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Hints and Tips - The first 499 - Hints & Tips - Reference Area. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Sun Jul 3rd, 2022 10:12 am
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xdford
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Hints & Tips No.155
Details No.2 - Making Models of Vending Machines
by Trevor Gibbs (Melbourne Australia)

Vending machines are everywhere. You could make a lot for your layout or station and it will not look out of place. Stand as directly to the front as you can and take a digital photo of a number of Vending Machines in your area. This will at least localise what your visitors will see

Use MS paint to scale these pictures down and cut out the detail to the sides of the machine. Then paste them into a Word Processor or Publisher (Word or Open Office will do) and print off sheets of the different machines.

Then make simple styrene blocks to mount the machine fronts on and paint the sides black. Then place them on your layout in every possible retail area.

Hints & Tips No.156
A Cheap Ballast Spreader
by John Rumming (Western Australia)

Use a funnel with flat base and a nail inserted in it that has a head wider than the end of the funnel. You can regulate the flow of material by lowering and lifting the nail, and if any gets caught in the tube against the nail, just rotate the nail and it will dislodge it.


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 Posted: Wed Jul 6th, 2022 11:20 am
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Hints & Tips No.157
Telephone Lines
by Fred Scotland (Sydney, Australia)

Telephone and electrical lines can be a problem to create on a layout.

Get some 6lb fishing line from your local tackle shop , measure out the length you need to run a length of the line from one end of the telephone pole route to the other. add an extra 10% to this length. Cut the line, take a black marker pen (felt tip) hold the fishing line in one hand and pull it between the felt tip and your thumb so as to literally mark the fishing line. do this until the line is black. Leave it then sit it the sun for about 30 mins. A bright warm day is best for this stage as it will soften the line a bit.

Tie a fishing knot in the line to attach it to the first telephone pole insulator. Once it is tied, put a drop of CA glue over the line and insulator. at the next pole simply put a drop of ca on the insulator with a toothpick and position the line in the glue at the base of the insulator. This will hold it in place sufficiently to do up to 3 - 5 feet (1-1.5m) in one go.


"Do not forget to run lines to structures also. After all they are supplied the electricity from these lines.

A Note from Trevor – This posting created a little interest which you can read here

From Terry Gee

I would like to add a word of warning to Fred Scotland's suggestion of using fishing line for telephone cables (Hints & Tips 157), particularly if your layout is subject to temperature changes, i.e. because it's in an outbuilding of some sort.

I tried this method on my first layout which, like my present one, is in the garage, I found that the line goes bar tight in the summer and, if you are using plastic poles, it will bend them; equally, in the winter, the line will sag and look awful, unlike the real thing, this will be curly and uneven.


Having not learnt my lesson, I decided to use it on my present layout, as wire running between concrete fence posts. The logic was that if I put a spot of glue on the line at every post, and because the distance between the posts is a lot less than that of telegraph poles, it would be OK. I was wrong! It still sags in the winter but, because the posts are a lot shorter then telegraph poles, they do not bend with the tension in the summer.


From Nick Stanbury
I was a little 'surprised' to read about telephone/electricity line reproduction the other day. It is rare in the UK to find these lines on a model and I guess many have tried to add them but few have succeeded in one of the most fiddly tasks I can imagine (and I have tried it years ago), certainly below 7mm scale. I question whether the finest nylon monofilament is not still grossly overscale, I am not certain how easy it is to knot or glue the line to any scale-sized insulator and, of course, the finished job is very vulnerable to damage. Bear in mind too that, in the UK, anything but a quiet branch line would have perhaps 10 - 20 or more lines per pole. And what is CS glue – superglue? (...From Trevor – meant to be CA superglue...) (I do recall seeing, with incredulity, very realistic lines on the pioneering 2mm scale 'Rydesvale' layout in the early 1960s - very fine wire being used. But the whole of that layout involved skill and patience beyond most of us!)

