The Modeltrain Nut

The Bug Bites

After a break of some 30 years, I got the opportunity to “resurrect” the trains from my first layout. In the intervening years, we’d all left home and my Dad decided to “tidy” up and dismantled the layout, salvaging what he could of the track and scenery. When my sons and wife saw them, my young family caught the “bug” and we just had to start on a new layout.

We also joined the N Gauge Guild of South Africa and a whole new world opened up! At the first club meeting as all four of us piled out the car, we were christened the “Crew Bus” by the very friendly bunch of people we met. After the weekend of running trains, making friends, having a beer and a braai we enthusiastically set about building a module so we could also become part of all the club stands for – running trains and enjoying life – anything better would have been termed an illegal activity

Once we’d received the module specifications from the club secretary, we all enthusiastically tackled the project. It called for a ladder type frame with a layer of plywood and a layer of soft board to form the base upon which the track would be laid. Mrs. Crew Bus was tasked with collecting the materials after I carefully measured, calculated and sourced what was needed.

One long weekend in March 2008, my stepson Lee, and his family also teamed up to assist with the module and soon we had the frame and top deck ready to add the scenery.

There was just one small problem…

The First Desrt Module

Setting out to make the module as robust as possible we’d used pine, pressed wood and soft board liberally…

With the scenery added it took two adults to carry it. Apart from the basic “dry” weight, we’d added nearly 1kg of plaster cloth in the makings of the mountain.

Then we added another 2kg of Rhinolight to give the mountain added reinforcing and about another 1kg of desert sand. To say it was heavy would have been an understatement!

This is what it looks like now after a serious revamp. We’d used the wrong size ballast and spent quite some time removing it. A few bushes were added to match the scenery used at the back and since it was soon to be occupied by Bedouin’s, we added some ruins for good measure.

After having had so much fun with 3 generations all joining in to get their hands dirty on the first module, we just had to build a second one. As I’d doubled up on the raw materials for the frame and top, this module would eventually be just as heavy as the first. It started out with the basic idea of a waterfall cascading into a pool at the base of a cliff with a small but rapid-flowing river running towards the front of the module. I’d just recycled 3 bridges from my home layout and wanted to put them in somewhere and this seemed the ideal place.

I’ve added a close-up of the bridges, mountain, waterfall and river with just a glimpse of the hidden city of Petra in the background.

I have to admit, for a second attempt by a family just venturing into the art of module building I think we did very well.

The seond desert Module