If you’ve been following our posts here or through the LCCA over the past few months, you’ve probably heard of our new FasTrack Modular Railroad. Now that the standards have been tested and proven, this project is ready to roll.
Why Build a Module?
Modular model railroading has many appeals and advantages. Although most commonly thought of as a club layout, many individuals have built part or all of their home layouts in modular form as well. By applying strict standards to the sections, different modules can be connected whether they are from the same builder, same club, or from complete strangers.
For home use, a modular layout affords great flexibility. Want to try a new track plan? No problem! And should you ever find yourself looking for a new home, there won’t be any heartache when it is time to move the layout.
A modular design also has a lot of advantages during the construction phase. By focusing on one small section at a time, even a large layout is not overwhelming. And if you are just getting started you’ll have lots of opportunities to learn on smaller projects as you work to a greater goal. You can build the layout of your dreams as your time, space, skills, and budget allow without having to wait decades before the trains start running.
Then there are the advantages for those of us who simply don’t have the space to build a layout big enough for those huge locomotives we’d love to have. The new FasTrack modules were developed with large corners in mind, so that anything we’ve ever made will have no trouble negotiating the railroad. And long trains are no problem either. As more and more modules come together, you can run longer trains over greater distances than most of us could ever hope to do at home.
So whether you decide to build a single module as a starter project, incorporate a module into your existing home layout that can also go on the road, or build your entire layout out of these building blocks, the FasTrack modules are a great way to get the most out of the hobby one piece at a time.
Building the Modules
Since this project began in February, Lionel and modelers from the Lionel Collectors Club of America have worked together to develop standards for a module that was simple to build, easy to transport and capable of meeting the many needs of a diverse audience. In other words, these modules have been designed by modelers for modelers learning from the lessons of years of experience.
Although the modules themselves are standardized from unit to unit, you do have several options when it comes to building them. All you really need to get started is a set of the standard plans. These are available for download here or from www.lionel.com.
In addition to just having the standards, we highly recommend purchasing the template to align the Rotolatch fasteners and track. This simple jig will ensure that everything aligns perfectly when you join modules. Even if you only build a single module, the time savings and assurance provided by the jig is worth the investment. And of course if you are building more than one, you’ll get your money’s worth many times over.
Don’t think you have the carpentry skills or tools to build one of these all on your own? We are also offering kits for each of the three basic module types – straight, full corner and partial corner. The full corner modules allow for complete scenery. The partial corner modules can be reversed to be used as either an inside or outside corner for more elaborate track plans. They also make a great duck-under section to access the operation area inside the layout.
These kits include everything you need to assemble the basic module with a few simple tools. Each kit includes all of the hardware and lumber to build the module except for plywood for the top and 2×2 posts for the legs. Why did we leave these out? They are easy to obtain at any hardware store and you can probably buy your own cheaper than we can ship it to you!
Also included are the wire connections and a pair of 5″ FasTrack sections to join to the next module. To see how easy it is to assemble one of these kits, check out the video shared here on this page.
Buying the Modules
You can order your module kits and the template through www.lionelstore.com. You’ll find them all in the “Accessories” section. These will be in stock soon.
- Template (6-37150) $22.99
- Straight Module Kit (6-37149) $199.99
- Full-Width Curve Module Kit (6-37154) $209.99
- Partial-Width Curve Module Kit (6-37153) $209.99
You’ll also find four accessory bundles you can use to get started on the scenery for your new module. And of course you can add in other pieces of Lionel FasTrack, buildings and accessories.
Only the Beginning
This is of course only the beginning of the Lionel FasTrack Modular Railroad project. Over the coming months, we’ll be providing more information and videos on wiring and construction, scenery making and more. And we’ll also put out some plans to create interesting layout designs with the new modules.
All of this information will be posted here on a special blog page as we’ve done with our other how-to modeling articles.
Most importantly, you’ll want to check back here often for information on where the next large modular setup will be held so you’ll have a chance to register and join in the fun!