Louisville Free-moN Standards

Before you build, read and follow the Free-moN and the Louisville Standards!

All Louisville modules shall follow the Free-moN standards.

Additional Louisville Standards are listed following the Free-moN Standards.

Free-mo N Scale (Free-moN) Modular Railroading

Free-moN Website

Standards and Recommendations, Revision 6



    • Any component (or group of "sections") of bench work that is meant to be operated as a single unit in a fixed configuration. A module can have any number of sections. The ends of a module comply with the mechanical standards defined in the Framework description, below.


    • A component of a module, complete with bench work, track, scenery, etc. Except where otherwise noted, standards for module end interfaces do not apply to inter-section interfaces, as these are considered to be internal to the module.


    • Endplates are the standardized end surfaces of a module, usually two, that join to another module.


    • Framework refers to a module's structural frame including end plates, legs, braces, decking, etc. Throughout this document common sense construction techniques should apply. Materials and joints should be flat, square and true.


  • 3/4 inch birch plywood

  • 6 inches high and a minimum 12 inches wide

  • Module to module end plates shall be secured with C-clamps.

  • At the endplates the track shall be centered on the width, perpendicular to the end, straight and level for at least 4 inches from the outside face of the endplate.

  • Rail and track shall be cut flush with the outside face of the endplate. Modules will connect at the end-plates by clamping securely so that the rail-heads align without the use of rail joiners.

Legs & Bracing

  • Shall support the module free-standing.

  • Must be vertically adjustable plus and minus 1 inch

  • Shall have rubber tip or equivalent floor protection

  • Nominal and minimum height of rail head from the floor shall be 50 inches.

  • Grades: maximum height of the rail head shall be 62 inches above the floor and the elevation of the high end shall be some multiple of 3/4 inch above the low end.

Sub roadbed

  • Shall be sturdy enough to prevent sagging over the length of the module.


  • Fully covers each side.

  • Shall be contoured to match the scenic topography

  • Shall be painted a semi- gloss, satin or equivalent black color


  • Both sides shall have a black skirt

  • Shall extend past the module end plate to overlap with adjacent module skirting.

  • The bottom edge of the skirt shall be even with the bottom of the leg vertical member to prevent dragging on the floor.

Track - Main Line

  • Shall be code-55 nickel-silver flex or hand laid with prototypical tie dimensions and tie spacing.

  • Minimum radius shall be 22 inches with at least 6 inches of straight track between reverse curves.

  • Turnouts shall be at least #6.

  • Maximum grade shall be 2.0 percent (1/4 inch per foot).

  • Roadbed must be 1/8 inch cork or equivalent.

Wiring & Electrical

  • NMRA compatible digital command control (DCC) with LocoNet, by Digitrax or equivalent, shall be used for layout control.

  • Turnout frog, points and point rails shall be powered in a manner that does not rely solely on the contact between the points and the stock rails.

Main Line Track Bus

  • Wire shall be 12 gauge or heavier spanning the length of the module between the endplates.

  • Feeder wires shall be 24 gauge or heavier.

  • Bus wires shall terminate near the center of the end- plate(s), extending long enough to attach to the adjoining module, with a pair of 30 Amp Anderson Powerpole connectors stacked vertically (hood up, tongue down).

  • The top Powerpole shall connect to the left rail, as you face the endplate, the bottom Powerpole shall connect to the right rail.

  • It is recommended that you use a pair of red connectors to distinguish them from those used for the Accessory bus.

  • Applications that require an AC or DCC signal may utilize power directly from the bus.

Accessory Power Bus

  • AC Accessory Bus wire shall be 12 gauge or heavier spanning the length of the module between the endplates.

  • Accessory Bus wires shall terminate near the center of the endplate(s), extending long enough to attach to the adjoining module, with a pair of 30 Amp Anderson Powerpole connectors stacked horizontally (tongue-to-tongue, hood-to-hood).

  • It is recommended that you use a pair of black connectors to distinguish them from those used for the track bus.

  • This two wire bus is used to power turnout motors that control track switches but it may also be used to power other accessories on modules such as structure lighting, signals, animation, and the like. It normally carries a DCC signal similar to that found on the Track Power bus (a separate booster is recommended to avoid robbing power from trains); however it may carry 16V AC as an alternate, lower cost implementation (but less flexible). Electrical accessories within modules can use the DCC power directly (e.g. to control and power stationary decoders), or rectify and regulate it to DC (e.g. to power lights or electronics). If 16V AC is on this bus it may be used directly or may be rectified and regulated to DC as well. One solution is to use a bridge rectifier like Radio Shack's 276-1146.

