The Northern layout standard exists to allow club members to build compatible modules to add to the Northern Club Layout.
These standards evolve as we build more modules, become more ambitious in what we want to achieve, and learn from previous mistakes.
If you are a club member and would like to contribute a module, we have a guide to building a northern layout module
Aim of this standard
The aim of these standards is to:
- provide a landscaping standard club members can build to, allowing them to contribute to scenery without committing to a full scale layout
- ensure the scenery built is of a high and consistent standard for public exhibition at LEGO shows and model railway exhibitions
- keep set-up and tear down time at events to a minimum through the use of standards for setting up, connecting, packing, and storing modules. The quicker this is, the larger the layouts we can take to events!
- promote the L-Gauge hobby to a wider audience through large, visually appealing LEGO railway displays
Definitions and terminology
This document is split in to:
- standards, which must be followed on all modules. There will almost certainly be exceptions we haven’t thought of, but please contact the club before you break one!
- recommendations, which are not enforced for modules but we know will prove helpful from our collective experience.
Common terminology used within the standards is defined below:
- A module is defined as a single, stand alone scenic piece which can be connected to the layout. Modules are predefined sizes of 4 x 4 baseplates (128 x 128 studs).
- A super-module is a collection of modules designed to work together. For example, a station module may require 3 modules together to provide enough running line and platform length. It is acceptable for individual modules in a super-module to only work with other modules within their group, but the builder must follow landscape standards for connectors where possible.
- A sub-module is one quarter of a module (64 x 64 studs), and is the smallest element element the base landscape should tear down to.
- A half module is a module with half the depth of a standard module, measuring 128 x 64 studs (approx. 1m x 0.5m). We sometimes use these to give more space for operators inside the doughnut, or to add longer running lines or sidings without the need to develop deep scenery behind them.
- The running line(s) or mainline are defined as the two primary loops of track, the outer loop (closest to the public) and the inner loop (furthest from the public), differentiated from sidings, passing loops and branch lines not ordinarily used for continuous running.
- The front of a module is defined as the edge closest to the public. The back of a module is therefore the interior edge most likely to be facing operators within the doughnut, and the connecting edges are to the left and right of these and typically connect the running line between modules.
- Doughnut is the default configuration of modules at events. This provides an amount of space in the centre of modules for operators to work from:
A. Landscape module standard
- A module is a standard size of 128 x 128 studs (approx. 1m x 1m).
- There are three basic module types:
- A straight module, of 4 x 4 standard baseplates (128 x 128 studs)
- A corner module, of 4 x 4 standard baseplates (128 x 128 studs) with an outer loop of r104 tracks, and an inner loop of r88 tracks, providing 90 degrees of curve for the mainline.
- A half-module of 4 x 2 standard baseplates (128 x 64 studs)
- A straight module, of 4 x 4 standard baseplates (128 x 128 studs)
- A module should typically contain track for two running lines spaced 16 studs apart to the centre of both tracks (ie, standard LEGO track geometry of 8 studs gap between sleeper edges). See diagram above.
- A module should be self contained, in that all track returns to the correct positions (see below) at the start/end. You can build two or more standard modules which work as a “super-module” for this purpose (e.g., a S-curve that returns over 2 modules to the correct positions)
- Generally, the first 20 studs of the layout from the front should not contain running lines as this is within the “grab zone” for small children, and the club does not generally use barriers at exhibitions. It is recommended if track in your module is closer to this the front than this you build a barrier at least 3 bricks tall between the public and the running line to protect locomotive running gear and provide a buffer zone.
- Where scenery is raised above ground level at non-connecting edges of the layout (typically at the front or back of a module), the edge of the display must be built up with black or green bricks unless you plan to add specific detailing to the edge (eg, fossils or caves hidden underground). It is recommended that you use bricks which work in multiples of 4 or 8 studs long, to make it easier to swap these out for 1×8 event bricks.
B. Track & clearances
- Each module must follow LNUR loading gauge standard v1.2 which defines the distance from the track obstacles such as bridges, tunnels, and platforms must be spaced from running lines.
- The module must contain a running line of standard LEGO gauge track in either direction. We don’t currently accept scenery-only modules.
- The outer track loop must be connected at 24 studs to centre of the track from the front of the module at both connecting ends.
- The inner track loop must be connected at 40 studs (to centre of the track) from the front of the module at both connecting ends.
