Last Updated: 19 July 2008


APRIL 2003


1.0 General Description

2.0 Operating Rules

3.0 Framework for Basic Modules

4.0 Track Work for Basic Modules

5.0 Wiring and Connections

6.0 Scenery

7.0 Digital Command Control

8.0 Certification Checklist

9.0 Organization

Figure 1 Deck & Frame, Straight Module

Figure 2 Deck & Frame, Corner Module

Figure 3 Track Location, Straight Module

Figure 4 Wiring Location


1.1 The modular concept is such that members can each build relatively simple, portable sections, which can be combined in any arrangement and number to form a larger operating layout. All basic modules are interchangeable, can be located in any portion of the layout and can be quickly and simply connected, or disconnected to other modules.

1.2 Each module is required to meet and adhere to the following standards as a minimum in order to provide the interchangeability necessary to allow the modular concept to work. Each module must be fully portable, relatively equal in size and be constructed of readily available materials to provide for easy manipulation. The track work should consist of large radius curves with two mainline tracks.

1.3 Since the features described briefly above require uniform standards of construction in order to operate interchangeably, the following sections provide the details of these specifications. Any deviations to the specified standards will require approval of the standards committee before the module will be permitted to be used in the club layout. By specifying and following the standards, we can provide a basic foundation for all modelers to share their particular skills and interests, while maintaining a loosely organized structure that everyone can live with.

1.4 Any deviations from the standards for members modules built prior to implementation of these standards will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Standards Committee.


2.1 Operation during a show or display will be governed by the Trainmaster. During a show or display the decision of the Trainmaster is final.

2.2 An individual who has a train or trains operating on the layout is required to be present in the event of a mechanical or operational malfunction.

2.3 All persons should be given equal time to operate. However the module owners reserve the right to deny access to their modules for any reason.

2.4 Module owners / custodians should ensure good material and operating condition of the modules prior to a show or display.

2.5 All trains operating on the main lines will have a caboose or end of train device to mark the end of the train.

2.6 Individuals will not use the staging yard to store trains.

2.7 The operation of trains should be as continuous as possible. Dead time on a mainline should be kept to a minimum.

2.8 Permission is required by the Trainmaster and the current Mainline Operator before a second train may be added to the mainline.

2.9 Permission is required by the Trainmaster before a mainline may be switched between DC and DCC operation. Coordination is required to ensure all mainline blocks are switched between DC and DCC. The scheduled mainline operator has authority to choose which mode of operation he / she uses.

2.10 In DCC mode, programming of locomotives will take place on the Programming Track. Under no circumstances will a locomotive be programmed on the main line.

2.11 Under no circumstances is a person to modify or change another persons modules without their express consent unless it is to correct an operating problem / flaw during a show or display and the person owning the module cannot be found in a reasonable amount of time.

2.12 Use of the “Three Strikes and You’re Out” rule should apply to faulty rolling stock and locomotives.

2.13 For operational purposes, all modules or groups of modules will be named.

2.14 When you are finished running a locomotive in DCC, release it from your throttle so that it is available for other throttles to select and run.


The intent of the modular concept is such that each module will mate with all others. Each module must conform to the dimensions and standards provided herein. Any deviation to the dimensions will require approval of the standards committee. Refer to figure 1 & 2.

3.1 Sides and Frames: The frames should be constructed of 1 x 4 or 1 x 6 nominal lumber, such as common pine. The boards should be straight, solid, and free of excessive knots and sanded smooth.

3.2 Deck: The deck can be constructed of any material that equals a composite of 3/8”. This must consist of material that will provide strength to the module surface. The deck needs to be strong enough to stand up to the forces involved with the frequent moving, adjusting, assembly and disassembly.

3.3 Dimensions: The module will be a minimum of 24” to a maximum of 30” wide and 48” to 72” long.

3.4 Painting: All public visible surfaces of the module will be painted. The appropriate color is Lowe's Valspar Ultra Prem Base 4 #284A-5 Pinetop Interior Flat.

3.5 Legs: Each module is to have four (4) legs. Legs must have 3 ½” long adjustment bolts to allow for a total of 2” of leveling. With the adjustment bolt out 1”, the measurement from the floor to the top of the mainline rails is to be 40”. Bracing between legs, to hold the module steady, is highly recommended.

