CVL Guidebook

Information for New Members

The CVL (Coastal Valley Lines) is an informal association of novice to expert model railroaders from around the Sonoma County area. The group operates its HO modular railroad at public and private events and also gathers for clinics, work sessions, and regular monthly meetings.

The members all agree to use a set of standards (technical guidelines) for the construction of their modules. They also follow standards to prepare their rolling stock (cars and locomotives) before operating them. This ensures reliable operation which helps up to have fun running trains!

The CVL does not have elected officers, dues, or bylaws because we want to run trains; not "run and organization" or play politics. Members share the duties and responsibilities needed to accomplish club activities.

CVL Basic Agreements

To participate in the association, you must agree to:

  1. Have fun running trains!

  2. Follow the standards. Variances must be obtained from the membership at club meetings.

  3. Assist in either setup or breakdown (both if possible!) of any show or run that you participate in.

  4. Take your turn doing some of the assigned tasks during preparation for and operation at fun and show runs.

  5. Operate all modules and equipment with care, as though they were your own.

  6. Have at least one engine and ten cars which meet standards and which you bring to be run at club events within a year of joining.

  7. Allow your modules and equipment (if present at a run) to be run by all CVL members.

  8. Be willing to resolve differences by discussion and compromise. Our prime purpose is to have fun.

If you are under 16 years of age, you must have a sponsor over 21 who is a member to be with you whenever trains are being run. (A person under 16 can be upgraded to regular member status after recommendation by the sponsor and a two-thirds vote of the membership at a meeting.)


You do not have to pay dues to be part of the association.

The required locomotive and ten cars (of good quality) can be obtained for under $120. This includes the cost of adding approved couplers and otherwise bringing the equipment up to standards.

Optional Expenses

A 2 foot long module can be built for as little as $30. A module or module group may be as expensive and extensive as you want, but build only as much as you yourself can transport.

You may be able to save money by showing your ideas to other CVL members, as they may have suggestions based on experience save money and assist in the construction. It is strongly recommended that you do this.

You must have flameproof curtain for the front and back of your modules. We do bulk purchases of curtain when necessary at a cost of about $3 a running foot. Your curtain is added to the association's pool when your module is ready to run.

Some members choose to own the type of throttle that we use to control trains on the CVL layout. These throttles are not available through hobby stores, so the CVL members interested in having them occasionally get together in a work session to make them. They cost about $30 to construct.

Finally, many members buy 2-way FM radios for communication at shows. These cost from $25 to $60. (GE, Maxon, and Radio Shack offer various models.) CVL uses Channel "B" (49.845 MHz) as our main channel, but 5- channel radios are preferred.

Liability insurance for the association is covered from the proceeds of paid CVL show runs. Additional moneys left over go to buy common equipment, such as power supplies.

Costs of lodging, food, and transportation to shows would, in most circumstances, be handled by each individual going to that show.

Membership Standards

Membership Roster

The Coastal Valley Lines Membership Roster is the CVL record of the name, address, phone number(s), identifying color code, and the membership status of both Active Members and Inactive Members.

Active Member, Active Member Status

An Active Member of the CVL is an individual who regularly attends the monthly membership meetings of the CVL. An Active Member has all voting rights and privileges. An Active Member may fully participate in any CVL activity. An Active Member Status is initiated by an individual who initials (or adds their name to) a membership roster with the intent of becoming an Active Member or maintaining an already Active Member Status while attending a monthly membership meeting. Active Member Status begins (or is renewed) at the next membership meeting and lasts for a period of one year.

Inactive Member

If an individual has not initialed (or added their name to) a membership roster at least once in 12 consecutive months, then that individual shall be considered an Inactive Member. Although still listed on the CVL Membership Roster, an Inactive Member does not have any voting privileges and may not necessarily participate in all CVL activities, including membership meetings. Reinstatement to Active Member Status is available to an Inactive Member by following the procedure stated herein under the section titled Active Member, Active Member Status.

Removal From the CVL Membership Roster

Inactive Members will be removed from the CVL Membership Roster after being inactive for a period of one year.

An individual may be removed from the CVL Membership Roster and requested to not participate in any CVL activities, only at a monthly membership meeting following a full discussion of such removal and only after a majority vote for such removal by the Active Members in attendance at the meeting.

Guidelines for CVL Operations

Layout Operations Standards

Fun Run

A Fun Run is an assembled CVL layout whose purpose is for all members of the CVL, and their invited guests, to run their rolling stock and other equipment on the layout in a "fun and informal" manner. Such runs may or may not incorporate "work in progress" modules, "trouble shooting" sessions, testing of new or different control activities, let individuals test and/or run new or special equipment, incorporate building projects, include special interest activities, etc.

