An N Scale Point-To-Point Tram Layout
by Richard C. Bell

One of the many fun things that I’ve discovered since becoming involved with N scale tram models is the planning and building of small layouts. Such layouts - called “Micro Layouts” by some - are fun to think about, design, and build. Unlike large layouts, they can be completed in a relatively short time, are easily stored, easily transported, and can involve innovative construction techniques.

Previously, the micro layouts that I have built have featured track plans with ovals that allowed for continuous operation. My latest layout, however, is different in two ways from my previous efforts: this layout has a point-to-point track plan and it is modular. Each module measures 1 foot by 4 feet. By placing the modules end-to-end, a 1 foot x 8 foot layout is created.

Having had much experience building trolley modules in O scale and in 1/2 inch scale, I am very aware of the issues of weight and problems of portability. Working in N scale allowed me to try a construction technique that is a little different from the norm. The technique that I employed resulted in extremely lightweight modules of a minimalist design that are designed to sit on a table top.

To construct a module, I cut three pieces of wood out of 3/4 inch thick stock. Each piece measured 1 and a half inches high by 12 inches long. As shown on the drawings, the three pieces of wood along with two pieces of 48 inch long by 1/2 inch aluminum angle form the framework. I chiseled out a groove on the top and side surfaces of the wood pieces at each end so that the aluminum angles would lie flush. Next, I drilled and countersunk holes in the aluminum angle and screwed the angle to the wood. A piece of quarter inch plywood was attached to the angle and cross pieces with Liquid Nails construction adhesive. Weights were used to hold it in place until the Liquid Nails set up. That’s all there was to it. The modules are strong enough to support N scale track and scenery and weigh about two pounds each. After painting the exposed surfaces of the wood, Tomix track was nailed in place and the usual techniques for adding scenery to the modules were employed. The line poles are made of two materials. The line poles with span arms were fabricated by bending and soldering pieces of 1/16 inch diameter brass rod. The poles without span arms are made from 1/16 inch diameter steel piano wire. It should be noted that the overhead wire is for visual effect only and is not designed to be operational.

The track plan features a three track stub-end tram terminal at one end (A). After leaving the terminal, trams negotiate the single track, private right-of-way to the other end of the layout (B) where there is a station. Adjacent to the tram station is another station where an interurban line terminates. The interurban tracks curve away and run off the side of the layout to imply that they are going to a different destination. One can imagine passengers transferring from the tram to the interurban and vice versa. After a suitable layover at the far station (B), a tram can make a return run to the home terminal (A) and a different tram can set out. The three tracks in the home terminal allow for three different trams to be in service on the layout.

A longer right-of-way could easily be accomplished by removing the bumper track at the B end of the layout and replacing it with a standard length of track which could be used to connect to track on additional modules. Addition of other modules would obviously result in a longer run and could allow for all sorts of design features such as a carbarn, more stations, a set of passing sidings, etc.


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