N-Trak Module

Module Summary

Scale:

N

Size:

2 by 8 feet

Track:

handlaid Code 55

Control:

whatever

Setting:

rock quarry, any era

Benchwork:

plywood cookie cutter on 1x4 wood frame

Scenery:

plaster over wadded paper

Status:

finished/in storage

Railfun '76

After working with Rick Spano on his The Sceniced and Undecided for a few years, we decided to collaborate on an N-Trak module. At that time, N-Trak was growing by leaps and bounds, and we'd both caught the fever. Our target was the NMRA National Convention in Chicago in 1975.

The project involved building two standard four-foot modules designed to only join with one another, creating a single eight-foot scene. Although we each claimed ownership of each half, we actually collaborated working on each other's halves; really, the only things unique to our own modules was the overall design, and the construction of the scenery and structures. Together we both built the benchwork, hand-laid the track, did the wiring, and so forth. They were built based on the guidelines of the time, meaning they were quite heavy, fabricated from solid wood frames, half-inch plywood backdrops, etc. They were also designed to bolt together to form a single self-contained (large, very heavy) box for shipping.

Recently I found two images scanned from slides I'd taken of Rick's half (there are no surviving photos of my half). The modules still exist, now stored in the basement of a mutual friend.

The setting was a rock crushing plant near Lambertville, New Jersey. We were both fascinated by the place, which had been abandoned for many years. Rick's scratchbuilt model of the crusher is quite accurate, although he adjusted it a bit to make it "functional" (rocks could be dumped in the upper part, and cars in the lower part could be filled with ballast). A few years later, I managed to sneak inside the real building for a look; not long afterward, it was torn down.

Incidentally, the functional crane seen in the second image now lives on Rick's layout.

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