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 Posted: Sat Jul 9th, 2022 09:31 am
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Hints & Tips No.158
Details No.3 - Trees and Bushes
by Andy McMahon and Sheila Perry ( Beccles, Suffolk)

We feel the most obvious fault of many model railway builders, as far as tree building is concerned, is their insistence on building trees far too short. There is a fear on small layouts that scale height trees would take up too much of the viewing space or reduce tricks to the eye set up to create illusions of perspective. Perhaps the answer is to compromise the two extremes and attempt to make trees much larger than is common in modelling circles but not quite as large as nature would have done.

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 Posted: Tue Jul 12th, 2022 10:10 am
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Hints & Tips No.159
Details No.4 - Toning down Plastic Figures
by Trevor Gibbs (Melbourne Australia)

The recent availability of figurines over the Internet in quantities we could only have imagined many years ago has been a Godsend. However for many of us the clothing is way too bright.
You can touch up some of the more garish clothing with more earth tone colour paints but some things just do not quite look right and some of the figurines can stand out like traffic lights.
A quick cure for this is to make up a wash of very diluted India Ink and apply it to the figurines. Just use an old brush and paint as you would any surface. Most of it will run off but the India Ink will fill in a few cracks in the surfaces to add a sort of weathering to the figure and in general take off the gloss.
Your figures will look a lot more realistic for just a few minutes work.

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 Posted: Fri Jul 15th, 2022 12:27 pm
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Hints & Tips No.160
Yet Another Tree Making Method - Evergreens
by Edward Bogge (ON, Canada)

Decent looking evergreens can be made from the green fiber scouring pads that are so common today. Tear them apart in varying sizes and thicknesses. Stain round toothpicks either dark brown or gray and set aside to dry while you tear up the scouring pad. I use a hot glue gun and place a dab of glue where I want the lower limbs to start, then quickly slide a wider piece down the trunk and into the hot glue.

Progressively smaller pieces are now slid down the trunk and are held in place by the friction of the trunk. The top piece is again set in place with hot glue and "squished" into a peak. Trim to shape with scissors and you are set. These are perfect for N scale trees. Quick and inexpensive.

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 Posted: Mon Jul 18th, 2022 11:26 am
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Hints & Tips No.161
Removing the Sheen from more Toyish Models
by Trevor Gibbs 

You can make your models more realistic in a very quick period of time. Taking your time, you can repaint it in more realistic tones and the results can be surprising. If the colours are OK but you want to stop it looking like a bright shiny toy, you can do two tasks.
You can paint the insides only with a Matt Black colour which will reduce the translucency of the material. Then give the outside a coat of Testors Dullcote or Tamiya matte clear to reduce the sheen. Your building should then look more the part for fitting in a railway area with more realistic tones. You can use the same processes for toyish looking rolling stock.
There is sometimes a very thin line between the scale model and what is being presented as a toy and you should sometimes look beyond the package and finish as there may be more out there capable of complementing your layout than what you might think.

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 Posted: Thu Jul 21st, 2022 11:50 am
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Hints & Tips No.162
Paper Clamps and Clothes Pegs
by Don Sali (Melbourne Australia)
Paper clamps make great spring clamps. Make sure that you place card or something else between your work and the clamp jaws so that you do not mar the surface of your model. Clothes pins make very good clamps as well.

Hints & Tips No.163

Help With The Small Things - Part 4
by Bob Heath - Barchester (Spain)
Glass work-surface: I use an old piece of plate glass off a discarded coffee table but for many years I used the side window from a scrapped car. It makes a very good work surface, being flat and level. It is easy to clean off dried paint and glue.
Kebab sticks: These are good for telephone posts, ground posts, fence posts, canopy supports, hand rails etc. all depending on the scale you are working in.
Old track: Keep the rails for old girder work, abandoned rail lengths in old workshops - the scale dependent once more.
Paint brushes: Take great care of these, whether cheap or expensive. Don't let them dry out while dirty. The cheaper ones are good for 'sweepìng up' in odd corners and cleaning dust off locomotives, or anything else on the layout.
Painting figures: Click on the link below for an excellent article on painting the figures on your layout. http://www.scribd.com/doc/6856889/Model-Master-Technical-Guide-11-Figure-Painting
Peco point motor mounting: When mounting the motor from beneath the baseboard through the large hole that is needed, all your ballast can soon vanish through it. So, before fixing the four legs of the motor to the point, lay a thin piece of card over the hole and pass the legs through that before clicking to the point. Paint the card first, roughly the same colour as your ballast.

