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Hints and Tips - The first 499 - Hints & Tips - Reference Area. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Fri Dec 24th, 2021 08:11 am
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Hints & Tips No.37
Wagon loads or uncouplers
By Roy Thompson
The long wooden stirrers you get in McDonalds or Starbucks etc. make excellent plank loads when cut up.

Or you can cut and attach a square piece of scrap plastic sized to fit between your vehicle ends to one end of the stirrer and you have a wagon uncoupler. Simply place between the vehicle under the "striker" bars and lift when the couplers are slack.


Hints & Tips No.38
Making Hedges
By Trevor Gibbs


You can simulate a lot of hedges using green steel wool scourers cut into appropriate strips and glued vertically. This works fairly well. You could sprinkle the outer surfaces with ground foam such as Woodland Scenics to give a bit more texture closer to viewing distance.  If you really want to do it for next to nothing, you could grind up your own appropriately coloured foam

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 Posted: Mon Dec 27th, 2021 05:14 am
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Hints & Tips No.39
Kit Assembly Hint No.1
By Donald Hess 

Putting tape on really small parts keeps them from flying when cutting them off the plastic tree or sprue.  Rail nippers are best at removing parts.

However in tight small spaces a sharp Exacto #11 blade or its equivalent is your friend. Use a cutting motion and never bear down as this might snap small parts.

Hints & Tips No.40
Weighting Model Wagons
by David Chappell


For improved running of model 00 wagons, I weight them all to about 50 grams. I have a small set of scales which covers the range. Where you put the extra weight (usually anywhere between 10 and 20gm) is up to you! In a wagon with a load, it can go under or in the load and van roofs often come off. Open wagons with no load are the worst problem, and one has to use 'liquid lead' (tiny lead pellets) glued in the underfame, however, it is well worth the effort. The local car tyre fitter will have small weights at 5gm and 10 gm (for tyre use) and will part with some for a donation to their tea tin! Their weights are self adhesive, too! Incidentally, I also weight kit built coaches to 150gm.

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 Posted: Thu Dec 30th, 2021 04:03 am
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Hints & Tips No.41
Using Superglue With Clear plastic
by John Poland

For many situations, using 'superglue' (CyanoAcrylate) with clear plastic is not a good idea as the plastic can craze. However, there are some situations which arise that the best option is to use 'superglue' to fix in windows.


First dip the windows in 'Future', or a similar brand floor wax (it's a trick I learned from building scale aeroplanes). The floor wax creates a barrier and prevents the fumes from crazing the 'glass', and you'll be amazed at how crystal clear your windows will be.


Hints & Tips No.42
Kit Assembly Hint No.2
By Donald Hess 
Skewers and Toothpicks make excellent tools for painting and glue applications. Not only can you stir paints with them, but you can apply really tiny amounts of paint and glue accurately with the sharp tip.

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 Posted: Sun Jan 2nd, 2022 11:54 am
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Hints & Tips No.43
"Scrap Metal Loads"
By Trevor Gibbs 

Ever wondered if you could recycle your washed aluminium foil or foil chocolate wrapper? Roll your foil into tight balls about 1/2" or so diameter then take a pair of slip joint pliers and using the jaws mould them into cubes.


Being Scrap metal, they would be discoloured so paint them with a rusty orange/brown colour. A number of cubes and you therefore have a load of scrap metal for that otherwise unemployed open wagon... and you can enjoy your way on two fronts to make them!


Hints & Tips No.44
A Revised Way Of Cleaning Wheels
By Ted Allan 


I use cotton cloths such as Chux with white spirit. This has a couple of advantages over using paper towels in that the surface is microscopically rougher so than it cleans the wheels better, the cloth lasts much longer so there is less mess and are capable of providing contact in the case of powered wheels through the holes to the rails.


(Note from Trevor - The paper towels were a very good idea when I first learned it... and this version from Ted becomes an even better idea!)

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 Posted: Wed Jan 5th, 2022 07:52 am
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Hints & Tips No.45
Kit Assembly Hints No.1
By John Schaeffer
When making up full size structures, where it is possible, build only the two sides of a building that you are going to see from the normal viewing positions.

You can then use the other sides as raw materials for other projects, and possibly expand the number of buildings shown on the layout.


