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HINTS AND TIPS - THE FOLLOW ON - Hints & Tips - Reference Area. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Thu Jun 24th, 2010 03:59 pm
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Hints & Tips No.710
Rust Spots and light Weathering Pt 3
By Martin Jones (Wales)
I find Gouache good for streaking rust. The process is similar to that outlined in Hints 708 and 709, although you apply the gouache first, and let it dry. Afterwards run a barely moist flat brush over, to streak the gouache:

The other thing I have found useful when doing rust is to start light, and work darker. The older rust is, the darker it gets, so the darkest will be found in the middle of your spot, where it started. I did a model of a Hopper which I am quite proud of. I used Gouache in the chutes as well, using the apply and streak process described above.

I have found that Powders are great for adding variation in colour to wheels and bogies etc and you can also use gouache for fading and dirt streaks.:

It is well worth trying - and the beauty is if you make a hash of it, it can be wiped off with a damp cloth. Gouache does not need to be sealed with varnish if the models are handled carefully, but a matt varnish seal will protect it.

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 Posted: Fri Jun 25th, 2010 07:19 pm
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Hints & Tips No.711
Rust Spots and light Weathering Pt 4 aka Gouache 101



By Tony Sissons (North Carolina)
Gouache is a water colour. The beauty of it is is that once you apply it you can continue to remove it, by diluting the first application, until you have the finest colouring possible, or a colour to your taste. You can remove it anytime with water.
The original colour that shows when it is fresh from the tube does NOT dry to the same colour when dry, so I advise you experiment a little on a scrap freight car until you learn how gouache reacts. It is probably the best medium for rust spots and rust streaks, perfect for the discolouring along the weld lines of tank cars I find.
I apply it by brush, it dries in a minute or so but can be re-activated, as it were, with a fresh dose of water, and that applies anytime. As you might imagine, perfect to pull rust streaks down the side of the car. It is NOT a medium to use in an air brush as it dries too quickly.

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 Posted: Sat Jun 26th, 2010 06:41 pm
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Hints & Tips No.712
Uses for Blu-Tack in Modelling Pt 1



By Several Modellers
1. I use blutac for heaps of things, one of those being masking for painting. Roll the blutac very thin, then cut with a new blade for a crisp edge and it can be molded to fit around compound curves.

2. I fit knuckle couplers to get the right height before fixing with a screw or glue.
3.  Holding wires inside a loco


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 Posted: Sun Jun 27th, 2010 06:26 pm
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Hints & Tips No.713
Uses for Blu-Tack in Modelling Pt 2
By Several Modellers


4. I use it to mask off the LED's in my signals when I paint them, theres no way I could use masking tape to do that kind of job. It is a bit of a pain to remove the blu tak though.


5. Use an entire strip, peel one side of the paper off and lay it on your work bench, to place each small piece if a model you remove in a nice secure place as you disassemble. The end result is a nil loss of important fiddly bits AND a strip of pieces that is nicely ordered for you to put back in the correct places.


6. I often use blutac for holding HO scale figures while I paint them. I also use it to support parts while glue is drying.


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 Posted: Thu Jul 8th, 2010 04:25 am
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Hints & Tips No.714


It's a People Thing Pt 1



From Terry Booker, Footplate Models Southampton
Simply buying ready-painted figures and plonking them down at random will look like everyone else’s people, and no matter how well sculpted and painted, they will inevitably look too 'bright' (even shiny!) and toy-like.
We suggest buying unpainted figures (Airfix, Dapol, Preiser or White Metal from Monty's, Dart, Langley, etc), and give them a good scrub in a cup of warm water laced with Vim/Ajax. Then give them a matt (very matt) undercoat of white enamel using Railmatch or Humbrol. Paint it on thick enough to cover the figure, but not so thick as to mask or obscure the detail.


Then paint them with ordinary water-colours straight from the palette. You will need reasonably good brushes – most art shops sell foreign-made packs of five from 000 to 3 for £2 or £3 – a good light, and (in many cases if appropriate ) strong glasses!