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 Posted: Sun Jul 24th, 2022 09:58 am
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Hints & Tips No.164
Boxes as Buildings
by Ron Lesperance (Windsor ON Canada)

Small boxes make nice modern buildings after you paint the walls with latex paint, and a black roof painted with a flat latex paint. all those parts you talked about make other added detail for the roof. A cheap building project for your HO or OO layout.


Hints & Tips No.165
Details No.5 - More Realistic Tunnel Mouths
by Trevor Gibbs (Melbourne Australia)

You can make your tunnel mouths, bridges, footbridges etc look more realistic with the aid of a candle. Most tunnels have been around since steam days and most of the readers of this column will have seen steam even in the modern day. Diesels also create exhaust which lines the tops of tunnels after a number of years.
You can create the smoky effect quickly by simply holding a candle at a slight distance to the tunnel mouth or bridge and letting the soot accumulate on the apex of the stonework.
Safety First however … don’t do what a friend of mine many did years ago after toning down his hills and trees with thinners. He did the smoking up process a bit too soon… and created a very unrealistic, very “un-scale” forest fire!


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 Posted: Wed Jul 27th, 2022 09:45 am
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Hints & Tips No.166
Details No. 6 – Help with Ballast
By Loren Hall (Washington State, USA)

After you spread ballast, but before you glue, tap the top of the rails with the paint brush. This will "bounce" the ballast from the top of the ties down to where it belongs.


Hints & Tips No.167
Help With The Small Things Pt 5
by Bob Heath - Barchester (Spain)

Pegs : Can be used as clamps for the not too delicate work.
Pencil - soft : A really soft pencil can be used as a simple weathering agent, just run the pencil over your object and then gently rub the lines with your finger.
Press studs : Come in different sizes and make excellent wheels. Depending on scale they could be for hand trucks, luggage trolleys, hand wheels, steering wheels, wheels on cranes, small wagons and much more.
Sawdust : Its uses are extolled elsewhere, under 'Projects' 'Scatters', but do keep a bag handy even if you are not going to use it straight away.

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 Posted: Sat Jul 30th, 2022 09:12 am
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Hints & Tips No.168
Operating Realistically In Real Time
by Trevor Gibbs (Melbourne Australia)

My own home layout is a small affair by many standards but there are a lot of potential operations packed into the 8 x 4 size.
My basic operating scheme is an alternation of East and West bound trains meeting at the imaginary “end stations”. My layout was written up in a Rail Modeller Australia (http://www.railmodelleraustralia.com/downloads.html  .   While a train is progressing en route in one direction, the train which has arrived at the “end of the line” is marshalled, loco stabled, new loco prepared inc coaling and watering and hitched onto the train while the switcher is “stabled” to be ready for the next train.

The main line trains do laps and stopping at intermediate stations while the other work is going on. In the real world watering, coaling or fuelling takes time. Locos do not race around yards as such so on your model keep the speed down. Coaling and Watering take a few minutes each or longer depending whether the coaling was done by hand or from a coaling tower. I have no real reason to stop at several of the intermediate stations with my freights other than the fact I can and I love practicing braking with my inertia throttles and getting the stops “right” for each of the locos.


By simulating those few minutes in duplicating a real life activity and keeping realistic speeds and control when shunting and running trains, you are recreating some of the drama of railway operations. This transforms our models into railways rather than trying to duplicate slot car pit stops. Remember I am also running at least one other train around while this is occurring and possibly a shunter/switcher as well.

And by doing simple things like this it is easy to give ourselves the impression of a railway which should in turn keep your interest longer...

