Handbook Menu

Track Design




Setup Checklist

Appendix 1 Planning

Appendix 2 End Plates

Appendix 3 Track

Appendix 4 Shandin

Appendix 5 Vertical Curves

Appendix 6 Roadbed Sections

Appendix 7 DCC Reversing

Appendix 8 Detection and Signaling



NTS 2011

May, 2010

San Bernardino
February, 2010

San Bernardino
August, 2010

Aptos BBQ
September, 2010

San Bernardino
March, 2011

Aptos BarnBQ
September, 2012

Aptos BarnBQ
Aug/Sep, 2013

Aptos BarnBQ
Aug/Sep, 2014

Aptos BarnBQ
May, 2015

Colfax RR Days
September, 2015



Semi-Lightweight Baggage Colors

Trackwork Handbook
Appendix 1:  Planning
By Gregg Fuhriman

1.    Doing a lot of design and planning on paper up front is essential for even the simplest of modules.  It helps to avoid the “Oh, I didn’t think of that” problem after construction begins.  Using a CAD computer program is one way, but paper and pencil should work just as well.


2.    Consider the legs as part of the frame, and design and construct them together with the frame.


3.   Try to think through the whole process of building the module before even buying the materials.  The planning process may go something like this:


 Establish size, shape, and track plan


·    Where will the module be stored when not in use?

·    How will it be transported to Free-mo setups (vehicle size, etc.)?

·    Does it need to be light enough or small enough for one person to handle?

·    For multi-section modules, how do the sections attach to one another?

·    How tall will the final scenery be (hilltops, trees, poles, etc.)?

·    Are all Free-mo standards met (track design)?


 Design module frame in detail


·    Is the track adequately supported?

·    If foam is to be used, is it adequately supported?

·    How and where will the legs and sway bracing be attached?

·    What will the scenic profiles be (especially below track level)?

·    Is there room for turnout motors and other electrical devices?

·    Where will track power feeds drop through?

·    How will track power feeds drop through

·    How will the Free-mo electrical buses be routed?

·    Where will terminal blocks be placed?

·    Where will fascia items be located (turnout controls, DCC jacks, hand-holds)?

·    Is occupancy detection and signaling to be included or planned for at a later time?


4.   Mojave Yard Examples: The following drawings give you examples of the module planning that Gregg Fuhriman (GF) or I (GG) did for Northern California Free-mo's Mojave Yard.

Note: You will need to rotate the views appropriately when Acrobat Reader opens. 

The track plan and subroadbed supports (GF): This drawing of the Mojave Yard throat drawn by Gregg shows the exact location of turnouts and throwbars. The drawing enabled planning for the location of Tortoise switch machines and support members underneath the full plywood top. The location of throwbars was so exact that slots for the Tortoise actuating wire could be routed exactly at locations shown in the drawing (see item 6 of Roadbed).
Module construction details (GG): I made this drawing as a cutting guide for all the structural pieces of the module frame.
Module #2 construction drawing (GF)
Module #2 leg detail (GF)
Construction details (GG): I made this drawing to explore some construction concepts that permit the subroadbed to extend across the end plate so that the likelihood of a dip or rise of the subroadbed (and thus the track) at the module end. Mojave Yard follows the drawing on the right of this page. Here is a photo of this construction before the top and corner block are installed. Be very careful to make sure that the corner block is exactly square. I have learned that not doing so risks warping the endplate.
When you've completed your module, consider using Gregg Fuhriman's technique to precisely measure your module so that layout planners can be assured that they are using an accurate representation of your module. How to measure a module (Gregg Fuhriman).