This is what my wife and I did during Covid-19 Mar 2020 to Mar 2021.
Our layout is an S Gauge, built around the 13 X 15 foot room using L-Girder bench work.
No reach is longer than 30" so we can get to any item easily.
You get into our center operating area by opening a swinging gate track bridge, swinging open and closed with a 12 " piano hinge.
We have modeled our layout after my hometown of Quincy, Illinois. USA. Quincy is in the middle of Central US farm country and is also the Q in the old CB&Q Railroad in the late 1950's and early 1960's.
My grandfather worked for the CB&Q for 40 years, twenty of those years as a fireman on the left side of the engine and 20 years as an Engineer on the right side.
As far as our layout is concerned I find that visiting engineers (especially the younger ones) want something to do when they visit your layout and not just look at your nice scenery.
With that thought in mind, we have built our layout with things that operators can do –not just run trains but throw switches and signals, set routes, pick up and drop off passengers and cattle, bring a siding to life, etc.
To date, I have written 4 Engineer tickets and have sufficient space in the middle of the room for 4 operators at the same time to work those tickets, each using their own handheld remote. They can
then exchange tickets with each other.
Here are inexpensive resources I like to use.
I am near Toronto, and model North American Railways. So I am passing on a few tips I have used modelling N Scale.
One cheap and cheerful resource for ballasting, that is better kitty litter, is using Brita Water Filters for ballast. When the filter is finished its cycle, allow to dry for a few days to let the water drain out. The contents are a black and a greyish white colour, and is very fine and ideal for N Scale in its many appelations.
The second is my choice of paint for buildings, freight cars, and painting the track. I like to use ‘plastic compatible’ brown coloured automotive primer paint. When applied, it looks awful, then dries very thin. On buildings it will hold water based craft paints, and a water-ink wash for weathering buldings.
N scale track is so disproportionally tall, that I am in the habit and practice of paining track. My choice is to ballast first, and then paint the track. To paint track, let dry and clean the top with a left over piece of cork roadbedding. It wipes off easily, and if in the switch/point blades is cleaned with a Q-tip. A black water-ink wash then makes the whole thing appear more interesting, once scenery is applied the appearance is interesting. I can send photos of examples if need be.
A third tip is using WAHL hairclipper oil applied to the top of the tracks for sustained and clear electrical contact. Use a left over piece of cork to clean…
Like any new technique, experiment on scrap first.
Hope these are helpful
“ I use red led Christmas lights with all by buffer stops. Cut off the bulb with about 10cm of cable on each side, the bulb can be bent 90 degrees so it is in an “L” shape. Drill a small hole under the buffer and slot the led in so the light is facing the train. Attach a resistor to one of the cables and connect to a 12v power supply.
Or if you can’t get under the layout you can wire the above setup to the track.
as a follow-up to spray painting the ties brown, IF you take a drinking straw and using a sharp knife,
slice the straw length wise (put a slit in the straw) this will slide over the rail and give some protection while spraying the ties.
“Model Railroader tip:
Don’t use kitty litter for track ballast. It is made to absorb moisture and will absorb and retain humidity moisture from your household air supply, possibly transferring that moisture to your valuable tracks, locos and cars.
Use aquarium gravel instead. It comes in different sizes, is all natural, and looks much more like real ballast instead of the all one color kitty litter. It is also very economical to purchase.
I see a few people are interested in telephone or power poles.Maybe i can lend a hand on showing how and sort of kit you need. Really simple to do once you cut and set up, most slow and tedius work is the tiny pins you use on the cross members to hold the tiny insulators.
Start with a quarter diameter dowel you find in hardware stores.i cut mine 6 inches because i put 1 inch in my styrofoam base.on the dowel measure from one end, half inch and drill a tiny hole careful.
Take a popsicle stick and cut it into 3 lenght wise strips. Take the best cut piece and measure 2 inches in lenght and cut.
Now find the centre and careful drill a hole. Your going to notch the pole you drilled to fit that cross beam.
Now take a black or white plastic with a metal core electricle twist tie and strip it. Those are going to be cut long anough to carefuly pin it to the side of that popsicle stick in picture instant glue them on. Leave a space but barely when you add the 3 insulators on each pin, they come in diffrent colors.
Where you drilled the post the first time move down to the desired spot you want to plant your scrap radio compasitor acting as a trasformer.leave the pins on the compasitor when cut out of radio.look in radio for a cooper wound resister as seen in picture.now move down to desired spot for transformer and mark spot.
Now take some more thin metal scrap from radio and cut a tiny metal bracket on post. Sorry for picture. That metal bracket will hold your transformer.instant glue trasnformer to braket and instant glue bracket to notch post.the metal silver wire you see in photo is thin flexable weilding wire to make tiny fuse brakckets you see in other photo.
To make fuse take sewing needle carefuly wind cooper wire you salvaged to tiny coiles as seen in photo.you will have to trim them as you go.you will see in photo a piece of food tin.cut into tiny tiny strips and use a finger to even out.those will act as cross beam member supports and also bracket for fuse as seen in photo.after happy with how it is install cross beam with insulators in top notched post and use a sewing pin as a bolt and white glue it. Trim extra after dry.
Diffrent countries have diffrent designed post and telephone poles. If you look on the net you can get many photos of power poles and telephone poles.mine are canadian poles and are close to being correct.
Now in canada we have our maine power wires and telephone wires and cable high speed hanging attached a few feet from the bottom of our transformers.the insulators hold our ground wires.but in my case im going to use my poles to hook up real power at low voltage for home lights and street lights.the trasnformers are for the look or realisume.hope this helps and if any
questions leave a message on the site and i will answer.
