…and why I use them on my T-Trak modules
Those of you familiar with the dimensions listed on the official T-Trak module specification data sheet may have noticed something different with my modules. The standard calls for fascias 2-3/4" high, from the tabletop to the module deck. My fascias are only 2" high. What's up with that, you ask? Excellent question!
By way of explanation, let me first recap a little history of my hobby activities.
When I started building the Gopher Valley Central in 2003, I wanted a railroad built like a piece of furniture. The long-term plan called for a separate hardwood leg assembly upon which the layout would ultimately be attached for permanent home display. With that in mind, I set the fascia height at 2 inches below the level of the roadbed surface. Then my hobby life took an unexpected twist: I found myself taking the GVC to train shows with the club, placing it upon folding tables provided by show organizers. The planned hardwood legs were never built.
When one of my clubmates started building and exhibiting T-Trak modules a couple of years later, I was intrigued. I wondered if T-Trak might be a means of expanding the GVC for exhibit. Just for kicks, I designed and built the Cryptic Creek Tunnel module, was pleased with the results, and added Cryptic Creek E the following year. All the while, I contemplated the height difference between the GVC and the T-Trak standard, and how to reconcile them.
After considering a variety of approaches, I decided to add adjustable feet that would raise the GVC by 3/4" (minimum), and build modules with 2" fascias to match. Thus came the South Sinnemahoning transition module, and two straight modules, Feasible Flats W and Feasible Flats E. (The GVC with these three modules is thus equipped with two tracks of open stub-end staging, and fits comfortably on an 8' folding table.) As of yet, none of these modules were being connected with those of others into a T-Trak layout.
So much for history. Now on to the Big Discovery.
Shown in photo: South Sinnemahoning with 2-inch fascia (left), module by GNO member JB with 2-3/4-inch fascia (right). Note the discreetly-visible feet under South Sinn.
By now, a few guys in the club had built T-Trak modules and were assembling them into show layouts (usually right next to the GVC). Once modules were plugged in together, they'd have to carefully slide a 1/4" wrench under the module to catch the neck of a carriage-bolt foot, and twist it a quarter-turn at a time, in order to make any necessary height adjustments. Do the math with me: 14 or so modules on a table, 4 feet per module, anywhere from 1 to 22 turns per foot. That's a lot of tedious adjusting, and a poor use of precious setup time. In contrast, my adjustable feet were made with a wooden disk enclosing the head of the bolt, and could easily be adjusted by sliding a finger under the module fascia for a few quick flicks—without lifting the module off the table.
Eureka! That 3/4-inch gap between the fascia and the table speeds layout setup considerably! It also makes mid-show adjustments easy. Have you discovered your locomotive catching a poorly-aligned track joint between modules? Just reach in, give the offending foot a flick or two, and level the spot out before the train has completed the next lap.
After that epiphany, I built all my succeeding modules with the shorter fascias. The feet are painted flat black, and the modules appear to "float" slightly above the show table. That extra clearance also comes in handy if you have to snake feeders underneath the module.
There is one minor drawback to building modules with the shallow fascia: it can cut down on the available height for below-the-track scenery. With some slightly more complicated construction, this can be overcome; witness my Little Chenango River Bridge module. The fascia dips down in the center to accommodate the riverbed, while permitting access to the feet on the ends. Not bad, if I do say so myself.