Water-colours allow you to produce a texture that is much softer and less 'flat' than enamels, and helps to give that slightly subdued look that is essential to fabric. It has other advantages too – you get exceptionally fine detail more easily, picking out buttons, ties, skirt patterns, creases, with none of the 'blobbing' that comes from thicker enamels. Shading and highlights too become a real possibility. And of course the range of tones and shades available is almost limitless.




Happy painting.

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 Posted: Thu Jul 8th, 2010 05:42 pm
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Hints & Tips No.715
It's a People Thing Pt 2



From Terry Booker, Footplate Models Southampton
The real plus is that water-colours are very cheap and very user-friendly. No smelly thinners or pongy paint, so you can work in the lounge in comfort! They are also very forgiving – if you’re not happy, then simply dunk the figure back in the wash and start again.
Wherever possible, I keep the figure on its base for ease of handling and only separate it once it's finished and ready to be positioned. A worthwhile investment is a pair of decent 'needle-point' tweezers – these will be essential if you're figure working with metal figures which usually have no bases.

Final positioning is a matter of personal choice and judicious observation of the real world and, of course, of photographs typical of the scene you are trying to recreate. Sadly, most figures that are generally available tend to suffer a bit from hyperactivity syndrome! And that applies to animals as well – they are all too busy. If you can, try to select those in more relaxed poses, and be imaginative in how you group them. Remember this technique works well with animals too, so please, let's have no more shiny sheep or polished Friesians (especially if you are modelling the pre-nationalisation railway, as the dreaded black and white Friesians were not plentiful until the late fifties and sixties)!
Personalise your people, and watch your layout take on a life of its own. Happy Painting!

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 Posted: Fri Jul 9th, 2010 09:31 pm
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Hints & Tips No.716


Fencing and Railways Pt 1



From Terry Booker, Footplate Models Southampton
Railways in real life are dangerous places, and in the British Isles – unlike the rest of the world – they were fenced-off against trespass by livestock or the public. As with all the other elements, each company developed its own styles for fences, and this invariably meant something smart and stylish in stations, and something more basic and cheaper for the miles in between.
Each pre-grouping (pre-1923) company had its own ideas, but – apart from the massive influence of the Great Western – many of these were absorbed and transformed by the big four. Most of the corporate and regional variations then lingered until the present day when the greater speed and the dangers of electrical power called for more drastic measures to prevent trespass.
Since most of us model post-grouping through to BR, it is convenient that our accessory manufacturers market a range of products that will meet the needs of the majority of layouts. But, as with everything else in their mass-produced packets, a little personal tender loving care can make all the difference to the final appearance of these lineside features.
Our advice, as always, is to delve into your references and check out as many pictures as you can locate that are 'typical' of your own setting. These will show you a number of valuable pointers towards realism, and will also, I suspect, help you to avoid some pitfalls. There are a few things to look out for … (to be continued)