Hints & Tips No.46
Cheap Brick Surfaces
By Trevor Gibbs

Need some cheap brick surfaces in smaller areas? I got some from recycled plastic plates with the grooved "tread" on them. In fact, as an exercise I built a loco shed in N scale for a club exhibition layout I was helping restore and used the plates surface on the outside, coloured a deepish brick red so the line work regularity was not quite so painfully obvious. If you are really keen, you can paint over with white paint and wipe the excess off to fill in the mortar cracks.


So wash your otherwise disposable party plates mates! Like a lot of other things I do, cost virtually zilch!


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 Posted: Sat Jan 8th, 2022 06:41 am
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Hints & Tips No.47
Kit Assembly Hints No.2
By John Schaeffer
When cutting thin wood for scratch building, put some masking tape on the back side of the cut. This will assist in preventing the wood from splintering.


Hints & Tips No.48
High Quality Brush Painting
By John Challenor
On the question of painting without expensive spraying equipment, many years ago I asked a car body restorer how he got such a good paint finish with brush application. The answer was to use several coats and to rub down between each one.

Each successive coat had a little more thinner added, and gradually finer grade wet/dry paper and rubbing compound was used.
It is best to buy decent wet/dry paper, this is not particularly expensive but the finer the grade the finer the finish. Rubbing compounds, various household / car products can be employed. Otherwise you can practice with almost any left over paint / scrap materials.



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 Posted: Tue Jan 11th, 2022 07:54 am
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Hints & Tips No.49
Scale Looking Rail In N Scale... Not Quite So Cheaply!
By Trevor Gibbs, (Australia)
I saw an article many years ago, I think in Model Railroader about a modeller who had taken his N scale code 80 track and lowered it into his baseboard. What he had done is cut his track pattern into the top of his plywood with a router suitably adjusted and "sunk" his track plan into the plywood. The track was laid and ballasted over and the effect for the late 60s or early 70s was terrific and would probably still withstand scrutiny today! Why? Because not only is the height of the rail an issue but also the thickness of the sleepers in standard Peco N scale track.

While I cannot remember if he had done so, he may also have painted the rail side to lessen the effect visually of the height, similarly to what I suggested in Hints and Tips No.35. Taking this hint one stage further, you could use a router to cut out a very shallow base area for your buildings so that you do not get the modellers bane of having one corner of the building standing “proud” of your baseboard... after all buildings sit on foundations in the ground, not on top of it. Fill in your scenery up to the building and it will look as though it is meant to be there.


Routers and other power tools are becoming progressively cheaper and this may be an option for you... hope these ideas help you!


Hints & Tips No.50
Kit Assembly Hints No.3
By John Schaeffer


Use Windex or similar Window cleaners to thin acrylic latex paints for the airbrush.  It dries faster and cleans up easier. However be aware that some versions of this type of product may contain ammonia which is not kind to some plastics so do a test section first!

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 Posted: Fri Jan 14th, 2022 06:52 am
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Hints & Tips No.51
Using and Reusing Thinners.
By John Challenor


A tip from my local model shop (!), common or garden white spirit is a lot cheaper than some of the "named" brand equivalent thinners. In nearly all cases it is just as effective.

And to save the pennies even further, save all the dirty thinners you have used washing out your brushes etc., in a clean lidded glass jar. Leave. Gradually the paint sinks to the bottom and the relatively clean thinners above can be decanted off and re-used for cleaning. This seems to work for all types of thinners.

Hints & Tips No.52
Hi Rise Buildings
By Trevor Gibbs, (Australia)

I saw a layout at an exhibition with a couple of very tall (for a layout) model buildings in a city scene which from normal viewing distance looked very effective. Looking closely I presume that they were a plywood box with normal building tiles glued around them, consistently one colour such as deep blue which gave the window effect.
Such a tile system could work very well on a backdrop to give a low relief depth but give the impression of more. Seeing a tile dealer for a remnant would be your cheapest option! You might even fool people at first about the detail and depth in your windows with moving characters in the office areas that look like the people admiring your work!

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 Posted: Mon Jan 17th, 2022 07:36 am
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Hints & Tips No.53
Fitting Handrails And Grab Iron Details Easily
By Donald Hess (PA USA)

A little CA (Super glue), MEK or related glue when sliding grab irons through holes makes them go through easier. When wet it acts like a lubricant. Reaming the small holes with one turn of an Exacto No.11 blade also really helps.


