Traveling, scenic road course

PagodaRacing Monday, 12/20/2021

I'm kicking around the idea of building a track to take to events.

Does anyone have experience building a sceniced road course ment to, well, go on the road.

I would like to build an open course with full scenery that I can take to several events through out the year. 

I'm a long time model railroader and past member of a couple NTRAK clubs so I have some experience with building modular layouts and taking them on the road.

In the 90's I helped build some large, free form tennis racket shaped, portable end loops for the national train show. They were constructed by laminating layers of luan. A club member adapted this from his boat building experience. 

I've a good idea about how to build a sectional supporting structure that will have adjust ability to fine tune the track.

I'm just reaching out to see if anyone else has gone about this in a different way.

 Thanks, Old Grumpy.


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TomKeegan 3/16/22

I own a cafe and during the first 18 months of the pandemic we had a bunch of unused space in the bck half of the cafe since we were at 25% and then 50% capacity.  SO I built a track which I could set up and tear down fairly quickly.  I used plastic shelving for the structure.  It is light weight and is easy to set up and tear down.  The rest of the structure was just planks of various length.  I used green cloth to hide the structure and stapled it to the planks so it was easy to set up.  I basically rolled up the planks in the cloth when putting it away and unrolled it when setting it up.  In general set up took about 2 hours and tear down about an hour.  Set up took longer becasue there is alot of testing and minor adjustment to get the angle of slope and angle of approach in and out of turns just right.  Here is a link to our YouTube channel.  

This is our final race of 2021

This is the track overview.

Feel free to ask questions.

  • Thanks for the reply. I really like your track and scenery arrangement.    My N scale railroad is built on a hollow core door supported by plastic stacking shelf units. When I'm not working on the RR I just stand it up in the corner of my little hobby room. The room isn't large enough for the die cast track.   I believe I now have all the track components needed to get started. Since I have several sheets on hand, I was going to build the support structure using folding boxes made from ¼" luan and piano hinge. After pricing piano hinge at the quantity I need that is out.   The plastic shelves look like a much better option. They will also be a good place to store everything when the track is disassembled. I have several left over hollow core doors that I can run through the bandsaw which should make great sub-roadbed for straights and turns.  Now to the questions; How many shelf units did you use?What size are the shelves, length x width?For stability did you need more than one shelf unit under each turn?Do you somehow tie together the shelves at each end of the track?Do you have any pictures of the track setup with out the fabric in place?  Thanks Again,   Old Grumpy — PagodaRacing
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PagodaRacing 3/20/22

Sorry everything ran together.  I did a cut and paste from another app. I guess it didn't work out so well.

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Rainsford 3/20/22

For my next island-themed track, currently in the design stage, I'm thinking of doing something like the "micro-modules" I've seen folks in the HOn30 scale community doing sometimes for their narrow gauge trains. They use Kato Unitrak and then build small scenes attached to track pieces, mounted on stiff styrene bases, that can then be linked together on a green cloth or a grass mat by other pieces of Unitrak. Sort of abstracts the railroad into a collection of "haiku poem" scenes, but I think will fit my portability and minimum storage space needs well. I'll probably just use standard Hot Wheels track between the sections, or thin pieces of fabricated cardboard track.

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PagodaRacing 3/21/22

Rainsford, Originally I planed on using sections like the Dave Barrow's Cat Mountain and Santa Fe but have scrapped the idea.

Using plastic shelf units will give me the option of setting up in an unused part of my attic. The attic is accessed by a tight turn box style stairs.

I have a bunch of 3" thick foam I would like to use for removable stone retaining walls, at least around the area will the pagoda will eventually go.

It may be a few more weeks before I purchase the shelves. 

Here is a very nice sectional HOn30 layout

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SpyDude 3/22/22

Okay, so I've been giving this some thought, and I was thinking something like a packing crate that unfolds into a track, something that would fit into a truck bed. (Let's use 4x8 as an example.) The crate would be hinged at the top and back, and would unfold like a big pair of triangles - think of how the Hot Wheels Service Station unfolds into a track, and scale it up. The top half of the box, when opened and folded back, would be high enough off the ground to set on top of a 4x8 banquet table. The bottom half of the box would have wheels for easy mobility.

Now you have a big open box that you can set up a track inside. Transition from upper to lower can be Crash Racers or coroplast track, and is removed for when the box needs to be closed. The starting gate could actually be hung outside of the box on a bracket, and be removed for storage and moving.

  • When I started thinking about portable tracks, that’s exactly where my mind went too. I had a big Micro Machines collection, and there were all kinds of fold-out ideas in their playsets. — Rainsford
  • SpyDude, I think I can visualize what you are describing. I haven't sketched anything out yet but it should be fairly easy to get the pieces with 180° turns to sort of nest together upside down by attaching temporary thin ply wood sides. I've seen this done on NTRAK modules in lieu of building a full coffin for transport. — PagodaRacing
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PagodaRacing 3/23/22

Shout out to Jason,

I decided to go with a start gate from JLH KRAFTS. It was damaged during shipping. I got in touch with Jason of JLH. Jason had a replacement gate in the mail before I even filed a claim.

  I recieved the new gate in a timely matter and it works perfectly. Wonderful to see such commitment customer service!

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TomKeegan 3/23/22

Here is a picture of our track when it was in final testing and before all the pretty stuff was added.  Area #1 is made up of four levels of plastic shelving.  I dont know the brand name.  Picked it up at Home Depot.  I place a terrain piece on top of the shelving that has the starter gate.  The total height is 70 inches.  Area 2 is another 4 shelf plastic shelving unit.  I built another terrain model to sit on top of this shelf unit that has turn one and has an extention that extends off the shelf to provide a smooth transition into the next downhill.  Area 3 has a different plastic shelf brand.  Much smaller.  You can just see the legs of it under the trun.  

Here are the shelves being used to store the terrain and other items when the track is in storage.  

Here is an image of the starting gate terrain model i place on top of the plastic shelving.  

  • Tom, Thanks a bunch. This is exactly the info I was looking for. I have a little different idea I want to try for the transitions. If I go with the cut up HCD for subroadbed/track base I should be able to remove some of the door filler and kind of cookie cutter the entrance and exit of the turn then flex and shim the door skin to match the track grade profile I want. I can't wait to get started. — PagodaRacing
  • Do you secure the train models to the shelves in any way? — PagodaRacing
  • Darn spell check!! That should have been Do you secure the terrain models to the shelves in any way. — PagodaRacing
  • No. each turn is modeled on a half inch piece of wood and they are heavy enough tht there is no need to secure them. Unless you are concerned with a child or someone tipping it over on themselves. — TomKeegan
  • Thanks Tom, on my HCD train layout I put round rubber floor protectors in the top of the shelf uprights. The kind used under furniture legs. They hold the layout well just with friction. — PagodaRacing
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