In general, a Fun Run is a CVL activity to encourage member participation and Model Railroading activities in an informal setting.

Show Run

A Show Run is an assembled CVL layout whose purpose is to present the modules and equipment of the CVL members in a formal setting. Show Runs are designed for general public viewing of the layout. CVL often asks for and receives a fee for setting up a Show Run. A Show Run incorporates only finished and tested modules in the layout.

Active Members are encouraged to run the layout. Inactive Members and/or guests and/or the general public are not asked to participate in a Show Run. Only Active Members are encouraged to display and/or run their rolling stock and other equipment that has been checked-in, documented, and approved to the CVL standards. The rolling stock and/or other equipment of Inactive Members, guests, or the general public is not invited to be displayed or run during a Show Run.

CVL Member Participation

Setting up the CVL modules for a run of any sort is one of the major activities of the CVL. The setting up, operation, and disassembly of the layout is basic to a successful run and requires the teamwork of all who participate. Every participant should, to the best of their ability, help with the set-up and/or disassembly of the layout of he/she expects to participate in the operation of the layout. It is expected that every participant will operate and respect the layout, all rolling stock, and all equipment as if it were their own.

Operation, Direction, and Control of a CVL Run

All design, coordination, setup, operation, theme, schedule, equipment, assignment, and take-down decisions are made by the Run Coordinator. The Run Coordinator is an Active Member of the CVL. The Run Coordinator is encouraged to have at least one or more Assistant Coordinators to help in these tasks.

In the event that there is a disagreement in any aspect of a CVL Run by any participant of the Run, the appropriate course of action is to first approach the Run Coordinator with the problem. The decision of the Run Coordinator will prevail the majority of the time. If the Run Coordinator so chooses, one or more other Active Members, and/or a member of the Steering Committee may be asked for advice. If the resulting outcome is still in dispute, then an Active Member (and only an Active Member) may present a written grievance to a member of the Steering Committee. Then, and only then, may a decision by a Steering Committee member override a decision of the Run Coordinator.


  1. Coordinator: During any organized public show or fun run, this person is in charge of the overall operation, with emphasis on handling scheduling of activities, personal needs, security of the layout, public relations, and everything else necessary to help the members have fun running their trains.

  2. Dispatcher: During any organized public show or fun run, this person is totally in control of, and responsible for operation of trains in the layout.

  3. Tower Operators Persons assigned to specific areas of the layout, to supervise mainline operations in that area. A Tower Operator may have throttles and Mainline trackage to operate (Engineer), or may have a special area, like the wye, or a branchline to keep running smoothly. The Coordinator designates and numbers Tower locations as required.

  4. Engineers: Persons in charge of throttles which control movement of trains on main line tracks. Throttles may control an entire main line or smaller portions called blocks.

  5. Yardmasters/Local Operators: Persons in charge of operation of yards or local areas, other than main line tracks. During operation, these folks would be referred to by the name of the area they are operating, such as "Fresno Yardmaster" or "Petaluma Operator."

  6. Monitors: Persons designated by the Coordinator to patrol inside and/or outside the layout during public shows. They talk to the public and protect the layout.

  7. Sponsors: Persons responsible for supervising, teaching, assisting, and/or disciplining members under 16 years of age.

Crew Duties and Responsibilities

  1. The Dispatcher is responsible for the safe movement of trains and all yard operations. Anyone may be designated as Dispatcher, as long as the Show or Fun Run participants feel he or she is qualified.

  2. The Dispatcher has the final word on the makeup of trains, and controls the movements to and from yards or roundhouses. He or she may delegate train makeup decisions to designated persons.

  3. The Dispatcher must check with Tower Operators and get their agreement if he or she wants to run more than one train per two blocks on a continuing basis.

  4. Tower Operators must strictly adhere to instructions received from the Dispatcher.

  5. Tower Operators must watch for any trains entering the area they control, since they will not receive verbal notification.

  6. Tower Operators must promptly notify the Dispatcher of any unsafe operating conditions, or of any problems with any trains within their control. They must also notify the Dispatcher of any or potential public hazards observed on any portion of the layout.

  7. Engineers must observer the speed of trains within their control. They must also make any adjustments in throttle setting necessary to maintain proper distance between the train in the block and preceding or following trains.

  8. Engineers must not stop trains in their blocks with the rear portion of the trains extending into another block, except in an emergency, in which case the engineer stopping a train must ensure that the engineer in the block affected is aware of the stopped train.