Hints & Tips No.54
Animation
By Rob Smith (Labrador Queensland)


Although I work in larger scales, any movement or hint of movement can add that "something" to your village in any scale. Most often it is done by the train moving through your scene.


There are also many other ways to induce movement regardless of scale. Small electric/battery motors can be mounted below the base board, above a fisherman can cast his line, an axe man can cut logs, a painter can paint a wall.....Simply moving a figurine left and right by having the shaft of the motor glued to the base of the figure will give the impression of life in the village.
More intricate animation can involve boats moving on their anchors in the breeze to cars moving on roads. It is up to your imagination and your ability to see a small motor or gear and think of an alternate use in your scene.

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 Posted: Thu Jan 20th, 2022 07:05 am
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Hints & Tips No.55
Visualising Scenery.
By Trevor Gibbs (Australia)
Some people do not tackle scenery usually using the excuse "I'm not artistic enough" or similar. Here is an easy way of being able to see how your scenery COULD turn out.

Cut some cardboard cartons into strips about 40-50mm wide. Start by stapling or tacking (cobblers blue tacks are good ) about an inch (25mm) or so of the strip to your base or frame then arc it upwards to the shape of your rolling hill. If your strip is not long enough to cover the size hill , simply staple another one on end and keep going. Place a number of strips about 120-150mm (4-5") apart parallel roughly where you envisage the hill being.

These strips will give you an idea of your shape and you can bend and crimp your strips to get the effect of hills, crags and cliff fronts. You can then make a simple lattice using strips and thread them through your laterally placed strips. This will give you a more solid base to look on and you can still make changes by crimping the card.

If you like what you see or you can visualise, make the frame a little more solid using hot melt glue and then you can cover it with whatever scenery you prefer to use, Chux cloths painted with PVA is good for this... or tear it out and try again for very little . Good luck...,


Hints & Tips No.56
A Cheap and Simple (and very effective) Viaduct
By Tom Welsh (Sunshine MRC, Melbourne Australia)


In building the exhibition layout “Chuffington” we needed a rather large viaduct of unusual ess shape. The track is elevated at that point and the shape would not be covered by a commercial offering. We made viaduct sides from some 3mm MDF board and bent it to the shape of the trackwork.


While we probably could have just painted the MDF, we elected to get some very coarse spent belt sander belts and glued them to the outer surfaces. We then cut the belt so that the arches were open and treated the insides of the arches the same way.


A coat of an earth tone paint and the origins of the material would not be known. This technique could be applied to any size bridge. You can see a picture of the bridge at http://www.sunshinemrc.org.au/chuffington01.htm .

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 Posted: Sun Jan 23rd, 2022 06:34 am
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Hints & Tips No.57
Laying Track on a Helix
By Max Bashtannyk and Peter Mitchell

If you are building a helix and laying track, instead of using track pins or nails, try using small screws and washers laid between the sleepers screwed to the plywood, using the washers to hold adjacent pairs of sleepers.


We have used 6mm x 4 gauge screws with 1/8” washers to hold the track as they are small enough not to cause any problems for American style Kadee couplers. Pre-drill a pilot hole in the base board to make process a lot easier.


This will allow you to make tweaking adjustments to the curvature of the track using a stubby screwdriver in between the layers of the helix. When the weather changes and you get the usual rounds of expansion and contraction of your track or a kink develops in the track imperceptible to all and everything but your constantly derailing 2-8-0 for example, you should be able to move your track without taking the helix apart.


Using Murphy's law, this could happen in the worst possible corner and this at least is a way of minimising your efforts to correct it.


Hints & Tips No.58 
Minimising Bleeding Of Paint When Painting And Spraying,
By Trevor Gibbs

You can reduce the amount of bleeding under masking tape when spraying your models quite considerably.


Paint the colour you want to be masked off and allow to dry thoroughly. Apply your masking. Then respray your model with the original colour. If there are holes in the masking, the overspray of the original colour will fill the spots where your secondary colour could have overrun the first colour. Allow to dry again.


Then spray with your secondary colour. Because the "holes" have been blocked, you should minimise any overrun you had under the paint masking and your lines should look quite neat! Now it should be easy to paint your blood and custard or chocolate and custard cars and keep the lines!


Only wish I had this info myself when I was painting the black stripe on my Canadian Budd Rail Cars. My thanks to Paul Hawden of The Buffer Stop, East Preston Victoria for his initial input for this technique.