- The outer curve radius is defined as a minimum of r104; the inner curve radius is defined as a minimum of r88.
- Pointwork or curves used on the running lines must be a minimum of r72, though r104 is recommended wherever possible.
- The running lines can deviate from the standard positions within a module or super-module, but must return to the default position by the edge of the module or super-module.
- Any track work beyond the running lines must be designed to protect the mainline. If you are including a siding primarily for goods wagons, you must provide a headshunt, or you must include catch points to divert trains.
- Where possible, avoid points at the connecting edge of a module. If connected to a corner module, this can cause undue drag on longer trains.
C. Landscaping standards
Consistency is key when creating a collaborative layout, so the standards below are to help ensure the layout looks cohesive when modules from multiple members are connected.
- Modules must come apart in to sub-modules of 2×2 baseplates (64 x 64 studs) for stacking in storage boxes. Recommendation: sub-modules should be taped together using Duck / fibre tape (not packing tape, or sellotape). If you do not have fibre tape, we have a small quantity with the layout.
- The default landscape colour is LEGO’s “Green“; this can vary considerably to accommodate any scenic needs, so long as the edges of your module or super-module return to the standard colour. The edge of your module or super-module must end with at least 1 stud depth of scenery in the default colour to ensure it matches scenery for all other modules.
- Baseplates must be the same colour along at least the front edge of your module (or modules, within a super-module). It is recommended that the baseplate colour is Green, Light Green, Light Bluish Grey or Dark Bluish Grey, though other colours may be used (eg, blues for water-based scenery).
- The entirety of your module must be covered in plates, with no baseplates exposed. This adds rigidity to modules as well as creating a more complete looking display.
- The connecting edges of your module must return to a height of one plate above baseplate height one stud from the module edge.
- A standard connector is defined as a 4×4 plate. These connectors must be fitted at highlighted points in your module to allow connection to others except where placement is obstructed by track or significant scenery:
- Green connectors are inter-module connectors
- Yellow connectors are inter-track connectors
- Red connectors are sub-module connectors
- Default track height is baseplate + plate + plate + track. The track must be at the correct height at the edges of your module.
- Track gradients for the running lines must not exceed 1 plate for every 16 studs length. It is highly recommended that the running lines stay at the height given above throughout your module.
- Track must be ballasted; the default ballast colour is Dark Bluish Grey. Ballast plates for curves / pointwork is acceptable (and recommended). Ballast must extend 3 studs from the sleeper edge at the module’s edge. It is recommended the ballast extends 3 studs from sleeper edge throughout the module.
- Track must be sleeper-ed; the default sleeper colour is Black, and the sleeper style is 1×1 plates and 1×4 modified plates, with one sleeper every 2 studs. This can vary in modules where it may make sense prototypically (eg, light bluish grey or reddish brown),. The sleeper colour must blend back to the standard colours at the module’s edge.
- Default sleeper placement is first plate on the left from the front; this should mean the right-most edge of each module does not have a sleeper (see diagram above).
- Scenery over the height of 4 bricks and 2 plates high must be removable for storage and transport.
D. Storage standard
- Modules must be stored in a 70l Really Useful Box for use on the club layout at shows. Additional scenery can be inserted alongside. 64l or 84l Really Useful Boxes are recommended for storing additional scenery which don’t fit in the 70l box alongside sub-modules.
- Storage boxes and lids must be labelled with the name of the module (numbered in sequence with 1 being the left-most module to the public if it forms a super-module) and name of the builder clearly displayed.
- You must provide a sealable, labelled bag for:
- any minifigures or animals used in your module
- small scenic items such as shrubs and bushes which are easily removed
- spares parts – a small selection of common parts used in your module which are likely to come off during transport or display
E. Approval and inclusion
We aim to include members’ modules in the club layout where possible. To ensure a consistent display, new modules require approval to join the layout, and this process is detailed on the build information page.
- At least one train per running line must be running during public open hours at events. Recommendation: It’s a good idea to have at least one reserve train in a siding ready to replace a running train in case of a crash, or a battery running out.
- Always protect the mainline. Once you have completed your movement, operators must always reset points to protect the mainline.
The standard was formalised in December 2022, and is currently active. It is in use on the Northern Club Layout.
|Revised module sizes – a standard 4×4. Updated guidance on clearances, connectors, and track, sleeper and ballast. Added storage requirements and operator rules.
|Small updates to add connectors and update loading gauge.