  9. Yardmasters/Local Operators must obey all instructions from the Dispatcher or Tower Operators regarding the use of main line tracks on their modules. Under no circumstances will a Yardmaster or Local Operator take control of a block or throw a turnout on any portion of any mainline track without the knowledge and permission of the Tower Operator in charge of that block.

  10. All crew members shall verify, during a show run, that the last car of all running trains is either a caboose, a passenger tail car or a car with a flashing rear end device (FRED). [This item added 3/1/06]

CVL Radio Operations

  1. Remember that the best radio is the silent, available radio.

  2. Radios are only to be used to train operations, emergency situations, and layout security.

  3. Only the Coordinator, Dispatcher, Tower Operators, Yardmasters, and Local Area Operators should use the radio at any organized run, except that the Coordinator may designate Monitors to use radios for security purposes.

  4. Radios are not to be used for general conversation, or to convey information about routine movement of trains to or from any given block; that is to be left to visual control, or hand signals, as needed.<

  5. Phrases such as "Shut down mains," etc., must not be used when problems occur in a particular block. The precise problem must be conveyed to the Dispatcher, who will instruct the Tower Operators in how to respond to the situation. This will ensure smooth, controlled response, not a panicked shutdown of the complete layout.

  6. Proper format is to first state whom you are calling, then state who you are. Once you have gotten an acknowledgment that the person you are calling is ready to receive your message, state it briefly.


    "Dispatch, this is Fresno Yardmaster."

    "Go ahead, Fresno."

    "I request permission to cross the inside main at Fresno."

    "You are cleared to cross the main after the SP 5680 freight passes Fresno."

  7. Individuals own their own radios, but that does not authorize anyone to use their radios at will at any organized run. Discipline in the operation of radios is necessary, or else their usefulness is lost. Proper operation of radios adds to the enjoyment of all concerned and to the realism of our railroad.

CVL Hand Signals

We use hand signals to assist in the smooth starting, stopping, and switching of our trains. They are also vital in keeping the radio channels free of unnecessary traffic.

The hand signals must be made big enough for the engineer who is operating the train to see clearly. If you are four feet away from the person at the throttles, small hand motions are fine. If you are 40 feet away, whole arm motions will be needed, particularly in a busy public show environment.

Forward: Up and down motion. The forward direction is the normal direction of travel for the mainline you are working on or from.

Reverse: Circular motion, with the circle facing the engineer so that it is clear that a circular motion is being made. The direction of rotation does not matter.

Stop: Horizontal back and forth motion, using one or both hands.

Coupling: The hands approach each other, matching the distance between the couplers that are approaching each other. The hands clasp to indicate a couple.

Slow: To indicate that a movement should be done slowly, one hand is moved in the usual pattern for the desired movement, and the other hand is help spread out flat and stationary above the hand that is making the motion.

Do not be afraid to raise your hands up high to make the signals. The engineer must see them clearly to move correctly. Try to get eye contact to ensure that the engineer is ready to act on the signal given.

These suggestions reflect the most common practices on the CVL, and following them will improve our efficiency and reduce confusion.

Bad Order Procedure

CVL Rolling Stock Standards are intended to ensure that equipment operating on club layouts will perform adequately during prototypical train movements. The equipment check-in procedure provides and initial assessment of each piece of rolling stock AND the methods the member used to bring that rolling stock up to standard; this Bad Order procedure will help point out what equipment or members are having trouble with rolling stock standards past the initial check in.

These procedures should not detract from the fun of running trains. In implementing these procedures, members should temper rigid enforcement of rolling stock standards with consideration for the operational requirements of the layout coordinator and the individual preferences of out fellow modelers.

Over time, the log itself will point out where problems are concentrated, whether an individual's equipment, or with certain types of failures among everyone's equipment, so these problems can be fixed.

  1. For each layout, the Coordinator shall designate a safe location for the Bad Order box and log. The Coordinator may delegate these tasks to an assistant. The log uses the attached form; blank forms are kept in the CVL paperwork file.

  2. Normally, equipment would only be removed from the layout by request of the coordinator or dispatcher. (Owners should inform the Dispatcher when they are pulling any of their own equipment.)

  3. When a malfunction interferes with operation, the member observing this should try to determine the cause; the Bad Order procedure is to be used when the problem is cause by rolling stock. (In the case of a trackwork or electrical problem, inform the Run Coordinator.)

  4. If you are the problem finder, tag the offending equipment with a white string tag; check the Bad Order Log for the next number in the sequence and write it on the tag along with a short description of the problem. The Bad Order Log will be on a clipboard or holder by the Bad Order Box; check with the Show or Run Coordinator if the log or box is not to be found.

