FREMO standard module
Do you lack room for a
layout? Do you think model railroading is too expensive?
If you after all have an itch for model railroading you should consider building a FREMO module.
doesn’t cost that much, you surely have room for one, it’s not that hard and
it’s guaranteed fun. I’m talking about FREMO module building.
I started building FREMO modules last autumn and is now well on the way
on my third module.
is short for ”Freundeskreis Europäischer Modellbahner” and it is an
organization with German origin. We are building modules following a standard
with rather simple guidelines. The end profiles have to be of a certain size and
shape, but between these you can feel rather free making what you desire.
There are several standards for both 0, H0, TT and N.
This article will deal with building in H0 scale (1:87), with end
profiles H0-B88 (B96).
If you have Internet access, you can find a lot of information on the FREMO
homepage; http://www.fremo.org (both in
German and English).
You can find a Norwegian adapt of the FREMO standard in H0 in the homepage of Arendal MR Club; http://www.autoclassic.no/amjk/. In short we are building modules with ”Norwegian” look, depicting the time period 1955 to 1980. When we meet, we connect our modules together forming a large layout and run our trains from A to B following a schedule. The number of FREMO members in Norway is rapidly growing. In the beginning of 2001 we were 5 members, as of today at least 11. In addition there are several that are building following the standard and perhaps later will join us as members. Of course it is not necessary to be a FREMO member to build modules. The most important thing is to follow the standard.
materials I bought for my first FREMO module were as follows:
244x122 cm, 12 mm thick (for framework, sufficient for several modules)
insulating board, 120x60 cm, 70 mm thick ”Jackofoam” (for landscape)
Approx. 6 meter
20x37 mm (or 23x48mm) pine wood (for supporting corners and for module legs)
3.9x30 (plaster screws)
w/large washer and winged nut (for attaching the module legs and for module
(for attaching the rails)
(7020-G30Y) Lady Panel 15, for painting of the module (or flat black)
of this you’ll probably get in the nearest hardware store.
with the end profiles. They are
possible to buy pre-cut, but it’s not that hard to make them yourself with the
right tools. But, you have to be exact with the measures.
You can find a drawing of the end profile on the FREMO homepage and it is
easy to print it out from there. All
measures are marked on the drawing. The five holes in the end profile are the
attach points towards the next module, while the upper edge should fit exactly
with the upper edge of the next module.
decide how long your module should be. It
should not be so long that one person has problems handling it or that it is
difficult transporting to module gatherings.
I chose to make min 120 cm long.
sawing the side profiles you should roughly decide the shape of the landscape.
Draw the profiles on the front and back side.
Remember that the length of the side profiles should be the total length
of the module minus the thickness of both end profiles, in this case 24 mm (2 x
12). Then saw the side profiles and
sand all edges clean. Saw corner
blocks for each corner. Make the
blocks a few cm shorter than the height of the side profiles. The blocks should align with the lower edge of the side
profiles, see picture 1. These
blocks serve two purposes: They
secure the connection between the side- and end profiles and are a side support
for the module legs. Glue and screw
the blocks on the inside of the side profiles, remember to pre-drill and
countersink the holes to prevent cracking.
Wait until the glue has dried before attaching the end profiles.
When the glue has
dried, it is time to assemble the rest of the module frame.
Be extra careful in this process to ensure exact angles.
Use both screws and glue.
cut the board for the track. It
should be exactly as long as the side profiles.
two blocks that are to be attached on the inside of the end profiles.
They serve as supports for the track board and have to be attached in
such a height so that when the track board plus track base (cork or similar) are
attached this should be even with the top center of the end profile.
In this case the board thickness (12 mm) plus cork base (5 mm). For further support of the module and an absolute straight
track bed you have to place cross “beams” in the module. The standard tells a minimum of one for modules longer than
70 cm. For my modules I use two.
this time it is smart to paint the module frame.
A minimum of two coats, both on the inside and outside, are needed.
The color should be either flat black or flat green (7020-G30Y).
Oil base paint is strongly recommended to avoid sticking between attached
modules. Sand lightly after the
first coat for a smooth surface.
module legs are cut to 119 cm length. The
method for attaching is described in picture 2. This method is very simple and allow for individual
adjustment of the legs using one screw. The
screw is of the same type as the screws used for interconnection of modules.
the module should be standing on its own legs, the time has come for laying
track and roadbed. A perfect
track is of utmost importance on a FREMO module.
