leveling bolts and are intended to sit on top of a table(s), the underside of the layout is inaccessible once the layout is on the table. This makes access for other methods of connecting modules (c-clamps or bolts & nuts) difficult to reach, because the table is in the way. The bedding track is listed as being carried by both Euro Trains in NJ and Reynaud's in IL, so it should be possible to get it, although it might be out of stock from time to time. I don't think this is a new situation for anyone who's into TT scale in this country.

I have tried to come up with a better method of joining modules that could use regular snap or flex track in any scale, but I haven't thought of any alternative that would align and join the modules as quickly and accurately as the T-Trak concept. I've considered metal table leaf guide pins (too hard to place accurately with multiple builders), Velcro (not able to hold precise alignment), and even cabinet latch magnets (OK for holding the modules together, but not much good for aligning them). The fact that the modules must be able to be made by many different builders of different skill levels and still fit together reliably to make a layout in any configuration makes the problem more difficult than one might think at first glance.

Bill
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Re: TT Trak

Postby ConducTTor » Sun Feb 27, 2011 11:51 pm

I think we should make all this as easy as possible. Therefore the snap track is my vote. As I said before, contacting George at Euro Train Hobby will ensure whatever out of stock items you want are part of his next order. I really think the modules should be based on 1 foot or less - that size can be thrown in a backpack or a piece of luggage easily and transported. 1 foot = 304.8mm - 1 piece of BG1 track (166mm) + 1 piece of BG2 (83mm) + 1 piece of BG3 (43mm) = 292mm. That's about 1/2 inch under a foot.

If we're talking about going close to 2 feet in length, we're getting close to the module standards that are already in place. For me the point of another set of standards are to get "mini" for ease of transportation. Anything over 1 foot is no longer mini in my opinion.
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Re: TT Trak

Postby railtwister » Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:29 pm

ConducTTor wrote:I think we should make all this as easy as possible. Therefore the snap track is my vote. As I said before, contacting George at Euro Train Hobby will ensure whatever out of stock items you want are part of his next order. I really think the modules should be based on 1 foot or less - that size can be thrown in a backpack or a piece of luggage easily and transported. 1 foot = 304.8mm - 1 piece of BG1 track (166mm) + 1 piece of BG2 (83mm) + 1 piece of BG3 (43mm) = 292mm. That's about 1/2 inch under a foot.

If we're talking about going close to 2 feet in length, we're getting close to the module standards that are already in place. For me the point of another set of standards are to get "mini" for ease of transportation. Anything over 1 foot is no longer mini in my opinion.



Hi Alex,

I sent George an eMail with some questions about the bedding track (including availability) last week when I first discovered this thread and haven't heard anything back yet. Does he answer eMail questions? I will probably try calling him on the phone this week. Is Euro Train a full-time business for him or does he just do it as a sideline?

As for module length, the only critical caveat concerning this is that the module length must be a function of it's installed mainline (approximately 1mm shorter overall than it's tracks, which means a track overhang of .5mm on each end of the module). Other than that, the modules can be just about any length or number of track sections the builder is comfortable with, as long as there is a module (or combination of modules) of equal length on the other side of the loop. If you want to build a module in the size you describe, it would be no problem at all, but you might want to consider building two, so that both sides of the layout are the same length (or, you could have a friend build one the same size as yours). This is assuming a closed loop (dreaded doughnut) type of layout, and would not apply in a point-to-point style layout (including point-to-point, point-to-loop, or loop-to-loop). My On30 modular group, The Florida On30 Renegades, has only set their modules up in a doughnut configuration two or three times in the past 5 years, all other setups have been one of the point-to-point configurations. It's also interesting to note that no two of those setups have been the same size or shape, not even the doughnuts. We have found that the point-to-point configuration is not only more prototypical, it's a lot more fun to operate (and watch) the trains as you follow them along their route, instead of just standing in one spot watching them chase their tails in circles.

That said, my experience with T-Trak modules in N scale has shown me that the original "typical" T-Trak-N module size of 8-1/4" x 12-3/16" is OK for a pair of straight-through tracks and some scenery, but that's about it. As soon as you add a turnout and a siding, that small a size becomes too restrictive to do anything very interesting. Having an entire layout with just two loops and no turnouts or sidings would be pretty boring for everyone, especially at a show when some of the competing layouts in other scales have features like crossovers, yards, junctions, etc. to capture the viewer's attention. Because the Tillig turnouts have their ends at a 5mm offset from each other when placed in a single crossover configuration, you can't just put two turnouts opposite each other on a short module 2x 166mm. A modul length of 373.5mm is about as small as you can go without custom cutting the length of some of the tracks. Even that size module will still require you to cut the corner off of one piece's roadbed so that it can clear the roadbed of the adjacent diverging track at the frog, and still have the tracks on both lines come out even with each other at the ends of the module . Add a couple of extra turnouts in addition to the crossover, for passing sidings or whatever, and you willneed an even longer module, which is why I suggested the length I did, since it coincides with common material lengths in the USA.