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 Posted: Wed Jan 26th, 2022 03:48 am
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Hints & Tips No.59
Preparation Of Kits For Assembly And Painting
By Donald Hess Most kits come in packaging straight from the mould. Pre-washing a plastic sprue in very luke warm water and detergent removes release agents from the plastic used in the moulding process. This makes it much much easier to paint later on.


As A follow up...
I would not recommend the use of detergent/washing up liquid as this, too, leaves a film on the surface. The best material to use for cleaning models is one of the bathroom cleaners which contains a limescale remover. I use Waitrose's own but any other will do. A trade name familiar to some would be 'Viakal'.
Julian Saunders


Hints & Tips No.60
How To Prevent Flange Snags On Rail Joints
By Crandell Overton (Vancouver Island, Canada)
Extruded rail stock is forced through a die and then cut with a sharp instrument.  It will have sharp edges.  If you are using flexible sections of track and joining them together along a curve, you will potentially meet with frustration when you find one or more engines or rolling stock items derailing in one or two places consistently.


There are several causes for derailment along curves, but a simple aid to nip this in the bud involves filing the ends of every rail section with a metal file to smooth off any burrs or sharp edges. As your engines become larger and more demanding of fine track laying skills, particularly larger North American steamers, the wheel flanges get forced toward the outside rail head on curves close to the minimum stated for your engine. You can imagine what can happen, when the flanges encounter a wider gap than desirable, and one with sharp edges or burrs on the flange faces and the tops of the rail heads.


To help this, file a slight bevel (or a chamfer in other terms) on the vertical inside face of the railhead, and also on the flat top surface at the very ends where they were cut to rail stock as well as to turnouts (points). That way, your wheels will encounter an easier camber that will accommodate their passage, and not a sharp and jarring surface that will toss them this way and that.


(A Note from Trevor – this hint comes up in Free-mo type specifications in North America where modules are involved and this operation needs to be done because of alignment of the track. It is also very useful as Crandell points out for curves in general. I actually tried it on already laid track on my “memorial” exhibition layout and it has worked fantastically well dramatically reducing the derailments on joins and smoothing the passage of trains!)


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 Posted: Sat Jan 29th, 2022 06:33 am
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Hints & Tips No.61
Air Brushes
By Trevor Gibbs (Melbourne Australia)

If you are going to do a bit of painting, you might like to invest in an air brush.
My own is not an internal mix but a simple external mix sprayer by Revell if I remember rightly but I have seen similar under the Humbrol name. Powering it is also quite easy as I use an old spare tyre blown up to 50psi (350kpa).
While I would really love to have a better airbrush and a compressor etc, I find that I just could not rationalise the expense on the amount of work I would be doing with it and my results have been OK. I have found the Tamiya brand acrylics work well diluted with rubbing alcohol in such mixes.


Remember to work in a well ventilated area and have fun.


Hints & Tips No.62
How To Avoid Unsightly Solder Globules On The Sides Of Rails
By Graham Plowman (Sydney, Australia)
How many times have you been to an exhibition and looked closely at the track on a layout and seen huge great big lumps stuck on the sides of rails, accompanied by melted sleepers? It looks unsightly and ruins any possibility of realism or photography.


A little careful planning when building a layout plus the technique described here will see those solder lumps gone for ever! Why do modellers solder wires to the sides of rails ? Well, the answer is simple: lack of planning. Traditionally, modellers cannot wait to get track laid and then they worry about the electrics later. In other words, the track is already laid before wiring starts.


The answer is to solder wires to the undersides of the rails as the track is laid. To do this, pull the sleepers off the track, solder the wire to the underside of the rail, then file down and replace the sleepers. The wire can be poked down a hole drilled in the baseboard and there you have it: a tidy connection, no melted sleepers and no unsightly solder globules. Once ballast is placed around the track, you will not even see the connections which is a much better appearance than the traditional solder globule!

This technique also works well with foam underlay ballast.  You can see a full explanation on  style="font-size: 12pt;"my web site at  http://www.mrol.com.au/SolderGlobules.aspx  style="font-size: 12pt;"and find links to other Hints and Tips as well  


From Dave Poynter - Further to Graham Plowman's 'Hints and Tips' advice on soldering: the addition of a little flux to the rail before soldering will make the solder stick and flow much more easily, so the joint can be made neater and less 'blobby'. Plumbers' flux works very well and is available from most DIY outlets. Just apply a thin smear with a cotton bud first.