  5. Place the tagged piece of equipment in the Bad Order Box.

  6. Fill in the full entry on the log for that order number. (Fill in ALL the columns up to FIX ONLY.) If the cause of the problem is unknown, at least indicate the observed symptoms.

  7. Put your initials in the "fix only" box if:

    1. The cause of the problem is due to wear and tear, or damage from an accident. This means the equipment only needs fixing for that problem, and does not have to be re-checked in.

    2. The cause is unknown, and the equipment appears to be fine after a quick inspection.

  8. When owners pick up their bad ordered equipment, the should read the log to see what happened. If they do not understand the problem description, they should go to the problem finder for more information.

  9. The owner repairs the problem, and also goes over the equipment to ensure it still meets standards. The number tag should be kept on or with the equipment until sign-off.

  10. If the "fix only" box was initialed, the owner signs the Bad Order Log on the "sign-off" box for that order, and returns that piece of equipment to service.

  11. If the "fix only" box was not initialed, the owner must get the unit checked in again as if it were new, and the person passing the equipment signs the "sign-off" box for that order.

  12. A volunteer "Bad Order Coordinator" will survey the log and report at the monthly meeting on outstanding orders, equipment that was returned to the layout without being repaired, and any trends showing up in the log.

Throttle Operation

The standard CVL throttle is designed around a voltage regulator. The output of this throttle provides a "clean" DC voltage regardless of the current draw. This type of throttle is better for locomotives with can motors such as Kato or Atlas. The throttle is self-limiting and will shut itself down under conditions such as electrical shorts. The throttle will come back on when it has cooled down.

Speed Control

Rotate the knob to control the locomotive speed. Full counter-clockwise is the minimum speed setting. At this setting there is still a 1.3 volt output from the throttle. Locomotives such as Kato or Atlas will creep at minimum speed. The directional control must be in the "center off" (see below) position when the locomotive is to be stopped. The position of the speed control is usually expressed in terms of clock position. For example, when the line on the throttle knob is straight up, the throttle is said to be set to "twelve o' clock." The speed control might need adjusting as different makes of locomotives travel through the block in order to keep the trains running at a constant speed.

Directional Control

This toggle switch controls the direction that locomotives will travel. The switch has a "center off" position to disconnect the throttle power to the track. Except in an emergency, only move this switch when the train is stationary.

Light Indicator

The intensity of this light indicates the output current of the throttle. It is an aid to troubleshooting as in the case when the track is shorted and the light dims.


This dispenses the heat of the throttle's voltage regulator. It can become quite warm when running locomotives at low speed or when the throttle is shorted out.

Rolling Stock Standards



    1. Wheels:

      1. All rolling stock wheels must be metal wheels. For cars that were previously checked in with plastic wheels, they must be converted to metal wheels no later than November 30, 2012.

      2. Equipment shall have clean wheels.

      3. Wheels must conform to NMRA Standards when checked against a NMRA Mk III or IV Standards gauge.

    2. Couplers:

      1. Shall be Kadee MKD type, mounted at Kadee's specified height, plus or minus .010".

      2. Shall have freely working centering springs.

      3. Glad hands will clear a Kadee 205 coupler gauge and operate correctly over a Kadee magnetic uncoupling ramp.

      4. Shall be free of flash.

      5. Working front couplers are optional on steam road locomotives.

    3. All equipment running at public shows must be lettered, numbered and painted, or must represent unlettered or unnumbered prototypes.


    1. All general rules (see above) apply to rolling stock.

    2. Weight

      1. Cars shall be weighted as per NMRA Recommended Practice #20.1 :

        Length Weight Length Weight Length Weight Length Weight
        20' - 2.4 OZ 40' - 3.8 OZ 60' - 5.2 OZ 80' - 6.5 OZ
        25' - 2.7 OZ 45' - 4.1 OZ 65' - 5.5 OZ 85' - 6.8 OZ
        30' - 3.1 OZ 50' - 4.5 OZ 70' - 5.8 OZ 90' - 7.2 OZ
        35' - 3.4 OZ 55' - 4.8 OZ 75' - 6.2 OZ - - - - - - - -
        Rolling stock weights must be within 1/2 oz. of spec.

      2. Weights shall be firmly secured to the car.

      3. Unusual cars which cannot be weighted to standard will, upon meeting all other standards, be allowed to operate on the layout per rules II.B.3,4, & 5 following.

      4. Underweight rolling stock shall run at the rear of the train. Overweight rolling stock shall run at the head of the train.

