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HINTS AND TIPS - THE FOLLOW ON - Hints & Tips - Reference Area. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Sat Jan 11th, 2020 08:18 pm
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Hints & Tips No. 2251
What to do with Excess Wires on a DCC chip Pt 1
By Thomas Stage
If you will never use unneeded AUX wires from a chip, you can just clip them off near the decoder.  Or...merely clip off any exposed or bare wire then pull on the insulation so that it slides past the clipped wire.  This will insulate it and keep it from shorting to anything.
However if you think that you might use the AUX wires in the future, leave them as is and insulate the ends with a small piece of heat shrink - e.g. 3/64" or 1/32" OD.

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 Posted: Wed Jan 15th, 2020 04:29 am
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Hints & Tips No. 2252
What to do with Excess Wires on a DCC chip Pt 2
By David Anderson
If you are going to apply the heat shrink tubing over a spare wire, bend the end of the wire back on itself for 1/4" or more. Then put your heat shrink tubing over the end of the wire. The doubled wire will give the heat shrink tubing more to grab on to and it will be far less likely to slip out of place. Some will accuse me of overkill, but I am a firm believer in Murphy's Law.


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 Posted: Sat Jan 18th, 2020 09:30 am
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Hints & Tips No. 2253
Another Way of Making Roads 
By Sam Deveson
I prefer to make all of my roads using a combination of .040" sheet styrene and a thin sheet foam product called "Fun Foam" available at craft stores.  The styrene sheet forms smooth road grade and elevation changes while the Fun Foam creates the "asphalt" road surface. I first lay out complicated intersections and/or curves using pieces of cardstock.  I cut out each side of the intersection or curve from cardstock, then tape the various pieces together to create a tracing template. I then trace the shape onto the styrene and cut out the road section. The styrene road section can in turn be used as a cutting template for the Fun Foam and spray adhesive is used to cement the Fun Foam to the styrene base.  Joints in the Fun Foam can be filled with Woodland Scenics Foam Putty or disguised as cracks by cutting crooked joints. It is also easy to add additional cracks in the Fun Foam surface.
A Note from Trevor
I do not know if it is quite the same stuff as "Fun Foam" but Foam Core sheet is sent to picture framers with a thin foam sheet for packing that I have used to emulate Asphalt surface as Hornblower describes. 
The Picture framers here at least cannot recycle it so in my part of the world anyway, they are glad to get rid of it for nothing! There is also sufficient bend that the surface need not be billiard table flat, although the framers stuff can be a bit brittle when cutting it etc 
 

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 Posted: Tue Jan 21st, 2020 06:53 am
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Hints & Tips No. 2254
If you are planning a layout for the first time Pt 1
By Randy Rinker
 
 The first thing you should do is pick up some books on track planning and layout design. The first thing you will find in these books is not how to draw your layout, but how to choose a scale, gauge (not the same thing), era, local, etc. And that space may not be the true space you have. Only once you have figured out what it is you actually want to model can you even begin to actually design something - or have someone else design it for you.
 Artistic ability is not needed at all for layout design. I have zero art ability. Stick figures is about the best I can do. But drawing a layout is more mechanical drawing, regardless if you use pencil and paper or a CAD program. Forget those artistically rendered images you see in the magazines, you do not really build from those. You need to locate the track so it does not go off the edge, use appropriate radius curves, and not make the turnouts too sharp - those are absolute measurements, not artistic interpretations.


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 Posted: Fri Jan 24th, 2020 07:09 am
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Hints & Tips No. 2255
If you are planning a layout for the first time Pt 2
By Several Modellers
You have a layout size in mind.  Do read track planning books before building anything.  As mentioned, artistic ability is not needed for track planning.  A ruler and a compass if using a pencil and paper, or a track planning piece of software if you like computers.   Paper is cheap, plywood is not. (David Murray)
Anyone can get a version of Trainz and "build" and "operate" a virtual layout in the proportions of the shape of the ultimate schemes that you envisage. 

Even though it will not exactly translate, it is a good way to work out if the layout would work in the way you intend or has any inherent problems and save a bit of time in the design phase ultimately. The drawing from that point is fairly easy but maybe that is because as an older person, I understand the geometry a little better and it is easy for me to say! (Brian Stafford)


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 Posted: Mon Jan 27th, 2020 03:53 am
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Hints & Tips No. 2256
Weathering Wood in General and a Coaling Station in particular
By Jeremy Bolt
I have found several methods for aging paint. My most successful one was the use of a fiberglass scratch brush. I had success in making paint look faded, which is certainly a part of aging. Just the result I wanted. The scratching action not only makes the uniform flat black look slightly gray, but if used more vigorously in a random way, removes more paint, just as rain and sun do. So here and there I scratched nearly down to the bare wood. The effect looks very realistic.  