Be exact when laying track near the end profile.
You can use anything between code 70 and code 100 track in H0 (code 75 or
code 83 recommended). Even if the
height difference is 0.6 mm there is no practical problem, because the tracks
are not physically connected with the next module, they are just placed in the
same top height. When adjusted, the
track level is 130 cm above the floor.
FREMO modules are DC modules, but there are some here in Norway that builds
their modules using Märklin 3-rail AC. If
these are wired according to the standard they can also be used as modules in DC
operation, as long as K-track is used. M-
and C-tracks cannot be used in DC operation.
standard modules I recommend using a track base, e.g. cork. Glue this to the
plywood; ordinary white glue can be used. Put something heavy on top until the
glue has dried. Check that the cork
is even and has the same height and the end profiles.
The cork has to be even and in the same height as the end profile.
two brass screws in each end profile, exactly where the tracks crosses the edge.
Screw down until they reach the same height as the ties.
Solder wires to the underside of the tracks (minimum two pairs per module).
Use a 30W soldering iron (or similar) with a rather thin tip. If the
soldering iron has a temperature adjustment, adjust to approx. 350 degrees C.
Use ordinary solder for electronics (60% tin, 40% lead) with rosin core,
0.5 – 1.0 mm thick. First add a
tiny bit of solder on the tip, introduce the wire and then add solder on the
wire. Put the wire aside and
do likewise on the underside of the track.
First a little solder on the tip, then the iron on to the track and then
subsequently following solder to the track (not on the iron). Be fast, so the ties don’t melt!
Then, hold the wire in one hand, the soldering wire in the other hand,
heat quickly the solder on the track, put the wire down on to the track and
remove the soldering iron. This
requires a bit of practice, test on a little piece of track first!
you can test-lay the track on the base. Let
the track be somewhat longer than the module.
Remove the tie(s) where the brass screws are, do the final adjustments
and solder the track to the screws. I
recommend at least one rail joint on each track on the module, allowing the
track to expand/contract when stored in different temperature conditions. Attach
the rail to the base using track nails. These
nails could be removed after the ballasting is finished, so do not tap them all
the way down. Cut the rails 0.1 -
0.2 mm inside the module edge and file an angle on the inside of each rail.
Here you can see the two brass screws in the end profile. Solder the rails to these. Note also the feeder wires soldered to the rails.
electrical connections on a FREMO module are very simple:
Two wires (track voltage + and -) minimum 1.0 mm² throughout the module
with connector sockets on each end. The
feeder wires from the track are connected to these.
Be aware of the polarity. You
can, instead of sockets on each end, use one cable w/plug and one socket on each
side, making no need for loose wires for connection.
The cable throughout
the module should have sockets on each end, or as here one wire and one socket.
The feeder wires from the track are connected to the cable running
is a row of techniques and solutions you can use.
I will not go into details of this here. I have used Jackofoam on my modules, glued to the module
frame with white glue or hot melting glue.
This is a solid and lightweight material that can be cut using a knife or
a saw. Cover with plaster.
Ballast around the tracks is distributed right from the bag and adjusted with a soft brush. Then, moist the area using a spray bottle with water and a few drops of detergent (to reduce the surface tension of the water drops). Do not spray directly towards the ballast that may shift the ballast around. After wetting use a glue mix (one part white glue, 3 parts water, a few drops of detergent) and wet the ballast using an eyedropper. You should use a lot of this mixture. Don’t bother if it looks very whitish when you work, it’ll look good when dried.
the plaster using acrylic paint, heavily diluted with water.
Use dull “earth colors”. Then
you can distribute ground foam and attach as you did with the ballast.
No despair if the glue mixture shifts the ground foam somewhat, you can
easily cover this up with the next layer when the first has dried.
Trees, bushes, buildings, fences, posts, people etc. are all parts of the finish on a module. Here only imagination, desire and ability set the limits. Good luck, maybe we’ll meet on the next FREMO gathering?
questions? Enter the
discussion forum for FREMO in Norway (FREMO-talk) on
or find the link from the MJF homepage http://www.mjf.no
. On the FREMO-talk you can
ask questions on the Internet and get some answers!
This article was
published (in Norwegian) in "MJ-bladet spesial 2001".
Dec. 15, 2001, BRL
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