Module Construction Diagrams

Over the years the NEONS have developed detailed plans for the design and construction of N-Track modules. The ongoing debate among module builders involves the trade-offs among three critical design factors: weight, cost and durability. All three factors are important. Since the whole concept of N-Trak is portability, the lighter the module is, the easier it is to haul around. "Haul around" implies that a module is not just sitting in a cocoon, but gets moved from place to place and, as a result, sometimes sees some rough treatment. To obtain longevity, a module must be sturdy enough to endure those rigors. Finally and ultimately, cost is always a concern.

Our design uses dimensional lumber for two reasons: it's inexpensive, and most people have access to basic woodworking tools (saws, drills, sandpaper, glue and screwdrivers). Wood is not too heavy, it's sturdy when constructed properly and painted, and it can easily be repaired if it is damaged.

By using these diagrams and following the NEONS Module Construction Checklist you will have all the info you need to build your module. Details on the installation of the nested legs, the wood pad under the track ends, clamp pads, alignment dowels, laminated skyboards and others helpful ideas can eventually be found in the N-Trak Tips section of our website. These articles are scheduled for publication in N-Scale Magazine and cannot be posted to the website until two years after publication. In the interim, if you need some of these details, contact us and we can send you what you need.

Information in each module construction diagram includes:
  1. A shopping list for lumber.
  2. Cut diagrams for 4’ x 8’ sheets.
  3. Cut list and diagrams for dimensional lumber.
  4. Approximate costs of materials. (Actual costs vary throughout the country and from season to season. These costs are from the summer of 2012.)

All of these diagrams follow the NEONS module standards as listed on our Module Building Specifications page. Features include:
  1. 1” x 4” hardwood frame and ½” plywood deck.
  2. Optional ¾” foam layer glued to top of deck.
  3. Permanently attached, folding legs with metal bracing.
  4. Homosote plugs every 2’ along front fascia for attaching skirting.
  5. Laminated skyboards that extend 12” above track level.

The hardware required for any of these modules is the same and is as follows:
  1. 1 – package ½” 12-7 hitch pins (2/pkg)
  2. 2 – ¼” x 1½” carriage bolt
  3. 2 – ¼” flat washer
  4. 2 – ¼” lock washer
  5. 2 – ¼” hex nut
  6. 2 – ¼” x ¾” hex head wood screw
  7. 2 – packages 3/8” T-nuts (2/pkg)
  8. 4 – 3/8” x 3” full thread hex head bolt
  9. ½ – package 1½” “L” brackets (4/pkg)
  10. 1 – 2½” locking hook & eye set
  11. 2 – package 3” strap hinges (2/pkg) (screws included)
  12. 1 – 1/8” x 1” x 48” steel strap
  13. 4 – 1¼” #6 round head wood screws (for L-brackets)
  14. 8 – 1¼” #6 flat head wood screws (for spreader bars)
  15. ? – 1¼” and 1 5/8” #6 flat head wood screws (for glue blocks and frame braces as needed)

General Instructions and hints:
  1. Standard, kiln dried white wood will work just fine. Oak or Poplar is obviously much better quality lumber, but it is significantly higher in price. Spend time picking out your dimensional wood. Be sure no pieces are warped, bowed, cork-screwed or otherwise damaged. We've found that is nearly impossible to find straight sticks of 2x2s, so all of our designs call for ripping 2x4s down to 2x2s.
  2. It is important to use the wood as soon as possible after it its purchased, before it can absorb moisture and warp. It is also CRITICAL that, as soon as it is assembled, the wood be painted to seal it. Indoor Latex paint is fine.
  3. Never store lumber on a cement floor! Cement is porous and holds moisture which can be wicked up into the lumber and cause warping.
  4. Use course thread, Phillips head screws. Pre-drill and countersink all screw holes so that the screw heads will be deep enough into the wood that they can be covered with wood putty.
  5. Square up the frame. Modules must be rectangles, not parallelograms!

4' Standard Module 4' Standard Corner Module
4' Loop Module 4’ Skinny Corner Module
6' Standard Module 6' Skinny Corner Module
8' Standard Module 8' Skinny Corner Module Pair
3' Standard Corner Module 4' Rectangular Corner/Junction Module