Building modules
Building 'waffle frame' modules
Running long trains
Flush End Track
Flush End Track Continued
Building 'waffle frame' modules
Module frame designs

A number of people have asked us why we place so much effort into building module frames the way we do. Why don’t we just use four pieces of 1”x 4” lumber topped of with  ” thick plywood, bolt on some 2x2 legs and be done with it like everyone else? The fact is we did, but we discovered that after a while that the “common” module frames were not holding up to a show schedule of four to six shows per year. Add on the fact that once we reinforced them so that they would hold up, they became even heavier and you have an incentive to try something else. Joe Balint was the first member to tinker with using ” luane for a module frame. His various revisions to his designs eventually evolved into what he called “the waffle frame”. This current design maintains a low weight while being very rigid and durable. In fact we expect these frames to out live us….   

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Joe Balint is holding one of our newest module CARNAGIE SPUR. The following pictorial a step by step view of the construction   of a Waffle Frame  module made of  Luane.
(All Photos by Ken Anderson)

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Laying out the grid lines on the waffle side of the module. These usually allow for a 2" web on the main stringers and cross rails .

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Cutting out the waffles with a jig saw. Use a fine tooth blade since Lauan splinters very easily.

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Here Joe has place the finished waffle template on what will be the underside of the top plate of the module. He is misting the outline of the waffle with paint to provide a template for gluing the ribs in place later.

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Now we are ready to glue on the 3 1/2" stringers

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Attach the intersecting (cross) rails to the top plate with regular yellow carpenters glue. Note the use of C-clamps as supports to keep the rails in place.

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The 3/4" end plates are attached next. Make sure they are glued square before gluing the stringers in the frame. Do not coke-crate the joints since that only weakens the frame. Glueing trianglar glue blocks where the stringers are attached to the ends and top/bottom plates increases the strength of the module.

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This is a view of the module before the bottom waffle is added showing the ends, rails, stringers,and triangular glue blocks.

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Photo of the waffle being glued to the rest of the frame. It is EXTREAMLY important to be very sure that the ends of the module are square and the module is flat otherwise the module will be warped when the glue dries. If you glue together a warped module....you have fire wood.

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Here Joe is painting the bottom, sides and ends of the module with a good coat of paint. The paint seals the wood to prevent it from expanding and contracting due to humidity and temperature changes.

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A terminal strip glued to the end of the module for adding the wiring.

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Joe is screwing on banquet table legs to the module. Be sure to make adjustments in the waffle to provide a good support for mounting the legs. Also it is a good idea to mount 1/2" or 3/4" plywood behind the mounting to provide additional support.

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Welding extensions to the legs. You could also bolt on the extension but Joe likes to play with fire sometimes.

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A view of the bottom of a finished module. As you can see this one only has 1 steel banquet table leg and 1 card table leg. Ordinarily we use two banquet table legs for a module, however there are circumstances where a different arrangement is necessary. You can use anything as a leg or make your own. We have just found these work very well and are inexpensive. Our latest improvement to the steel legs is to add casters to the bottom, allowing us to roll set up modules into place. <and it only took us 30 years to figure this one out>

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The leg arrangement on a curved module bottom. You can see how the waffle arrangment has been adapted to allow good support for the leg assembly.