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Hints and Tips - The first 499 - Hints & Tips - Reference Area. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Wed Oct 27th, 2021 12:17 pm
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xdford
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Hi All,
I found these in the last couple of days,  Thinking they had been lost, I figure they better not be lost to posterity.  I started collating the Hints and Tips for the MRE Express news sheet when Brian Macdermott needed a break. Because of my input he asked if I was interested in taking it over for a while... kind of grew from there.  So H&T will go on for a bit yet, just the early ones!  Hope you find them useful,

Trevor

Hints & Tips No.1
Conflats
Brian Macdermott 
I like to have variety with my OO Conflats. Sometimes I run them as 'empties'; sometimes I run them as loaded with a 'full size' container; and sometimes I run them with the 'half size' AF insulated ones. The first two are no problem, but the small ones get thrown around and even fall off.

I solved the problem by using 'tacky wax'. This enables them to stay in position, but be easily removed with hardly any trace. I realise that real containers were held on by chains, so if anyone can tell me a method of modelling that convincingly (yet still enabling easy removal) I'd be glad to hear.

Hints & Tips No.2
Brian Macdermott
What do you do if you are enjoying a pleasurable running session and everything suddenly shorts out?


When this happens on my layout I will almost always find it has something to do with the previous train movement. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a metal-wheeled wagon bridging an insulated rail gap on a reverse loop.

  

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 Posted: Thu Oct 28th, 2021 08:03 am
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xdford
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Hints & Tips No.3 Going round the bend
by  Robbie McGavin 

I have affixed the added details to my Hornby N15 with superglue (steps, cylinder cocks, pipes, etc). It will run round Setrack radius 3 with no problem. It will also ‘just’ go round radius 2, but will derail unless run slowly. A beautiful model, indeed!


Hints & Tips No.4
Simulating buildings on backdrops
by Trevor Gibbs

I have recently built a memorial exhibition layout and needed some backdrop buildings. I had a reasonable success by using the Auran Trainz computer program. I made an English style streetscape with buildings and footpaths then taking screen dumps from different angles of the buildings. I then printed these up and cut the building fronts out and glued them to the backdrop... usually plain sky.

My first tries at this have turned out a bit darker than I would have liked but gave the impression I wanted in the time frame I had to get the layout ready. With experimentation you can get that aspect right too! Good luck trying it out!

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 Posted: Sun Oct 31st, 2021 06:27 am
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Hints & Tips No.5
Wagon tops
by David Chappell

If you have a collection of, say, closed vans, most likely they will all have the same colour roofs. Coaches are similar, especially if they are all from one manufacturer. Prototype vehicles all had different colours, bodies and roofs due to weathering, dirt, brake dust etc. I thought I would get over this 'out of the box sameness' easily.


In a small cupcake aluminium case (Mr Kipling and all that) I put a small quantity of a dark grey paint of a darker colour than the first van. I then brush painted the first vehicle. Then I added a few drops of, say, black, stirred the little case and painted the second vehicle - hence a little darker. Then I added a few drops of another colour (for example, brown) and painted the third: then a few drops of say orange and painted the fourth and so on. You can leave one in the manufacturer's original colour if you wish. Numerous wagons all with different colour roofs with very little cost and wastage of paint!


Paint choice is obviously up to the modeller - I use matt on some occasions, acrylic on others. Colours can be to the modeller's choice – greys, browns, leather, gunmetal, orange, rust, etc. If you want to experiment first, cut a 12 inch long by 1 inch piece of scrap plastikard and practice on small areas of that before you let yourself loose on your wagons or coaches! It's good fun!

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 Posted: Wed Nov 3rd, 2021 03:22 am
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Hints & Tips No.6
Ergonomics
by Brian Macdermott

If you are designing a roughly waist height layout for your own use (as opposed to a club), it is worth giving some thought to your control panels – particularly if you are DC with lots of switches.


Many control panels have switches mounted on schematic track plans. Before you commit to drilling holes, work out how far down the lowest switch(es) will be. If you have to bend to operate that switch (even slightly), you could do well to re-think. The unwritten laws of railway modelling state that the most awkward switch will be the one you use most!