LocoNet Bus

  • Each module shall have a single 6-wire "RJ12" phone jack mounted on the underside, within six inches of the end plate, to connect the LocoNet between modules.

  • Modules four feet or longer shall have a single or dual 6-wire "RJ12" phone jack mounted on each side of the module for hand-held DCC throttle connection.

  • Inter-module connection is achieved with a simple 6-wire RJ12 cord.

  • All of the Loconet connections require straight-through cables.

  • Standard telephone cables are not wired straight through.

  • Use color-coded wire matching the wire colors present in the phone jacks (white/green/yellow/black/ red/blue is most common).

  • Use minimum 26 ga. solid core wire for sturdy connection to phone jack screw terminals.

  • Add strain relief to the wires near their connections to the phone jacks.

  • Single jack panels for the side connections are acceptable on modules with simple track arrangements (i.e. single main line with one spur). However it is strongly recommended to provide dual jack panels on modules with more complex track arrangements (i.e. passing sidings, yards, multi-track spurs) since more operators will be in those areas at any given time.


  • Main line shall be ballasted with a fine light gray material and some form of scenery hiding the bench work.

  • Scenery for the first 6 inches at the end plates shall have a flat profile roughly 1/4 inch below the top of the main line rail.

  • Landscaping along the module ends must be designed to flow smoothly into adjacent modules - avoid features such as roads, lakes, and so forth from running against the module ends.

  • Use a generic grassy/sandy terrain.

  • Avoid structures and other details that could obstruct your forearms when installing joiner rails between modules.


  • Rolling stock wheels, trucks and weight shall meet or exceed NMRA Standards and Recommended Practices.

Crowd Control Barrier System

  • Each 8-foot length of module should have one barrier stand per side.

  • A crowd control barrier system consists of stands and ropes.

  • Ropes are 1/4 inch yellow nylon style (available at any hardware store).

  • Stands consist of a base and upright designed for simple construction and setup, and which may be separated for efficient storage and transport.

  • Stand bases are 12” square made from 1” plywood (or equivalent multiple plywood layers).

  • Painting is optional.

  • A hole is centered in the base to accommodate a 1/2 inch white PVC pipe end cap, used to receive the stand upright.

  • Stand uprights press-fit into the base and are 36” tall 1/2 inch white PVC pipe with a PVC “T- junction” mounted on top, through which the nylon rope is threaded.

  • Painting is not allowed - leave uprights white.

* * * * * * * * * *

Louisville Standards

In addition to all Free-moN Standards, the Louisville Standards are expected by all Louisville Area modelers who plan to associate with the Louisville Free-moN group.

Check the Resources Page for sources of many of the required materials and components listed below.

General Track Requirements

  • Atlas Code 55 Track is preferred, although Micro Engineering can also be used

  • Peco and Kato are not a US prototypes and shall not be used

  • A minimum of ½” of the final section of roadbed shall be ⅛” wood contoured to match the cork roadbed. It shall be glued directly to the endplate and shall be flush with the endplate

  • The ends of the mainline rail shall be inset just enough from the endplate to prevent contact with mainline track on the adjoining module, but without creating a significant gap. Track contact between modules may cause operational issues related to track expansion and will defeat the purpose of the circuit breakers.

  • Bluepoints or Tortoise Machines shall be used to throw and power turnouts

  • Turnout controls shall be mounted on the facia

  • Wood cabinet knobs painted Rustoleum “Almond” (gloss) are recommended

  • Both recessed and surface-mounted turnout controls are allowed

Main Line

NOTE: The main shall be the continuous track from the center of each endplate

  • Turnouts shall be #6 or larger (Micro Engineering #6, Atlas #7 or #10)

  • #10 Turnouts are preferred

Secondary Tracks: Passing Sidings and Double Track Mains

  • If a secondary track crosses an endplate:

    • the secondary line and the Main Line shall be on 1.25” centers

    • the last 3/4” shall not have rail and all ties must be sanded smooth (no spikes or tie plates)

    • the secondary track will be connected over the endplates with 1.5” rail segments and rail joiners

    • the final 4” of the secondary track must be straight and parallel to the main line

    • the module must include at least 2 sections of 1 1/2” rail to connect the secondary track over the endplates. It is recommended to bring extra rail and rail joiners.

