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HINTS AND TIPS - THE FOLLOW ON - Hints & Tips - Reference Area. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Sun Apr 4th, 2010 10:25 pm
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Hints & Tips No.631
A little different technique for mortar lines
By John Moore
You can dilute a coat of water based aged concrete and paint it onto brick sheet or building sides. Wait until dry then use a fine sanding stick across the surface to remove excess.

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 Posted: Mon Apr 5th, 2010 09:07 pm
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Hints & Tips No.632
An Alternative means of powering a reverse loop
By Mark Laidlay (Australia)
If you are still using Analogue controls, I used to power reverse loops via a bridge rectifier (or 4 diodes). This meant I always ran trains one way around the loop. Once the loco/s are well in the loop just throw the reversing switch on the controller, then when the brake van is clear throw the turnout and keep driving, no need to stop and no chance of electrical damage.

Trains could be driven either way around a loop by providing a reversing switch between the bridge rectifier and the track.

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 Posted: Tue Apr 6th, 2010 09:43 pm
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Hints & Tips No.633
Tiedowns in N scale
By Gerry Mahlkoff (Florida)
I use fine iron florists wire for tie downs. Even the smallest chain link, 40 links per inch, is far too large for N scale tiedown chain.

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 Posted: Wed Apr 7th, 2010 09:06 pm
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Hints & Tips No.634
Lineside Sleepers as Details

By
Several Modellers

You can simulate a track under rehabilitation by stacking a pile of sleepers by the track to indicate "new": sleepers. The old ones are on many railways simply pulled out and left to rot unless there is an active local program to market them for gardening edging as occurs in parts of Australia for example. Either detail adds to your realism and you can run a "slow section" where resleepering has occurred to give a little operating diversity as well.

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 Posted: Fri Apr 9th, 2010 07:38 am
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Hints & Tips No.635
Cheap Layout Construction Ideas Pt 1
By Rick Nicholson (Vancouver)
Layout building and construction can be much cheaper than we assume and the best visual layout I have seen in the greater city of Vancouver, BC is also one of the cheapest built in Vancouver as well. I am going to suggest some methods that will keep the price of scenery, construction, and structure building down, yet yielding even better results than store bought goodies.

Most of us come into the hobby insecure. We do not know what we are doing so we copy what everyone else is doing; it seems to work for them. But the best I have seen has also been the cheapest, interestingly enough.

Below are some ideas and I hope you can add to them:

1) Some of the best ground dirt I have seen, and am using myself is river silt. I saw this on my buddies layout. He went to an area on the Fraser River in Surrey BC and got buckets of river silt. He then put them through various sieves until it was very fine. Painting the area with combination of water and white glue, he sifted his filtered river silt on and let it dry. Since it is the real thing, his ground dirt looks very "real."



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 Posted: Fri Apr 9th, 2010 10:58 pm
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Hints & Tips No.636
Painting, Detailing and Decorating and Undecorated Locomotive Pt 1
By Mitch Hartman (Illinois)
Starting with your undec loco depending on what paint scheme or roadname you are going to paint is where I plan on what to do first.
I begin by doing all the necessary filing/removing molded on details then depending on just how much detailing you're going to do now you can drill all the holes needed for grab irons, lift rings, cut levers, hoses, wipers, well everything. also this means if you screw up and drill holes in wrong places that you can fix it also so it can be covered up and never seen. Now you can get to installing some parts. This is where the paint scheme comes into play, anything with more than 1 color means taping and masking.
What I do is look and see where I need to lay my tape down for colors. I install all the details parts that I can taking care to leave the areas where I need to mask free of details so there is no interference and can make sure I get the tape completely pressed on and tight to the shell so there is no bleed through.



( A note from Trevor - In H&T No 58 (http://www.xdford.digitalzones.com/hintsandtips.htm) there is a strategy to reduce bleeding of paint underneath the mask which could be worth your while looking at in conjunction with this miniseries from Mitch ... enjoy)

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 Posted: Sun Apr 11th, 2010 12:45 am
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Hints & Tips No.637
Cheap Layout Construction Ideas Pt 2
By Rick Nicholson (Vancouver)
  1. Track ballast - my friend who used to work for CN as a engine maintenance manager "borrowed" about a half a bag of engine sand, for "sanding" the tracks and used this same sand for ballast on his HO layout. What I was planning on doing was purchasing some sand, and again sifting it to get a finer grade of sand, then use this as ballast on my N scale track.

