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Re: [t-trak] Ideas for Better Looking T-Trak Displays (Was:T-Trak Interface Guidelines...)

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  • PaulMmn
    Bill-- I like modules that have 4 sides, not just 3. That way you don t have to do anything special to hide the back side. --Paul E Musselman
    Message 1 of 6 , Jun 25, 2012
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      Bill--

      I like modules that have 4 sides, not just 3. That way you don't
      have to do anything special to hide the back side.

      --Paul E Musselman
      PaulMmn@...




      At 7:59 PM +0000 6/25/12, Bill Nielsen wrote (in part):

      > Eliminating sky boards altogether would logically require a rear
      >fascia that was finished and trimmed, similar to the front edge, as
      >well. Covering the area behind the modules with crumpled tissue
      >paper (which could be a problem with the Fire Marshall) or some sort
      >of fabric has been suggested, but do you have any other perhaps
      >better ideas on how to treat this area?
    • Bill Nielsen
      Hi Paul, Lately, I have personally come to prefer modules that not only don t have backs, but don t have ends as well. I don t like the backs because they make
      Message 2 of 6 , Jun 26, 2012
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        Hi Paul,

        Lately, I have personally come to prefer modules that not only don't have backs, but don't have ends as well. I don't like the backs because they make it more difficult to to access things like height adjusters, wiring and plugs that frequently are underneath the module. Besides, if skyboards are used, the backs are redundant. I have also come to dislike the ends as well, because unless the module is built perfectly square with perfectly plumb ends (and very few are), the ends can interfere with the modules joining together, making necessary a larger gap between modules. To me, any gap looks terrible, so the smaller it is, the better. End plates can also make it harder to reach height adjusters, although I think that problem is best addressed by continuing the hole for the height adjustment screws up through the top of the module, slotting the ends of the adjuster screws, and using a long thin screwdriver to adjust them from the top. Even better may be the use of long nylon set screws with socket head and a ball-hex driver to adjust them.

        I'm not especially fond of the front fascias either, because they add considerably to the construction time of the modules if they are to be adequately filled and finished, but they do seem to be a good way to hide the gap between the module and tabletop on the viewed side.

        In any event, even if your module has beautifully finished fascias on both the front and back, there is still the problem of having to deal with the back-to-back space between the modules and the distracting clutter like wires and plugs that is usually there. The visual distraction of the gap and clutter between the back sides of the modules, especially if skyboards are eliminated, was the main point of my question.

        Bill in FL



        --- In t-trak@yahoogroups.com, PaulMmn <PaulMmn@...> wrote:
        >
        > Bill--
        >
        > I like modules that have 4 sides, not just 3. That way you don't
        > have to do anything special to hide the back side.
        >
        > --Paul E Musselman
        > PaulMmn@...
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > At 7:59 PM +0000 6/25/12, Bill Nielsen wrote (in part):
        >
        > > Eliminating sky boards altogether would logically require a rear
        > >fascia that was finished and trimmed, similar to the front edge, as
        > >well. Covering the area behind the modules with crumpled tissue
        > >paper (which could be a problem with the Fire Marshall) or some sort
        > >of fabric has been suggested, but do you have any other perhaps
        > >better ideas on how to treat this area?
        >
      • Jeffrey Reynolds
        Bill, Interesting idea on thinking of doing something to the lee box design to make more of a frame. Unfortunately, i think it might just look like something
        Message 3 of 6 , Jun 26, 2012
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          Bill,

          Interesting idea on thinking of doing something to the lee box design to make more of a frame. Unfortunately, i think it might just look like something tacked on, especially since if it goes on older modules it might not have scenery on top and be too much on the framing then. I would also worry it might just look like something slapped onto the existing module/box and just be more of a whats that distraction. I really dont think at this point its worth trying to change what has been done or the mainline standard. I was just trying to show the reasoning I had behind why I was doing thinner modules when folks asked "why would you want to do that?!" I was purely just wanting to make sure the standards allowed some creativity in how to go about things.

          The current solution of just making sure all modules are painted black (or other standard color) is probably the best solution to the current situation. Again, I was just trying to explain what doing that does visually as the idea that it just makes it disappear is not really what is going on, its more complex. But given the circumstances its probably the best option.