Brian Lambert -While not wishing to start a war of words, I have to point out that the reply to Tip No.62, given by Dave Poynter, is very fraught with potential problems!


I’ll explain… Most non-electrical fluxes contain a mild acid which helps clean the surface of the items to be soldered. In most applications such as plumbing or soldering a brass/metal loco etc., special fluxes are used and once the parts have been soldered they have to then be washed under ideally running water to remove all traces of the acid contained in the flux. This is not a practical approach when dealing with electrical joints and therefore any residue of "Plumbers flux" will, overtime, start to cause the soldered connection to separate and become high resistance, leading eventually to total electrical failure and even the joint falling apart.


So, for electrical work, never use any additional flux or only those specially sold for the task.
Using resin cored solder (‘Multicore solder’ as its sometimes called) which is sold specially for electrical work is really all that’s needed, together with ensuring both surfaces are clean and grease free. I prefer, whenever possible, to use a fibre pen to clean surfaces. Use the correct size of soldering iron wattage-wise (I use a 25 watt iron for most electrical work) and ensure the iron's tip is in a first class condition. Finally ensure the iron is up to full working temperature. Switch it on and then leave for a full five minutes - is my recommended practice. The use of a sponge pad, dampened with a little water, is also an ideal means of cleaning a hot irons tip to remove all oxidisation and old solder etc. There are also commercially produced special soldering iron tip cleaning products available too.


Try and pre tin the items before joining the two together. Tinning is using the soldering iron to heating the items and then applying a little of the cored solder to coat the individual parts in solder. Either twist items together or hold them in contact with each other – use tweezers or long nosed pliers etc. - as they may become hot. Then, with a little of the cored solder placed onto the clean hot irons tip to ‘wet’ it, apply the iron onto the joint and allow time for the heat to transfer through the joint. If needed, add a little more cored solder to the items being soldered (not onto the irons tip) to ensure a good flow of solder into the joint. Then remove the iron and don’t move the joint for around 5 or so seconds, until the solder is seen to solidify and become a little dull in appearance. Job done!
Finally, and before turning off the iron, wipe its hot tip on the damp sponge to remove all traces of solder and flux, as this will ensure the tip remains in a good condition ready for the next job.

A Note from Trevor - the description from Brian has been one of the best word pictures I have seen on the subject. In defence of Dave Poynter, I believe I have seen a non corrosive Plumbers flux for use with copper pipe etc which is what Dave may have been referring to.


However, given the amount of tarnish which can occur on nickel silver rail (which is neither nickel nor silver in its content), some corrosive flux can assist the cleaning and solder flow at the joint but it would be imperative that the flux be washed totally washed off once the soldering is done.

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 Posted: Tue Feb 1st, 2022 03:13 am
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Hints & Tips No.63
Preventing Joints From Flexing Under Heat Expansion
by Peter Mitchell (Sunshine MRC, Melbourne Australia)
If you make a Helix or put a curve into a tunnel, the chances are that, when the track expands, the joint will move and create problems for stock negotiating the line. When you lay your track, to overcome this, put a small block of 3mm styrene or MDF on the outside of the curve adjacent to the rail joiner and glue or screw it to your baseboard, hard up against the sleepers.
The most logical expansion of your track will try to go outwards and the blocks will prevent that happening and keeping the joint aligned which may otherwise be a problem for wheels picking at your track joints as they roll through.
Use this in conjunction with Hints & Tips No.60 and you should improve reliability.

Hints & Tips No.64
Timber Loads
by Trevor Gibbs (Melbourne Australia)
Those extra long and thicker match sticks, which are used for lighting the barbecue or fire (depending on your season of course) can be used as coarse timber loads for model building sites or used for model fence or billboard posts. It would depend on your scale and needs as to what length you cut the sticks and where you place them.

You could go so far as to glue a set of 4 or so together and make model tree trunks. To do this, glue and allow to thoroughly dry before sanding them to shape, painting and adding foliage. Perhaps you could make log shapes or stumps... just paint the outside a suitable bark colour and the ends to a tree ring colour!


From Peter Gomm - Other sources are lolly stick, stirrers given out by coffee shops, it just needs modellers to look out for other normally thrown away items.