      5. Overweight cars will have one air hose painted white.

      6. Underweight cars will have one air hose painted orange.

    3. Other

      1. Trucks must rotate freely, must be able to negotiate a #4 switch without binding or derailment, and must have a slight lateral rock.

      2. Rolling stock must be able to roll unassisted down a 3% grade.

      3. The owner's color code markings shall be on the frame or undercarriage of all rolling stock.


    1. All preceding rules, i.e. General Rules and Rolling Stock, apply to motive power, except that overweight powered or dummy locomotives are acceptable.

    2. All preceding rules, i.e. General Rules and Rolling Stock, apply to tenders, except that overweight tenders are acceptable.

    3. Motive power shall meet the NMRA Electrical standards.

    4. Motive power with 'Ernst' or any other gearing, producing similar speeds, shall have both air hoses painted silver.


    1. Unit trains, for the purpose of this standard, shall be trains intended to be a permanent group. This does not include general revenue freight cars.

    2. If a unit train cannot be made to conform to standards, it can still be run on the main line, so long as it can operate consistently on the main line, and has Kadee couplers at the head and tail ends which conform to standards.


    1. All rolling stock shall be checked in for club approval by club members other than the owner.

    2. All rolling stock will be logged in on a standard club form, which is retained by the equipment's owner.

Module Construction Standards

Construction and Assembly

  1. Modules shall consist of a butted grid of 1x4 wood with a 1/2" plywood top. All construction shall be screwed and glued together.

  2. Size: Width 24" to 30", length 2', 4' or 6', height when erected: 40" to the top of the mainline roadbed.

  3. Modules shall be constructed so that the front edges of all modules are in line.

  4. Legs shall be made from 2x2 lumber 38 1/2" long. (See figure 3.) Legs are bolted to the sides of the module with 1/4-20 x 2 1/2" carriage bolts, 1/4-20 wing nuts and 1/4" fender washers. For height adjustments, 1/4-20 x 2 1/2" hex head bolts in 1/4-20 'Tee-nuts' shall be installed in the bottom of each leg. (See figure 3.) The Tee nuts shall be cemented into the legs to prevent their loss.

  5. Modules are clamped together with adjoining modules by the use of two 2" size 'C' clamps at each interface.

Standard Rectangular Module Materials


  1. Plywood for tops. 1/2" A-C grade exterior plywood, smooth side on top.

  2. Side rail for 4' module frame. Standard 1x4 by 4', wood to be straight, free of loose knots, and containing no knots greater than 3/4" in diameter.

  3. Cross rail for module frames. Standard 1x4 with length as needed to fit flush between side rails.

  4. Glue blocks for rectangular frames. Standard 2x2, 3 1/2" long.

  5. Glue blocks for corner module frames. Standard 2x4 cut at 45 along the length into equal pieces. These pieces are to be 3 1/2" long.

  6. Legs for modules. Standard 2x2 38 1/2" long, ends to be prepared as per Figure 3 of the Module Construction Standard.


  1. #6 x 1 1/2" flathead phillips wood screw for screwing together top and framework.

  2. 1/4-20 x 2 1/2" carriage bolts. 8 needed.

  3. 1/4" fender washers. 8 needed.

  4. 1/4-20 wing nuts. 8 needed.

  5. 1/4-20 Tee nuts. 4 needed.

  6. 1/4-20 x 2 1/2" hex head machine bolts. 4 needed.

  7. White glue or carpenter's glue for joining wood.

  8. Paint--dark brown waterbase latex to protect wood and improve appearance. Paint module top, sides and legs.

Figure 1 - Standard 4' Module

This what a standard module looks like in its most basic form. It has a 1/2" plywood and a standard 1x4 framework, glued and screwed together as shown. The legs are attached with wing nuts, so no tools are needed for setup. The module can be either 2' or 2'-6" wide and is 40" from floor to the top of the roadbed.

The module has proven to have good stability once assembled with other modules in a layout. No further bracing is desired. (You may want to add cross bracing when using it by itself at home.) It is light, strong, durable, simple to assemble and level, and it forms a stable foundation for your trackwork and scenery.

Figure 2 - Framework

All numbers refer to the above materials list.

Standard 4' Module

Standard 6' Module

Figure 3a - Fasteners and Legs

All numbers refer to the above materials list.

  1. These 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" corner reinforcing blocks are screwed and glued in place.

  2. These are the minimum and maximum standard widths. Narrower modules don't allow for enough scenery. Wider modules are difficult to handle and are hard to lean across to fix derailments.

  3. Modules wider than 24" shall have extra crosspieces, shown by dotted lines. Rule of thumb - 1/2" plywood should not span more than 24" in more than one direction.

