Hints and Tips - The first 499
Making A Grain Silo using Conduit.
By Raymond Stewart
Using PVC pipe is good for things like modern concrete grain elevator silos. You can get quite a few silos really cheaply and you do not have any seams like you do with the Walthers and other kits.
Hints & Tips No.249
Weighting Rolling Stock
By Loren Hall
Need to weight your rolling stock? Go to your tyre dealer and ask for tape on wheel weights. They will usually give them to you. They are pre-marked in 1/4 ounce and are just peel and stick. As a precaution, make sure you wear gloves because they are lead.
If you want to make your own weights, ask if you can have some scrap wheel weights.
Last edit: by xdford
By Ezekiel Johnson (USA)
Looking for realistic street and road signs? Go down to the Traffic Authority in your country, county, state or province and pick up a copy of the driver's licence study guide (or its equivalent) for your area. They are nearly all full of pictures of actual street signs.
You can use a copy machine to reduce or enlarge to fit your scale or cut them straight out of the book. To make your signs stiff, cut them out and glue them to an index card. Wait for the glue to dry then cut it out again. What about coloring? You can use an orange or yellow highlighter. If the colour is not dark enough, just colour over it again.
Now that you have your signs made, what about sign posts? For HO or OO scale, use the kind of florist wire they wrap around roses. Attach your new signs to the post with on drop of white glue on the back of the sign. The glue will dry clear, and presto, road signs that cost next to nothing!
Making Elongated Meter Extensions.
By Harvey McRae
I often get under my layout, and want to check to see if I have a broken wire. Of course the other end is away down at the other end of the layout. I made an extension cord for my Ohm/Volt/Amp Meter. This is how I got â€œmy arms stretchedâ€ to the other end of the layout.
First, find an empty wire reel. (I happened to have a spare so I did not have to take all my wire off)…..Measure out the length you would like to use for the extension wires. Ideally you will have two different coloured wires. On the sides of the reel, drill two holes and buy yourself two female probe sockets that your multimeter probe leads will fit in. The female sockets should ideally be the same size as your meter probes.
Drill two holes in the ROLL part of the reel and feed your different coloured leads through these holes into and out of the centre of the roll, leaving enough length to solder to the female plugs and cover with heat shrink insulation. Bare the ends of the wire and attach to the sockets. The wire feeding through the holes in this way will act as an anchor and save unnecessary stress on your female plug solder joints when and if tension occurs.
Having fed your wires through the roll of the reel, bare the other ends of the wire and solder to two alligator clips. You are now done!
Now to use the extension, clip your alligator clip to one end of your wire you want to check for continuity, plug your one side of your meter into the female plug in your roll and test with the second probe of the meter or use the second wire to reach the other far end… and measure!
Last edit: by xdford
Drilling into Foam
By Trevor Gibbs ( Melbourne Australia)
If you are using Foam as your track base, before drilling into it for wires or larger, use a skewer to make a pilot hole. If it is only one wire, the skewer may be enough in itself
Hints & Tips No.253 - Business Signs
by David Russell
For small business signs, look for good ones on match covers, business cards and advertisements in the Telephone Yellow Pages. Think about hanging them over the sidewalk in front of stores.
Telegraph Pole Loads.
By Raymond Stewart (Georgia USA)
Small wooden dowels painted black or stained a dark brown to represent telephone poles being shipped by rail is an idea that could be applied to flatcars and wagons world wide.
Ground Putty Recipe.
By Bengt Fasth (Sweden)
Back in the old days before DCC I heard about people who used something called landscape putty to make the first ground cover with. So even if it's the days of DCC I decided to make a test and make my own putty.
I mixed 1 cup of alabaster plaster with 1 cup of sawdust and the added paint made from 1 part brown, 1 part green acrylic color and 2 parts of water.
I added the putty to the layout and I am quite satisfied with the result.
Bottle Caps as Model Holders
By Andy Smith (Nottingham)
I model in N scale. I was throwing out an old shampoo bottle today, and took the screw cap off. I stuck a wad of Blue Tack on top, and now whenever I need to hold a model while I am painting it, I stick it into the blue tack and hold the bottle cap.
It saves getting paint on your fingers, and is more flexible than if you were holding the model itself.
(A note from Trevor – Larger Scales such as OO and HO and even O scale could use aerosol can lids for this – Thanks for the idea Andy!)
By Kurt Larson
To make a large quantity of good looking stumps, cut wild grape vines in the size you prefer. On the vine will be "bumps". Cut in the middle of the bump with a pruning shears, then cut how long you want the stump.
The bump will be the part toward the ground. If preferred, a notch can be made after the stump is cut by again taking the pruning shears and cutting partially into the stump and by twisting the shears upward, breaking this part out. Mass production, no cost and realistic.
by Mike Roque
Sometimes identical rolling stock items from different owners get mixed up on club nights, in order to build up longer trains, etc.
To solve this problem, take two or three colours from your model paint range and three toothpicks. Use the toothpicks to make three different coloured dots on the underneath of each item.
In smaller groups, it is highly unlikely that anyone else would mark their models to the same combination of colours as you. Larger clubs could even have a register of colour codes.
The Model Railroad Club, Union, NJ, uses a three colour coded axle on the B end of each car. The advantage of this is that it is very simple, while the disadvantage is that you must turnover cars to see the codes. A possible solution to the latter is to use a dentist's mirror to examine the underside of the models while they remain on the track.
Using Shadow Box Miniatures
By David Russell
Look into shadowbox miniatures at your nearest craft stores. These are very small miniature items that people use to populate shadow box displays. These small items are also great for store signs.