    3) I made a cheap water tower in N scale, a smaller one, using one of those brown plastic pill bottles you get your prescription drugs in. I bought some auto body putty and rounded the top of one end of the pill bottle, and sanded it down to give a rounded top. I then closed in the bottom and added legs. You can make a variety of things using pill bottles; they come in so many different sizes.

    4) Search construction sites for discarded foam used in insulation. You do not need large pieces as you can hot glue pieces together to help build mountains.

    5) Make your own "plaster gauze" by using cheese cloth. What I do is the usual webbed strips to form mountains. Once this is done, I get a hot glue and hot glue the perimeter of cheese cloth to the web strips. After the perimeter is glued (I pull on the cheese cloth to tighten it up), I then put a dab about every 4 inches to ensure the cheese cloth does not move around for my next step. I then "paint" the cheese cloth with hydrocal or plaster.

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 Posted: Sun Apr 11th, 2010 10:18 pm
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Hints & Tips No.638
Painting, Detailing and Decorating and Undecorated Locomotive Pt 2
By Mitch Hartman (Illinois)
Most paints out now will not require a primer on an undecorated or stripped down loco.
I start with my lightest color. That way if you get paint where you do not want it on the shell, it can be covered over. Now make sure to let the paint dry completely before removing the masking tape or it can peel the paint. When done unmasking and ready for your next color, well now time to mask off the area painted.
This is where patience comes in, you may spend quite a bit of time getting this area masked off exactly where you want it and how you need it so there is no bleed at all and also to get sharp separation lines between the colors. Make sure you work the tape into all the nooks and gaps tightly or else paint will find its way into those cracks. I take a toothpick to lightly force the tape into those areas. Now you are ready for your next color.
Once again take care to let paint dry completely. Now remove all the masking and you can see if there are areas you need to touch up or rework.

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 Posted: Mon Apr 12th, 2010 10:08 pm
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Hints & Tips No.639
Cheap Layout Construction Ideas Pt 3
By Rick Nicholson (Vancouver)
  1. Learn scratch building following the plans from an MR or other magazine. You will be pleasantly surprised at how easy scratch building can be. The only thing holding most potential scratcher builders back is "fear of failure." If your master piece is a failure, don't show it to any one and try another. I promise you after your second attempt, you will get to be very good very quickly.

    7) Check out the dollar store tools and glues section. Almost all the super glue I use is from the dollar store. So what if it dries up, another dollar and I am good to go. Use Zip Kicker or the like to speed up super glue drying.

    8) It is a myth that you need material to deaden the sound of engines on a layout. Three of my friends do not use anything to deaden sound; they built their track right on the plywood. There is no noise problem.

    9) Cheap spline method (spline is a method of track road bed building and is normally on the expensive side) = use hard board cut into one inch strips. Make small rectangular blocks about 1 1/2 wide and about 3 inches long. Cut two slits in the blocks, wide enough to hold a strip of hard board. But the slits about 2/3 of an inch in from the end of the block. Then on top of this hard board tracks that you have created, add hard board cut about three inches wide (this is called the hollow core method of spline construction).




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 Posted: Wed Apr 14th, 2010 03:02 am
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Hints & Tips No.640
Painting, Detailing and Decorating and Undecorated Locomotive Pt 3
By Mitch Hartman (Illinois)
Now you need a glosscoat for the decals to adhere to and this will also help the decal film disappear. Decalling will make or break the paint job. If the decalling looks bad the paint job does not matter. I use MicroSol solution under my decals to get them to adhere and "melt" into the paint.
Let the decal set for a couple of minutes and apply MicroSol to the top of the decal. Decals can take quite awhile to thoroughly dry and set... do not rush them. Now I finish my details. I can use a toothpick to paint the details that did not get painted. Now that all details are done, I finish with my dull or flat finish coat. Practice and patience will go far when painting... do not rush as this can kill even the coolest, oddball paintjob. Now to answer your other questions, I use Polly S and Modelflex paints, these are acrylic/water based paints just for the simple fact that I spray in the house so there are no toxic fumes and easy cleanup.

