Model railroad tools

Today we hear from Old Taz again, who shares his model railroad tools.

But that’s not all he shares – it just goes to show what an amazing lot you all are:

(This entire post is all from Old Taz.)

“Hi Al and all you Model Train enthusiasts. 

This hobby is the greatest and the people that are in it are top notch. don’t have to stay inside the lines. We’ll get to two and more later. 

It’s been a tough year here I lost my son December 7th last year. Al you and all of your subscribers have helped me through this year by having something to get up and look at each morning. 

I’ve got some tips and hints that I’d like to pass on to all of you. Because of my neuropathy in my leg’s hands and arms. It takes me a little longer and I’ve had to adapt some tools to make it easier.

I’ve got a list here someplace if I can find it again. 

I make sanding boards by gluing sandpaper to different size pieces of Masonite, that way they’re flat and can be used over and over again. 

I found that if I put a couple B-B’s In my paint bottles when you shake it up it seems to help mix the paint. I usually thin the paint just a little bit my own preferences. 

I made-up a tray that hooks to the side of my track in several places. The Tray was made out of an old broiler pan. I used some old shelf hooks fastened to the pan and they hook on my table in certain places to go along with that I made-up a light stand to work on the table in the same manner. 

I use tweezers and forceps a lot more now. because of the loss of nerves in my fingers. If you cut the lock out, they make good plyers. I’ve ground down some of the forceps to make different tools.

One tool is to hold a screw when you try to get them started. A lot of screws are not magnetic and don’t stick to the screwdriver. You can buy these cheap forceps online, watch to see that the finger holes are large enough I’ve had to split them to make them larger.

In the picture left to right tweezers were bent to hold some couplers, the next item are stitch removers and if you get the right ones like this pair, they cut fine wire paper skin anything else that gets in its way.

The next one is a small forcep with holes to fit screws so that you can hold them and still turn them notice it’s shaved down so that it was thinner. The last one is the exacto blade and that was made to pull track connectors into place. 

I’ve made-up light checkers so that you can check the light before you install it and know which side to put the Resistor on, I also have made-up a continuity checker with the light instead of a meter so I don’t have to take my eyes off of what I’m checking to see if the meters jumping or not.

I’ve made-up small 12 Volt Transformers that I can hook into my layout without turning on the main Transformers, to check out lighting separately. I have 110 outlets around my layout so that you do not have to have extension cords stretched across the floor.

I’ve made-up 12 Volt speed control to be used on the bench when I take like the racetrack off to be worked on the bench. And there will be more to be worked on the bench. she    

I, like some of you, take a lot of medicines so I have bottles coming out of my ears. In some of the pictures you’ll see how I use them to hold tools so they’re not laying on the bench. For me it’s hard to pick a tool up that’s laying down on the bench. Sometimes I need a tool to pick a tool up. 

I found a three-wheeler Walker online which makes it easier for me to get around my layout. It turns on a shorter circumference and is a little narrower than most 4 Wheelers. 

I’ve turned my automobile creeper into a train creeper that keeps part of my body elevated when I work under the table. Easier on the neck and arms. 

When I’m building something that has to be held in place while the glue dries, I use modeling clay in little piles on my workbench to hold the work while the glue dries. 

I know there’s a lot of you out there that started with DC and I’ve switched over to DCC. So now what are we going to do with all these engines that are DC. We’re going to want to change them over to DCC. well just as a warning not all of these engines can be switched over to DCC.

Some of them do not have room for the decoder Which means you’re going to have to take some of the weight out of the engine to get the decoder in. This can be a chore on some engines. The motor needs to be insulated from any metal parts on the frame work of the motor. I have used Scotch tape or that clear wrapping tape to insulate the motors.

If you’re going to take some of the weight out to make room for the decoder, make sure you take the engine completely apart so that none of the grindings get in motor. Speaking from experience. 

Now I’m trying my hand with DCC and sound, wish me luck I think I’m going to need it. 

I hope that some of these tips will help. 

Thanks again for being there in the morning gives me something to look forward to. 

model railroad tools for N scale

tools for model railroad

model railroad tools

tools for model train layout

tools for model railroad

model railroad tools

I have done something this year – I tore up and replaced all my main line track.

Robert my son had been collecting Bachmann track for quite a while, to set up his layout. he lived in an apartment so it was hard for him to set up anything permanent.

He had been after me for a long time to replace my track, that I had laid 10 years ago when I had no idea what I was doing, (still don’t) And I’ve have had trouble with it ever since.

I took what he had gathered and bought some more to replace all my main line track. I don’t think I’ll ever do that again! all my switches were junk that I had picked up and rebuilt (cheapy cheapy).

I’m still working out little problems here and there.

Do I want to power the frogs or do I not want to power the frogs. I also built a little piece to go on my mantle, which so far is staying there.

This was made out of a shield that goes over fluorescent lights so if they shatter.

At one time I was going to use these display purposes on the wall. But after building this little display that’s went out the window. Too much work and You have to glue them down to make them stay on the track. that one went down the drain! 

In some of the pictures you will see that I do not like empty flat cars. 


flat bed n scale

model train N scale

n scale flatbed freight

N scale model train layouy

n scale model train

n scale model train

flat bed model train

n scale freight

n scale freight

8x8 model railroad coalmine

That’s all for today folks – a huge big thank you to Old Taz, for sharing his model railroad tools and what this hobby means to him.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

19 Responses to Model railroad tools

  1. Rod Mackay says:

    Tremendous effort Taz, looks very good, well done for such a determined attitude to overcoming your difficulties. Very sorry to read about your son. Best wishes.

