T-Trak is a system of small modules that make up a portable model train layout. A 'standard' module is only 8-1/4 x 12"- about the size of a piece of paper! Modules are easy to build, store, and transport. Layouts are set up and run on standard banquet tables (30" x 96").
Lee Monaco-FitzGerald and her husband, Jim FitzGerald (of N-Trak fame) were shown a bare-board tram module concept at a meeting in Japan in August of 2000. It was a way for many more people to join together in modeling. Lee built 3 modules to introduce at the St. Louis, MO July convention and then took them to Japan for the JAM convention. She named the size T-TRAK and gave it the identifying slogan, "Trams, Trolleys, Trains, Two Tracks and Table Top." In the September-October 2001 issue of the NTrak Newsletter they introduced America to T-Trak.
Some have asked "Why T-Trak? Why not a full-sized layout or a larger (N-Trak) module?" I've heard my T-Trak modules described as a "modular module!"
I've been trying to put my fascination with T-Trak into words. I've combined some thoughts from myself (Paul E Musselman), plus Allan Andres, Robert Myers, and Aaron Poscovsky, three among others who have been captivated by this system.
Traditional model train layouts are permanent fixtures. Because they are 'second class' features of a home, they're relegated to the attic, the basement, or the garage. But the attic is either too hot or too cold; the basement is damp and leaky; and the garage is dusty and drafty.
Much to the dismay of the model railroader, the living room is off-limits (except for a loop of track around the Christmas Tree). The bedrooms are all occupied. There is no real place for a permanent layout.
There are a lot of people living in small apartments with no place to set up a standard large layout. Many would-be modelers have pushed any thoughts of model trains out the door.
What do T-Trak modules offer to someone entering model railroading?
T-Trak modules are much smaller than other modular systems. A T-Trak layout can be described as a 'modular module.'
Four corners and 2 straights in T-Trak would be about 2-1/2 x 3-1/2 feet. You can set up your layout on the kitchen table, enjoy running trains, and still have room for breakfast!
The layout comes apart after use. This is useful for people without a lot of storage space. You can store modules on a bookshelf. You can set up a layout across the top of a series of bookshelves! T-Trak modules are "Living Room Legal."
Robert Myers is building a home T-Trak layout that sits on top of a bookcase in the reading area of his bedroom. It's a 4' x 11' "L" with balloons at either end that only pop out to 22" from the wall.
Tabletop modules do not replace larger modules or permanent large layouts. But with T-Trak modules the hobby can grow, since more people can enjoy the hobby.
It doesn't require track skills. T-Trak uses Kato Unitrack sectional track. Unitrack is very reliable and removes the disappointment (and time and money required) of poor trackwork.
You can build a T-Trak module in a few evenings.
Aaron Poscovsky built a T-Trak module with grass, a farmhouse, barn and other items in an afternoon. In a larger scale, or with larger modules, a person would need a few months of building and landscaping to show off his/her layout.
T-Trak modules can be built from scratch, from a kit, or on pre-fabricated modules.
A person that has wanted to enter the hobby, but didn't want all the hand tools and lumber cutting, can now enter the hobby.
No power tools are required to build a T-Trak module. You -can- cut 1/4" plywood (well, 3/16") with a utility knife! You can build your module on the kitchen table, or in front of the TV.
These modules are great as a parent can help supervise a child, without power tools that might be beyond a child's capabilities. A child can handle this size module and learn the enjoyment of model railroading.
Building a layout of T-Trak modules is a great way to introduce people to our hobby. A parent can help supervise a child. A child can handle this size module and learn the enjoyment of model railroading.
We "old timers" need to help the new and young with modeling.
Itís perfect for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts as a team building exercise and allows group participation in a short-term project.
The one thing that people forget all the time is that building portable tabletop modules is a great way for NEW modelers to enter the hobby.
You don't have to stick to strict prototype modeling. Free lancing anything you want is expected and encourages individual creativity.
T-Trak allows concentrated modeling, low investment, easy (laptop) portability of modules, and tabletop setup.
For old-timers, T-Trak can be used as experimental territory-- trying scenery and track techniques without a major investment in time and materials. It allows you to build confidence in your scenic skills one step at a time.
T-Trak modules won't replace larger NTrak modules or permanent large layouts. But with T-Trak modules, more people can enjoy the hobby.
For promotional purposes you can stuff a T-Trak layout in the back of a car or van, and take it to a school, retirement home, children's hospital, or other location for people to view and enjoy.
Given a flat floor and a couple of standard banquet tables (30" x 96"), it could be set up in less than 10 minutes.
Lee Monaco-FitzGerald and her husband, Jim FitzGerald (of N-Trak fame) were shown a bare-board tram module concept at a meeting in Japan in August of 2000. It was a way for many more people to join together in modeling. Lee, already an accomplished N-Trak modeler, built 3 modules to introduce at the St. Louis, MO July convention. She later took them to Japan for the JAM convention. She named the size T-TRAK and gave it the identifying slogan, "Trams, Trolleys, Trains, Two Tracks and Table Top." In the September-October 2001 issue of the NTrak Newsletter they introduced America to T-Trak.
Lee has built several T-Trak layouts. They're quite impressive in a concentrated sort of way and a lot of fun.