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 Posted: Wed Apr 14th, 2010 11:52 pm
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Hints & Tips No.641
Cheap Layout Construction Ideas Pt 4
By Rick Nicholson (Vancouver)
10) Buy only quality track, but purchase almost all of it used. I can get Peco turnouts for 1/3 their new cost and in my books, so what if one of them is bad, if that only happens occassionally. Guys switching scales, estate sales, train shows, guys selling off goodies due to a down turn in their economic status are all good sources of used track.

11) Buy white glue by the gallon, you will only thank me.

12) When purchasing "bus wire" for your DCC, household wire is great. Use a knife and strip out the wire from its sheath.

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 Posted: Thu Apr 15th, 2010 10:24 pm
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Hints & Tips No.642
Using Foam to Hold Loads in Open Wagons and Freight Cars
By Several Modellers
Use 1/4 inch/6mm foam rubber carpet padding underneath your loads in open wagons. Spray it black, cut it a little bit larger than the car, then stuff it in along the edge of the car. The foam will then bulge in the middle and wedge the load in. You can form each load as you like, and just pull them out if you do not want loads at any time. This works for all scales.

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 Posted: Fri Apr 16th, 2010 11:17 pm
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Hints & Tips No.643
Painting Mountains
By Douglas Stuard
Nature is not precise, and mountains and hillsides are created over time in a quasi-random fashion. I have found that by mimicking nature (i.e., being sloppy and random) and repeating until you get the effect you like, all works out.

You might build yourself "Mt. Practice" to try some techniques.

Start by painting the dirt areas a base color using thinned latex paint. Light brown or tan works well (look for "oops" paint at your locoal home center). Slop it on with an old worn out brush, no need for pinpoint accuracy. Then make a wash of black (paint or india ink thinned way way way down with water) and drip/spray in on. It will settle into cracks and crevices giving you the shadows and highlights you need. Sprinkle on some ground foam for grass/shrubs and soak with 50/50 water/white glue or thinned matte medium. Let dry. If you do not like it, paint over it and try again!

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 Posted: Sat Apr 17th, 2010 11:38 pm
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Hints & Tips No.644
Dummy” Somersault Signals
By Trevor Gibbs and Ted Allan (Sunshine MRC, Australia)
We were trying to work out either a dummy or working signalling system for a gentleman with motor/muscular control problems. His layout is predominantly Victorian/ Australian so we thought in terms of dummy signals as markers based on the very predominant somersault signals that the old Victorian Railways had.
You can simulate these dummy signals by printing them to size on an acetate/Overhead projection type sheet, and cutting them into disk shapes around the signal usually in the GO position but you could have some distant signals at Stop and the spindly look of the somersault type could be maintained. From normal viewing distance the acetate should not be too obvious.

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 Posted: Sun Apr 18th, 2010 10:53 pm
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Hints & Tips No.645
Re Entering the Hobby in N scale Pt 1
By Rick Nicholson (Vancouver)
(A Note from Trevor - This was part of a forum as a response to a returnee to the hobby in N scale and the information contained within will be quite timeless for all scales... Enjoy)

You need to say how big your room is... where is the door, is there a closet that can be liberated, where is the window(s) and will it inhibit anything? Are there any other obstacles in the room (furnace, water heater, etc... and posts)? Are there political boundaries... for example, did your spouse say: "Not over there you don't..!"

DCC

Secondly you are entering the hobby in a transitional moment, as many will have slowly changed to DCC. I once had an older boss who tried to convince me an electric IBM typewriter was all we really needed to run an Army Cadet Corp (I was arguing for a computer). Well as dark ages as that argument appears to you, not having DCC will eventually be like that... so plan on DCC and do not settle for anything less, even as an interim solution. Somehow, temporary solutions become permanent.

So here are some corollaries in starting with DCC:


1) Get your engine decoded. Probably have to pay some one to install it, but do it now, while you are making other decisions. Only buy engines with decoder already installed. My son and I, have around 10 engines that need decoders. In Canada, it costs more so by putting it off, you create a larger problem for yourself.

2) Start becoming familiar with DCC. Many magazines have had DCC “round up” articles, find and reread them at least 4 times in the next 6 months, and learn about the different systems.

