- Written by J B Weilepp
Northern Virginia NTRAK was originally established as an NTRAK club in 1991. N-Trak is a modular railroad system based on standards developed by the NTRAK Modular Railroading Society. The basic philosophy behind NTRAK modular design is that it allows the n-scale modeler to build a basic unit, affectionately called a “plain old four footer” or POFF, and to participate in n-scale model train layouts with other n-scale model railroaders.
The basic N-Trak module is two feet wide, four feet long and 40" high. The standards provide for the placement of the three rail main lines (Red, Yellow, and Blue) and the recommend wiring standards to allow for the joining together of unlimited numbers of other similarly designed NTRAK modules. The modular design of the NTRAK also provides for mountain train lines and passing sidings; allowing for a variety set up options. The basic three mainline design permits the operation of at least one train per line at all times. Additional trains can be run using block controls for analog operation or using digital command control throttles.
NTRAK standards are set forth in the “NTRAK Module Manual” and the “NTRAK Module “How-To’ Book” and are available online from www.ntrak.org . New members to Northern Virginia NTRAK receive the “NTRAK Module Manual” when they join.
The NTRAK Division sets up layouts throughout the year at various locations in Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia, and in Montgomery County in Maryland. The Division also travels to n-scale model railroad conventions and shows throughout the mid Atlantic area. The Club maintains two small trailers filled with corner modules, analog and DCC control boxes, and related set up materials to support our public shows. One trailer can support a layout of up to 24 modules. At exceptionally large layouts such as convention shows, the NTRAK Division will use junction modules to link together two or more NTRAK loops.
One of our regular venues is our set up at the Fairfax Station Railroad Museum the third Sunday of every month from February through November each year. The Museum, located at 11200 Fairfax Station Road in Fairfax Station, VA, has been a Northern Virginia NTRAK partner for many years.
The NTRAK Division can set up a layout oval of 8 to 12 POFFs and 4 corner modules in two hours from start to finish. Larger layouts may require a little longer set up time. Once a layout is assembled, n-scale railroaders can choose to run either analog or digital command locomotives on the layout. All aboard!