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Background to the HOTRAK club
This page was last updated on July 23rd, 2016.
The Ottawa Valley HOTRAK club was founded in April 1996 as a reincarnation of an earlier modular club in Ottawa that had disbanded a few years earlier. The founding members got together and laid out some basic principals for the club. The three most prominent were, Operations, double and single track Main Line running and loop to loop operations with branch lines as opposed to running in a circle as virtually all other modular groups did at the time. They set out Standards for module construction based on Moccasin Modular Railroad Club Standards and Free-mo Standards and adjusted them as needed to marry the two together using Transition Modules. All modules or groups of modules were to be independent from each other and had to physically and electrically match at the interfaces.
The next major decision was how to power the layout. Block Control was looked at and quickly discarded as the realization of what a horrendous logistics problem there would be in trying to wire it, connect modules together and control it. Digital Command Control (DCC) was just coming on to the market at this time and the only other system readily available was CTC16. DCC was chosen as the wave of the future since it had much greater capacity for Cabs and was an off the shelf and ready to install product. Digitrax was chosen as the Standard for the Club.
From September till June the Club gets together approximately every four to six weeks for an Operating Session. Mixed in with this we also participate in the Railfair Train show every other year and each year the OVAR (Ottawa Valley Associated Railroaders) Rally and the OVAR Flea Market.
For an Operating Session a call goes out to the members for what modules are available and a Track Plan is developed.
weekend the members gather and assemble the Layout. The Layout can be
and ready to run in as a little as two hours, but usually when the
is available on the Friday evening we do a more leisurely set-up of
hours with lots of socializing.
The room we normally
set up in is about 40 feet by 86 feet
and we will have about 50 to 70 modules in the layout. A typical layout
Main Line comprising of single track and double track sections with a
Yard and return loops at each end. There may also be one or more Branch
coming off the Main Line. Our largest layout to date was about 110
modules in a
60 by 100 feet Ballroom in January of 2011.
Time Lapse video showing the set up in January 2011
A typical Operating session on Saturday starts about 10:00 AM in the morning and runs through till 4:00 to 5:00 PM in the afternoon. We operate with a Dispatcher when traffic on the Main Line warrants it and use Car Cards and Waybills to make our deliveries. The Yard Master will assemble any where from two to five Locals for doing deliveries around the Layout and simultaneously there will be Passenger Operations going on using trains the size of Continental Trains down to RDCs and Doodlebugs (Oil electrics).
The video below gives a good idea of a typical operating session
Names of HOTRAK members shown in the 15th anniversary photo taken at the OVAR dinner on 12 April 2011
Sitting Left to Right: Jacques Thuot; Gary Baillargeon, Pat Brewer, Steve Adamson, Bernie Goodman, Paul Anderson, John Scollick
Standing Left to Right: Larry Lanctot, Georges Barre, Garry Comber, Mike Doyle, Andrew Jeanes, Bill Noel, Peter Parkinson, David Jeanes, Graeme Chase, Kim Zuters, Colin Churcher, Normand Levert, Charles Spencer, Tim Pullen, Michel Vincent, Gregory Gee.