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 Posted: Sat Nov 6th, 2021 05:16 am
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Hints & Tips No.7
Simulating Trees
by  Trevor Gibbs 

You can simulate a great grove of trees against a backdrop by using green-coloured cotton wool balls cut in half and teased out a bit then glued to your backdrop as bushy clumps. The absence of tree armatures won't be a problem and give you a sense of 3D.

Use universal dyes or appropriate food colourings sprayed with a cheap air brush in a few different tones. The cost? A few cotton balls and some sprayed universal or vegetable dye diluted with water - like most of my other ideas for this column as close to zilch as possible. If you can see part of the forest floor, a few deep brown vertical brush strokes where the base of the trees would be would/should be enough to simulate the trunks and will be fairly short anyway.
After all you are concentrating on the trains going past aren't you?

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 Posted: Tue Nov 9th, 2021 05:51 am
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Hints & Tips No.8
A flick of a switch
by  Brian Macdermott

When referring to DC reverse loops, conventional wisdom says that one should drive a train into the ‘reversible section’, stop, throw the double pole/double throw (DPDT) switch, reverse the controller and then drive out.


Here’s a little trick if you have a controller with switchable forward/reverse.


Drive your train into the reversible section. With the train still moving, flick the ‘backwards’ switch on your controller with one hand and - at precisely the same time - flick the DPDT switch as well. This may take a bit of getting used to, but I can now keep my trains moving with no perception of the polarity change whatsoever.


Older tender-drive locos may give a bit of a twitch, but more modern Bachmann and Hornby are easy. As far as I know, this does no harm to the motors. 


A Note from Trevor -  Brian did add a codicil about his H&T  asking "Does anyone have any views on this?"  Personally where Return Loops are concerned, I would prefer to have two switches apart from the throttles reverse switch, one for the loop itself and one pointing in the "intended forward" direction on the main line allowing the throttle to reverse the train for shunting etc. I will elaborate on this further later


I am quite happy to add any conversation to any thread in this series but if you could PM me and I will include any discussion you may make!

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 Posted: Fri Nov 12th, 2021 04:51 am
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Hints & Tips No.9
Close coupling
by  Brian Macdermott

If Roco close-couplers prove to be ‘too close’ on your layout, here’s a tip. Put a Hornby close-coupler on one coach and a Roco on the adjacent one. This gives a very good compromise.


Hints & Tips No.10
Train protection
by Brian Macdermott
When I isolate a loco/train on my DC layout, I always turn the controller on a fraction in reverse. I occasionally find that I have accidentally isolated the wrong section. Turning the controller on for a spilt second will show up the errant train and being in reverse prevents it from running into anything ahead of it in my linear hidden sidings.

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 Posted: Mon Nov 15th, 2021 05:40 am
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Hints & Tips No.11
A good point
by Paul Jansz
Paint the rail sides on point work with the rail joiners in place, ahead of laying. So much easier when one can freely approach the job from all sides, and both electrical continuity and freedom of action can be tested before final positioning.

Hints & Tips No.12
Scenic Scale Measurement
by John Challenor

No matter whether it is a simple fence or something more complicated it is just as important to keep all your scratch-built scenics to the right scale.

To assist me, I have made a scale ruler from a scrap of plastic with a straight edge. I work in 00 scale, so my ruler is marked in feet at 4mm intervals. To remind me I have also marked on it ‘1mm = 3 inches‘. I do my homework and find out the sizes of the originals; better still, whenever I can, I go and measure them.

Unless you have a very good eye for these things you may be surprised how far out you can be.

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 Posted: Thu Nov 18th, 2021 07:16 am
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Hints & Tips No.13
El Cheapo uncouplers
by Trevor Gibbs

For Hornby uncoupling, rather than buy specialised ramps, an old friend of mine used the covers from shirt boxes cut into strips to fit into the track and given a slight arch. All he did was pin the ramp onto the board through the track and the system works well. I intend to use this for the memorial layout I have built for him.

Hints & Tips No.14
Panic Button
by Martin Walls, (Australia)

I run my power controllers through a power board that plugs into a power point fitted with an RCD safety switch (Residual Current Device).

The test button for the RCD makes a very handy ‘panic button’ for cutting track power quickly. This is useful when trains are on an intercept course at one of my many Tri-ang diamond crossings.

