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Secure joints for modules

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  • Member since
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Secure joints for modules
Posted by Pennsy_I1 on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 4:03 PM

Hello,

I am in the planning stages of a sectional layout. Each section is a quarter of the layout and measures 54" by 39.25". The question I have is, what is the best way to join the sections together, both in terms of the sections themselves and the wiring? The plan is to bring the layout to shows regularly. The rails need to line up pretty much perfectly.

 

Thanks,

 

Victoria

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  • From: Reading, PA
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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 4:14 PM

 CHeck out these alignment dowels:

Baseboard Alignment Dowels (dccconcepts.com)

DCC Guy (Laryr Puckett) used the plain ones on the modules he just build as an ongoing series on his YouTube channe - but now they have ones with electricla contacts built in so they can also carry the track bus through - just clamp the two modules together, and they are held in alighment AND power is connected from one to the next. What a great idea.

                                               --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
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Posted by gmpullman on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 4:28 PM

It has been years since I had my N scale modules. When I did, I used four of these (similar) rotary-twist latches.

https://www.diyroadcasesstore.com/latch-butterfly-twist-large-surface-mount/

(just an example)

While everyone else was messing with wing nuts and C clamps I simply clipped these together and with a 1/4 turn they were secure. They are sprung so they pull tight. You can get recessed ones, too, for traveling protection.

There are also similar "De-Sta-Co" toggle clamps that could work, too. Just saves lots of time, bending and wrenching when setting up or knocking down.

Good Luck, Ed

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 6:15 PM

Using those nifty baseboard alignment dowels would facilitate using any old clamping device. The key part of a module joint is repeatable alignment. The clamping part is fairly easy to manage, wing nuts and all. 

Bolts need to be a snug fit if they serve double duty as alignment devices. 

Some type of alignment dowel would be much more accurate and reliable.  

Alyth Yard

Canada

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 6:17 PM

For the electrical portion of your question when it comes to durability and good design, you just cannot beat a 12 pin Deutsch flanged (bulkhead) connector. They are a bit pricey, but they will not fail.

I would not consider anything else for my own use.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by selector on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 6:58 PM

I have never done this, but it seems to me two steel alignment pins with machined/mated receptacles would take care of alignment very positively.

Then, it should be just plug 'n play; couple a tether with male and female components for connection, two wires on either side.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 7:57 PM

Power Pole connectors are very robust electrical connectors and are commonly used by groups that display modules at train shows, back when there were train shows.

However getting back to your real question, I created two modules.  They were bolted together and I drilled the adjoining pieces and inserted 1/4" dowel.

Some of the track wasn't ballasted and some was.  I cut the track apart at the joints, because I moved in August.  The modules were transported by a friend in his trailer.  There was no moving damage.

One track, that was on a slight curve, not ballasted and cut with a dremel, prior to move looks like it "relaxed".  It is now a kink and one of the rails is further apart at the joint than the other.  It's as if the rails were under tension and cutting them caused them to relax.  The ties do not move or wiggle and are firmly attached to the cork roadbed by caulk.

The track that was ballasted at the joint, was also straight and that joint between modules is fine.

I had seen videos of people using circuit board ties, nailed to the layout and soldered to the rail.  I did not understand why that was necessary until now.

Puckett also had a video on a DCC Concepts rail joiner.  Track could be soldered to 3 or 4 ties and the ties had a matching tab and notch to provide alignment.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

Shenandoah Valley

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Posted by gmpullman on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 9:30 PM

selector
I have never done this, but it seems to me two steel alignment pins with machined/mated receptacles would take care of alignment very positively.

 

https://mrv.trains.com/how-to/benchwork/2014/02/rice-harbor-series-installing-benchwork-alignment-pins

 

Cheers, Ed

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Posted by Pennsy_I1 on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 10:14 PM

Also, what order of steps in tracklaying would be best for my situation?

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Posted by xdford on Thursday, January 7, 2021 2:53 AM

I have followed a friends example and use door hinges on the sections of the layout, knocking out the central pins and using knitting needles bent at 90 degrees as the replacement to the pin.  It has been strong and reliable for him over 30 years on a growing exhibition layout and me for nearly 15 years with alignment  and strength!

Hope this helps

Cheers from Australia

Trevor

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, January 7, 2021 8:57 AM

 Those machines alignment dowels I linked to are also talked about in Puckett's video. We don't use anythign so fancy as the DCC Concepts rail aligners he shows on the club modular, really it's just down to the last couple of ties removed on each side and the rails soldered to pieces of PCB. That's the newer modules that just butt connect, with no fitter track. They've survived years now of loading, unloading, setup and teardown. 

 That they've now added electrical connections to the machined alignment dowels - NOTHING will be more robust than that. If you need more power lines than alignment dowels, you can't beat the Anderson Power Poles. I know Kevin likes his overkill, but no way are those pin connectors more robust than a PowerPole - the volume of each pin in a PowerPole is at least 4x that of one of those pins int hat connector. Those bulkhead connectors may be the best of their type, but a Power Pole is a different type. This is how our club layout conencts, and some of those Power Pole connectors have been in place for more than 10 years. While you don't really need such a large connector for low current stuff, we never bothered with multiple connector types - DCC track power and accessory power all go through Power Pole connectors. Only other link between modules is a Loconet cable.

 But if you only need 2 or 4 power connections - I'd use those new DCC Concepts alignment pins in a heartbeat. Line up the modules physically AND provide a robust electrical connection in one operation? Sign me up! They are also usefuil for liftout or swing bridges - the DCC Concepts web site has some illustrations. So they can be useful for more than just a modular or sectional layout.

 ANd you cna always do what I did on my last layout - I built it in sections so it could be moved, but I ran the wiring continuous, and just cut it when I took it apart to move. I also laid the track continuous over the gaps, and just used a cutoff wheel in a Dremel when I took it apart. If you are making it sectional in case of a move, rather than purpose-building a modular layout to actually haul around on a regular basis.

                                   --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by dknelson on Thursday, January 7, 2021 10:17 AM

Here is how I align the segments of my David Barrow-style "domino" layout.  Each domino is 2'x4' and each domino ends in an upper and lower 1x4 lumber piece.  I clamp two together.  I drill 1/4" holes in both the upper and lower pieces of 1x4.

I purchased 1/4" threaded rods at the hardware store and cut to the appropriate lengths, 3 inches or so.  I also got a box of the appropriate wing nuts, and a box of washers.  I use wing nuts on both ends of the threaded rod and that way I can tighten by hand standing next to the domino without having to crawl beneath the layout with wrenches.

Dave Nelson

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