          You do have a very good point on the wood finishes. I could see if folks wanted heavy standardization they could just settle on something similar to paint color. veneer is also a great way to play with this after modules are built and standardize if you wanted to. It would be easy to make a whole bunch at 12.125" x 2.75", stain, finish and distribute. I have a couple of 1' x 10' hunks of cherry veneer i picked up pretty cheap (under $20) that would do a mess of facades at once (sorry not volunteering, i get sucked into way too many club and friend's layout projects already!). I dont think having changing wood trims would be all that jarring as long as it wasnt changing every module. i find it nice when you see a string of modules someone has worked on together and thus if 4 or 5 were in a run and changed to a different finish i think it would work ok. Its more about having that frame line for each module. Even if the finish changed, its changing with the scene changes on the modules and I think its impact would be minimal and maybe even good to cue the mind into the fact this is someone else's scene. Yes it would be a bit odd looking down the whole table of modules, but T-trak already looks a bit odd looking at it that way as it has a lot of different scenes right next to each other and T-Trak's design by Lee was to be about small scene on single modules or maybe over a few modules. While you can do large sectional layout (done by some) layouts with T-Trak with coordinated scenes across many modules, in a club or meeting setup things tend to be more random. Even with a particular modeler you see a lot of variation on their modules in how they do things and the scenes. It's one of the charms of T-Trak to not have a huge investment in one scene ideas and to play and grow techniques and methods of doing scenes.

          T-Trak is odd in that you have a series of different scenes really close to each other, so looking at the overall thing is really a secondary visual priority to making sure each individual scene is a nice visual experience. Its both a charm and a curse. Again I think its important the mind's eye be focused well on each module. The only time you would think larger is where folks have a sectional area where the scene is spread across many modules (either individual or a multiple).

          For the pretty much max 12" deep, i see working at around 1-1.5" feels right. While yes like anything proportions are a bit of taste, there are a lot of valuable rules that generally work pretty well. In this case its a matter of having the vertical not be overpowering to the horizontal. Of course your vantage point does matter, but unless you are directly over the modules the taller facia will show. folks are usually kept back at least 2' or more so seeing modules at 45 degrees or less.

          To cover up the middle it thing its important that folks use a piece of fabric or strips of black foamcore or something to cover up the cables. Even with skyboards you still see cables in the usual central pit. I find that plain blue skyboards just draw attention to the big pit. Again i think its about doing things in the scene to keep the eyes focused in the scene and where possible use higher scene elements along the back to help block the view into the pit. Also if wiring is hidden under something thats dark and consistent this is a place where things will disappear some as any details like wires and such will visually grab folks eye into the pit.

          I have always meant to talk to a couple of artists we have used in the past for larger backdrops in exhibits. While these were not dioramas, the effects they used were pretty much what we are looking at in dioramas, but much smaller! I know many of the standard stage practices scale well to larger layout backdrops and are used all the time. I was curious to what their thoughts would be at small scales and sizes that you are up against in T-Trak. My suspicion is from larger scale theatrical stuff that when you get down to something like the size of a T-Trak skyboard and the normal viewing angles that many techniques they normal use might not work well and try and get their input as to what might work well on a T-Trak skyboard. Personally, the blue skyboards on T-trak modules really ruin the scene in my mind's eye as it just feels like something too surreal while the module scene is hoping to create a bit of miniaturized reality. That conflict becomes distracting and also just pulls the rug from the mind's eye getting into and living in the miniature scene.

          Color is probably the hardest thing to try and set a good standard on. Good colorists are really pretty rare out there. Everyone has very strong opinions on colors and a lot of folks think they know colors well and have some taste, but rarely do. I try to never be a part of that part! i've learned a lot of the basics with colors over the years, but let the professionals handle it! Even then it runs amuck of the personal likes and dislikes of the clients and public all the time! Light blues are notorious for being tough to get just right by a pro for a particular situation (too little and its weak and pasty, too much and too bold) and is really influenced by what is around it (ie on the module). This could be tough to come up with a good standard that works across modules.

          Paul's point about the leveling bolts is a good one. they can start to shout out. This is one reason i went to the 4' frames as it pulled it down to only 2 bolts visible for 4 modules. indenting the frame as well also helped pull the bolts back a tad more and again it draws on the visual trick that inset support tend to make the mind's eye register there is support there but move on and forget it, not get distracted by it. I can see if folks are doing all black (or other color) with their facias and table coverings that painting the bolts or putting little strips of paper to cover the silver bolts will help as these popping out in the big neg space that is trying to be created can ruin this and just grab the eye. folks keep wanting to think what are those as they are not quite legs, they are bolt ends, etc, enough that it just makes ??? in the mind.