  1. Screw heads must be flush or slightly countersunk so that they do not prevent modules from being clamped together tightly.

Figure 3b - Fasteners and legs

All numbers refer to the above materials list.

Side and front views

Front view of module with leg

  1. The leg top is not long enough to touch the module top. The weight of the module is supported by the side rails, which rest on the step cut into the legs.

  2. The Tee nut goes into a 5/16" hole which is of 2 1/2" minimum depth. All chips and dust must be removed from the hole before installing the Tee nut. Glue the Tee nut in place to prevent its loss.

  3. The wood screws are offset 1/4" vertically, so that they do not hit each other in the glue block.

  4. The mating face shall be square with the plywood top to prevent gaps, dips, and bowing when modules are clamped together.

Corner Modules

  1. Corner modules shall be constructed as shown in figure 6. Curves on corner modules shall be constructed as shown in figure 7.

  2. Corner modules with curves of greater radius are permissible. These modules or module groups must be the equivalent of a square with sides that are a multiple of two feet, at the point where the module or module group mates to the adjacent modules. For example, the standard corner module is the equivalent of a four foot square.

Figure 6 - Corner Module Frame Specifications

The basic corner module is 1/2" plywood attached to 1x4" framework, as with regular modules. Widths and lengths of mating faces can very between the limits shown. Legs are attached as with standard modules, at the noted locations. (e)

  1. The front edge is 33" long, 32 1/2" with an outside passing track.

  2. The rear edge is 32" long, 25 1/2" if the 30" width is used.

  3. Corner braces are 2x2" blocks, 3 1/2" long.

  4. All frame members are standard 1x4", lengths as required.

  5. Locations of leg attachments.

Figure 7 - Corner module track specifications

Sample 4' square corner module

  1. The light line shows a greater width module (25" instead of 24") which is to be used whenever the outside passing track is to be applied.

  2. These small section os straight track just after the spanner tracks produce needed spacing between curves and help prevent kinks between the spanners and the module's trackage.

  3. The inside and outside passing tracks are optional.

  4. These are the standard spanner track gaps.

Track Standards


  1. All modules shall have inside and outside mainlines. Passing tracks and any other trackage is optional.

  2. These tracks shall run level through the module.

  3. The track spacing and alignment at the end of the module or module group shall be as follows: (See Figure 4 and Figure 5, item A.)

    1. Outside passing - 2 1/2" on center from the front edge.

    2. Outside mainline - 4 1/2" on center from the front edge.

    3. Inside mainline - 6 1/2" on center from the front edge.

    4. Inside passing #1- 8 1/2" on center from the front edge.

    5. Inside passing #2- 10 1/2" on center from the front edge.

  4. All of these tracks shall end 4 17/32" short of each end of the module or module group, so as to allow a 9" piece of track to span between modules. This spanner helps to accommodate any variations in height and spacing.

  5. These tracks may curve, using the following guidelines:

    1. They may not cross each other.

    2. Minimum radius of curvature is 60". Easements are optional. (Exception: corner modules have their own standards.)

    3. Minimum center-to-center spacing on these tracks on curves is to be 2 1/8". (Exception: corner modules have their own standards.) (See Figure 5, item B.)

    4. These tracks may be no less than 2 1/2" from the center of the track to the nearest module edge. (See figure 5, item C.)

    5. Within a module group, spanners may cross module gaps at angles, but must still be centered. (See figure 5, item D.)

    6. These tracks need not be parallel. (See figure 6, item E.)

    7. If there are curves of opposite direction in a module, or group of modules, a section of straight track at least one foot long shall separate the curves. A spanner track may form part of this "S-curve preventer." (See figure 6, item F.)

    8. All tracks shall run straight for 6" from the module mating face. (See figure 5, item G.)

  6. Roadbed may be between 3/16" and 1/4" in thickness. The material used may be cork, wood, homasote or other suitable materials.

  7. All mainline and outside passing track trackage shall be code 100 nickel-silver. Mainline spanner tracks shall be code 100 nickel-silver.

  8. Ballast shall be Woodland Scenics Fine Brown, #B-72.

  9. Crossovers between mainline tracks, turnouts which end or begin an outside passing track, and crossovers between outside mainline and the outside passing track shall have a minimum frog # of 6.

  10. Tunnels and bridges shall not be closer than 6" to either end of the module, and if tunnels are longer than 18", direct access to tracks inside the tunnel shall be provided.

  11. Spanner tracks shall be standard Atlas 9" straight track sections. These sections are to be modified on one end so that rail joiners may be slid back all the way on the rail to facilitate installation of the spanner track. It is recommended that spanners be weathered and ballasted to match the tracks they will go next to.

