T-TRAK as Home Layout
So while I would love to have a large home layout... (or even a small 'hollow core door' layout) I have zero permanent space available to me. The space I do have has to serve different roles at different times. There is room for a large folding table, but that table also has to serve different roles, or even be removed on occasion. (Luckily, the roles tend to be 'long term'. So for example, it might serve as a sewing room for 2 months, but then a spare bedroom for a week, and then a Train Room again for a month. ) I had great fun with my first T-TRAK experience, and started thinking about how I might be able to use that as the "home layout".
I could have the layout on the table when the space is serving as the "Train Room", but then put on a set of shelves when the space as to be used for one of its other tasks. At the same time, any of the modules could be taking to shows/conventions and I can "play along" with others in the the T-TRAK community. This was the idea I had, so I set about trying out a possible plan.
The Carolina Central is a very popular layout available from Model Railroader Magazine and has been converted to Kato Track by both Kato and Steve's Trains. It is one that I have always thought about building, and the fact that it is a hollow-core door design, it would also fit on your standard 8' folding table - the exact thing that T-TRAK layouts are designed around. So this seemed like a great place for me to start looking at.
T-TRAK Version of Carolina Central
28.8 in x 89.6 in
Original is 28in x 80in
In the image above, you can see that I have added scenery to help show how this is generally the same as the MRR design. One major change was that with the modular design, I was actually able to make the "staging yard" larger. The trees in the image above are just 'filler' for where the original plan had a 'mountain' to hide the staging yard. This mountain could still be added (where the trees are) or a skyboard could be used instead, and the yard could be expanded. I have made the top right corner module a tunnel to extend the scenic break between the 'yard' and the 'town'. (And who doesn't like to see a train come out of a tunnel. ) The front modules (the 'town') could have skyboards as well, or simply have it's scenery work directly into the back modules scenery.
The overall size has ONLY increased by about 9" along the length - and if that really is a problem, the tracks seen on the singles could be incorporated into the quads, saving about 12" in length. Although you would lose some length on the sidings and yard, as well as lose some overall versatility (more on that later).
The outside T-TRAK line (labelled as the red line in T-TRAK) serves as the mainline/main loop seen in the original plan, for all but the right side. When you get to the right slide of the loop, the mainline moves to the inside line, and the outside line (labelled as the yellow line in T-TRAK) represents the interchange track.
The majority of the yellow line serves as a siding. At the front it serves as the passing siding that also gives access to the industry spur. At the back it can serve as the "arrival/departure track" for the yard. On the left loop, it serves as the yard lead (so now the yard can be operated independent of the mainline, providing that this new design can become a 'two person' layout).
The interchange line is now the right side outside loop. Since it does come all the way around to they yard, you can also so some staging for the interchange in the yard.
Where the tracks go over the water on the top left, you can use Kato's Viaduct track. For the lower left, you may need to scratch build a small bridge, or come up with another solution.
The yard lead can be mostly hidden from the front by elevation and/or trees.
The Whysor "Why did you make some of the decisions that you did, and what are the benefits?"
If the layout uses the same footprint, why make the various compromised to make it fit into the T-TRAK plan, as well as cost more in track (need more turnouts, and more track).
As noted at the beginning, I would need this layout to be 'storable' -- I have no space in the house that is available to serve as a "permanent" space for a layout.
The shelving that I have available (and can be found at any hardware store) is 4' wide by 2 ' deep. A quad is 48.75 inches long it became the largest module size available to use. For storing this design, I only need 4 shelfs total ( one for each Quad, one for the Endcap & a Single, and the last one for the Corners & the remaining Single). That is also great since it has that many shelves by default :-D
With it done as modules, I can set it up in different arrangements. For example, it could be set up in a straight line, or as an L-shape.
The two turnouts on their own singles are done for flexibility. These track pieces are expensive, and I would not want to lock them into the larger module(s) if I did not have to.
Even though it would cost more, I would probably replace the single turnout (the one in the upper right side of image) with a double turnout. This will allow for more versatility overall with other layouts. While operating it in "Carolina Central" mode, I would only use it as a 'right turnout'.
T-TRAK modules can be taken to shows (or other locations). So even if the room is is "sewing mode" - I can take my modules out to the garage and play. Or take them to the show and play with others :-D . And with the modular design, I don't even have to move/take the whole thing. like I would if it was a single door layout.
T-TRAK modules are understood to be little 'dioramas' - each person can make his/her module to fit his/her desire. So even though I am planning these as a single layout, that doesn't mean the scenery has to all be 'same'. I could make one module a 'snow scene' because I wanted to try some new techniques. I could have one seen be set in the 1950s, and another set in the 2020s. I could also make separate modules that bring a new feel, or even an all new layout. - so I could have a "Steam era" yard that could be traded out when I want to run all steam operations. (see below for 'new layout' ideas)
As designed, here is the list of track you would need:
19 - 20-000 Straight 9.75 248mm
5 - 20-010 Straight 7 5/16 186mm
5 - 20-020 Straight 4 7/8 124mm
3 - 20-040 Straight 2 7/16 62mm
1 - 20-042 CS Dbl Trk Straight 2 7/16 62mm
1 - 20-091A Straight 1 3/4 45-5mm
7 - 20-110 Curve 11R 282mm 45°
3 - 20-111 Curve 11R 282mm 15°
7 - 20-120 Curve 12.375R 315mm 45°
1 - 20-150 Curve 28.25R 718mm 15°
3 - 20-202 Turnout 6-L
2 - 20-203 Turnout 6-R
1 - 20-210 Double Crossover
2 - 20-230 Dbl Trk Single Crossover (left) 9.75 248mm
1- 20-231 Dbl Trk Single Crossover (Right) 9.75 248mm
1 - 20-510 Viaduct Curve 11R 282mm 45°
1 - 20-520 Viaduct Curve 12.375R 315mm 45°
The Alternative Modules
Since the benefit of this design is you could have multiple layouts just by trading out some modules, I thought I would pull some together as examples. Just these two examples would provide 3 basic layouts, and a few more with a few permutations :-D. Below is a total of 4 alternative modules that could replace the current "yard" and "town" modules. This means that with one more '4 shelf unit', I could have at least 3 different layouts!
The PDF from Model Railroader Magazine that has the Carolina Central layout also has a "Alkali Central" layout. (an HO, 4x8 design). By trading out the two quads, I can turn this plan into the Alkali Central. Here is that design. (and note that the replacements are "tiples" and not quads, so this design is actually about a foot shorter).
Also worth noting as an "alternative" -- If you replace the two corner modules with a C-Junction or a T-Junction, you extend out the "Interchange track" to another layout!!