          The freemo idea on the T gauge really started getting fun when doing the conceptual design. I realized tha it really allowed for a fun display to be done on just a couple of tables where you could start at one end with large city modules, then transition with point to point rail to a suburb. Then second point to point from a suburb to rural at the other end. Of course it could expand to have multiple towns in between as well as train lines. Visually would be quite fun, but as you say would require a bit more on operations.

          cheers

          jeff


          On Jun 25, 2012, at 3:59 PM, Bill Nielsen wrote:

          > Hi Jeff and Tom,
          >
          > I'm breaking away from the old thread and starting a new one with this post, so that it will hopefully be easier to follow.
          >
          > I understand your point about the height of the fascia, and while I don't disagree with you about the proportions of the 2-3/4" fascia on a 12" module, I think that perception of proportion is pretty subjective, and would depend on many variables, including the viewer and whether or not the module that is being viewed is a single, double, triple, or larger, such as an entire 8" table.
          >
          > Also, I don't disagree with you about the appealing appearance of a wood trim frame, as long as the wood and finish used is consistent. A good example of the beauty of wood trim can be seen in the pictures of some of the modules built by Jeff Faust, shown in this group's photos section (in the Album titled "Modules by Jeff Faust"). However, there is such a large variation of woodworking skills between individuals, that I think getting a consistent look wouldn't be very practical unless all of the wood trim was to be done by the same person. At the very least, I think trying to have a consistent look to such wood frames would require even more standards, such as the wood type, color of any stain used, and type of final finish, such as gloss, satin, etc. As an example, how would it look if your modules have beautifully varnished light oak trim, and the next person's module uses pine or spruce with Fruitwood stain? One of the positive features of any modular system is also one of it's handicaps, and that is the diversity of modelers involved.
          >
          > Hypothetically speaking, and assuming that the problem of consistency could be overcome, do you think it would be an improvement if typical T-Trak modules like Lee's box design were to have a nicely finished hardwood molding added to the front edge, perhaps something like 3/4" x 3/4" varnished Ash or Oak? Wouldn't this give a similar "floating frame" effect as having a thin module with a wood edge and separate sub-frame to raise it to the same level as all the other modules, since it would put the fascia in a recessed position, much like that of the sub-frame? Perhaps this could somewhat mitigate your objections to Lee's "box"?
          >
          > As for the sky boards, I agree that they are hard to do well, and almost impossible to do consistently between modelers, but they do serve the purpose of blocking the view of the open space behind most T-Trak modules, which is usually strewn with power supplies and electrical cables. Unfortunately, for skyboards to be effective, they need to be tall enough to block at least some of the view, and that also means blocking the view of the operators as well. Additionally, the question of proportion mentioned concerning the 2-3/4" front fascias comes up as well, only more obviously. It would be ideal if the power supplies and wiring were not there of course, but they are necessary for operation. Eliminating sky boards altogether would logically require a rear fascia that was finished and trimmed, similar to the front edge, as well. Covering the area behind the modules with crumpled tissue paper (which could be a problem with the Fire Marshall) or some sort of fabric has been suggested, but do you have any other perhaps better ideas on how to treat this area?
          >
          > Regarding your description of the FreeMo concept and your T scale modules, I am a member of an On30 module group whose modules are usually only 16" deep by 48" long (wide?), and are not designed to be set up in a loop (something I like to call the Dreaded Doughnut), but rather, run in a meandering point-point fashion, which I find to be much more interesting than the typical oval. It also means the operators have to actually plan ahead and use any passing sidings, since the mainline is only a single track. We have never set these modules up in the same pattern twice, although we have set up in a closed loop twice (once as a simple loop and once as a loop with an offset "jog" on one side). While I was amazed we could have done this, since we have no rigid standards for curve or corner modules, I didn't find the closed loop layouts to be nearly as interesting or as much fun. I think any modular layout in any scale can benefit from the point to point concept, not just the T scale you mentioned.
          >
          > Bill in FL



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • casadiego86
          In NWGA we typically have all 4 sides on our modules. We do not use skyboards, We make most all new modules 14 3/8 deep so there is no canyon or trough down
          Message 4 of 6 , Jun 26, 2012
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            In NWGA we typically have all 4 sides on our modules. We do not use skyboards, We make most all new modules 14 3/8 deep so there is no canyon or trough down the middle and we set back the mating ends about 3/16" from the top edge in order to eliminate any problems with the vertical ends causing mating issues. We also make our module top length the same as the track length or just a hair less in order to minimize any gap between modules. We paint our sides black and use black tablecloth covers. It sure does not seem to make a visual difference to anyone I have talked to. But I am not an artist and I just like to run trains. To me and most of my club members, that is what is truly important - TO GAVE FUN and don't sweat the details.

            I used to belong to a club that had to many rules and was too formally organized and no one seemed to have any fun. A group of us started T-Trak to have fun and minimize any club structure and rules and we are growing. The other club died.

            I still like to read all the ideas on here, but that does not mean they should become part of any standard and I am not implying that anyone is trying to make them a standard. Standards should be as minimal as possible IMHO.