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 Posted: Sat Jul 10th, 2010 07:05 pm
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Hints & Tips No.716(b)
Fencing and Railways Pt 2
From Terry Booker, Footplate Models Southampton
Fences (almost without exception) are of just two types away from the stations. It will either be an all-wooden post and rail type usually having three or four longitudinal bars, or it will be post and wire with either wooden or concrete posts and various numbers of wire runs. Because the cost of the main posts of this latter type, there is a further variant with more widely separated main posts (usually concrete) and vertical metal strip 'spacers' in between. Check your photos to see what was in use in your chosen area.
These two basic forms each produce different challenges to the modeller – packs of wooden fencing will come in strips of a length more convenient to the package than to the modeller. They are very easy to use on nice flat stretches with fairly generous curves. They are certainly easy to fix after you've painted them (enamels are fine) with a suitable mix of whites, greys, greens and a bit of brown or black. They are also simple to keep upright. Their problem comes when you are fencing the undulating boundaries above cuttings or beneath embankments. They simply won't 'bend' to follow contours.
There is a general-purpose flexible fencing on the market (Peco) designed to overcome this, but in my experience it's easier said than done. The forces needed to bend the bars in the vertical plane will threaten to pull the vertical posts out of alignment. The posts need to be well planted and even then I suspect you will break several of the fairly weak spigots.
The alternative is fairly laborious (what isn't?!), and that is to 'nick' the undersides of the bars on the normal straight fencing panels just where they meet the post. You can then gently bend the next section upwards, then nick the top side of the bar as it meets the next post.
You may have to scratch-build your fencing, as obviously not all styles will be catered for from the packet. The key variations are the number of horizontal bars and whether they are mounted on the face of the verticals, or slotted into these posts. If it's the former, double-check which side they go; towards the railway, or towards the field? A detail, yes, but it's important. Balsa wood or any suitable model strip wood of the right size is ideal and will ultimately be easier to work with and give a more realistic end product.

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 Posted: Mon Jul 12th, 2010 02:26 am
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Hints & Tips No.717


Teak Coaches Pt 1


From Terry Booker, Footplate Models Southampton
For their day - twenty and more years ago - the Hornby 'teak' coaches were a mixed offering. The Thompsons were very much 'plastic wood' running on the standard BRML1 underframe. The Gresleys had similar finish but this was alleviated by quite nice lettering and a more appropriate Gresley-ish underframe; and eventually Gresley-ish bogies too.
Those who have read some of my previous tips will know me to be a real cheapskate and one who never chucks anything away. So you can guess that I was very unlikely to rush out and spend around £250 on a replacement programme!
I will not go into the engineering upgrades, but I retrofitted some spare Hornby Gresley bogies and re-wheeled as necessary. I also made up some more typical underframes out of plastic strips and angle.
Some coaches went from 'plastic wood' into BR Carmine and Cream, but I wanted to preserve the original lettering on most of them - so something was definitely going to have to be done with the paintbrush. The wood finish was just about acceptable, but far too pale, flat and bland. The interiors (white plastic!) were also much too light when viewed even in passing.
So, out came the 'guts' of the thing and the corridor partitions were painted a much darker brown with reddish brown and dull green upholstery. Much better! But what of the exteriors? To be continued...

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 Posted: Mon Jul 12th, 2010 05:41 pm
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Hints & Tips No.718


Teak Coaches Pt 2

From Terry Booker, Footplate Models Southampton

The old standby of clear gloss varnish wouldn't do the job - the finish needed to be darker and richer. So I had to do a mix which combined the benefits of the varnish with a bit more colour. I'm no DIY fan, but I did happen to have and old (now there's a surprise!) tin of polyurethane 'light oak' varnish in the shed... that was a start. But still too light in tone when tested on a small sample. So a fairly large dollop was tipped into the mixing tray (Tesco shiny tinfoil ashtrays are excellent, as are their plastic spoons and stirrers!). To this was added on one side a spoonful of gloss GWR coach brown, and on the other side a spoonful of Humbrol reddish-brown matt 'leather'.

With some thinners as a helpful catalyst, this was mixed in various quite random proportions and duly applied. The results were really quite worth the few hours of labour - and finger crossing! Matt black underframes and bogies, darkened/weathered roofs, and careful gold touching-up of door hinges, handles and grab rails and my inter-regionals are much improved. Ok, I admit they are not in any way accurate, but behind the V2, they make an attractive and pretty realistic portrayal of 'foreign' stock.

Most toy fairs and second-hand shops will have these elderly coaches at well under a tenner - haggle for them! Then get the necessary varnishes and paints; even a sheet of Pressfix LNER lettering. It is fun and cheap.