    • Where a secondary track parallels the Main Line, a 1.25” center shall be maintained

    • When facing the endplate, secondary lines may be on either the left or the right of the main.

      • In order to take advantage of passing tracks between multiple modules, it is recommended that local modelers let the group know on which side of the main their secondary line will be.

      • One left-side line and one right-side line is required to allow a secondary line connect between two modules.

      • Secondary lines may also cross both ends of the module.


  • Facia & Endplates

    • All modules shall have a facia extending down 12” from the top edge of the endplate

    • The facia shall follow the contour of the front and back sides of the module

    • The facia shall be made of 1/4” masonite with the smooth side facing out

    • Unpainted, plain steel #8 finish washers & #8 screws shall be used to mount the facia to the frame

    • It is recommended to include 3/4” rail at bottom inside-edge of the facia for strength and rigidity

    • Facia and endplates shall be painted with Rustoleum semi gloss black paint

    • It is recommended that fascia be painted with a roller, not a brush.

  • Legs

    • Shall be made from 2x2 pine. Check for pieces that are true and straight

    • It is recommended to include 3/4” x 3” top and bottom cross bracing between the two legs under each endplate

    • Ensure that no part of the leg extends past the face of the endplate

    • It is recommended to use Woodcraft Model 160701 Highpoint T-Nut Levelers

    • It is recommended to have completely detachable legs so that 40” legs can be substituted for possible integration with oNe-Trak layouts

    • It is recommended to have a second set of 40” legs

    • Legs and cross braces shall be painted with Rustoleum semi gloss black paint

  • Skirting

    • Free-moN standards require skirting on both sides of all modules. However, the Louisville Standards call for 12” facia and so skirting is not needed to cover wires and underlying construction. If we participate with a strict Free-moN or oNe-Trak layout we may need to provide skirting. This can be accomplished using black landscape fabric stapled to the bottom rail that may be at the edge of the facia, per Louisville Standards.

Electrical Requirements

  • Each module will have a Command Station Bus (CSB) with circuit breaker to power main line track bus.

  • Each module shall have a DCC Specialties PSX1 circuit breaker wired between our CSB and the Main Track Bus

  • Only the CSB shall be connected between modules (no direct inter-module connection of the track bus). * This configuration is backward-compatible with the original FreeMoN spec, but allows us to limit shorts/fouled turnouts, etc. to a single module without affecting the rest of the layout.

  • Yellow wire is suggested for the CSB

  • Red power pole connectors shall be used on the CSB.

  • Heavily switched modules shall have a Digitrax UP5 Loconet panel on both sides of the module centered on the facia with the bottom edge of the panel 2.25” from the bottom edge of the facia


  • Our season is Late Summer

  • Our location is Central Kentucky/Louisville area

  • We do not have an era, but try to construct scenery that would be appropriate from the 1940s through present day.

  • Track Ballast for Main Lines and Secondary Lines shall be Scenic Express #50 Light Gray Ballast, Natural Stone Aggregate

  • Track color for Main Lines and Secondary Lines shall be Rustoleum Camo Earth Brown in a spray can

  • For track that does not cross an end plate, ballast and track color is at the discretion of the modeler

  • The primary base color for grassy areas shall be Behr Premium Plus Interior Flat Deep Base 1300, Paint & Primer in One (Home Depot).

Formula (based on a dirt sample taken from the Louisville area):

        • CLRNT

        • OZ

        • 384th

        • CL

        • 2

        • 81

        • EL

        • 0

        • 55

        • KXL

        • 0

        • 282

        • VUL

        • 0

        • 157

  • Other base colors may be used where appropriate (darker for forests, for example)

  • Silflor static grass blend of 2 part Autumn to 1 part Late Summer shall be applied to the last 6 inches of the module to the extent practical, depending upon other scenery elements and structures. This blend is also recommended for other grassy areas at either 2 millimeter and/or 4 millimeter sizes. http://www.sceneryexpress.com/searchprods.asp

  • Late summer blends of ground foam and other scenery materials may be used

  • Check the Resources Page for sources of many of the required materials and components listed above.

Before you build, read and follow the Free-moN and the Louisville Standards!