Another wonderful model railroad ‘how to’ from John

Rob’s been in touch again – and he’s very kindly answered from questions from his last post, which is here.

“Hello Al…

Here are some answers to the questions that I received via your posting of my “Solid Core” modeling.

1. Question: What do I do about windows.

Answer: I sheet the balsa blocks with 1/16″ thick scribed sheeting…clap board…board and baten similar material and by using an Xacto knife I cut out the window and door opening.

This leaves a 1/16″ recess in the siding to accept the blackout paper…shades…curtains and glass. Once these are installed I glue my Tichy windows and doors into place for a perfect fit.

2. Question: How do I cut the balsa block clean and square.

Answer: I have a Mikita 8″ sliding chop saw. I only deal with the standard angles to include 15 degrees… 22.5 degrees…30 degrees…45 degrees…60 degrees…and 90 degrees.

I do not frustrate myself with oddball angles that I can’t remember later on. Stick to the basics and you will never have a “no fit” moment.

3. Question: What saw do I use:

Answer: A Mikita 8″ sliding compound chop saw. An absolute gem to work with.

4. Comment: The cost of balsa is a little to expensive to entertain.

Reply: Interestingly enough when you compare the cost of strip wood (specifically 3/16″ or 1/4″) for which I would use nothing less for stability the cost difference isn’t that great.

I will have to admit that I am registered with some 200 different manufacturers and I acquire my supplies at wholesale.

5. Question: How do you add lights.

Answer: Excellent question and very difficult to explain with a drawing showing how I leave a void in the layers of balsa block to create an open room.

This is best illustrated by a drawing that makes it all very simple.

6. Question: Where do I source the cladding and fixtures from Ray in Australia.

Answer: Reference my comment in question number 5 above. I have numerous suppliers that provide a number of items that are not available outside of the United States.

Simply put they do not spend any time to market outside the country. This is sad since there is a “Horn of Plenty” available to me that overseas modelers can’t acquire.

7. Comment: To Tad in Long Beach…Reference comment number 4 above. I reside in Valencia (Magic Mountain) which makes us practically neighbors when you consider that a large majority of Al’s readers are world wide.

Best regards,


And now on to John. He’s a huge star in my eyes because he’s always keen to dive in with whatever my boy wonder comes up with on the print out scenery – a jetty wall in this case:


(Images are clickable)


(Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.)

You can download the jetty wall print here – but please be quick.

A big thanks to John – and next time, he’s got another one for you.

That’s all this time folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if John’s enthusiasm has rubbed off on you, the Beginner’s guide is here.



12 Responses to Another wonderful model railroad ‘how to’ from John

  1. NJ Mark says:

    Thanks again, John, for another inspiring and exhilarating how-to-do video. I love your great enthusiasm and artistry. Cheers! NJ Mark

  2. Herbert Williams says:

    John is very thorough and detailed. Great. I would like for you to give him my name to receive an email with the vast list of suppliers he has assembled. Better still, would you consider posting it?



  3. Jim says:

    Really neat. It would be great to see his list suppliers. Jim NJ

  4. John’s great with excellent tips and such, but I think he’s a little nuckin’ futs, too!! HARRRR!!!!

  5. John Reynolds says:

    Another awesome post….
    Love John’s enthusiasm and creativity…
    And yes… I am purchasing the new kit!
    Just to add a little more perspective to your audience…
    Rob’s work is amazing…
    I live in Chatsworth, CA —
    John from Cali…

  6. Joe Touchette says:

    Question: Products, materials and/or techniques:
    What can one use to model a steel roof … like on old barns, etc?
    What about modelling a slate roof?


    Joe T.

  7. Hello John…this is Robert from Valencia. I’m just 20 minutes up the road from you and it would be a shame not to touch bases and share ideas. You might like to see first hand how I go about solid core structure modeling and some of the short-cuts that really pay off in the long run. I really like the Alastair website with so many different modelers and the way they go about their level of creativity…Best regards…Robert

  8. Helmut Eppich says:

    Wow! Instructive and entertaining at the same time! Really enthusiastic!

  9. Herbert says:

    Thanks for the note on the building source. I’m also interested in the sources for cladding and fixtures in Australia and beyond. He mentioned the possibility of sharing our email with him to obtain his other suppliers of modeling materials. I would be pleased if you shared my address with him. Thanks.

  10. AL
    You have put up the backdrops for sale. The four backgrounds. I model in “N” and build modules and would like to use them for a background. Can you come up with a package with them.