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 Posted: Tue Jul 13th, 2010 05:09 pm
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Hints & Tips No.719

Telegraph Poles and Modelling Pt 1

From Terry Booker, Footplate Models Southampton


Let's consider then what makes for a convincing use of that humble 'TP' on our layouts. We need to consider several factors…

1. The appropriate distance between the poles

2. The number of brackets and 'dolls' for their assumed purpose

3. The correct colour(s)

4. Other features

We may as well start with the first point. The distances between poles in real life was not constant. It would depend on the number of wires carried, since the weight/sag of these would obviously affect the pull on the top of the pole. As a general rule of thumb, multi-branch lineside poles can be set closer together than those on an adjacent roadside, which might only carry two or three lines into a village. Check with your photos and test positions on your layout, simply fixing the poles temporarily with plasticine/Blu-tak. I generally work to about 12-15 inches – further apart, and they give the impression of a shorter track distance, but too close and they look silly!


The number of brackets or crossbars is a problem since many lineside poles were truly giant affairs with an unbelievable number of bars and dolls. I have checked – at random – in "Rail Tracks South West" by Peter Gray; 8 or 10 bars are commonplace, often with four dolls each side of the post, while one at [Par] boasted no less than 18 bars! The Dapol versions give four bars as standard – but do provide some bars from poles in station yards or country roads and add them back onto your major 'trunk routes' by the railway. (To Be Continued)

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 Posted: Wed Jul 14th, 2010 05:52 pm
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Hints & Tips No.720




Telegraph Poles and Modelling Pt 2


From Terry Booker, Footplate Models Southampton

Colour is critical – PLEASE, no black or brown (except if they're a brand-new replacement with the engineers still around admiring their handiwork…). Poles weather quickly, and a far better colour scheme is a mix of greyish/greenish hues on the sunny side and just a tad darker on the 'north' side. (A Note from Trevor – South in my hemisphere) Enamels are fine; just test the mixes until you get what you want. Dolls should be white – but its worth noting that the railway telegraph system used the same poles (usually the very top or bottom bar) and their dolls were red. Metal footholds can be weathered black.

Other features should always include the wire stays to support the pole. It's easiest if these run from beneath the bars and are inline with the direction of the run. They can be made from short lengths of (fine) fishing line, or very thin wire. Either way, they need to be taut and neatly pinned to the landscape – about a 45° angle is OK. You can get wire by slitting the case of multi-strand layout wire, or burning it off (which is quick, but smoky!). Gently brush over with rust colour or metallic black.

For stays in villages and public roads, a neat addition is a strip of thin 1/16 inch x 3/16 inch (approx) balsa. Smooth the top side to a half round and then cut a shallow point onto lengths of about 1½ inch – stick the flat side to the base of the stay wire. These served to protect the stay and also make it more visible to the unwary.

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 Posted: Thu Jul 15th, 2010 05:47 pm
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Hints & Tips No.721

Telegraph Poles and Modelling Pt 3

From Terry Booker, Footplate Models Southampton

Although telegraph poles are very attractive lineside features – indeed, quite essential ones – always try to site them on the far side of the track. If they are on the near side, (a) they will really get in the way, and (b) you will keep breaking them!

Another thing I forget is which way do they face? There is a right way, and that is to have the 'doll' at what could be called the 'London-side' of the pole.

Now, onto other matters...

When you reach stations or signal boxes (coming from the London direction), knock out a doll or more to suggest the lines going into that feature. If you remove part of a bar from the pole, so much the better – you can fix that to the signal cabin or whatever, to show the line going in.

If it is a large station or goods yard, you may want to remove several dolls – that is then a good opportunity to have lightly used poles with perhaps one or one-and-a-half bars dotted around, carrying the lines to goods sheds, engine sheds or out into the village.

Even in the old days, 'multi-use' was not uncommon. You can really add character by filling 'electric lights' to your telegraph poles in goods yards or loco depots. Once again, Dapol/Airfix can help. They produce (or did!) electric lights on rather improbable poles for station lamps. Cut the shade/bulb from their mounting. Drill two small holes in your telegraph poles, and make up a tiny bracket with thin plastic rod.