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 Posted: Fri Feb 4th, 2022 05:18 am
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Hints & Tips No.65
Making Roads Disappear
by Brian Sheron (MD USA)
Having roads that run into the walls of your layout room can pose a visual challenge. Having them end abruptly does not look good, and trying to paint an extension onto the wall may not look realistic. One way to have the road blend into the distance is to bend the end of the roadway material up and curve it to a point to one side.

You can now put foliage on either side of the road, and it will give the effect of the road curving off in to the distance. 

Hints & Tips No.66
Making Road Surfaces More Realistic
by Graham Plowman (Sydney, Australia)
I made a steel bridge, similar to one found in the Western Region. The road surface for the bridge has been made using sheets of fine grade wet & dry paper. The surface has been further rubbed with a further sheet of wet and dry paper to make the road surface smoother and take away the glass 'reflectiveness' by rubbing the dust back into the road surface. The result is very effective and has also been used on Ashprington Road's platforms.




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 Posted: Mon Feb 7th, 2022 04:47 am
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Hints & Tips No.67
Using Masking Tape As Curtains And Shades
By Trevor Gibbs
If you use clear styrene or similar for windows you can make effective shades using masking tape. Simply apply the masking tape glue side out on the "window" and using a hobby knife cut the shape of the shade as it would appear from the outside. The adhesive of the masking tape will hold onto your window, the mottled shape can represent curtains folding and give the hazier effect of curtain blockout and the cost - precious little!

Hints & Tips No.68
Making Stone Walls
By Peter Betts 


Walls are made up from 6mm thick balsa wood sheet. When complete and before bedding the wall down in its correct place on the layout, each individual stone of the structure is roughly marked on the balsa with a ball-point pen. Then, using a very hot soldering iron, the outline of each individual stone is burnt into the balsa wood. Thus a three-dimensional representation of the stonework will be evident, something that is lacking with the use of stone paper.

After completion, the stonework is painted all over with a light creamy grey water-based matt acrylic paint of a colour simulating the mortar between individual stones. Make sure that the paint fills all the crevices in the stonework. Next make up a wash of the base colour of the stonework using water-based paint, mixed with a little plaster and water. Paint this mixture onto the surface of about half the individual stones at random, trying to avoid too much paint getting into the crevices. The plaster will help give the paint an ultra-matt and slightly gritty in texture.



Next add a little black to the paint mixture, and pick out a number of the remaining stones. Then add a little white, yellow or red, and pick out a few more stones until all are painted. Finally view the finished article and decide whether the resultant colour effect is what you had in mind. If it is too dark, make up a lighter shade of the base colour and paint over the darkest of the stones. If too light do the opposite. If too yellow or too red, pick out the worst offenders with a complimentary colour.


Always err on the too light side because when all is finished and the wall stuck in place on the layout, it is very easy to darken the whole thing with a wash of much-watered-down Matt Black paint.

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 Posted: Wed Feb 16th, 2022 06:21 am
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Hints & Tips No.69

Using Modern Vehicles on Older Period Layouts
By Brian Sheron (MD USA)
 
 
You are at a model train swap meet, market, or your local hobby or toy store, and discover some commercial vehicles (e.g., a cement truck) that are being sold for a bargain. (I was in my local hardware store and found Boley HO International trucks for $2.99 each!). For all intents and purposes, it looks like a vehicle from the era you are modeling, except that the front of the cab has a modern grill and headlights, You do not want to pass up this bargain, but the vehicle era is just wrong!

Do not despair. Think about where you can locate this truck on your layout so that the front of the vehicle is facing away from the viewer! If the viewer can't see the front of the vehicle, then who cares whether the front represents a vehicle from the 1990s or the 1950s? The dump truck shown on my website is a modern truck on my layout (which models the Long Island Rail Road circa 1964).

Hints & Tips No.70
Covering Unsightly Corners On Buildings
by Trevor Gibbs (Melbourne Australia)

If you have a structure which has a corner not quite flush etc, you can cover the "blemish" with a thin smattering of ground foam to represent ivy vines. Just put a thin layer of PVA glue on the surface and sprinkle some foam. You may even be able to collect enough from your trees which have lost their "leaves" on your model forest floor to do the job.
 
You also have the advantage that people might think you are into superdetailing your models rather than finding fault with your assembly... and keeping quiet about it!