However, my point is that a module's length is not so critical that it needs to bet set in stone as a "standard", but rather that a typical module length should be stated as a recommendation. Even if all straight modules are exactly same length, if an odd number of them show up at an event, someone will have to be left out of the setup (unless there is a spare "demo" or display module available to fill the gap caused by the odd number of modules). But that's another discussion.

Trying not to get "off track" here...

Bill
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Re: TT Trak

Postby ConducTTor » Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:09 pm

Bill I see your points - mainly regarding specific length and doughnuts. Therefore I agree with you. Carry on without paying too much attention to me :smile:

George at ETH has always answered emails within a day. There is something going on though because he hasn't replied to my last email (two / three weeks ago). The last I know, he went to Germany for the toy fair so maybe he's not back yet. From what I know ETH is a full time business for him.
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Re: TT Trak

Postby CSD » Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:11 pm

If I may comment about the track. Personally I don't much care for this type of track because it tends to look toy like to me with its plastic flush mounted roadbed. However; the connection is a great idea. If one wanted would it be possible to use the "Kato" style parts at the ends for the connection and then use the regular style for the rest? One recommendation if the answer to the previous question is yes: We should stick to the Tillig rail size. It is known that given the chance some would like to have rail that has a smaller more realistic profile, but with so many having equipment from different vintages we should make sure that most equipment can run. Even those big old BTTB flanges.

On another note, I'm glad to see that someone has taken an interest in pursuing this again. In truth my interest for developing these modules completely tanked. Bill, if you're going to do the work, then I'll go with whatever you say. It sounds like you have solid experience with this stuff.
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Re: TT Trak

Postby railtwister » Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:15 pm

To Alex,

Thanks for your reply and also the information about George. I hope he is OK and is just occupied with travels. I'll probaly try phoning him later this week.



To CSD,

Yes, I too find the track with the pre-molded roadbed to be "optically challenging" but with Kato track at least, the ease of construction and operational reliability (especially at the module interfaces) make it's use justifiable. I'm hoping this will be true with Tillig as well. From what I've seen their track in other scales is of good quality, but I'm not that familiar with TT. The plastic roadbed can possibly be improved by some careful airbrushing, weathering or even delicate blending with fine ballast, but truth be known, it will probably never look as good as track with separately applied ballast. To answer your question about just using pieces of the bedding track at only the ends of the modules and using flex (or even handlaid) track in between, Yes it can be done if you are willing to trade off the ease of construction, and it will likely look better too (just don't make look so good that everyone else wants to take an axe to their own modules when they see yours!). The only thing you want to watch for is that in the process of combining the different track styles, you must keep the important dimensions (track centers, minimum radius, rail elevations, track overhang at the end of the module, etc.) correct.

I totally agree with you about rail size as well. While finer rail size could look a lot better, it is better I think, to keep the rail size consistent. I don't think that TT has sufficient numbers of modelers and available products to exclude anyone who may be interested in the scale, whether they follow US or non-US prototypes, regardless of flange size.

I wouldn't advocate these modules replacing the more conventional modules discussed here some time back. Rather I think these modules stand on their own merits and offer certain advantages that the larger ones do not. They could also be a stepping stone to building larger TT modules once the fire of enthusiasm has been ignited. Their main attributes are their extreme portability and ease of construction and storage.

One of the primary purposes of doing modules in TT is to showcase the scale to other potential modelers, both experienced and newcomers as well. Using commercial track and commercially produced trains help promote the idea that anyone can enjoy TT, beginners as well as scratchbuilders. This is not to say that handlaid track and scratchbuilt locos wouldn't be welcome, they certainly would. We just don't want to scare anyone away...

Bill
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Re: TT Trak

Postby ConducTTor » Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:54 pm

railtwister wrote:Their main attributes are their extreme portability and ease of construction and storage


Ditto.

railtwister wrote: Using commercial track and commercially produced trains help promote the idea that anyone can enjoy TT, beginners as well as scratchbuilders


And ditto.

Thanks Bill.
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