My Latest NTrak Module

I had to take  apart my Colorado Coal Mine Modules, as they were built so heavy that I almost needed a forklift for transportation.

Anyways, they were my first masterpieces and had a few flaws.

Lessons learned were:

But there were also a few lessons that were good experience:

New Module

With these experiences I went about to build my new module. You can witness on this page how it evolves, but to warn you in advance, this is nothing over night because I intend to build the best module I possibly can. I invite your comment and ideas too.

Planning

I intend to build a stand alone module for greater flexibility. There are too many groups of modules ever growing, making exhibition planning a nightmare. With a single module you can slide in anywhere. Another advantage of a single module is, you can perfect it with details by concentrating on just this single piece, instead of just producing masses of modules to add the “finishing touches sometime later”

At the same time I want something that can be expanded one day. And something usefull. Considering we have no or few stations on our GermaNTrak exhibitions I decided to include some passenger options and ended up with a big town/slum scenario.

Jokingly I will call this module Colfax Ave., not that I am holding any grudges against this part of Denver but my friends and I were always joking about some things that happen there. I realize that Denver is a beautiful and safe town, so please take no offence if your home is there, it is a connection to me because I have spent many happy and sad times in Denver and vicinity.

Construction/Benchwork/Basic Painting

I will not bore you with this. You can read it up in the NTrak manual. The only addition I recommend is to paint all the wood from all sides. It has some advantages:

Next I painted the skyboard blue. Using a spraycan from the D.I.Y. Store I used white for the clouds. Simply take a distance of half a yard and then mist the skyboard. Beautiful clouds will be the result. And believe me I am not a skilled artist / painter. If you don’t like it, simply roll over it with blue and start anew. It is important to press the spraycan before aiming at the skyboard and to stop spraying after not aiming anymore at the skyboard, otherwise you may get unwanted blots of paint.

Tracks

I hate tracklaying. I am no good at it, that’s why. I use Peco code 55 flextrack which is high quality and very durable. It also looks good and all the models will run over it. In reality this is a code 80 standard track, set deeper into the sleepers on the outside, that is why you can combine it with any other track and trains run over it without problems.

Before installing the track I spraypainted it with Tamyia Brown paint for a rusty look. Don’t worry, it will work fine afterwards.

I glued the track to the base. But I do not recommend this. The glue sticks to your fingers, if you are not careful there will be hard to get rid of residue on the track itself. Correcting mistakes is very time consuming, if something slid out of direction. I will nail track in the future like I always did. Being a city setting I did not use foam or cork roadbed underneath.

Next I soldiered little wires to the sides and dropped them through holes in the bottom for later electricity.

I used Woodlands Scenic fine gravel, ballasted the track. Later pouring on the usual white glue/water/detergent mix to fix it.

I removed any excess gravel with a Dremel and sanded off the tops of the rails.

Buildings

Planning programmes are always great but things look very different when they are seen in real life.

High Rise Buildings

I constructed some high rise buildings from DPM buildings. Just pick your favourite and kitbash it. A Proxxon Table Top Mini Saw will come in handy. I think on this module there are about 25 Hilltowne Hotels somewhere. Americanizing the buildings is great with Micro Structures Fire Escapes. I recommend painting them with a brush otherwise the details might be blotched.

And don’t worry, they are quite easy to install and not fumbly. Just drill little holes into your building and use a spot of seconds glue.

I have not yet fixed the Buildings in the back as I intend to add light and inside modelling later. On the picture you see a mix of buildings, none of them are detailed yet and some unpainted. I wanted something different by adding buildings in front of the tracks.

The Station

As promised I wanted a station. However a realistic station will take three to four modules so I opted for a decrepit old Union Station in total decay which is disused and a Light Rail Stop next to it where short trains can stop. For this I used the Kibri S-Bahn Station. However you need to raise the pedestrian bridge in order to allow double stacks and high cubes underneath.

The Union Station will be wrong way round as I want to show the colums off. This version here is raw without windows, weathering and interior. You will read more about this when I find the time to continue. As you may easily recognize this is the Walthers Union Station with a Blair Line Sign on top.

Crosstown traffic

I wanted an interstate. I felt inspired by the movie Blues Brothers, where the trains shake the guys out of bed all the time. An Interstate through your living room.

By accident I Ebayed a bridge from Arnold also which I had no need for really (sometimes I do these kind of stupid things). Holding it in my hand I decided it would be a good Subway crossing in parallel to the bridge.

Of course these bridges are far from finished and need aging, weathering and graffiti. I think there will be a few scenes underneath too. Be surprised. After spray painting the Rix Products Modern Highway Overpass (I needed about 6 of them) I added roadmarkings. Since I am not an artist or painter (see above) I used Micro Scale Via Rail Passenger Car Stripes. They come as double yellow (for the middle) and you can cut them for singles (for the sides).I think the number is 60-673.

So far what I have done is only very basic construction and many months of work will yet go into this module but I have a deadline: May 2006. So stay with me for my module diary and to watch how things develop. Add ideas and comments and I will think about them.

 

Last Update: Mar 1st 2008

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