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 Posted: Thu Jan 30th, 2020 06:42 am
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Hints & Tips No. 2257
Building a Module for that ultimate “big” layout
By Dave Nelson
 For a module that is both a "temporary" layout due to living circumstances, but also part of an eventual "final" (well .. whatever that means!) kind of layout, I would go with a more or less flat layout without a lot of delicate detail that offers some operating interest right now: a challenging bit of switching at an industry where cars have to be spotted at particular doors, that sort of thing.  And temporarily, the industries could be just foam core boxes of the right size and color as place holders.  


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 Posted: Sat Feb 1st, 2020 09:05 pm
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Hints & Tips No. 2258
Checking Newly Laid Track  Pt 1
By Several Modellers
When laying track, always run your fingers both ways on every join as it is all too easy to not get one rail into the rail joiner and if you don’t you won’t find it until your engine derails. Best to get it right the first time. Also test your locos to make sure they can negotiate any curves or inclines, for inclines include a full load of wagons or coaches, adjust incline to suit. (Eric Jackson)
While it does not work so well with hook and loop (Hornby Couplers) I like to push a reasonable length train in reverse around newly laid or questionable areas using Kadee equipped stock for a few laps .Not necessarily at full speed but enough to give a reasonable test for several laps. I also have a couple of locos that do not take rough track so well so I make a point of using those when checking the track. (Greg Symonds)


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 Posted: Thu Feb 6th, 2020 06:34 am
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Hints & Tips No. 2259
Checking Newly Laid or Relaid Track
By Eric Hansmann


Steam locos with a long wheelbase make great tools to test your track. If your curve radius allows a 2-10-0 or 2-10-2, these type of locos will help identify problem spots that need more work. Diesels on two trucks will not show the problems as well as steam with a long boiler over the drive wheels. What looks questionable when a diesel operates over it may make a steam loco look like it is popping a wheelie. If steam has problems on certain track areas, then long freight cars and passenger cars may also have difficulties. It is an easy way to check your work.
Taking the extra steps on your track now will reward you with years of solid, enjoyable operation.


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 Posted: Sun Feb 9th, 2020 05:47 am
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Hints & Tips No. 2260
Making Trees using Crepe Myrtle Plants
By Rick Wade
I am sure that many of you already know about using Crepe Myrtle branches but it is new to me.  We have a large number of Crape Myrtle trees here in our development in the common areas and they recently finished blooming.  As I walked my dog each morning and admired the beautiful colors (red, white, pink) on these trees in normal model railroader fashion I though"Humm - I wonder if the tree tips could be used for tree armatures?"
A few days ago I removed a couple of tips off the trees, removed the wilted flowers, and stuck them in my train room.  An interesting fact is that just after they are picked I could easily straighten out any curves in the "trunks" and they stayed straight.  Now that they've been drying for a few days they are stiffening up and becoming rigid.  


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 Posted: Wed Feb 12th, 2020 12:33 am
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Hints & Tips No. 2261
Placing Trees on a Foam Board Layout
By David Starr
The layout always needs more trees.  I brought a bag of trees home some time ago and finally got around to planting them.  My layout is foam board, the trees came with doody little molded plastic bases. 
I cut off and discarded the moulded plastic bases, and drilled the trunks to accept 1 inch finishing brads. I held the trunks in a C clamp, and held the C clamp in my drill press vice.


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 Posted: Sat Feb 15th, 2020 07:21 am
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Hints & Tips No. 2262
Placing a Backdrop on a Foam Board Layout
By Trevor Gibbs
 
For an exhibition layout with a removable back drop I had steel pins attached to the backdrop board, sitting in plastic cotton reel spools glued into the foam base. The backdrop "hid" a staging yard but made removal very easily for transporting to and from the shows.


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 Posted: Tue Feb 18th, 2020 05:53 am
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Hints & Tips No. 2263
Weathering using cheap powders
By Bill Wardell

When weathering my rollingstock, . I have found a cheap way for myself to achieve it -  iron oxide pigments used to colour concrete. It is in a powder form & comes in yellows, browns, reds & black & you so desire,  a few effective colours can be mixed. Plain cement dust is also good for off white weathering.


