The North East Oklahoma N-Scale club and its members have over 50 N-Trak modules of various shapes and
sizes. Eight of them are semi-permanently set up at our sponsor’s hobby store. The others must be
stored so that they take up the minimum of space and are easy to load into a truck for transportation
Many years ago the club designed and built stackable plywood end caps that screwed onto each end of
every module. With the end caps in place, the modules could be stacked up to five high on 4-wheeled
dollies. This design met our storage space requirements and the modules easily rolled into a truck
for travel to shows. However, there were three major problems. First, the stacks were unstable and
wobbled which caused damage to the scenery when being transported to and from shows. Second, it was
a time consuming task to bolt on and remove the end caps during setup and teardown. Third, our
sponsor, Challenger N-Scale Hobbies
, had two
“shop cats” that lived in the hobby shop. Being normal, inquisitive cats, they could and did
occasionally crawl up on a module and cause damage.
Our solution to these problems was to design wheeled cabinets to house the modules. The cabinets
are built like a chest of drawers, with the modules acting as the drawers. When slid into a slot in
the cabinet, the module’s skyboard acts as the drawer front and semi-seals the module in the cabinet,
making it inaccessible to cats, and also minimizes the accumulation of dust.
(General Cabinet Specifications
All of the cabinets are 27” wide and 80” high so that they will fit through a standard door frame.
The cabinet length is 5” longer than the modules they hold, i.e. a 4’ module cabinet is 53” long, a 6’
cabinet is 77” long and an 8’ cabinet is 101” long. Heavy-duty 4” swivel wheels are mounted on the
base of the cabinet, giving it a clearance of 6” so it will not go high-center when going up a loading
ramp into a truck. (4' Cabinet Specifications
6' Cabinet Specifications
8' Cabinet Specifications
4' Corner Cabinet Specifications
module guidelines specify that the skyboard should extend 12” above the surface on which the
tracks are laid. On a standard module built with 1 x 4 sides, and a ½” plywood top covered by a sheet
of ¾” foam, the total height of the module is 3.5” + 0.5” + 0.75” + 12” for a total of 16 ¾”. A
cabinet can have four 17” clearance drawer slots even with a mid-high 2x4 horizontal brace, and still
meet the 80” max and the 6” base clearance requirements. All of our modules have hinged legs that
fold up and latch under the module and Velcro straps secure all pigtails and other normally hanging
wires so they will not be crushed, crimped or otherwise damaged while being stored. As further
security, Masonite sheets are screwed into the base of each drawer slot to eliminate any possible
damage to a lower module if something comes loose on the one above.
Our modules also have a sheet of 3/16” thick Plexiglas attached to the front fascia board. This Plexiglas
shield starts about 2” above the bottom of the fascia board, so we glue two strips of ¼” Masonite to the back of each
shelf just above the drawer bottom so the Plexiglas will not rub against the back of the cabinet.
Each module has one or two nylon straps attached to the skyboard to aid in extracting the module from
the cabinet. Fold down 2” x 6” aluminum strips are attached on both sides of each slot to lock the
module in place. Pull ropes are secured to each end of the cabinet for front and rear steering when
the cabinets are moved. A large eye bolt is attached to each end so the cabinet can be secured when
it is packed in a truck for transportation to a show.
With our old stacker system, we could reduce the height of the stack by stacking fewer modules. This
gave us some flexibility when traveling to smaller shows with a smaller layout and a smaller truck.
Unfortunately, our 80” tall cabinets will not clear the door of smaller rental trucks and necessitate
the use of a large, 24’ box truck that has an 80”+ door clearance, whether we need that much space or
currently have four 4’ cabinets, four 6’ cabinets and two 8’ cabinets. Our 8’
cabinets are slightly modified to store our two 6’ inside corners in each top shelf. Two of our 4’ cabinets
have been modified so that the bottom two drawer slots are used to store our clamps and stanchions. This
bottom area has a removable Masonite lid. When the lid is in place, it acts as a shelf for miscellaneous
storage. Also notice the next-to-bottom shelf in the 6' Cabinet. That is a narrow 4’ corner module that fits
perfectly in a 6’ cabinet. Scrap pieces of skyboard are screwed onto a triangle of 2’ x 4’s to cat-proof
and latch the corner module into place.
Our cabinet style module storage system has reduced our setup and teardown time by over one hour.
They are safer, sturdier, and provide a much greater level of protection for our modules.