How to keep long trains on the tracks

“Hi Al,

I imagine several people have problems (especially in N Scale) getting longer trains on the track. The worst for me is a 10 car TGV that simply refuses to keep the wheels I’ve already managed to get right on the track whilst I sort out the rest.

I’ve found a solution. In my favourite train shop in Zurich (Züri-Tech) there is an extensive second-hand/pre-owned section and I found a few pieces of Trix part number 4974 (see picture A) for 1 Swiss Franc each (about 75p). As you can see they taper down from a thickness of about 4mm in the centre to 1mm at the edges. Their real use is as re-railers but my problem was getting the train on the track to start off with.

Picture A

It occurred to me that with a bit of modification (see picture B) I could put one of these at the end of a siding. Then, once the power car was on the track, I’d let it haul the rest of the rake on.

It works! As the engine draws forward (you have to keep the speed down, and it helps if you line things up as well as possible) the remaining coaches and trailing car are guided onto the rails. Now, after months of cursing I can get the TGV, Thalys, ICE, Ave,  and just about anything else on the rails in seconds.

Best regards,


Wow – that’s smart! A big thanks to Paul. And for even more nifty ideas, have a look at the Beginner’s Guide.

And don’t forget to click here for the latest ‘ebay cheat sheet‘. You’ll be glad you looked…



44 Responses to How to keep long trains on the tracks

  1. Hornby do one like this, it is an un-coupling track but it also acts as a railer/re-railer. No. R620

  2. I like the auto rail loader,looks makable and very commercial,I want !!! keep up the good work. Roy

  3. Ingenious! I’ll remember this one. Well done.

  4. can you buy a rerailer in ho, I need to do this trick as when old eyes wear glasses it is hard to place stock on the line.

  5. we have one of these in the first set I purchased for my son about three years ago. It’s more help with him as at 6yrs old he lacks the manual dexterity and patience to correctly align the wheels on the rail. We have HO layout

  6. I have found that by running each car back and forth by hand across a rerailer track such as the one shown it aligns the wheels with the track quite well. I then roll the car toward the engine and continue with the next car, works like a charm!

  7. Hi Al,
    Just have to make one of those; what a great idea!

  8. I believe LIMA made, I actually have one, a rail-crossing which can be employed in the same fashion as the trick suggested by Randy Smith.

  9. You can make them fairly easily with plastic (shirt-collar offcuts or something similar) to guide the wheels from the inside and inclines to let the flanges climb over the rails from the outside. Doesn’t work well on curved track. Put them permanently in hidden spaces (tunnels and fiddle yards) and Murphy’s law comes into play – magically the stock stops de-railing altogether.

  10. I have been mnaking them out of Balsa wood about 2 in. long works very well on N gauge.

  11. It sounds to me like most of you have missed what he was doing. You are just using a rerailer which is nice of course, but look again at his picture A and B, on the right side of B the rails are spread to catch the truck and make it turn to align with the rail and rerailing plastic. this is not a regular rerailer, do not try to go the opposite direction. We use this same idea in Live Steam at the loading/unloading turntables to align the cars to the track from the transporting vehicle. Save a lot of lifting in the hernia gauges.

  12. If you look at the picture of either the normal rerailer or the modified one, you will notice an arrow in the center to designate the direction that rolling stock needs to travel through the device. Spreading the rails on the inbound end seems to me to be a quite clever solution to getting stock onto the rails properly from the beginning.

  13. Peco have been making stock railers for many years. SL 37 for HO/OO and SL337 for N scale stock. You sit the railer on a straight piece of track and put your chosen item on the railer with the wheels pointing in the general direction of the track, and the wedge shape built into the railer line the wheels correctly for the track. If it is a loco the bogies line up with no hassle, you just push the loco onto the track. If it is rolling stock then the ramp shape of the railer allows the rolling stock to roll down under its’ own weight onto the track. The railers are long enough to hold a tender loco or a coach. Hassle free loading of stock onto the rails.

  14. Once I get all my trains on and going, whats the best way to PREVENT them from derailing? My grandson and I hate it when they come off track.

  15. Most of the problem(s) with cars derailing, especially with longer trains, usually occurs with cars that have truck mounted couplers. These are usually found with “train set” cars. Your better quality cars will have body mounted couplers so as your train pulls, you are pulling from the car body and NOT the truck assy. Pulling from the truck assy. tends to want to straighten the trucks and causes the derailing. There are after market couplers (several on the market now) that can be used to retro fit truck mounted couplers. I hope this helps!

  16. Paul& Al
    This looks like a very good idea .I am going to try it on a ho train track. Keep up the good ideas

    John .C.

  17. I change all my cars to body mounted couplers . { K D } and that has stopped 90-95 % of my derailmants . I also check the guage of the wheels with the HO track and wheel guage and what a difference it makes to be able to run the railroad with out the derail problems .

  18. I had this problem until I put a re-railer piece in the area of the derailing. Thank to it being in the far area where it doesn’t show. Also I have put metal wheels on the cars that came without them.

  19. I wouldn’t bend the rails of your rerailer track like that if I were you – looks to me like you might get some of the wheelsets trying to wedge themselves in the gap, which could push the wheels in on the axles. If the gap between the backs of the wheels is even a smidge too tight, you will find they tend to derail on the blades or checkrails of pointwork. Other common causes of derailments I’ve noticed are (a) tension lock couplers where the hooks have gone the wrong side of each other and so are putting sideways force on each other in curves, and (b) where a rail of flexitrack has slid along slightly through the chairs, opening up a gap at a fishplate.

  20. Looks like a winner to me! As long as the leading wheels begin to ramp up before squeeze takes place there shouldn’t be any change take place.

