Four years ago, I had an upcoming show for which I needed a reverse loop module. I had one week, and a minimal budget, to build one. With limited after-hours shop time at my disposal, I decided to forego wood and experiment with corrugated cardboard instead. I’ve written about the construction of this module elsewhere. So, how’s it holding up?
Surprisingly well, thank you. Corrugated Curve has been to 17 shows over the past four years, for a total of 23 show days of operation. The deck has developed some warp, with a particularly deep dip just in from the module joint. To prevent an otherwise severe hump from developing at the joint, I compensate by raising the far end of the module. During setup at the Mini Maker Faire, I had three different people tell me that the module was badly out of level.
“I know,” I told them. “It runs better that way.” And it does, too. I didn’t have a single derailment or break-in-two on that module at the Faire, or at the Diplomat show the following weekend. In spite of a severely undulating deck, in spite of a badly kinked track joint on that sharp 8″ radius curve, trains run over it just fine. So it keeps going to shows.
I rant about bad tracklaying all the time. But what makes track good or bad? You can inspect for kinks, humps, and dips. If there are none, that’s a big plus. You can whip out the NMRA gauge and check more closely. If the gauge says it’s good, the odds tilt further in your favor. But the ultimate test of track is trains running on it. If trains don’t derail, stall, or drop cars, the track is good enough. So it is with the cardboard module. It looks like trouble, but it isn’t.
I expect to build a permanent replacement someday. Looks like it’s going to be a while yet.