Building an NWR Module, Pt 1

Hello friends, In this edition, we'll be featuring the construction of one of our new NWR modules. This will be module #9, a spare straight piece to fill in as needed, and will serve as a teaching aide. In fact, at least one of our Probationary Members will be laying out the track for this, which will likely be just a straight pass-through with no industry or anything.

For more about the Module Standards and plans, see our webpage at

Modules start with a frame of 1x4 Pine to be sturdy but lightweight. A single board through the center gives us additional stability. Later on, we'll punch some lovely holes through the ends and middle to route buss lines through and establish the peg holes.

A plywood top goes on next, with plenty of screws for reinforcements. We use Star Bit screws for construction to denote which screws are part of structure. Any added pieces such as a battery pack for lights would use traditional phillips head screws. Also note the "Back" on the module. This is where our skyboard will be bolted to down the road.

On top of the Plywood is a layer of MDF Board, which will be what we do the actual work on. The sandwhich of plywood and MDF makes for a sturdy frame, and while stout, the final straight module is not overly heavy for one person carry.

When building, the MDF will be sightly bigger than the 2x4 frame, and will require some fine trimming. No, he's not about to take his thumb off, that's an Oscillating Tool. For best results, align the MDF with the front edges so your cuts are on the back and side of the Module covered by the skyboard.

Our Last Step for this edition will be to Prime board top. There are plenty of choices for this, depending on tastes. Remember that you will be covering this with scenery We opted for a tan color as it was "well shaken", but a dirt brown, or a grassy green are also good places to start from. (Pro Tip: Do not put open cans of paint on the same table you are using an Oscillating Tool on.)

On Module 3 (below), the structure has actually been quite a few colors. Originally, the mountain was a reddish brown, which gave it a Wile E. Coyote cartoon look, but that really didn't mesh well with the Appalachian theme we had going with the others so it was first repainted into a "Pebble" color and then painted with Rustoleum's fleck stone paint that gave the cliffs a gritty look and texture. Feel free to play around with paint colors.

After the paint dries, we'll come back to this.


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