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 Posted: Fri Feb 21st, 2020 06:00 am
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Hints & Tips No. 2264
Modelling Roller Doors
By Several Modellers

For roller doors I just use plain plasticard scribed with a sharp craft knife to represent the individual segments. Evergreen also do some sheets of "siding" with about 8 strips to the cm. if you want a slightly rounded effect but that depends on the scale you use (Ashey Gregson).
I just used a plain card sheet with a picture of a roller door printed on sticker paper.  You would then catch the weathering and age effect of that door and any slight warping would reflect wear and tear (Paul Rafferty)


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 Posted: Mon Feb 24th, 2020 05:23 am
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Hints & Tips No. 2265
Modelling Grass Lawn
By Several Modellers
While I have not tried it, I am planning to use fine sandpaper painted green
Lawns  tend to be a darker green in European climates compared to North America, Australia and more arid climates but regardless of  your modelled area, you could paint lighter stripes for the mowing stripes. Might look too much like green fine gravel but in situ could give the impression of a nice lawn.  ( Neil Weaver)
I am modelling N scale and with a small area for each lawn, I just used sticker paper printed with pictures of different lawns but scaled small to fit the small back yard and N scale. With some loose ground foam to represent bushes, it is hard to pick. For a larger scale but in a small area I used to use grass matting.  (Paul Rafferty)


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 Posted: Thu Feb 27th, 2020 05:52 am
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Hints & Tips No. 2266
Adjusting LED output
By Randy Rinker
To test light output of an LED for different situations, I would put a 470 ohm or 560 ohm resistor in series with a 5K potentiometer so in case you turn light output down, you still have the minimum resistance to keep the LED within its current limit. Just measure across from the fixed resistor to the pot to get the total resistance needed, then substitute as near a resistor value as you can to the reading on the Potentiometer.


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 Posted: Sun Mar 1st, 2020 06:05 am
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Hints & Tips No. 2267
Using Curved Yards
By Several Modellers
I think that curves in yards are fine, as long as you do not have the ladder on the curve as cars, either Kadee or Hornby will not couple or uncouple easily. Also leave a bit more spacing than you normally would to account for overhand of longer cars and access to fingers to assist with shunting. Otherwise curves in yard should quite visually interesting. (Edward Neilsen)
Given my time over, I would have made the straight track on the front of my layout a very wide radius curve of about 150 inch radius instead of being effectively straight for the 38”. This would have narrowed the radius of my curves by about an inch but I believe it would have been worth the effect. The Ess curve at my layouts back and the gentle Ess in the main yard  is very effective at disguising distance on my small layout (Trevor Gibbs)


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 Posted: Wed Mar 4th, 2020 05:57 am
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Hints & Tips No. 2268
Protecting Lift out Bridges
By Lionel Creasey

I have a “lift out” bridge piece that sits as an insert rather than pivot as a “lift up” on a hinge. I have put in a pair of Normally Open push button switches which the bridge close to the “ON” when the bridge piece is in place. 
The switches cut power supply for 18 inches (about 450mm) before the bridge if the bridge piece is not in place on one rail.  I decided to use 18 inches to allow for the action of flywheels and speed of any of the locos I have as a safe distance. There is also of course a plug to couple the bridge piece to the section so that voltage for the passage of trains can be connected but if the piece is knocked or dislodged, trains using it will stop!


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 Posted: Fri Mar 6th, 2020 10:59 pm
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Hints & Tips No. 2269
Using Guard Rails, especially on Bridges
By Steven Lange
I have a couple of bridges where I can be thankful I had a pair of guardrails on the inside of the rails on those bridges.  Many prototype trestle bridges in particular do not have safety fences but rely that wheels will be kept with the guard rails within the rails should they come off. Models don’t quite respond the same way but it certainly helped me with an incident of a loco derailing but thankfully not falling a couple of times
A bridge guard rail is purposely lower and farther away to not have any interaction with the wheel unless the wheel is derailed, in which case it is meant to trap the wheel. So for code 100 rail, a couple of lengths of code 80 would be appropriate.


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 Posted: Tue Mar 10th, 2020 07:47 am
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Hints & Tips No. 2270
Recycling “Old” Mobile Phones
By Mike Lehmann
We don't dispose of old phones. We recycle them into wireless throttles via JMRI. There are several more proprietary wireless systems out there, also, which may be able to do this also (anyone know?)
While I like having my bulletproof NCE 04 and the required (to program things) hammerhead, I can't see buying more with a typical cost starting around $150 when I get a nearly-new free one every few years from my wife (I don't use 'em like actual phones.)


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