I used a 1 inch size pump bug sprayer (the old fashioned kind you see in cartoons) out in front of an exterminators shop and a small rendition of an old water pump out side a tavern that I named "The Pumphouse." I have seen miniature coffee grinders, flour sacks, coins, etc.
By Bob Brockel
My Cornerstone brand kit came with clear acetate windows with the panes moulded in. To add a little more realism to the windows, I wanted to paint the panes.
Rather than using a brush to try and paint the panes, I applied a thin coat of the paint to a piece of waxed paper. Next, I fold a short piece of scotch tape in half, leaving approx. ¼" (6mm) of the ends unfolded. Press the loose ends of the tape against the back of the windows. This gives you a "gripper".
Then press the windows into the paint on the waxed paper. Carefully lift the window off of the paint and presto(!), painted window panes.
By Tony Segro
On many types of brick factories, the windows are painted silver (I suppose it's to keep the sun out). Some individual panes are painted; others are not.
To accomplish this, I take a 3x5 index card, and use dividers to measure one of the many window panes in the window. I use a metal square to draw the window panes on the card. I then use an X-acto #11 blade to cut the card on those panes I want to paint silver. When the panes are cut, it looks like a crossword puzzle.
I then tape the card to a clear piece of acetate, and spray it with metallic silver spray paint. I then poke four holes through the card at the four corners of the whole window. Remember the whole window may contain up to 40 individual panes.
I then cut the acetate at these holes, and place the acetate behind the plastic window, making sure the silver painted panes line up with the panes on the window. Once aligned, I glue the acetate to the back of the plastic window using drops of MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone- the best liquid bonding agent for styrene).
Laying Track… Backwards???
By Trevor Gibbs (Melbourne, Australia)
The late John Allen, creator of the legendary Gorre & Daphetid, when laying track by hand used to align his track by looking at it in a mirror. His rationale was that because you were seeing it in reverse, you would pick out the misalignments and kinks in the track more easily because you were not looking at what you expect to see.
Fairly logical and yes it did work, even for flex track!
Hints & Tips No.264
Down Spouting and Piping
By David Russell
For downspouts and piping in general look for florists wire. It is a very soft wire used by florists to bind bouquets. It is usually painted green and comes in many many gauges.
By Martin Smythe
To model an urban scene takes lots of structures of various heights. To begin with, I have used several DPM kits together to gain the needed height. In an effort to achieve higher structures, I attached a platform behind a couple of the structures which allowed me to place shorter structures onto, to create the illusion of even taller structures.
The backs and a side on most of the structures were never modeled and are only foam core board (to add strength) glued to the detail parts visible. Modeling an urban scene can be fun and will enhance a layout.
By Stephen Lynch
One way to get a brick road to look like it has been there for a few years is to go to a hobby store and buy some cheap plastic brick road. Lay it down where you want it. Then take black water color paint and paint some on to the street, before it dries take an old shirt (if you use a towel or something like it then it will soak up to much of the paint) and with your finger covered with the shirt gently wipe the road.
This will leave the paint in the cracks between the bricks giving a dirty worn out look.
Holding Screws and Small Parts
By Josh Baakko (San Diego, CA, USA)
Ever lose loose screws and small parts when dismantling something for custom work? Ever forget what they went to? I have always had an issue with losing screws and coupler boxes when I worked on stuff.
The small screws in one of my coaches needed to be stored. I randomly thought about using a sticky note, flipped over so that the sticky side was up. This also allows me to write on the note, where they go. However I did not have any sticky notes! So I decided on some masking tape instead.
Starting with a 3 inch piece of tape, simply fold an inch or so back onto itself to allow for your writing, and leave around an inch exposed. Now stick the screws and/or parts to the tape, and there you have it, a "fail safe" storage system.
Gluing Scenery Items
By Trevor Gibbs
Consider attaching any scenery items near the front of the layout so it will break away if anything hits it during an operating session. It is easier to glue telegraph poles, figures, sign posts, trees or vehicles back in place than to glue them back together.
PVA glue is good for attaching details such as these. White glue will bond to non porous materials enough to hold them in place, without attaching them so securely they break. Just make sure you give the material enough time to dry such as overnight after your operating session.
From Roger Carrell
Further to Trevor's suggestions regarding PVA glues on non-porous material. Adrian Du Heaume of Perth, Western Australia, uses PVA glue to attach glazing (cut from Ferrero chocolate boxes) to his locos' spectacle and cabside windows (lights?). It is quite tenacious, sets clear and, being water-based, doesn't 'craze' the surfaces.
By Michael Anderson
The main keys to successful soldering are: 1. Make sure the parts are clean - no dirt or paint 2. Apply flux to the parts. Flux makes the solder flow easily. 3. Make sure your iron is hot. The iron heats the parts, which in turn melts the solder. 4. Use denatured alcohol to remove any excess flux after solder has cooled.
Hints & Tips No.270
Making a Test Vehicle
By Jim Shireffs (Michigan, USA)
There are many areas where trains can derail yet we have no rational explanation for it occurring because we cannot see the problem. I suggest you make a simple bogie flat car/wagon chassis from Sheet Acrylic (known as Perspex or Plexiglass in different parts of the world) to a standard wagon length, fit bogies (trucks) to it using a clear piece for the bolster and fit couplers if possible. A 4 wheeled version should be a possibility as well.
This way you can push it by hand and feel what is happening or run it with a group of other carriages, and see from the top and other angles through the “floor” how your wheels are running through your trackwork and therefore have assistance in locating and ultimately repairing problems.
1 guest and 0 members have just viewed this.