“Dear Al ,
Tip cheap model trees and really life like buy potted herb THYME the more bushy the better cut to suit for N or HO gauge at least 30-50 per plant dip in glue away you go.
“GLUEING A ROOF ONTO A MODEL BUILDING
A good way to make sure that the roof of a model building you are making is glued on properly is to weigh it down.
In one of the attached photos (the first one) shows a pair of pliers being used for the purpose.
“My best tip is rather a simple one. Solder the wires from the transformer directly to the underside of the track and drill small holes directly under them so the wires run under the track board. This way there’s no electrical clip-on showing and no need to hide wires in the scenery.
Deacon John J. Stetar”
“I’m just getting started in this hobby, but one thing I’ve learned is that you can never have too much track or too many switches. Starting with a standard 4 x 8 board, I quickly added another 4 x 6 addition to allow for a bit more creativity. DON’T NAIL YOUR TRACK DOWN TOO SOON. Experiment with a variety of layouts until you’re pretty darn sure you’ve arrived at the one that’s a keeper.
Thanks very much, I will ponder over the layout suggestions before actually starting to make a firm decision. I am a relative newcomer to railway modelling though I have been a modeller for over 65 years. I am gainign expericence by working on the new layout for the Mickleover Model Rail Group – I am in charge of the back scene and rock work from pink foam. A tool I find very useful is one of my Permagrits, they will cut through cast iron so foam is easy meat, I also smack the surface of the rocks with a fine wire brush which gives an authentic pitted appearance. For paints I use the cheap acrylics from the Works, these give good coverage.
I use kadee couplers on all of my rolling stock. adjusting them can some times be hit or miss. they suggest using pliers for adjustments but that can prove daunting. I put a pair of pliers on the “leg” and gently squeeze the plier handles with a c clamp. this way you can apply gentle even pressure on the leg. has worked for me so far. if I had to do it more than once in a great while, I’d make some sort of jig to accomplish this task. I’m surprised that no one has to date …
“Al good day, my thoughts;
Their are very many different types of Lay-Out Artists in the world, as such all have their own particular expression, some artists are good, then there are some Artists that are just a bit better than others. These are the type of Artists that make as you say “Some make superb scenery from little more than household items. Others seem to make electronic stuff with no more than wire and tape.
The others, they buy the standard scenery crap from the manufactures and that can be seen to be the same in many lay-outs.
Mind you I like Lionel and some others rolling stock, but lets face it a whole lot of their scenery stuff that they sell, like their plastic houses, barns stations and or whatever, well their something to be said, when it says on the side of a train set box “For ages eight and up”.
A very authentic lay-out is impressive, especially in it’s presence, equally impressive are the photos of these lay-outs, very rarely will there be two the same. The more authentic looking a lay-out becomes draws upon the designer to make it look as real as it can be.
Ask any true Artist and they will tell you that their canvas is never really finished. When you compare what’s being sold, to the hand made stuff then you can understand then compassion that some have. When your young its very easy to assimilate and imagine what’s in front of you to be the real thing, when you become older such is not the case that is why in my opinion that why train sets get shoved back into their boxes and handed down to the next generation.
You can tell by the look of some of the equipment and rolling stock being sold that shows the signs of boredom and or lack of interest.
My tip, if you is to be authentic, make your lay-outs as real as they can be, as well make your rolling stock look as real as you can. If one is able to read e-mails, they have the means to make their lay-out real as it can be. I would suggest that you choose the railroad company that you have been most a custom too through out your life.
In order to start your endeavour you will need to purchase a train set or two with at the very least three switches, the size (gauge/scale) is your choice. One has to however keep in mind at all times gauge/scale is going to be determined by the room that you have to set-up your layout. The smaller gauge/scale stuff looks pretty impressive, but that is only from afar and I say this from an experience that most modellers will never, or ever have unless they had the opportunity have hired on to and or worked on/for a railroad.
I would next, pick out/up some rolling stock that your not so comfortable with. As an example, I have chosen “O-27” and/or “O” gauge because that’s what I started out with when I was kid. I would then go to my nearest hobby shop or other known place and pick up an “Artist Air Brush Kit” and as well some red, blue, green, black and white paint, suited to the Air Brush manufactures specifications.
Next, build your table-top first or as you carry on. You can pick out a lay-out design from a book or wing it, I recommend if you lack carpentry skills read a book so that understand the essentials of building a secure table. Pretty well except for the original every modellers design from a book has been customized,
Next, I would make a work area close by where could disassembling my stock one car/locomotive/engine at time. Strip down and repainted all metal parts. Most rust is just surface, so with proper sanding the metal can be brought back to smooth. There’s some amazing rust proof paint on the market to day that stops rust for good. Once all metal work has been completed set aside. Clean plastic with TSP after you have take off Hand Brake wheel(s), brake rigging and or other attached pieces that maybe on the shell and set aside. If your manufactures logo does not come off do not fret, in the real world rolling is sold and in most cases the buying company just paints right over the pervious owner’s logo and car specifications.
Nows the time to take out your air brush and get down to business and start practicing because practice makes perfect. When dry secure with an appropriate sealer and then its decal time start to customizing your fleet under the rail road company logo of you have chosen. When your working on rolling stock you can as well be thinking and planning your lay-out table by table top, and when your building your lay-out you can be thinking on how to best improve your personal customizing of your rolling stock which will lend support all details as seen from the railways right of way.
When building your lay-out plan wisely, as a lay-out is easier to build than it is to take down should you decide to change things because your plans did not turn out right.
Take care, Jim”
A big thanks to everyone (love what Mike did with his cattle in the video).
That’s all for today folks.
Please do keep ’em coming. And don’t forget, the Beginner’s Guideis here. Course I’m biased, but why do we all learn the hard way?
PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here. Still going strong.