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HINTS AND TIPS - THE FOLLOW ON - Hints & Tips - Reference Area. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Sun Jan 31st, 2010 01:52 am
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Hints & Tips No.572
Peco Point Motor Switches Pt 1
By Eugene Azzopardi (Melton MRC, Australia)
I use Peco Switches for my interlocklng etc attached to my point motors. Rather than glue them, I use a thin wire tied tied tightly to hold them to the motor. The materials use in the switch cover and the metal of the point motor do not lend themselves to gluing easily and if maintenance is needed, they are much easier to remove.

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 Posted: Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 10:15 am
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Hints & Tips No.573
Cheap Corrugated Steel
By Curt Lange
I enjoy scratch building structures and I am always looking for inexpensive material. Corrugated metal is used widely in trackside structures, but is expensive to buy in scale, and difficult to make from scratch. I found a solution for HO scale that may also work in other scales. It is called "metallic crepe", and is like party streamers, but is available in silver and looks just like corrugated sheet metal. I got mine at a party supply store called "Pretty Party Place" but there are other sources. It comes in 60' rolls and is 1 3/4" wide-best of all, it only costs several dollars per roll. All it needs is a coat of matte medium to dull the shiny finish.
I use that sandwich board [styrofoam between 2 poster board pieces-can get it at art and craft supply stores-it's cheap too] to build the actual structure, then glue the lengths of corrugated steel to it with a good spray adhesive or Tacky glue. The material is sturdy, and there is very little problem cutting out door and window holes.

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 Posted: Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 07:43 pm
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Hints & Tips No.574
Using Liquid Cement
By Marty McGuirk
The brush inside most liquid cement bottles is way too large for most models. It is much easier to use a small paintbrush to apply a small amount of liquid cement to the parts to be joined. Just grab a supply of small brushes from your nearest “reject” type shop

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 Posted: Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 07:43 pm
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Hints & Tips No.575
More Realistic Roofing
By Martin Smith
Most model railways are viewed from a high vantage point. As a result, the roofs of most structures are clearly seen. Just as we add details to the various scenes that we create, the roofs of the structures are just as important. For peaked roofs, vent pipes and the like can be added for interest and or if you era allows, television antenna's strapped to the chimney. For flat roofs, I will add almost anything such as vent pipes of various designs and lengths, skylights, clothes lines filled with drying cloths and last but not least, I apply a generous amount of engine black paint and sprinkle black ballast on the wet paint to add texture. There are many things that can be added to the roofs of the structures on our layouts and it is only limited to your imagination.

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 Posted: Wed Feb 3rd, 2010 08:47 pm
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Hints & Tips No.576
Peco Point Motor Switches Pt 2
By Eugene Azzopardi (Melton MRC, Australia)
As mentioned in H&T 572, I use Peco Switches for my interlocklng etc attached to my point motors. These are a very simple switch being a wiper on a circuit board. Before placing them into service, I remove the top cover (you can see the lugs holding them) and using solder, tin them. I feel the items in these switches that fail contact, basically fail because the copper track oxidises. I have had some of mine in heavy duty service for up to and possibly over 25 years and have not had any problems nor have I had to replace any... touch wood... yet!

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 Posted: Thu Feb 4th, 2010 09:41 pm
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Hints & Tips No.577
Using Tamiya Paints Pt1

By Several Modellers

When you open a fresh NEW bottle, there ought to be a slight odor and a good brush will paint the color on (AFTER stirring not shaking the paint) and within about 20 minutes stop painting and cap the bottle. Do not try to cover and recover a first coat with more paint. Let it dry a few hours.

Store the paint upside down with the cap on TIGHTLY. That adds a few more months of shelf life to the paint in the bottle. Clean your brush after about 20 minutes of painting, becuase no matter what you do with it, that paint will dry on that brush starting deep and turning into a solid while you add more and more thicker coats of paint onto that brush in a futile effort to stay ahead of the drying.
That is probably the finest paint for drying without brush strokes with water clean up that I know of. You can paint with steel wool and it will settle right down flat onto any plastic surface without marks in a hour. (I know, I am half jesting but you get point)
But it drys FAST. And best with small areas at a time. I paint in 15 minute blocks of time with one hour dry minimum, overnight best between areas until its complete.
One word of caution. If you see a Tamiya paint can spray and think you can cover that very big widget in one pass, do it outdoors. There is acetone in that can that may have adverse effects on you in greater concentrations.