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 Posted: Sat Feb 19th, 2022 08:00 am
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Hints & Tips No.71
How To Create A Plowed Farm Field
By Tom Welsh ( Sunshine MRC, Melbourne Australia)

Use a piece of corrugated cardboard with the corrugations facing outwards. Paint on some glue and sprinkle on some soil colored scatter. Signs of Weeds or old growth, not overdone, makes the scene work better.


Hints & Tips No.72
Simple Signs From Your Computer
By Brian Sheron (MD USA)
As you drive around, you probably may not notice, but everywhere-yes everywhere - there are signs. An easy way to make all sorts of signs for your layout is to create them on the computer. Once you get them to your liking (font style, size, color) print them out on plain white paper. I have also found that surfing the web can turn up pictures of posters, signs, etc., that you can drag into a drawing program, and then print them on out.

Spray a thin sheet of styrene plastic with artists adhesive and glue the paper with the signs, posters, etc., printed on it to the plastic. When the adhesive is dry, use an Xacto or sharp hobby knife and cut the signs out. Because they are mounted on styrene plastic, you can attach them to any other plastic surface with styrene cement. You can fit many on an A4 sheet so get to it.

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 Posted: Tue Feb 22nd, 2022 05:45 am
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Hints & Tips No.73
Making Putty For Models
By Trevor Gibbs (Melbourne Australia)

If you are into using sheet styrene for scratch building, do not throw all your offcuts and shavings etc away. You can make a putty like paste by dissolving these etc in a bottle with some MEK which you can use to fill in imperfections, holes, joints and any other area requiring touching up prior to painting.

Wood modelers can also make a "putty" by mixing shavings or saw dust from your parent timber in PVA glue to make a paste which can be used for wood siding, planks etc where imperfections occur.

While I have not tried it, I have read from several sources that you can make another type of putty with super glue and baking soda which I assume you can use with Resin and white metal etc. However, as cyanide is a principal ingredient in the super glue, please remember to work safely with it including working in a well ventilated area and using eye protection.


Hints & Tips No.74
Tips About Yard Design.
by Jeffrey Wimberly (LA, USA)
1. Try not to cram a lot of tracks into a small space. Why? If the tracks are close together and a carriage or wagon derails and goes over and you have never heard of the domino effect, you may soon have a real life example.


2. Give yourself at least one staging track and have it connected to the main at both ends. Two would be better. This gives you plenty of area to make up and break up trains.


3. Avoid making spur tracks that are going to trap your locomotive behind a line of wagons. Always have an escape route.


4. Most importantly, try not to make a complex design. The more complex a design, the more things can go wrong because of a simple mistake.


Simplicity of design is simplicity of operation. I am in the hobby to have fun, not trying to find my way out of a Rubik's cube switch yard.

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 Posted: Fri Feb 25th, 2022 03:57 am
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Hints & Tips No.75
Extending the Life of Track Cleaners.
By Peter Betts, (Sydney, NSW)

When track cleaners such as Peco or Fleischmann track rubbers start getting worn down, glue them to a piece of 5mm thick balsa wood. This will double the life of the track cleaner as it will not crack up when it gets thin.


(Note from Trevor: This terrific hint could also very likely work well with an offcut of MDF or plywood... and when my track cleaner gets thin, I will certainly try it! Thanks Peter)


From Andi Dell


I've glued Peco track rubbers to off-cuts of plywood for many years. Painting the wood a bright colour first helps to locate them on the layout or in the toolbox.


A further note from Trevor: This is a good variation and adds to the pool, thanks Andi! 


Hints & Tips No.76
Ballasting Track.
By Trevor Gibbs, (Melbourne, Australia)
The orthodox method of ballasting track is to spray the laid ballast with a mixture of water and detergent before applying glue to the ballast. This is so that the glue uses the surface tension of the water to spread around the ballast. Conventional use would say to spray the ballast carefully which is what I used to do.

However you may save a bit of heartache and a few washouts of your ballast by spraying slightly UP and AWAY from your track so that the water falls as mist ala light rain (scale rain?) on your track and allowed to soak your ballast. I have found that many PVA glues tend to be dilute enough and will spread so I usually make three runs of glue over the centre, and the two edges and allow gravity and the "wet watered ballast" to do their stuff. If you have a particularly strong glue dilute it to 1:2 or 1:3.



In any case leave it overnight and lift spikes holding your track in the morning! Clean your excess and away you go! If it is not tight enough, repeat the process where ballast is loose.


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