Len’s tips

Despite being snowed under and having a back of log of superb tips to publish, Len has jumped straight to the front of the queue with these.

(I’ll try and get some more out in the next day or so.)

I thought they were very good. Hope you like them.




I have had so much pleasure from your e.mails that I think it is time for me to contribute a couple of cash and time saving ideas I have come up with.

1. Coloured hexagonal drawing pins from Staples stores make wonderful cafe, etc., tables.

2. Foil cups from my Xmas mince pies make lovely corrugated roofing when carefully cut. (Right slope too)

3. 4mm rivets cut off approximately quarter inch below rivet and stuck down are perfect for bollards or, with thin black wire soldered between, make lovely seaside, river, or road railings

4. 3″ flat sided cable trunking makes an excellent test bed for gradients, allowing you to figure out exactly where and how high the track supports need to be and, in fact, if suitably camouflaged make quick and easy culverts, bridge supports, or for any other part of your permanent way. (Straight sections only).

5. Paper cocktail umbrellas make great roofs for circular shaped buildings or gasometers etc.( I made a Chinese Restaurant), and can be treated and made to look like corrugated roofing if needed.

6. Why not make your own benches and chairs out of matchsticks (5000 for a fiver at my model shop), and I find cheap lollipop sticks from a craft shop are perfect for making your own buildings etc.. ( Windows courtesy of modern day celluloid packaging ).

7. I had an empty container from a pack of 100 DVDs and decided to cut it in half lengthwise then remove the bottom arc of plastic. Result ? A perfect tunnel shape (double track), which fitted exactly onto a pair of bought tunnel entrances. The beauty is that they could be used on their own as moulds around which plaster bandage could be formed, allowed to dry, and the mould removed to be used again and again.

8. Although extruded polystyrene is definitely the best for sculpting scenery I have found the perfect use for the normal `pellet` type polystyrene. If you make the lengths and shape you require then break off the `face` and paint it a suitable grey followed by a weak black wash, then rub off the excess, hey presto!, it looks for all the world like cobbled walls.

I hope these will be of use to other modellers.

Best wishes to all.


Latest ebay cheat sheet here <<<<<<<<.

23 Responses to Len’s tips

  1. Barry Clay says:

    What a great selection of tips utilising ordinary everyday items,more power to your ideas and thank you,Barry.

  2. paul starr says:

    Some great ideas,thanks for sharing them with us.

  3. Also, the edge of broken ceiling tile or acoustical tiles make a really good looking rock face when stacked – of course with the appropriate coloring!

  4. John says:

    Dear Len:

    Very interesting tips…!!!

    Could you please enclose pics next time to better allow us here to see what you are talking about esp. about the DVD case and the polystyrene



  5. Tom Oliver says:

    A few more wonderful ideas for me. One never finishes learning and adapting in this fantastic hobby! Thanks Len.

  6. Darryl says:

    Ditto on what Barry said……….. Great Idea’s!!!!!!

  7. Paul Otway says:

    well done Len

  8. Trevor says:

    What a great use of every day items. Very inspiring. One question though! What scale are you referring to?

  9. John Lucas says:

    A lot of the tips are for OO gauge. Could the tipsters state OO or N gauge. I know that some can be converted but most cannot. I keep looking for N Gauge specifics.

  10. Rod says:

    Hello every one, Looking to make a fence around a house. Any ideals.


  11. Nico - South Africa says:

    Good ideas

  12. fred says:

    good tips & ideas, i have used some, it works just fine


  13. willy says:

    great things thank you so much

  14. willy says:

    thank you so much

  15. Daryl says:

    Tip# 7, With those CD cases, I picture a water tank or maybe an oil storage tank. Just a thought.

    Thanks Len and Al, keep em coming!!!

  16. Lee Carter says:

    Does anyone know about old figures with brushes on the bases? I have six of these, three business men, and three women in a red dress. I’m not sure how to post pictures here, but I can.

  17. tony says:

    great money saving tips plus recycling thanks once again al and len

  18. Rod Mackay says:

    Gosh that takes me back, my parents used to have a brass lady with a parasol and when you pushed the parasol down, a hearth brush extended from her skirts, hower she was about a foot tall! Thanks for the memory.

  19. Jimmy STORRIE says:

    Rod I use sticks that u stir tea with makes good picket fence jimmy edinburgh

  20. Ernie Stammers says:

    Hi Guys
    It would be nice when posting tips what scale you are working with, just a thought as I work with O scale I can convert (with the aid of a guide scale ruler) but I need to know what scale it is to start with
    All of the modeling tips have been great I look forward to the next batch including some that I have submitted myself, There’s vanity for you.


  21. Michael Greaves says:

    For fencing I have used strips of wood veneer which can be purchased in rolls with an adhesive backing. Various colours and sizes are available. Stick two pieces to each other so you have the veneer showing on both sides then glue on fence posts made with matchsticks. This makes a realistic garden fence for 00 guage.


  22. Bill W. says:

    Hi Al: Would nice if we had some Z scale tips, and sugestions?

  23. Jim Ostapa says:

    Comment to Lee about people with brushes on the bottom. Old American Flyer (S-Gage) had a station where people would move around waiting for the train to arrive. It vibrated and the people with the brush base would move randomly around the station, unless they fell over. Not sure if that is the scale of the people in question, but I suspect the concept is the same.

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