            Jim Nealand
            Kennesaw, GA
          • Thomas Hudspeth
            And with a back board, you can reverse the module if you have to! -- On Mon, 6/25/12, PaulMmn wrote: From: PaulMmn
            Message 5 of 6 , Jun 26, 2012
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              And with a back board, you can reverse the module if you have to!

              -- On Mon, 6/25/12, PaulMmn <PaulMmn@...> wrote:


              From: PaulMmn <PaulMmn@...>
              Subject: Re: [t-trak] Ideas for Better Looking T-Trak Displays (Was:T-Trak Interface Guidelines...)
              To: t-trak@yahoogroups.com
              Cc: "Bill Nielsen" <wrangler@...>
              Date: Monday, June 25, 2012, 9:23 PM



               



              Bill--

              I like modules that have 4 sides, not just 3. That way you don't
              have to do anything special to hide the back side.

              --Paul E Musselman
              PaulMmn@...

              At 7:59 PM +0000 6/25/12, Bill Nielsen wrote (in part):

              > Eliminating sky boards altogether would logically require a rear
              >fascia that was finished and trimmed, similar to the front edge, as
              >well. Covering the area behind the modules with crumpled tissue
              >paper (which could be a problem with the Fire Marshall) or some sort
              >of fabric has been suggested, but do you have any other perhaps
              >better ideas on how to treat this area?







              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Jeffrey Reynolds
              Jim, I do agree that with the larger fronts the black paint is probably the best solution, especially for a club/group. The framing stuff I have talked about
              Message 6 of 6 , Jun 26, 2012
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                Jim,

                I do agree that with the larger fronts the black paint is probably the best solution, especially for a club/group. The framing stuff I have talked about is all pretty intuitive design stuff that folks never notice. let alone comment on. It was just part of my explanation when asked why i do thinner modules and the query about what would you do if you started from scratch.

                I too have done many of my standard spaced streetcar modules as full depth 12" modules to just have the street scene spill across to both sides, does make the gap go away! The deeper depth allows my modules to have a lot of larger buildings on them and this helps break up the "oval" feel a lot as well, but when you do see a tram pass on the other side thru a little street break in the buildings its a fun little peak for the viewer and not distracting or discordant to the scene on the side they are looking at. To help break up the "oval" feel more, I've been working on doing a train station over the two corner modules at one end. This helps with not having to try to do streets around the odd standard corner curve configuration as well and makes the trams disappear for a while, which is also a good visual trick for the viewer.

                I agree its all in what you enjoy with the hobby. I enjoy thinking about these kinds of details (thats why i do it for work) and while i love to run trains i really love the idea of doing the miniature scenes as well and these can really benefit from some of these more subliminal visual design tricks. So i dont sweat them, but i enjoy them, but not all do and thats cool!

                It is a very delicate balance between standards and too much regulation, especially with club things like this. The reason i started this discussion was module height seemed one too many standard than necessary. The beauty of T-Trak is that really only the tracks need to be at the right spacing and height and most everything else can be worked out on the fly if needed. And with a little explanation on how things just need to equalize out if you do something a bit more non traditional to play with the traditional the variety can be allowed and kept from disrupting group running. I think the looser standards that lets some play and do something different is good for T-Trak as a concept in the long run as you will always have a diverse set of folks coming in and it just keeps more happy and having their own fun and once and a while interesting ideas might pop out! Showing the public as well that there is variety also is good.

                I think I've beaten this cat to death and taken most of its 9 lives so ill shut up now!

                cheers

                jeff

                On Jun 26, 2012, at 2:43 PM, casadiego86 wrote:

                > In NWGA we typically have all 4 sides on our modules. We do not use skyboards, We make most all new modules 14 3/8 deep so there is no canyon or trough down the middle and we set back the mating ends about 3/16" from the top edge in order to eliminate any problems with the vertical ends causing mating issues. We also make our module top length the same as the track length or just a hair less in order to minimize any gap between modules. We paint our sides black and use black tablecloth covers. It sure does not seem to make a visual difference to anyone I have talked to. But I am not an artist and I just like to run trains. To me and most of my club members, that is what is truly important - TO GAVE FUN and don't sweat the details.
                >
                > I used to belong to a club that had to many rules and was too formally organized and no one seemed to have any fun. A group of us started T-Trak to have fun and minimize any club structure and rules and we are growing. The other club died.
                >
                > I still like to read all the ideas on here, but that does not mean they should become part of any standard and I am not implying that anyone is trying to make them a standard. Standards should be as minimal as possible IMHO.
                >
                > Jim Nealand
                > Kennesaw, GA



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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