These are delicate but effective. You can add plastic ladders too (Ratio) as the bulbs will certainly need changing.

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 Posted: Fri Jul 16th, 2010 06:49 pm
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Hints & Tips No.722




Telegraph Poles and Modelling Pt 4

From Terry Booker, Footplate Models Southampton

I mentioned that there are more spindly telegraph poles from Ratio. These do make effective electricity poles – I generally reduce them to just the top bar and two dolls, which should (usually) be of dark brown porcelain. Once again, use weathered colours, but you can do these a tad darker to highlight their different purpose.

These too can have the addition of lights in appropriate situations, such as typical rudimentary street lighting near to phone boxes or bus stops in your fifties village scene.

It is worth mentioning that there are – or rather were! – regional variations, especially to track side telephone runs. Main lines, especially in the north of England, used two poles instead of one to carry their trunk routes. This of course is easily done in miniature by using your photo references as a guide and simply gluing two Dapol poles together. However, I think you will need to remove the inner bars from one of the poles.

If you have a large layout currently devoid of, or with inadequate types of telegraph poles, rush out now and buy some packs. It may also seem a tiresome exercise, but if you want to capture the essence of pre-1970 Britain, the humble telegraph pole is a vital ingredient.

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 Posted: Sat Jul 17th, 2010 05:16 pm
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Hints & Tips No.723

Realistic water using Plexglass

From C.J. Leigh (North Dakota)

I know in the past when talking to other model railroaders, there has always been a challenge to creating realistic looking water. There are tons of products out there have give that wet feeling to your layout, and create great streams and creeks, but what if you wanted to create a large body of water such as a lake or in a harbor. Furthermore, what if you wanted to be able to see through it as if looking at a very clear lake.

Friends, the solution is easy. Simply go to your local hardware store and pick up some replacement Plexiglas that is designed for a shower door. The wave pattern is prefect to create the waves upon the lakes surface. Cut the Plexiglas to fit your lake or harbor scene and install. If you want some muddy water, simply paint the bottom of the Plexiglas to your liking.

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 Posted: Sun Jul 18th, 2010 07:46 pm
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Hints & Tips No.724

Extreme Weathering using Sea Salt

From - Several Modellers

In a recent book on weathering, a freight car was painted a rust color, sea salt was added to the side, painted and decalled normally, then the sea salt was scratched off to expose the rust below. This will give a pock-marked area where the rust is showing through the paint.

A variation using ready to run wagons could also be done. Paint areas where you want the rust to be. Artist acrylics are good for these. Wet the side of the car, apply the sea salt and let it dry. Brush paint a darker rust on the surface. The sprayed rust color needs to be lighter than the painted rust color and the contrast will help the apearance.

Remove the sea salt off of the car or wagon using a tooth brush and a small knife or chisel and you have a well worn used vehicle.

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 Posted: Mon Jul 19th, 2010 05:54 pm
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Hints & Tips No.725

Weathering with Chalks and Dullcote
From Several Modellers
In response to a forum question about Dullcote washing away weathering chalks, these responses should be of interest to you,
  1. Thinning the dullcoat can help. I ran into a problem with Dullcote wearing away my chalk. Just keep adding powders in the areas you want to weather properly. You might also try variations of lighter colors or darker colors as well. (Sawyer Berry – North Carolina)
  2. In my experiences it is better to build up the weathering with many small coats of weathering than one heavy coat. Then you have more control over the amount of weathering. (Gary Eicken – New Jersey)
  3. What you need to do is get the weathering the way you like it ( remember dullcote will remove some of the weathing). Re do the weathering- dullcote - re do the weathering- dullcote and so on. Make sure the dullcote goes on lightly. There are also a couple of brands of weathering powders that do not need dullcote to seal. (Reese - Ohio)
  4. If you leave the powder on for a few hours, it sticks better. Then spray from as far away as possible (not the next room, but say 18"). The weathering will always seem less after the dullcote anyway, but better that than the other way round! (Bob Norris - Southampton)