3.6 Two (2) sturdy C-clamps or equivalent, of at least 2 ½” opening size will be used to join the module ends together. Two clamps must be provided with each module.

Note: The longer or wider the module is the heaver and awkward it becomes. Everyone wants to include as much as possible on a module but before you build one, think about moving it around, setting it up and taking it down.


Track work is the cornerstone of good operation. Any deviation to the dimensions will require approval of the standards committee. Refer to figure 3.

4.1 Track: The main line track will be nickel silver, code 100 rail with plastic or wood ties.

4.2 Turnouts: The mainline turnouts will be nickel silver, code 100 rail with plastic ties. It is recommended that #6 turnouts be used for mainline turnouts.

4.3 Mainlines: Two (2) main lines, on cork roadbed, with proper dimensions will be provided as a minimum on each module. Mainlines may be curved or straight. The track must be centered at 5” and 7” from the front edge of the module with the track ending 4 ½” from the side edge of the module to allow for connecting track (9” straight) and rail jointers. If a crossover is installed both rails must be insulated.

4.4 Parallel Track: A minimum of 2” for straight and 2 ½” for curved must be maintained between mainline tracks.

4.5 Minimum Radius: Mainlines will have a minimum radius of 33”. Easements on the curves are recommended

4.6 Clearances: All clearances must conform to those dictated by a standard National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) HO track gauge.

4.7 Module Connector Track: The mainlines will be connected from one module to the next by use of a standard 9” piece of track, preferably Atlas brand, code 100, nickel silver with black ties. An optional 9” snap track rerailer is acceptable.

4.8 Uncoupling Ramp: All uncoupling ramps located on the mainline, must be of the electromagnetic type.

4.9 Route Convention: Facing the module from the public viewing side, the mainlines run East (to the right) and West (to the left), with North being on the rear of the module and South being on the front edge of the module.

4.10 Switch Machines: All turnouts on the mainlines are to have switch machines or positive locking turnouts.


Each module will provide through connections and outlets for variable DC track power and have the mainline track wired for interchangeable operations. The interconnected layout is designed to be operated from a single location, but each module can have a power supply with provisions to mount and connect it, to provide power for branch line operation. Refer to figure 4.

5.1 Through Track Connections:

5.1.1 Mainline through (bus) wiring will be 14 gauge (for DCC) or larger stranded wire. Track drops may be a smaller gauge wire but no less than 24 gauge (phone type) wire. 18 gauge wire is recommended. Each track on each module will have its own drop to the mainline bus.

5.1.2 Two pin Cinch-Jones plugs will be used to connect modules electrically. Looking at the front of the module the male connector will be on the right and the female connectors will be on the left.

5.1.3 All connectors will be on a minimum 24” “pig tail” to allow ease of connection.

5.1.4 The two pin plug has a wide and slim blade. Looking from the front of the module the wide blade on the plug will be connected to the rail closest to the front of the module for the track.
5.2 Power Supply Connections:

5.2.1 Mainline tracks will be powered from two centrally located power supplies that will utilize the under table wiring and plug connectors to power the track.

5.2.2 Branch line tracks will be powered by a separate power supply from the main line. The branch line will be completely isolated from the main line.

5.3 Insulating Gaps: All insulating gaps must be filled to preserve gap and gauge. No open air gaps are allowed.

5.4 Mainline Crossovers: If used, must have insulating gaps to isolate the two mainlines from each other.

5.5 Track will be wired to be easily switched from DC operation to DCC operation.

Note: The use of common rail wiring is NOT compatible with the HO scale modules.


The overall design, motif and scenic details are optional to each module builder. Each module can be designed as a diorama in itself, or can be planned to merge with other modules in the layout at the discretion of the model builder.

6.1 Ground Cover: All grass, trees, bushes, ground and foliage will be in the appropriate shades with no toy like appearance.

6.2 Clearance: All clearances for buildings, scenery, etc., will conform to the NMRA HO Standard Gauge

6.3 Elevation: The mainline is to be level. There will be no changes in grade on the mainline. Branch lines may vary in grade.

6.4 Mainline Ballast: The mainline tracks will be ballasted.

6.5 Backdrops are optional but are highly recommended.

6.6 All modules or groups of modules will be named.


Digital Command Control (DCC) is an outstanding alternative to conventional DC control. It allows for increased prototypical operation by allowing multiple trains to operate in a single track.

