N-Land Pacific layouts are designed for realistic, prototypical operations while providing maximum enjoyment of the layout by operators and spectators alike. The public is typically interested two things when they visit a model railroad: a) the trains and b) ability to recognize some scene or industry on the layout.

This operations manual provides guidelines and tips to assist the N-Land Pacific train operators in trouble-free operations while providing our audience with a realistic view of scale model railroading.

Well-Operating Cars and Locomotive Power

An operating session will be much more enjoyable for operators and spectators when rolling stock don’t derail, become uncoupled, or stall on the mainlines.

Therefore, it is vital that all modelers ensure that their gear is working with 100% reliability and is in compliance with club clearance standards.  The NLP follows NMRA standards for coupler height, car clearances, locomotive torque (pulling power), and track-to-wheel dimensions appropriate for Code 55 track.

To ensure your gear is compliant with these standards, gauges, guides, and measuring tools are available through retail and online sources. Also, it would be beneficial to test-run your gear at NLP workshop meetings prior to operational hours at our show dates and the Open House.
Recommended test items:   Micro-Trains Coupler Height Gauge and “NMRA 98-8 Standards Gauge N Scale”

Clear Tracks and Avoiding Traffic

Before running your train(s) at a show or open house, walk the layout.  Look for long sidings where you could pull your train off of the main line.  Note their length and keep you train within a length suitable for each siding.  Look for sections of track which may cause traffic bottlenecks.  As you’re preparing to pullout of the yard and onto the main, look ahead towards those potential bottle necks for oncoming traffic.  If you see oncoming traffic, do not take your train out onto the mains until that traffic has cleared the block you’re about to enter.  Consider leaving the yard in the other direction if it is clear of traffic.


Framework refers to a module's structural frame including end plates, legs, braces, decking, etc. Throughout this document common sense construction techniques should apply.

Side frames shall be constructed from 3/4"x 4" good quality pine or equivalent which resists warping. Materials and joints should be flat, square and true.


Endplates shall be constructed of 3/4 inch birch plywood or an equivalent material that resists warping and be 6 inches high and 24 inches wide (Endplate drawings). For module connection, paired holes on each endplate are connected with two 3/8 inch bolts, four washers and two wing nuts. The endplates shall be 1" black on the sides, 1" trail tan on the top, mitered corners. Track alignment is accomplished by raising or lowering the module legs and manual side-to-side adjustments before the wing nuts are tightened. A drilling template is available.


Prototypical Equipment:  Prototypical equipment is Western U.S. Railroad Class 1 equipment which has been seen on the region’s tracks during the time period of our modeling era (1950’s to present). It can also encompass equipment which could have conceivably visited the West Coast or at least fits into the theme of our region as excursion trains, shared/leased power, private varnish, or other scenarios based in reality.  Examples are Rio Grande engines, the UP M10000, the Pioneer Zephyr, etc.

General Rules and Guidelines

In the name of fairness, politeness and trouble-free operations please adhere to the following guidelines when operating your equipment on the club layout(s):

Time to travel 3 feet at scale speed

Prototype Speed

480 Scale Feet

5 mph

63 sec

15 mph

22 sec

25 mph

13 sec

60 mph

5 ½ sec

90 mph

3 ½ sec