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 Posted: Sat Feb 6th, 2010 12:10 am
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Hints & Tips No.578
Making and Installing Grab Irons/Stirrup Ladders
By Marty McGuirk
I start redetailing my freight cars by adding grab irons to the sides, forming them from .010” wire – which is close to the size of prototype grab irons. I started by creating a bending jig from a piece of scrap styrene with holes drilled 18” and 27” from the edge. The size you will need will depend on your prototype.


To form the grabs, I cut a short piece of wire, bent a 90-degree angle in one end and insert the short leg into the hole. Then I carefully bent the other end over the edge of the jig. It pays to be picky here – not every grab came out perfectly, but I am able to bend enough good ones fairly quickly.


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 Posted: Sat Feb 6th, 2010 09:48 pm
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Hints & Tips No.579
Using Tamiya Paints Pt2
By Several Modellers

Make a point of having several brushes ready to go. Start painting one brush on a project. After 15 minutes that brush is too dry with paint and in need of cleaning up (Windex spray... NOT IN your bathroom sink ....). Move on to the second brush and paint 15 minutes and clean that one up with a bit of windex and water. Then you will have two wet brushes clean and drying while you use the third brush.


You should either be complete with coat number one by then or the paint bottle needs restirring and start over with fresh brushes later in the day until the model is finished.
If you airbrush, do it to it on one or two passes and for best results thin with Rubbing Alcohol. Tamiya paint will dry INSIDE your airbrush faster than you can dunk it into a bucket of windex.

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 Posted: Sun Feb 7th, 2010 11:44 pm
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Hints & Tips No.580
Using Superglue with superdetailing

By Marty McGuirk

Since detailing freight cars means securing lots of small parts, often made of dissimilar plastics, I tend to prefer using superglue to join the parts rather than liquid styrene cement.


The glue or Cyanoacrylate (CA) tends to “grab” the part and hold it in place whereas liquid cement can allow the part to “droop” or otherwise move.

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 Posted: Tue Feb 9th, 2010 12:22 am
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Hints & Tips No.581
Wiring LED's

By Several Modellers


When you use LEDs for lighting on your layout , each LED should have its own series load resistor. The temptation is to run a few LED's in parallel from one resistor. Trying to run many of them through a common resistor will reduce their output, so a lower value of resistor has to be used to maintain an acceptable current flow to keep them working. The flip side is that if a couple do not light because they do not get enough current, more current flows through the others and possibly shortens their lifespan.

Since resistors are pretty cheap, (cheaper than the LEDs) there is really no reason to try and scrimp on their usage.

(A note from Trevor – I can get resistors at a bulk electronics place for about (at time of writing) $9.20 Australian Dollars a 1000 ... that is right .92 of a cent each! This is good advice as you will not break the bank at those rates.

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 Posted: Tue Feb 9th, 2010 08:35 pm
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Hints & Tips No.582
Using Acrylic Paints

By Several Modellers


I am a artist and I do landscape paintings with acrylic paint that you can buy from Reject type shops. You may like to try using a spray bottle with water to help work the paint to keep it from drying too fast. That will help you blend colors easier. You may like to have it dry faster so you can over lay colors. You can use a hair dryer to do that.


I find it better blend colors sometimes on the painting to get the look I need. So this may help you, but do what works for you. You can always repaint.

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 Posted: Thu Feb 11th, 2010 12:15 am
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Hints & Tips No.583
Tips for Bulding a Garden Layout

By Several Modellers


Track, plan on no smaller than 8foot diameter curves, This diameter track will allow you to run most everything on the market today.


Track power: If you are thinking traditional track power, spend a little extra and get stainless steel track. It is only a bit more than standard brass track but your conductivity and track cleaning issues will be greatly improved.
If you are thinking radio control and battery, go with aluminium rail... it is cheaper and you never have to worry about cleaning track other than clearing leaves off.
Now in extreme winter climates, use a ladder system under your track. Basically it is a wood or artificial wood like base with 4x posts that should go down deep enough to prevent frost heavy frosts heaving during winter.

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 Posted: Fri Feb 12th, 2010 11:21 am
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Hints & Tips No.584
Lift offs in a Layout
By Bruce Leslie MA USA
Do you plan ahead for things when building a layout? Thanks to planning for liftoffs, I can easily get to any derailment that happens in my subway tunnels. But, thanks to being very careful about my trackwork, I don't have derailments unless I forget to throw a turnout correctly.