7.1 Digitrax DCC is the current operating system for the layout. It consists of a master control unit, booster units, communication bus and remote or direct throttles.

7.2 Programming of locomotives will take place on the isolated programming track.

7.3 Conventional DC equipped locomotives may be run on the DCC line in “00” mode but you do so at your own risk. Damage may occur to your locomotives.

7.4 Programming decoder addresses:

7.4.1 Place locomotive on program track

7.4.2 Press and hold “Stop” key and press “FN F0” key.

7.4.3 Turn left (L) throttle knob counterclockwise until you see Ad2=???

7.4.4 Press right (R) throttle once to change to Ad4=???

7.4.5 Dial in a four (4) digit address

7.4.6 Press “SEL” key

7.4.7 Throttle displays Ad4on?=Y

7.4.8 Press “Y+” key

7.4.9 Display should show four digit address.

7.4.10 Press and hold “Stop” key and press “FN F0” key.
7.5 Selecting a locomotive address:

7.5.1 Choose throttle (L or R) and turn Ό turn in either direction.

7.5.2 Press “SEL” key

7.5.3 Dial in locomotive decoder code

7.5.4 Press “SEL” key. Loco icon should appear.
7.6 Multiple Unit Operations:

7.6.1 Select locomotive for each (L and R) throttle as described in 7.5.

7.6.2 Make sure both locos are traveling in the same physical direction.

7.6.3 Press “MODE” key twice. MU indicator displays (Left loco will be consisted to Right Loco)

7.6.4 Press “Y+” key.
7.7 Releasing an address from a throttle:

7.7.1 Press “SEL” key.

7.7.2 Press “MODE” key.

7.7.3 Press “SEL” key.


Sky board / Backdrop 8” to 18” (Optional)
Track Gauge NMRA
Visible Wood Painted
Sides of Modules 1” x 4” or 1” x 6” with extra deep clamps.
Accessories Clamps, 9” joiner track, rail joiners
Bus Wiring 18 Gauge or larger
Terminal Blocks Two (one on each end)
Male Connectors Right Side
Female Connectors Left Side
Connector Colors Red / Yellow
Electrical Connections Soldered
AC Power strip or cord UL Listed (Optional)
Through Track Two
Height to top of rail 40” (Adjustable)
Vertical Track Clearance 3.25”
Horizontal Track Clearance 1 1/32”
Interface Track Center 5” & 7”
Track Setback 4.5”
Track Center
Track Center On Curve 2 ½”
Mainline Grade No Grade Allowed
Mainline Minimum Radius 33”
Module Length Increments of 2 Feet


9.1 Module Coordinator:

9.1.1 Schedule display and operating events.

9.1.2 Design module display layouts.

9.1.3 Enforces all rules of the TMR.

9.1.4 Responsible for TMR / Tidewater Division property.

9.1.5 Reports directly to the Tidewater Division Board of Directors
9.2 Assistant Module Coordinator:

9.2.1 Assists the Module Coordinator in all duties.
9.3 Trainmaster (Operations Supervisor):

9.3.1 Responsible for operation of the display layout during events.

9.3.2 Responsible for operation of the DCC/DC interface switch.
9.4 Electrical Supervisor:

9.4.1 Responsible for all aspects of the electrical standards for the modules.

9.4.2 Verifies that the display layout is running properly before an event.

9.4.3 Makes temporary / permanent repairs to a module during an event.

9.4.4 Responsible for the electrical connection of modules prior to an event.
9.5 Maintenance Supervisor:

9.5.1 Responsible for all aspects of the mechanical standards for the modules.

9.5.2 Verifies that the display layout is running properly before an event.

9.5.3 Makes temporary/permanent repairs to a module during an event.

9.5.4 Responsible for the mechanical connection of modules prior to an event.
9.6 Inspection Supervisor:

9.6.1 Inspect modules for compliance with standards.

9.6.2 Reports findings to individual module owner and Module Coordinator.

9.6.3 Updates Module Coordinators module plan book.
9.7 Accountant:

9.7.1 Keeps the financial books of the TMR

9.7.2 Reports directly to the Module Coordinator.


Deck and Frame, Straight Module


Deck and Frame, Corner Module


Track Location, Straight Module


Wiring location

Copyright © 2003