Figure 4 - Mainline Track Work and Roadbed

Figure 5 - Mainline and Passing Tracks

Sample 18' module group and sample 4' module

  1. A one foot "S-curve preventer" must separate any curves of opposite directions.

  2. The minimum center-to-center spacing of tracks on curves is 2 1/2".

  3. Tracks may be no less than 2 1/2" from the edges of the modules.

  4. Spanners must be centered but may cross gaps in a module group at an angle.

  5. All modules shall have inside and outside mainlines.

Note: The large radius used ensures that long trains run smoothly and do not have to contend with much more curve induced drag than the regular corner modules already cause. Due to this large radius, a 4' or 6' module will only be able to shift its mainlines over about 3/4" or 3" respectively.

Electrical Standards

  1. Basic Wiring

    1. Track Feedlines

      1. Track power is carried under modules using 18 gauge (or heavier) two-conductor brown lamp cord, type SPT only. Accept no substitutes for this type. These cords shall be called feedlines.

      2. Track feedlines shall be firmly attached to the under surface of each module, and shall have at least one connection from the feed line to its track on the module. This connection is called a drop wire, and is to be no smaller than 24 gauge. The length of drop wires is to kept to a minimum. The feed line ends shall be able to extend one foot past the end of the module. Feedlines shall pass through, not under, any crossmembers under a module.

      3. If an outside passing track passes through, or begins or ends on a module, a feed line for that track shall be installed. The feed line shall be double-ended if the outside passing track goes through the module. Otherwise, it shall be single-ended.

      4. The plugs used to interconnect mainline and outside passing track feedlines are TRW-Cinch #P306-CCT (Male) and #S306-CCT (Female) or other manufacturer's equivalents.

      5. Local control of mainlines must be approved by asking for a variance at a club meeting.

      6. A method of securing the ends of the feedlines under the modules for transport shall be provided (Safety cup hook, Velcro, string, ties, etc.).

    2. Power Supply Feed Lines

      1. Layout power is carried under modules using 16 gauge (or heavier) two-conductor white lamp cord, Type SPT only. Accept no substitutes for this type. The ribbed conductor shall go to pin 1 of the connectors.

      2. The feedline ends shall be able to extend 12" past the end of the module.

      3. The plugs used to interconnect module power supply feedlines are TRW-Cinch #P302-CCT (Male) and #S302-CCT (Female) or other Manufacturer's equivalent.

      4. All taps off this feed line for power to wiring on modules shall be fused.

    3. Electrical Connections

      1. All electrical connections shall be soldered and taped or otherwise insulated. Terminal strips of the barrier type may be used in place of soldered connections.

      Figure 1 - Basic Wiring

      1. Drop wires connecting rails mainline tracks to feedlines. Rail closer to the front of the module is connected to the ribbed wire of the feed line cord. Use 22 or 24 gauge wire for drops.

      2. Drop wires are soldered directly to the side of the rails.

      3. Solder and insulate connections between drops and feedlines.

      4. Use 18 gauge brown lamp cord for mainline feedlines.

      5. Male 6-pin connector on left side looking at the front of the module. Pin 1 is the rail on outside passing track (if used) closest to module edge. Pin 2 is the inside rail of the outside passing track. Pin 3 is the outside rail of the outside mainline, and so forth.

      6. Female 6-pin wired as above.

      7. Use 16 gauge white lamp cord for main power cord.

      8. Male 2-pin connector on left side when facing the front of the module. Pin 1 is connected to the ribbed wire of the cord.

      9. Female 2-pin connector wired as above.

      10. Allow for one foot of slack past the ends of the module. Use Velcro or other means to secure the ends during transport.

      11. Staples hold the wires to the bottom of the module.

  2. Throttles

    1. Standard Throttles

      1. Throttles are used for control of the mainlines and local control of trains on member's modules. The throttles are designed around the LM317 voltage regulator, and must have a direction switch with a center-off position. These throttles draw power from the power supply feed line. The plug on the throttle is to be a TRW-Cinch #P304-CCT (Male) or other manufacturer's equivalent.

      2. Sockets on modules or control panels for throttles are to be TRW-Cinch #S304-AB (Female) or other manufacturer's equivalent.

      3. Pins 1 & 3 of the throttle sockets and plugs are DC output from throttle. Pins 2 & 4 are power from the power supply feed line to the throttle.

    2. Non-Standard Throttles

      1. If you must use a 115V AC powered throttle pack, its output (track voltage) is connected to pins 1 & 3 of the plug which will go into the corresponding 4-pin socket on the layout. No connections are made to pins 2 & 4 of the plug.