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 Posted: Tue Jul 20th, 2010 05:47 pm
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Hints & Tips No.726

Stencil Idea

From James Johnson (USA)

I was placing an airbrush supply order and I happened upon "fingernail stencil wheels" for painting women's nails with. Several companies make "alphabet and #'s" stencil wheels. I ordered a couple different styles gave them a try. The letters and numbers are really tiny and I thought they might come in handy for all sorts of N scale projects in particular, like the sides of buildings and boxcars, signs, etc.

I know there is a dry transfer decal made for just about anything you can think of, but I thought I'd give this a try anyway. I thought If it works out, it will be nice not having to always buy sheets of number and letter decals all the time which whenI want them, I usually cannot find.

The stencil wheels proved just right for N scale purposes. I think they will come into their own when it comes time to put signs on the sides of buildings and billboards. I paid about $3 per wheel and each wheel contains all the capital letters as well as all letters in lower case and numbers 0-9. One wheel is standard news print type lettering and the other is a more relaxed flowing type of script. I'm very glad I purchased these and feel like it was money well spent as I can think of a bunch of uses for them. They also make stencil wheels with many different designs on them such as ice cream cones that could be used on a parlor sign, twinkling type stars that could be used on a night scene backdrop, or flower bouquets for a floral shop sign, … and wherever else your imagination takes you!


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 Posted: Wed Jul 21st, 2010 09:14 pm
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Hints & Tips No.727
Another Couple of Uses for a Digital Camera
From Several Modellers
  1. Have you noticed when you display a picture on a screen that you have just taken of that new paint or weathering job, or the kitbash. You nearly always find something that you missed with the Mk 1 eyeball. Something slightly misaligned, a slight paint run. the camera shows it up. I have also found it can be useful checking chassis and mechanisms for problems, taking pics at intervals, while moving wheels either by hand or slowly under power, any uneveness will show up. (Mike Smith - Dorset)
  2. I find it a good tool to pick out glaring and embarrassing mistakes like missing out unpainted parts of the scenery. This is expecially if you are using foam. This is because the picture is an ACTUAL image reproduction. What we see is a PROCESSED image. Our mind shows us what we expect to see....not always what is actually there. (Cliff Assuncao- Singapore)
  3. The digital camera is a great tool to use for the hobby. I take pictures of everything to see how it would look from an nscale point of view. Lately I noticed a building that looked straight on the layout was actually was tilted to one side. I saw dents added to a model which looked like the engine was involved in an accident and was placed back on the tracks (Bob Dahl - Nebraska).

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 Posted: Fri Jul 23rd, 2010 05:51 am
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 Hints & Tips No.728

Making Concertina or Coiled barbed Wire

From Anthony Jones (North Carolina)

I thought I would share my method af creating the barbed/contertina wire seen on many prisons and on some industrial facilities. I found it easy to reproduce with a few simple tools.

Tools needed:
Cotton sewing thread
Silver spray paint (WalMart)
Brass/glass/styrene rod
Starch (grocery store)

Dissolve a measure of starch into a llittle warm water. Then dip the cotton sewing thread into the mixture to impregnate the thread with starch. While still wet, wrap the thread around the rod (not too tight). A glass rod is best, but hard to find. Styrene can be too flexible unless you are careful. I found a piece of brass tubing from the LHS works best for me.

Set the thread on rod aside and let it dry overnight, or until the thread is completely dry. After it dries, gently rotate the rod, and carefully slide the rod out, leaving a coil of thread held stiff by the starch.

Lay the coil on newspaper and apply a good coat of silver spray paint. After it dries, turn it upside down and do the other side.

The starch will hold the thread in form for painting and once the spray paint dries it will basically bond the thread like glue and you will have barbed wire to glue to the top of your chain link fence.

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