Category Archives: Modular Mania

Train Shows

Today I was discussing leg design for portable layouts with a few friends and one of them showed me a diagram of a very interesting design. One of the features of the leg assembly was an integral stanchion.

I don’t know why but this got me thinking about train shows. In particular, thinking about the various modular groups and train clubs that set up at the shows. Now I enjoy looking at the layouts and talking with the owners/operators but if you asked me two days later which groups were at the show, I could not tell you.

Last night I watched “The Apprentice” and one of the contestants was given the task of setting up a video game championship show.

Whenever a group of modelers discuss modules one of the areas that frequently come up is attracting young people to the groups. They want simple standards so that young people won’t feel intimidated. Side Note: Young people do not intimidate nearly as easily as some older people think they do. Just because you do not understand something does not mean that most kids wouldn’t understand it.

What do these two things have in common?

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How NOT to Write a Modular Standard

For the last two and one half years I was involved with a group that was trying to develop a standard for modules. The idea was simple, come up with a minimal set of standards that would allow the interconnection of modules based on that design. Since there were only a few modules in existence for this particular scale/gauge combination, a part of the design process was to make sure that the pre-existing modules could also interconnect.

The concept included the idea that individual groups would add restrictions to the standard for their group but that the core standards would stay intact. That way each group would have its own standards yet they would all still interconnect seamlessly at the mechanical and electrical levels. Even though the scenery, theme, even facia and dimension would vary from group to group, the interconnection points would remain constant.

It didn’t work. Well actually the standard did work, quite well in fact. Never the less the standard has been deleted and every group that used it as a starting point is changing their group’s name to avoid any connection with the standard.

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Modular Standards and Clubs

When I started to build this blog site I started to add links to standards as one of the first steps since I frequently look at other standards to see how they write them up, collect ideas, etc.

What I quickly found is that practically every modular club, with the noteable exception of NTRAK based clubs, either has their own standards or they have “adapted” other standards.

The result is chaos. I cannot believe how many “standards” there are in the world of modular railroading.

I gave up trying to build a comprehensive standards list so what is, or at least will be, listed is the “donor” standards that get mutilated by each group that adopts them.