…think outside the box!
Faced with a show just one week away, and a budget of near-zero for a new reverse loop, I decided to build the Corrugated Curve T-Trak module from cardboard.
I had a nice, uncreased sheet of single-wall corrugated on hand. I laid out the top and sides together on the sheet, cut them out with a utility knife and steel straightedge, and cut a series of additional strips for reinforcement underneath. Several of these strips were laminated together with white glue (clamped with spring clamps padded with scrap wood) to make girders. The curved edge was cut as a series of short tabs; a strip (cut with the corrugations oriented vertically for easy bending) was glued over these. Final assembly at corners, and attachment of the girders, was done with a hot glue gun. T-nuts for feet, a terminal block, and mount points for the auto-reverser board were also hot-glued.
For scenery, I decided to stick with the cardboard theme (I normally use foam). A lattice of cereal-box strips was hot-glued on for rough terrain contours, and overlaid with white-glued pieces of brown shopping bags. Once the glue was thoroughly dry, I gave the entire module top and sides a coat of shellac to minimize moisture absorption during the remaining construction steps. Cork roadbed (my major expenditure for this module!) was glued in place. I laid some Atlas flextrack I had on hand on the cork with hot glue. (The hot-glued flex track broke free of the cork within weeks; I've since re-attached it with latex adhesive.) Unitrack transitions at the module interface were also carefully aligned and attached with hot glue (this is holding up just fine). Feeders were soldered on and attached to the terminal block, as was the auto-reverser. A dark-green latex base coat was applied on the top and sides. Ground foam went over this.
As I write this, the module has just been in its tenth show—that's 15 show days of constant operation. It's holding up quite well. Someday I'll build a "permanant" version, and peel the track off the cardboard, but I have no plans to do so anytime soon.