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 Posted: Mon Apr 19th, 2010 09:11 pm
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Hints & Tips No.646
Painting, Detailing and Decorating and Undecorated Locomotive Pt 4
By Mitch Hartman (Illinois)
There are some colors you may need to go to Scalecoat or other solvent based paints, but be sure to have adequate ventilation. Polly S does not require thinning or dilluting before spraying. Spray at around 18-22 psi max. Also for masking, I use Tamiya masking tape which is available in a few different widths. This is the best tape I have seen to get tight into the cracks and crannies and also I have never seen any other tape that keeps such sharpness on the edges, I have never had bleed under with Tamiya tape.
Also I keep 91% isopropyl alcohol on hand. If you don't like the results of the paint before you decal, use the alcohol to strip the paint. Do not try to cover over the paintjob as you will end up with 1/4" thick paint job if you keep painting. They are easy to strip and start all over, and yes, I have had to do on an occasion or two!

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 Posted: Tue Apr 20th, 2010 09:36 pm
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Hints & Tips No.647
Re Entering the Hobby in N scale Pt 2
By Rick Nicholson (Vancouver)
Layout Design:

Do not assume anything yet, but draw a plan of what you would like now, make it simple. Draw up a list of "Givens" - what you must have on your layout - and what you would rather have - what you would like on your layout, if you have the room. Try not to make too many decisions now, but instead just go for the feel of it. (The original Query specified) a room which is larger than most N scalers have. N scaler's tend to build smaller layouts, so yours will be a respectable size.

Accept the fact that you will change your mind significantly in the next year and a half as you become more sophisticated. The corollary of this:  Spend time studying and critiqueing plans in MR and other magazines, as well as the net. Remember you will probably create minimally 6-8 serious plans before you settle down on one or the other.

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 Posted: Wed Apr 21st, 2010 09:45 pm
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Hints & Tips No.648
Modelling Wheatfield Harvests
By Daryl Kruse
Just thought I would share my experience experimenting with Woodland Scenics static flocking material to model a wheatfield harvest. Not sure if this is what the material is designed for, but it seems to work fairly well. After sprinkling it on thickly, I used diluted white glue to fix it in place. The soaked flocking lost its texture and became matted. So, while it was still wet, I sprinkled a additional thin layer of the flocking. This gave it its texture back and stuck to the wet, matted, original flocking. I air brushed it lightly with a golden harvest color so that the original color is still visible underneath for a 3d effect.

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 Posted: Thu Apr 22nd, 2010 11:39 pm
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Hints & Tips No.649
Re Entering the Hobby in N scale Pt 3
By Rick Nicholson (Vancouver)
Clubs

If you can, join an Ntrak club. You will build a module that can be part of your layout, plus learn much needed skills and meet people who will become life long friends, helping you in the hobby.

Important rules:

Remember this vital fact: Money spent here, is not being spent there! This is called "lost Opportunities" in economics. In other words, if you buy 25 engines, you probably are not going to have a layout as your money will be spent on engines, and not on your layout.

Part of the hobby is about compromise. You probably won't have space to do everything, so be prepared to be flexible. Items you might have to scale back on: maximum radius, maximum grade, benchwork height (depending on whether you consider a double decker), either too much track (spaghetti track) or not enough track (then you should be a narrow gauger...lol). Also, not enough room for scenery becomes a common problem.

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 Posted: Fri Apr 23rd, 2010 10:49 pm
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Hints & Tips No.650
What is a CDU and Do I Need one?
By Jon Hall

What is a CDU? - It is a Capacitor Discharge Unit circuit that charges up when you are not using it, then when you discharge it, there is a bit more kick to take the point motor over.

Do you need one? - depends on how much power your transformer gives out in the first place, and how many points you want to throw in one action, or if you want to throw lots of points in close succession.

If you just want one point at a time, and you have a 16V transformer, then I would think you would be OK, but if you want to throw multiple points (say a cross over where both points are off the same button) then you might want a bit more. One advantage even with one solenoid is that the coils are less prone to burnout because you do not have the effect of a manual switch keeping voltage going through the coil longer than necessary.

However can be a down side as well especially with earlier circuits. Once you have discharged a CDU  then it may need to re-charge for a few seconds, if you want to select a route that needs a lot of points thrown it can be a bit frustrating waiting for the CDU to recharge, particularly if you discharge it too early and have to wait for it to charge again to have another go.  However the majority of newer circuits recharge quickly and
unless you are trying to change a large number of points at a time in succession, you should not notice a problem with this.

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