    3. Throttle Feeds

      1. Mainline throttles connect to the mainlines via a throttle feed fixture (spider). The spider has 2 and 6 pin male and female TRW-Cinch connectors to allow it to connect into the mainline and power supply feedlines, and also 4-pin sockets for the mainline throttles to plug into. See Figure 2 for construction of the spiders.

    Figure 2 - Throttle Feed Fixture (Spider)

    1. 6-pin Cinch P306-CCT (male). Rear view shown.

    2. 6-pin Cinch S306-CCT (female). Rear view shown.

    3. 4-pin Cinch S304-CCT (female). Rear view shown.

    4. 2-pin Cinch P302-CCT (male). Rear view shown.

    5. 2-pin Cinch S302-CCT (female). Rear view shown.

    6. All track feedlines are 18 gauge brown lamp cord. Power supply is 16 gauge white lamp cord.

  3. Control Panels

    1. All control panel switches shall be clearly labeled as to function, and if appropriate, positions.

    2. No control panel switch settings shall allow power from a module's local throttle to feed back into any outside passing or mainline track feed line.

    3. No control panel switch settings shall allow power from one main line feed line to be connected to another main line's feed line.

    4. Refer to figures 3 and 4 for recommended practices for control panel wiring and construction.

    Figure 3 - Control Panel and Module Wiring

    1. The master switch is a double pole, double throw, center off switch. The one depicted allows the module to be run from the throttle or "slaved" off of the inside mainline power.

    2. Socket for throttle, 4-pin Cinch S304-AB (female).

    3. Block switches are double pole, double throw.

    4. All connections to the power feed line must be fused.

      Figure 4 - Sample Control Panel Layout

    1. The master switch is a double pole, double throw, center off toggle switch. The illustrated configuration allows the module to be run from the throttle or "slaved" to the inside mainline power.

    2. Socket for throttle, 4-pin Cinch S304-AB (female).

    3. Track insulating gaps should be shown on the control panel diagram.

    4. Block switches are double pole, double throw toggle switches.

    5. Turnout controls should be located on the control panel diagram in the location of the turnout.

  4. Passing Tracks

    1. Modules which begin an outside passing track, or which have a crossover between the outside main and the outside passing track shall have a switch to control the outside passing track. This switch is to be mounted on the edge of the module opposite to the mainlines, directly across from the start of the section of passing track which that switch controls. Please see Figure 5.

    2. Outside passing tracks are to be wired and gapped as indicated in Figures 5 and 6.

    3. If an inside passing track comes to either end of a module, an interconnect wire is to be attached to the rails just before they stop at the end of the module or module group.

    4. Inside passing tracks are to be wired and gapped as indicated in Figure 7.

    Figure 5a - Outside Passing Track (top view)

    Figure 5b - Outside Passing Track (rear view)

    1. Gaps in rails to divide tracks into electrical blocks.

    2. Optional continuation of passing tracks.

    3. Switches are mounted on plates attached to the inside face of the 1x4" frame member on the rear of the module. This prevents damage when transporting the module.

    Figure 6 - Outside Passing Track Wiring

    1. Outside passing track feedline.

    2. "Drop wire" connecting track to feedlines. Drop wires should be kept to a minimum length.

    3. Outside mainline feed line.

    4. Gaps in both rails for insulation.

    5. All wiring to be brown 18 gauge SPT wire except drop wires, which are 22 or 24 gauge

    6. Double pole, single throw switch controlling power to outside passing track. Outside passing tracks will always have a double pole, single throw switch at their beginning.

    7. Double pole, double throw, center off switches controlling power to outside passing tracks. These switches allow the passing track to be run off the mainline current, the current from the preceding passing track section, or shut off.

    8. 6-pin connector at the ends of modules to carry current for the outside passing track, outside mainline, and inside mainline.

    Figure 7 - Inside Passing Track Wiring

    1. Inside passing tracks are optional.

    2. The connector is a 4-pin Cinch P304-CCT (male).

    3. The connector is a 4-pin Cinch S304-CCT (female).

  5. Other Electrical Standards


      1. Insulating material shall be used to fill rail gaps. No air gaps are allowed.


      1. If local control of mainline tracks or outside passing tracks is desired, and is authorized by vote of the members at a regular meeting, the section under local control shall be insulated at both ends with gaps in both rails. When such local control is being used, a flashing red light shall be clearly visible on the control panel involved.


      1. No sections of mainline or outside passing track shall depend on power being fed through a spanner track.