  2. Ken Clarke says:

    Enjoyed your tips and tricks. Having issues with my fingers and wrist on occassion. Too many crashes and broken bones from racing motorcycled. I’m a wannabe and dreamer but too many distractions, however, I’m going to definitely be using some modified tools like you’ve created. Going to save me alot of frustrations. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Fred says:

    Just amazing , what determination

  4. david Howarth says:

    Some handy tips there Tax , like your tray on the side , and yes making loads up for the cars is essential , nothing worse than empty cars running

  5. Dwight in Toronto says:

    Taz … welcome to the world of dcc SOUND. Yes, it’s intimidating when you’re early on the learning curve. But so was dcc when you made that advancement.

    My personal advice – use only ESU LokSound V5 decoders in all of your locomotives, and even more important … buy a LokProgrammer to go with them. The decoders have an impressive amount of lighting features, are durable and reliable, and deliver remarkable motor control and performance. They also have well over 1000 CV’s, so a LokProgrammer is essential for easily accessing all that these wonderful decoders have to offer. The LokProgrammer software is logically set up, but does take a lot of “seat time” to slowly learn how to use it.

    Good luck old guy … hang in there, keep learning new things, and keep having fun!

  6. Rob McCrain says:

    I sometimes use forceps, but I never thought of cutting the locks off of some of them. That seems a good idea. That way, you don’t have to fight to release them. I would want some to still have the locks on naturally for special operations. I will have to get a few more on eBay so I can grind off the locks and try them that way. Excellent idea.
    Rob McCrain – Farland Howe

  7. jim Sterling says:

    Tremendous determination. Spectacular work!

  8. George Zaky says:

    Your tips and tricks are ingenious and very well received. You are the epitome of ” Cant solve a problem then change the problem” by using tools to help us do things.
    Nothing worse than losing a child and this Hobby is a way to escape for a while so our head can mend as well as our bodies.
    Yes-every morning to awaken to this blog of positive reinforcement, loads of creativity, gobs of info, and receiving the gift of giving is so important to us all.
    Us old codgers have to work like Hell to ” Git er done ” but as they say ” getting old is not for sissies”. Keep at it & many thanks.

  9. John Bullock says:

    Thanks Taz. We all look forward to your informative posts.

  10. Gary in Massachusetts says:

    Taz, Your ideas are welcomed and quite ingenous. I have already installed the tray
    idea on my layout. Thank you so much for the ideas, Will make my like easier.

  11. Kent Pool says:

    Wow, just wow.

  12. Richard H Chapple Sr says:

    Being thankful to live only 3 blocks away from my friend, I get to see his creations, innovations, and tools first hand.
    I have no problem labeling my friend as a Master Modeler which he definitely is.
    He has the uncanny ability to solve problems using everyday stuff available to all of us. His mind’s eye sees a solution to any situation or problem he chooses to solve. Just absolutely amazing. I have a huge respect for my friend and his ability to overcome his physical shortcomings as he does on a daily basis.
    His creations are fabulous.
    I thank God that we are friends and can keep each other positive and thankful for what we have and are able to do and share our love of trains with other like minded friends. And of course any chance to convert other friends over to be model railroaders is a joy, and especially to watch fascinated looks on children and smiling adults that benefit from exercising their childlike qualities(not childish)more often.
    Old Taz’s son Bob was my friend as well, I truly really liked Bob, and miss him very much, I cannot of course feel the depth of Taz’s loss, but I can be there as Taz’s friend.
    I too fully appreciate Al’s site and all the participants on here, and look forward everyday to seeing what’s new.
    Dick(little r) Chapple

  13. Harold says:

    Old Taz…I agree. Empty flat cars do not produce any revenue. Thanks for all the tips.

  14. matiSon says:

    I was looking around at all of the pictures, and while not was mentioned about all of the details, I am astounded at the level of work that has been done. The buildings, the groundwork, the scenery, and the way it all comes together is superb. I’d have to say that this railway is extremely well done. Thank you for sharing it, along with some of the details of your life. I don’t get out much, and it helps to see these things and to dream of creating something even 1/10th as good.

  15. EARL S CORY says:

    A screwdriver/screw tip. For those nonmagnetic screws and screwdrivers, place a dap of polygrip on the screwheard.

  16. william janmes palmer says:

    love the train on the side of the layout

  17. Mr. Ron from south Mississippi says:

    I tried to find something to critcize on your layout and couldn’t. Great work!

  18. Mr. Ron from South Mississippi says:

    I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your son. I lost my wife of 50 years on Nov. 14th of last year. It is a very difficult time for me as I’m sure it is for you. This hobby helps us to stay positive. I have my children, grand children and great grand children around me to ease the pain of the loss of a loved one. I guess I am more lucky than most to have such a suportive family. I can thank my wife for bringing up our children as she did and now they are returning their upbringing to their own children. I can see now it has worked. Keep the faith and happy modelling.

  19. Dave Karper says:

    Old Taz, I can share your feelings as I lost my wife in 1986, one of my sons at age 45 in 2001. Then to top it all off, I lost a two day old grandson in 2000. My wife was 51. To all who read this, it is not aplea for sympathy. I just want Old Taz to Know I’m with him all the way. It gets e3asier, but you never forget. I can ‘t be there in body, but I am in Spirit. If you would like to contact me, I give Mr. Lee permission to give you my EMail address..

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