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 Posted: Sun Nov 21st, 2021 08:03 am
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Hints & Tips No.15
Wagon loads
by David Middleditch
Line the interior of a wagon with three layers of cling film. Build the load inside this.
Pit props: Short thin buddleia twigs glued together with PVA.
Coal: Plaster base painted black with coal on top.
Timber: Matchsticks at an angle glued with PVA.
When set and painted, the load can be removed and the cling film peeled off. It should then fit back into the wagon with a working tolerance. With coal and similar loads, I also set in a small wire loop. This can be used to hook it out. Painted black it is quite unobtrusive.

Hints & Tips No.16
Tender problem
by Nicholas Rothon
There is a problem with some of the BR1C tenders fitted to the Bachmann Standard locomotives. The coupling seems to be too high to use with Peco and Hornby uncoupling ramps.
The problem can be resolved by substituting one of the stepped couplings from the Bachmann Mk1 coaches. Some may have been saved if the couplings on the coaches have been changed to Hornby close-coupling variety. 

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 Posted: Wed Nov 24th, 2021 12:28 pm
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Hints & Tips No.17
Ready to go
by Martin Walls, Australia
At the end of a running session, I try to remember to stable my trains within arm's reach of the controllers and return the points to their normal settings.
This is done to make sure I can fire-up the trains without too many problems when visitors wish to see an impromptu demonstration. This includes having my more reliable locos available for use.

Hints & Tips No.18
Crisp lining
by Simon Baldwin
I was recently painting a Bratchell 317 into 'one' livery and was having a terrible time with getting a crisp edge on the rainbow lining. The solution was to run a sharp knife along the edge of some masking tape (against a ruler). Then, masking up using a template or careful measuring gave a very crisp edge and, as the tape sticks well together, it is easy to re-use on the set. It can also be moved around for the other stripes. Now to go off and find some 'one' transfers, anyone??

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 Posted: Sat Nov 27th, 2021 08:07 am
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Hints & Tips No.19
Good use for an old aerial
by Martin Walls, Australia

I have salvaged a telescopic aerial from an old radio. This is extended when required to nudge stalled locomotives.


Hints & Tips No.20
Alternative magnifying glass
by Roger Norman
If trying to ascertain detail from a photograph, don't use a magnifying glass. Instead scan the photo, enlarge it and print it or better still view it enlarged on the screen. You will be amazed how much detail this shows, especially with old photos which can sometimes be enhanced with the likes of Paintshop Pro.


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 Posted: Tue Nov 30th, 2021 06:23 am
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Hints & Tips No.21
Cleaning wheels quickly
by Trevor Gibbs
Cleaning wheels is not the most enjoyable task in the model railway field but there is a way of making it easier and minimising the amount of pick up and scraping you need to do.
1. Get some reasonable strength paper towel (the quilted type is ideal). Wet a small area of the paper towel with the white spirit. (Do not use Turpentine for this!
2. Lay your paper towel over the track with enough ‘slack’ that you can run your wheels on it.
3. Using a little pressure, move your vehicle up and down the paper towel by hand and watch the towel get dirty. Move your towel over a bit when the track of the treads gets dirty until no more comes off. Voila one cleaned vehicle in a few seconds!
You would expect that the towel would tear to shreds quickly and eventually it does, but it is very easy to get through a whole yard of vehicles. Every now and then you get a ‘severe case’ but your task is really minimised!
By judicious holding of powered locos, you can get wheel treads of these also clean by self powering the loco.  Hope this helps increase your operating time and pleasure!




Hints & Tips No.22
Southern Railways lamps/hexagonal glass shades
by John Challenor

I have just modelled some of these - a bit fiddly, but I was quite pleased with the results.
I used some old semi-translucent plastic beads (back to the daughter’s discarded junk jewelry), making two shades from each bead. The beads were cut in half and each half was hollowed out with a hand-held drill bit. The outside was then filed to give the hexagonal shape. A wheat grain bulb was glued in and the plastic at the back of the bulb was painted to look like part of the lamp. The ‘shade’ was painted with fine lines to simulate the glazing bars.
Fitted to brackets made from scrap plastic, they look fine attached to buildings and lamp posts.

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