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

This part is about Flush end track. If you want to run reliable trains, this is the most important part. You can improve the performance of  even existing modules by using a 'flush end template system' for building your track right up to the edge of the module.

The advantages of a flush end system for track are substantial when compared to the traditional bridge plate system used throughout the U.S. and Canada.

  1. Much quicker set up: you are done as soon as you clamp the modules and connect the wiring plugs together. (about 90 sec. if your clamps are stiff and need oil)
  2. More reliable trains: with only one track joint between modules instead of two for a bridge plate, the number of locations for a derailment is reduced by half. Also, fixed track at the edge can be made perpendicular to the end of the module in both the verticle and horizontal planes. This ensures a smooth transition for trains as they cross the joint to the next module. (possibally the biggest factor for running long trains.
  3. Variable rail sizes: modules with different rail sizes can be joined without making any changes to the track or modules. (example; a module with hand layed code 55 connects to a module with code 83 flex track).

The advantages mentioned above can be enjoyed by the user of a template with different dimentions than ours, and by modelers of different scales. We are not promoting our template here, we are promote the use of a template. Feel free to use our template as a starting point to design your own if you like. And if you like ours, you are welcome to use it.

Before you move on to reading this page, keep this in mind. The template system for flush end track is like most other aspects of model railroading. It is simple, but not easy. All of this stuff requires some experience to get the maximum benefit. We are not saying that your trains won't run properly after your first try. We are saying that if you take your time, think things through and ask questions when needed, you will succeed the first time and it will quickly get easier. If you have questions the link below will take you to our Yahoo site. Many members check in daily and it serves as a hangout of sorts too.
 

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One of the advantages to our system is the fact the rails are flush to the ends; avoiding the need for bridge plates to join things together. Here Joe has used epoxy to glue a piece of PC board to the end of the module in order to solder the rails in place.

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To provide additional security he is also screwing the PC board in place with 1-1/2" sheet metal screws epoxyed in the hole. The screws are long enough to go through the 1/4" Luane and into the 3/4" plywood end  plate. This prevents the luane from delaminating near the track and holds the PC board in place should the epoxy fail 

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The final screw is going into the PC board.

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Be sure to tack solder the rails to the PC board in the basic alignment before you attach the template. Once you align the template you can slightly reposition the rails to bring them into proper NMRA alignment.

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Once the rail is soldered to the PC board, align the template to the rail ends. Once you are satisfied with everything, drill the alignment holes with a 1" Forstner bit. Use the bit to just mark the ends and then remove the template before you continue to drill. Otherwise you may ruin the template.

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Joe is using a Dremel tool to remove the clading off the PC board between the rails. This is necessary to prevent shorts once you wire the track.

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This is an alignment plug made from 1"O.D. steel pipe. This fits in the 1st and 3rd hole from the left on each end and provides both protection for the rail ends and more importantly the male/female connection for the modules. The pipe has 4-6, 3/4" deep cuts in the end that allow the pipe to be crimped slightly. This creates a small taper which should be on the end of the plug that will fit into the hole of the adjoining module. (see PDF below for additional details) 

Alignment pin PDF

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Joe is applying epoxy to the plug in the side of CARNAGIE SPUR on a section that takes the track to the outside. Use a very good high quality epoxy so you don't need to worry about losing plugs.

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A close up of our wiring arrangement. The white wires with color codes are for the main with the solid colors for the switching district. Notice that we use two different types of plugs to avoid confusion when we hook up the modules.

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The moment of truth. Two modules going together for the first time. This has to work the first time and everytime for the system to function..

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A locomotive rolling across the frontier. The rail on the left is code 55 and the rail on the right is code 100; the E8 doesnt know the difference. -- Thank you for reading this dissertation on module building and please let us know if you have questions.

A diagram of our alignment pins has been created in the PDF file below. The material used for making the pins can be 1"o.d. steel tube or1"o.d. aluminum tube. The aluminum tube may be easier to locate, most home improvement stores sell it. For the steel tube you may need to locate an industrial supplier. We started using 1" wood dowels but found that over the years they would shrink (or swell if wet) and would even ware out. We now recomend against using wood dowels.
   Some years ago someone suggested using PVC pipe for the pins. This will not work because plastics will deform under pressure and they can be under a lot of pressure when clamping modules together.

Alignment pin diagram PDF

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