  21. Don’t have trouble keeping long trains on track. At My club The West Sussex N group we have some very long trains including the Bullet trains and Eurostar. at a show we had a Farish 33 powered with a Minitrix chassis. It is known as the manic one as it takes anything dumped behind her. On YouTube the is a 45 sec video of it hauling 60 Minitrix coaches (Trix class 33 pulling 60 coaches). Often we have freight trains with 100 10 ft. wagons and no trouble. Failure can only be attributed to bad maintenance of track or stock. Dirty wheels don’t help.


  22. really don’t have to make any modifications…Just add a few re-railers here and there on your layout and you can do the same thing by running the engines and any cars thru the re-railer and there you go. Why make it difficult?

  23. I have sculpted a rerailer in hidden sections of my railroad using common patching plaster. Just put a three inch patch of wet plaster on the rails and use a small stick to make the required ramps.

  24. I seem to be having an issue keeping everything on the rails going through turnouts.

  25. I’m using Atlas and a Bachman turnout.

  26. Is there any source of an HOm rerailer?

  27. Surprised nobody mentioned Kato railer as supplied in most Japanese train sets, fits astride the rails for initially putting trains on, most Shinkansen are 16 cars long.
    Works very well, kato also do a track retailer.

  28. Hi Everyone

    I’m new to model railroading and one of my problems
    I can’t figure out is that at times my turn outs seem to catch
    the trucks on the engines or other rolling stock and want to make them take the side track. My other problem seems
    to be that my turn outs seem to pinch the trucks at times.
    It is so intermittent that I can’t figure it out.
    Any suggestion or posible solutions?

  29. Really nifty. Like all the best ideas, it’s simple and cheap.

  30. A solution to keeping your trucks from catching on the turnouts is to file the points on your turnout flat against the stock rail of the turnout. I think it’s the wheels that’s catching the points of your turnout, not the trucks. Check it out. Rocco.

  31. Most american if not all track manufactors make re-railer tracks.

  32. Atlas makes a longer rerailer “#518″ and I put at least one on every layout that I build. It’s nice to have for the layout that is uner the Christmas Tree.

  33. I may totally stupid but I can’t see how picture B could work. I have several re-railers throughout my layout.. I also replaced the plastic wheels with metal which also helps.

  34. Hey,
    Is NOT a re-railer, the “re-railers” as some have pinted out are great for pushing the trucks back onto the tracks. The is a “RAILER” WHAT? Puting the “railer” on at the end of a siding, can put a group of cars together on the flat surface, NOT the tracks, then SLOWLY pul the train forward up ON TO the tracks. By bending the ends out, acts as a funnel and gets the trucks between and onto the track ready to roll. No fidiling around with trying to get wheels lined up between the tracks. Gets harder with the smaler scales and older eyes. Or as one post commented, the less steady hands and in paitence of youth

  35. I bought a Kato retailer on eBay for under $3. Snaps on the track and the cars roll down by themselves. The grandkids love to use it (as do I). It’s easy and reliable.

  36. you can buy ramps in all scales that just sit on top of track & is not permanent , which does the same thing , i have one in N-scale it only cost a few bucks, this makes it nice if you run your trains on other tracks that aren’t yours like if your in a club , you can get them from most hobby shops

  37. I live in Arizona does anyone know where I can buy Owens Corning 2 inch extruded foam boards???? Home Depot or Lowes does not carry them. Some carry 1 inch blue Dow. I really would like the 2 inch or more. Thanks any help will be great. Tom Payson AZ.

  38. I found a source in Tucson. Please reply if interested and I will look it up.

  39. When I bought my 2-6-6-2 steam engine, it came with a railer. Lay it on a straight stretch, roll a car down it, it is on the track, no problem. It is almost a required item for engines with leading and trailing trucks.

    Where on a layout is the worst place for a derail? In a tunnel, of course. I have a rerailer as part of the track in my tunnel, just in case.

    Still in training,
    Carl in Kansas

  40. Neat idea, why didn’t the manufacturers think of it? It just goes to show that we don’t know it all, haven’t learned it all and while Paul may be a rocket scientist or a carpenter we can all learn something from one another, Thanks for sharing this. I have some friends to share your idea with?

  41. I work at Chi-Town Union Station where we routinely run 400 car coal trains and once ran a train with 1206 cars in O-scale. We keep that long train on the track by carefully weighting each car with pieces of wheel weight lead and a precision scale. I made a “railer” out of a stack of five business cars hich I carry in my shirt pocket because you never know where you will need it. our 400 computers run 30-40 long trains at a time and nothing is perfect.

  42. I have been using this type of rerailer from both Baughman and Atlus .
    , I don’t remember their part numbers but most of mine are over 15 years
    old buy now and still work as intended with out bending the ends of the rails
    as long as you go slow entering them and I have enough of them to place
    in line with switches and in tunnels but it also helps to replace the all plastic wheel sets with all mettle axels and wheels and I have an alinement tool block made
    of hard plastic that helps to set the wheels at the right gap for both N and Ho
    gage rolling stock that is older than 25 years and I don’t remember the part number for it ?
    I’m getting to old to remember the numbers any more because of some-timers !

  43. In addition I do not start my inclines on the curves of my rails , I find I have less problems with derailing after going over my rolling stock every so often to make sure they are in gage and clean and like the book tells you -soldering the joints
    in the rails helps as long as you clean the solder after you do the joint so as to
    keep the joint free of obstructions . T hat is my way of having less problems with my tracks I hope this helps any and all that are having this problem !

  44. I stretched a published post card size drawing to nearly 24 feet along one side of my garage for an N scale layout. Rerailers like the one shown in picture A were used to cross all joints between the eight foot long pieces of homasote covered plywood supporting the tracks. If I ever move it will be easy to take out the rerailers and reassemble them at the new location.

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