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 Posted: Tue Aug 2nd, 2022 10:56 pm
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Hints & Tips No.169
Help With the Small Things - Part 6
by Bob Heath - Barchester (Spain)
Shellac : Use this for sealing PVA joints and weatherproofing your card models. Help with this most necessary of tasks on the model railway.
Sticky labels : Similar or same as the kind you stick on food bags. Apart from their obvious use to tell you what is in your boxes they are great for window frames and bars as they slice very easily when laid on a sheet of glass - good for all scales.
String : The very thin kind can easily be made to represent hose pipes when painted, as well as ropes and cables. The scale is dependent, again, for string size.
Hints & Tips No.170
Details No.7 – Black and White
by Nevile Reid (Tunbridge Wells)

never use pure black or pure white anywhere on a layout as, in my opinion, they make a model look unreal and 'model-like'. White can be toned down with a wash of very dilute brown or 'weathered' black paint and, for black, use a 'weathered black' such as that produced by Rail Match. Pure black (eggshell or matt, never gloss) is limited to pristine locomotives and very clean black cars!

Items such as signal towers, backs of quadrant arms, white buildings are only ever brilliant white when just installed and the weather extremes usually take care of that within a few weeks.

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 Posted: Sat Aug 6th, 2022 05:13 am
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Hints & Tips No.171
Details No.8 – Shop Windows
by Trevor Gibbs 
Using a similar technique to H&T No.144, you could take pictures of the contents of shop window fronts and make the picture to fit into the scale of your building. By putting the picture behind recycled clear plastic lids cut to size for windows, you also put a realistic reflective sheen in the window area.

Put a load of shoppers at your shop front and you have created a mini-scene.

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 Posted: Tue Aug 9th, 2022 02:47 am
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Hints & Tips No.172
Help With The Small Things Pt 7
by Bob Heath - Barchester (Spain)

Suede brush : The metal kind that is. Brilliant for cleaning off rolling stock wheels.
Syringe : I use one of these to place my 50/50 water/PVA glue to stick down scatter and ballast, very precise in use. I use a thicker needle for the glue and a very fine one for placing small drops of oil accurately.
Tea bag strings : The strings that come with some tea bags are the ideal size for thick and thin ropes in both 00 and N gauges.
Tea leaves : Same as coffee grounds. When dried very good as a scatter. material.
Tips & Tricks :  Dozens of them from a Wargamers site. Many of them good for us.
Tissues : Apart from wiping up a spilt mess, good for paint brush wiping, making curtains and frosted glass for your windows.
Toilet paper : As above but cheaper.
Toothpicks : As match sticks and kebab sticks. Different scales, different uses but all good to apply minute blobs of glue, grease or oil.

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 Posted: Fri Aug 12th, 2022 04:44 am
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Hints & Tips No.173
Garden Allotment Details No.1
by Andy McMahon and Sheila Perry ( Beccles, Suffolk)
Having seen some really impressive allotments on other models we decided that we would include one near to the front of 'Newton Halt'. The structures and fencing on most real allotments tend to be made from old recycled materials used for their practicality rather than their appearance.
Ours consists of a base of ground goop (sieved garden soil, a touch of dark brown artists acrylic, external poly-filler, P.V.A. and some water), covered in places with a variety of scenic materials. Orchard trees are Woodland Scenic armatures painted with well stretched strips of foliage matting flocked to look heavy with fruit. A tomato frame was made up from fine plastic rod meshed with cotton made to look overgrown by gluing scenic scatter material to the cotton.
We have a neat row of shrub-like plants and some small examples of seamoss against the backscene to create perspective. Cabbages and harvested sprouts are unopened buds from a plant boiled in glycerine to preserve it. Potatoes are the white granules from the inside of a water filter cartridge.

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 Posted: Mon Aug 15th, 2022 10:42 am
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Hints & Tips No.174
Details No.9 – Model Battery and Relay Boxes
by Trevor Gibbs (Melbourne Australia)

Electric and Colour light signals nearly always have a battery box near them and the track to facilitate the track circuit. There are also relay boxes near such signals. These can easily be fashioned from styrene offcuts, while the relay box could use a cut off nail or similar glued to its back to elevate from the ground slightly. On the relay box, scribe a vertical line in the middle of the “front” to represent the doors.

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