Long model train – how to get them on the tracks

Paul’s been in touch with how to easily get a long model train on the tracks, without it spilling everywhere.

“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.

long model trainPicture 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.

long model train

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,


A big thanks to Paul – I know how troublesome a long model train can be…

It reminds of Mal’s excellent post on derailments: Trains derailing.

Wow – that’s smart! A big thanks to Paul for sharing his long model train tip.

And now on to Barry:


Here’s my story about my basement train layout.

This layout is in HO scale. I purchased these trains and supplies almost (20) years ago. I had just started building a layout back then but then went through a divorce and since then have never had enough room to build another layout.

My Grandson is almost 6 years old and is absolutely fascinated with trains. I asked him a year ago if he would like my train and help me build a layout in his parents’ basement for his Xmas and birthday present and he didn’t even hesitate with his answer.

My daughter (Porter’s mother) has also taken an interest in the building of this layout which we started in mid January and just completed it last week.

I mentioned before that they live 1-1/2 hours from me so I would travel to their house and stay 2-3 days maybe twice a month to work on it.

The total hours spent on it were approximately (140). I’m retired but have both a (30) year engineering and an (11) year General contractor (construction) background so I am quite detail oriented and have all the required to do this kind of project.

I designed the entire layout and track plan based on the buildings that I had from my collection over the years.

I made the trackplan basically an upper and a lower loop with a couple of sidings and spurs with mechanical turnouts and analog controls to keep it simple as he’s only almost (6) and mainly enjoys the trains travelling around their respective loops. I put an MRC sound system on it so he can make the appropriate sounds to add realism.

The layout is designed with the ability to add at right angle to the farm end another 4 x 8 portion that would include a double helix to get from one level to the other.

The outside will have stained door casing at the top edge and black or gray curtains to the floor to hide the under part and make it look like a piece of furniture.

The street light are functional but we haven’t installed the interior building lights yet.

Many of the items are scratch/scrap built. The gas station canopy and gas pumps I created from all scraps.

The asphalt road and sidewalks are made from residential roofing products with the sidewalks painted gray and the road lines are yellow and white tape cut down to strips approximately .040 wide.

The signage my daughter made on the computer.

The chainlink fencing is created from window/door screen cut on the diagonal and I use air gun nails from my construction tools for the posts.

Most of the trees are made from real tree branches with Woodland Scenics’ clump foliage applied.

Most of the mountains and there’s a lot of them are made with cheese cloth from a crafts store and boxes of Plaster of Paris to keep the budget down in-lieu-of plaster cloth.

Once again, I thank you for all your interest and publishing our various stages of development. My Grandson, when he gets older will have theknowledge that his train layout was published and seen by modelers all over the globe.



(Unfortunately Barry’s pics don’t enlarge. Sorry!)

model railroad baseboard

model railroad baseboard

model train tunnel

testing track

plaster paris tunnel

train tunnel baseboard

Barry's model railroad layout

model train water scene

model railroad town

model railroad rock

model railroad town

model railway people

model railroad town

Now on to Jeff.

He’s a man of few words but look what he’s put together in such a small space:

“Here are some pictures of my layout.

As you can see I don’t have a lot of space to work with, but I made the best out of what I have.


model train track plan

model train layout

model train layout

A big thanks to Paul for sharing his long model train tip.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if you want to stop dreaming and start doing.



Click here for the latest ‘ebay cheat sheet‘. You’ll be glad you looked…

5 Responses to Long model train – how to get them on the tracks

  1. Barrys’ layout has given me something to aspire to. I have done my track, just have to complete the Arduino power and switch machines, my panel is made just need to connect it all, then the landscaping may begin. Thankyou for the pictures

  2. Rich B. says:

    Won’t comment on any particular layout but rerailers aka road crossings have been used for engaging wheel flanges at least back to the 1950’s. But many times a person actually finds things on own myself included.

    Other thing I always questioned was using wadded up newspaper in layout scenery. Even with low voltage a fault can get way hot enough to ignite such. Styrofoam seems to just melt and also used in building construction. So your running your trains and investigation shows house burned down due to the train layout in attic or basement- insurance coverage, not sure on that? Do I do stupid things? Absolutely all the time, still learning but great to learn from others screwups too🤔

    Regards, Rich. Hope post gets through this try.

  3. Terry Miller says:

    Barry: The layout looks very good but with the exception of the hi-line track everything else (especially the city etc) is only a birds eye view. You might consider cutting a small hole at your grandson’s eye level in a “mountain” where he could peek through and see the town close up. Every boy wants to be an explorer. The hole could be disguised as a drainage pipe so it wouldn’t ruin the overall effect. Just a thought.
    Again, nice work and happy railroading.
    Terry/Idaho USA

  4. Ellis James English says:

    Barry, nice I like how you laid out design with radtus, and track locations> it allowed you to make changes as you went along building never losing sight od your base plan Nice layout.

  5. george zaky says:

    Simple but useful. Thanks
    Your Grandson is one lucky guy. Love what you did and you must keep it going because its never done. Time to engage in DCC, Arduino, & computer controls because Porter will soon outsmart you and besides you have to keep the grey matter exercised. Yeah, God is good.
    No comment because you didnt say what scale.
    Rich B. in comments brought up a point and that is every electrical circuit in anything & including trains, and low voltage, should have an inline fuse rated at its working amps so it prevents over heating wires & you can use any material you want and you’re totally safe.
    Big Al

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