A little later in the 1980's, word came (slowly, in a non-internet enabled world) of a California based movement promoting interconnected model railway modules in 1:160 scale. The movement in California called itself N-Trak, and offered a set of standards by which modellers could create interchangeable layout sections, resulting in portable layouts easily customized to the space available.

This attracted the interest of several of the group who had worked on the Burnaby exhibition layout, and the display of British Columbia's first N-Trak module, an attractive scene centered on a coal mine, built by Hank Menkveld of Chilliwack, convinced them that this was the way forward.

One of the group, Wendy Magnall, relates that "On a sunny Saturday, John Fysh, Brian Morgan, Wendy Magnall, and Scott Calvert gathered in Scott’s carport to start work on four standard NTrak modules with contiguous scenery. As work progressed, discussion took place as to how a local club might best operate, punctuated with the occasional grunt or “ouch!” as saws and soldering irons went slightly awry. A voice quietly started singing:

Ooch! Ah! Dang! Blast!
That’s the sound of the men,
working on the train, ga-a-ang…

…and the new club had a name!"

Wendy recalls that these first four modules first went on public display at one of the N-Con gatherings sponsored by Pacific N Scale during that period, attracting great interest, with several new "members" joining the group by the end of the show.

The first TraiNgang layout was well received at its public debut at the TRAINS Show at the Cameron Recreation Center in November of 1986. This layout had 4 foot corners, 3 integrated modules on one side and balanced by a 3 module yard.

In 1987, an expedition to the NMRA National Convention in Eugene, Oregon, saw John’s, Brian’s and Scott’s modules, as well as the pioneering mine scene, incorporated into two huge gymnasium-filling N-Trak layouts that were a highlight of the event. During the awards ceremony at the convention banquet, Hank Menkveld's module was chosen from the scores on display to receive an award as the best of them all, a fitting tribute to the module which launched N-Trak in British Columbia!

a farm module, about 2001

In the mid 1980's the layout was displayed a few times at the Oakridge Mall, and later, in the summer of 1988, a TraiNgang layout was displayed for 14 days as part of that year's Pacific National Exhibition. Despite the challenges of operating and protecting the layout every day for the duration of the fair, the only loss was a flat car to a grab-and-run by a young visitor!

Beginning in about 1988, the layout was regularly displayed in the lobby of the BC Rail Building in North Vancouver as part of the annual Port Canada display (no longer held), and event which continued for about five years.

(Photos courtesy of Bob Berbeck)

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