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 Posted: Fri Feb 12th, 2010 09:59 pm
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Hints & Tips No.585
Weathering and Painting the Side of Rails Pt 1
By Don Sali ( Sunshine MRC Australia)

If you have new track that you want to pre weather the sides of ala Hints and Tips No 35 (http://www.xdford.digitalzones.com/hintsandtips.htm), particularly Peco flex track, simply remove it from the sleepers by sliding it out, painting it and replacing it in the sleepering

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 Posted: Sat Feb 13th, 2010 08:46 pm
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Hints & Tips No.586
Weathering and Painting the Sides of Rails Pt 2
By Allan Ogden ( Sunshine MRC Australia)

The cheaper spray paints for the most part do not harm Flex track at all unless there is an acetone component. Therefore you can prespray your track before laying with a rustic red or earthy brown colour ... whatever you think is correct for you and simply clean the tops of the rails and the rail joiner connection after the painting is done.

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 Posted: Mon Feb 15th, 2010 08:31 am
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Hints & Tips No.587

By Gene Kruger (Quebec)


The effect of the matt-spray toning down the effect of the weathering powders is very well known, especially among armour modellers. It is less about the powders being blown away than about actual toning down of the powders. The solution is to either over-powder on first application...or add additional layers of powder after the spray and just keep layering powder/spray until you are happy with the result.

I have found, that now that I am used to it, I can deal with it. I tend to over-weather the first application knowing that the matt spray will then tone it down to a less extreme effect. If it needs more powders after that then I just do a second application of powder and spray. After a bit of practice I can now get the effect with one application of powders...most of the time.



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 Posted: Tue Feb 16th, 2010 04:43 am
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Hints & Tips No.588
Fixing Stubborn Axles
by Trevor Gibbs

Every now and then, an axle comes through on a piece of rolling stock which gives it the wagon or freight car it is on, the rolling ability of a brick. I have had a few wheel sets which I have had to look at and the culprit has been blunt “needle points” on the axles. The fix is quite simple, take the offending axle out and remove the wheels gently. With the offending “pin point”, outward, tighten up the axle in a power drill. You could get away with a cordless drill but a power drill is generally faster.
Whilst spinning the drill, hold a file to the point and shape it back to a needle point. A steady hand should produce the result that a lathe would produce. Reset your wheels and reinstall the axle on your wagon or in your bogie or truck and check the difference.

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 Posted: Tue Feb 16th, 2010 07:19 pm
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Hints & Tips No.589
Decalling Your DCC Loco Addresses
by David Willoughby (NSW)
Paint or Decal the Short and Long DCC Addresses on the bottom of the Fuel tank of your Diesel Locos. This is handy if like I do, you have more than one body for your model to represent different eras.

You could also show the date or time line of your particular locomotive models colour scheme for the correct marshalling of the time line of your consists. As examples, Australian National Locomotive CL4 was painted in AN Green and Yellow about August 1982 until it was rebuilt as number CLP14 and beginning service on the 19th of August 1993. Australia's most famous locomotive 3801 wore different shades of grey between 1943 and 1946, green to the 1950's, black until 1963 and green again in its service life.

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 Posted: Wed Feb 17th, 2010 07:49 pm
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 Hints & Tips No.590
Tips For Removing Ballast

By Several Modellers

If you used a 50/50 PVA/water mix to lay the ballast,soak with water from an eye dropper & leave for an hour or so.The track should then lift & you can wash the rest off.

PVA is generally speaking not waterproof, simply pour hot water from the kettle on to the area you need to alter and the ballast should come off like a dream. Just make sure it is not boiling water. If the water is boiling and you have plastic sleepers they may warp and cause gauging problems.

A good tool to use to lift pinned ballast track after dabbing water on to the area with a paint brush which has been left for 2-3 mins is an old wall paper scraper. The wallpaper scraper is also good and lifting scatter grass stuck down with a 50/50 mix of PVA solution & water. Soak with a paint brush dabbed in water (well painted it), left it to soak in, then scrape it up. You can also use an old shaving brush to gather the resulting mess, as not there may be not much space for a dustpan.

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 Posted: Thu Feb 18th, 2010 10:25 pm
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Hints & Tips No.591
Tips For Smoother Locomotive Running
By Several Modellers
If your locomotive “limps” or has an irregular rotation at the same apart of the wheel rotation, check for the following.
  1. There could be a burr or imperfection in the drive gear which is causing the worm from the motor to “hiccup” at the same point. Lightly clean your gear with a file so that the teeth are even right the way around
  2. One of the con rods is catching or is bent causing things to tighten up at a certain point. Remove it gently and straighten it up gently
  3. A small bit of grit has got into one of the cogs and is sitting there not allowing the gears to mesh and run smoothly giving the mechanism a bit of a kick each revolution of the gear wheel.
  4. A burr on the conrods. Again, remove and using a drill, lightly deburr the rod.



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