One of the first steps towards the building of the modules was the procurement of the FREMO module end plates and the adoption of their standards . I joined FREMO in April 2011 when i had visited their Jahrestagung – Annual meet in Schutterwald near Offenburg, Germany. For the uninitiated , FREMO stands for “Freundeskreis Europäischer Modellbahner”, translated as Circle of Friends of European railway modellers…..

Initially i wanted to import the end plates from the regular supplier of FREMO in germany but then the Daga brothers suggested that we laser cut the modules ourselves through one of their vendors in Bengaluru. A quick internet search turned up the FREMO specifications  for their finescale group – FREMO 87 or H0pur . While FREMO87 is different from the regular HO ( or H0-RE ) group but i still used the specifications anyway as i suspect they are no different . Here you can download a pdf of those specifications ………..

module construction profile specsclick on pic for a bigger image …..

Four hours later i had fed into corel draw the basic dimensions of four different type of modules and exported them into a DXF format. Off they went to the laser cutting firm and 2 weeks later we had the modules in our hand. The original FREMO end plates were of 12mm thickness and these end plates were 18mm thick. The wood was birch and overall the endplates looked great !!!! ….. Robust , strong , over engineered ……just the way i like it to be !!!

module construction end plates with alignment pins 2module construction end plates with alignment pinsmodule construction end plates with wing nutsmodule construction end plates with wing nuts 2

In  the pics above, besides Rajendra Daga one can also see the alignment pins  which very precisely aligns the modules and the wing nuts which secure them. Below is a closer view alongwith the adpated wrench which is needed to  tighten the two…. as they say in german ….Zapfen und Hülse …….

module construction alignment pins 1module construction alignment pins 2module construction alignment pins wrench

There was a great deal of debate whether or not these were to be used since they were expensive and would need to be imported from Germany . In the end , better sense prevailed ( i think !! ) and we sourced these from Roman Rachvoll from Bielefed Germany ….. his link here ……

In the pics above we see three of them per plate but two would suffice . We settled on the norm of male pin on the right side when facing the module from its side…….

module construction alignment pins 3

 

Various methods of putting together the module parts were considered . The traditional glue and screw method was abandoned quickly – too primitive .Knocked down furniture type fixtures were considered as well but abandoned as the module pieces were not jointed in a rigid enough manner and there was a lot of rocking and play . Box joint , dovetail , tongue and groove joinery were discarded as well for  i felt i did not have the skill set for such precision carpentery.

I finally settled for the Festool method of domino joinery ….. basically a mortise and tenon joinery method which was fast and easy to do……

here are pics of the festool domino jointer i used  ….

module construction domino router 2module construction domino router 1

and of the dominos itself …..i used the 5x19x30 mm size……

module construction dominos

below we see the various parts cut out and the domino holes made . It is critical that one keeps track of which pieces mate together and to keep this relation true, i color coded the various pcs with stickers…..

module construction wood cut module construction dominos inserted

below are pics from the build of a smaller ” track master ” module to which the tracks of all future modules will be aligned too …. i forgot to take pictures of the assembly of the staging yard module …..but u will still get the picture anyway !!

module construction dominos color coded module construction part assembled

The box glued up assembled ……..

module construction assembled

and then clamped ….

module construction featured image small

next player on the scene was the schneider sysmaster air compressor and grex pin nailer ….

module construction schneider compressormodule construction pin nailer

here is a video in german for the schneider sysmaster ….here is a video review for the grex pin nailer in english ……

the pin nails are themselves very small as u can see in the pic below and after putty filling . priming and painting disappear totally …..

module construction pin nailer in action module construction pin nailed

another advantage is that once the pin nails are in , one can unclamp the whole assembly and the glue joints will still be held together while the glue drys . This frees up the clamps to be used on another module , thus speeding up the entire assembly process considerably ….

While the Festool domino system is strong enough , adding the 23gg pin nails also adds considerably to the strength of the joint … below is a great video demonstrating the strengths of the domino jointing system with and without the pin nails and also the strength of various gluing options….

Below we see  the two staging yard modules assembled , glued , clamped and nailed ……. they are nearly as long and tall as my assistant …..!!

module construction assembled original module construction long and tall

the drill holes for the legs were put in place using a forstner bit which would enable me to flush mount the nuts and bolts ….

module construction leg flange holes

the cutouts for the digitrax UP panels  routed out ….. a total of 4 of them , one on each of the 2 modules …

module construction digitrax panel hole

the hole for the turntable also routed out …….

module construction turntable hole routed

the edges of the fascia routed away using a 10mm round over bit …….

module construction rounded edge

the modules were then thoroughly sanded down , then using putty we filled up the holes and other imperfections like scratches , nicks and joints . Two coats of primer went on , then another round of sanding and finally two coats of Polyurethane protective paint . Unfortunately , i did not take any pics of this entire process , so next time i do another module i will put them up…

I then installed the leg holding flanges onto the modules ……..

module construction leg flange 2module construction leg flange 1

Again a lot of debate prevailed over whether or not these flanges should be imported in from Heiko Meyer in Germany – cost being the factor coupled with the belief that we could come up with a suitable alternative . I always believe model railroaders are always short of time and should not waste it in re-inventing the wheel. Obviously these leg holding plates were tried and tested by FREMO members earlier and therefore that was a good enough reason for me to go along with it as well. In retrospect , it has turned out to be a good decision as the plates were a cinch to install and the legs go in and out very quickly . The biggest plus of this system seems to be the very minute adjustments which one can make in getting the levels absolutely right .

I sourced 25mm square pipes and got them powder coated along with the plates giving a neater finish compared to how the flanges were initially delivered……

module construction leg flanges painted

this is how the leg flanges look when installed ……. i left the protective plastic on till later ……

module construction leg flange installed

i covered the bolt heads with a liquid rubber mask during the painting process , u can see one bolt head with the mask removed in the pic below. I need to figure out how to cover these bolts …. maybe a laser cut ring or then a plate covering all four together ……

module construction leg flange exterior view

 

Finally this is how the modules turned out …..

module construction completed 2

module construction completed 1

and from below ….

module construction from beneath 2

next in the series….laying cork

previous in the series …..initial plan

 

 

2 Responses

  1. Hi Vikas
    could you please forward me Heiko Meyers e-mail address I would like to order the leg holding flanges from him.

    regards

    Doug

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