Although not initially called AusTrak, the basis of this Australian modular system was conceived in the early 1980's by the Sydney 'N' Gauge Model Railway Club. This was propelled by Australian modellers wanting to construct something that was along local prototypical lines as an alternative to the three track design of the American "N-Trak". A more "home grown" product has been achieved. With the many alternatives provided, the flexibility of N-Trak can be incorporated into AusTrak. There is even a conversion module to allow AusTrak and N-Trak to be run together (the Rear Main becomes N-Trak's third running line). The module system defined by AusTrak was developed from combining the best ideas from a wide range of clubs, groups and individuals. The modules are designed to follow the N-Trak philosophy by allowing a layout to be assembled quickly and easily, and of such size as to make it possible for each person to be able to fully complete and thus experience all facets of the hobby from track laying, wiring and scenery. The use of readily available building materials still allows for individual preferences and ensures that a person living anywhere in Australia can build a module based on the standards.
In early 1993, the New South Wales N Scale Group (NSWNSG) forwarded a copy of their newly formulated standards to the Victorian N Scale Collective (VNSC). VNSC members could see the necessity and benefits of standards that would enable the two groups to get together and run trains at exhibitions or conventions. In March 1993, at a meeting of the VNSC, all members present volunteered to research further the positive and negative aspects of an N Scale modular system. Members also investigated the usage, cost, availability and suitability of a large number of items, ranging from track, building materials, wire and scenery items. A wide variety of sources were accessed for information, such as other clubs, HO and N Scale, individuals and relevant organisations including N-Trak in America.
At the 1993 Brisbane and the 1995 Adelaide N Scale conventions, the ideas, experiences and preferences were exchanged, modified and compromised to suit the majority.
The dimensions and basic standards were expertly hand drawn by Geoff Bell (West Australia) and compiled into a 13 page standards document. Ern Ames (South Australia) did the final C.A.D versions which makes it very easy to visualize the standards. When the Final Draft of AusTrak Book 1 was completed in early 1997, the finished product was sent to a number of Model Railway Clubs (not just N Scale Clubs), individuals and organisations for comment. The standards are not the work or ideas from any singular entity or person, but rather a blending of a large amount of ideas and suggestions. After final proof reading, the AusTrak Book 1 was published by Australian N Scale Newsletter and released at the 1997 Canberra N Scale convention.
To this date there have been approximately 536 AusTrak manuals sold Australia wide, and over 2800 people have accessed the downloadable version. There are at least four model railway clubs with AusTrak modules either completed or under construction, and the interest in AusTrak continues to grow.
The AusTrak standards have been produced with the help of many people. Thanks to Dave Crowhurst, Geoff Bell, Brian Dwyer, Dave Bennett, Graham Cocks, Ern Ames, Gil Oakes, Chris Pearce, Roger Vistarini, AMRA Western Australia Branch, South Australian N Gauge Society, New South Wales N Scale Group and the Victorian N Scale Collective. The AusTrak Coordinator is Dave Crowhurst.
The 42 page A5 book contains all the necessary information to construct a basic AusTrak module and is available at a cost of $4.00, postage paid, from Australian N Scale Newsletter, 18 Hesperus Street, Hallett Cove, SA, 5158. Please note there are several corrections to the manual. These can be accessed here
A 14 page abridged internet version of the manual can be downloaded FREE here.
Photos of VNSC AusTrak modules can be seen on the Gallery page.