More model railroad tips

“Hi Al. Hope everyone is doing well. I have an idea for the group. Cheap easy and no mess. Crafter’s board. Come’s in 3 feet by 3 foot less than a 1/4 inch crafter’s board.

It has paper on both side’s so remove the paper on one side and us a dull pointy object to carve lines. You will figure out how much pressure to use and not to use when doing it. Doesn’t take much. This idea can save a lot of money to make wall’s, portal’s, homes.The third is stepping blocks. If you stand it up can use it for a retaining wall. then paint. I pay $1 for each board.

Kim”

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“Hello,

I have been reading your posts for some time now! Great stuff! I always look forward to opening another email with some great ideas!

Not too long ago, myself and my 10 year old started a model (on a budget… I’ll say again, he’s a 10 yr old boy… haha). My hopes is that this will be a hobby that will (willingly) take time away from the play station, tablet, etc… Down the road, better investments will come. But for now, we have been working with minimals and lots of items from ebay! Still, no cheap….

So last night, he approached me and wanted to use his matchbox cars on the set. No problem! Whatever it takes to keep him entertained with the start of a great hobby, right?! But, he wanted to focus some senery around a matchbox that he has with a tow behind camper… “We need a campground!”

So it began! Take a look at the photos! (Keep in mind, the “log cabin” is temporary…)

He is my question…. I have looking for camping type scenery. I haven’t found much for good prices. We are currently establishing wired track switches, buss wires, streetlights, etc… So buying little plastic tents just isn’t in the cards right now. However, I have seen a printable paper template for camping tents that are made from paper! I have not been able to find a source for this template… But, I am looking for ideas to sweeten this little spot within reason… thoughts?

Regards,

Will”

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“The second edition of A&CRR pictures features Abingdon, Pennsylvania, just across the state line from Crane, NY. Parts of Abingdon are very much unfinished, leaving me with something to do.

Abingdon’s major industries are the Johnson Brewing Co., with a kit building and a smaller scratch-built, and a small steam-powered sawmill. There is also a scratch-built pump jack pulling up that rich Pennsylvania crude. The Phineas P. Gage (google it) School of Mine Engineering prepares young men for a rewarding career.

Some day the farm way in the back will look like a farm, perhaps with a small landing area for an Autogyro. The hinged bridge allows benddown-free access and is built from an article in Model Railroader from the 1980’si

L. Johnson, President”

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And lastly, Eric has been in touch again. You’ll remember from a few posts ago, he’s rebuilding his layout. Here he shows the trains running before he gets busy on the scenery.



Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

A huge thank you to everyone. I loved Larry’s second installment and I hope you did too.

If today’s post hasn’t got you inspired, I don’t know what will – other than the beginners guide.

One last thing. I keep getting mails asking for ‘more American’ layouts. Well, folks, it’s all very simple. You send ’em in, and I post ’em. So it’s up to you…

Keep ’em coming.

Best

Al

29 Responses to More model railroad tips

  1. Ken Stramel says:

    It looks very nice. Everything runs well, now the scenery. Keep up the good work.

  2. Chea says:

    Are u modeling in HO scale and if so what secrets will u use to blend the matchbox cars in. I would rather use hotwheels or matchbox, way cheaper than Ho scale cars.

  3. steve says:

    very impressive lay out , can’t wait to see it when your done
    what caught my eye was the scaffolding around the 2 houses under construction

  4. John Birch says:

    Years ago I built a small campsite on my layout. For tents I cut some thin card and folded it in the shape of a cottage tent (the old fashioned type). I then glued pieces from an old white sheet on to the card to look like canvas. A few splinters of match sticks were used as pegs and some white cotton formed the guy ropes. The whole thing looked very impressive and cost me nothing.

  5. Bob Severance says:

    That looks great! Every campground has to have a HQ/restroom/shower area….so I think the log cabin looks good there!!

  6. Bernard Hallas says:

    I have seen an article using dried empty teabags for model tent canvas.
    Use the square teabags, carefully open out three sides (and the tea!) , rinse and dry flat. Make a tent -inverted vee shape-, supporting on wire (open paperclip), toothpicks for poles? or more paper-clip. If you make the shape & spray with fixative (cheap hairspray) it will be stiff enough to be self supporting when dry.
    Alternatively, use artist’s medium (the liquid kind), gently brushed on the flat pieces, then shape & allow to dry.
    Either of these will produce rigid shapes. If you use the teabags as flat ‘panels’, you could glue them together to make a “box” tent.
    Same kind of trick will do canvas cover for loads.
    Cheers,
    Bernard

  7. ADRIENNE MCDONALD says:

    VERY IMPRESSIVE LAYOUT…I’M GETTING A LOT OF GREAT IDEAS FOR MY CHRISTMAS LAYOUT WITH MY CHRISTMAS VILLAGE PIECES. THANK U…ADRIENNE

  8. Ian says:

    Great stuff. It never ceases to amaze me how many disciplines are involved in miniature railroading. From architecture to landscaping, from structural engineering to electronics. They are all there.

    Thank you form sharing your craft with us.

    Regards

    Ian

  9. vince longo says:

    Great idea for the tent with card and cloth. Also if you have any watercolors or acrylic paint you can just get watercolor paper and paint your tents any color you want and use thread, wire or anything that resembles rope and the small end od toothpick for the poles.
    I’ve made many trees, buildings and modified HO figures just by using the free material around the house or yard.
    Have fun with your son and enjoy.

  10. David Wilson says:

    Eric’s layout is fantastic and what smooth runners! Wondered how is he going to gain access to all those underpasses if a derailment should occur and clean the track?

  11. Jim says:

    Very nice system….great vid on the running session. ..jim Manchester u.k

  12. Paul Vogel says:

    Every time I look at layouts on this website I wanna through rocks at mine. Great work. Paul

  13. Wayne Wallace says:

    I was preparing for my layout, two years in preparing, but needed trees, moss, dried grass and stuff like that. Started looking at the Christmas Section in garage or estate sales.
    I now have a bushel basket full of dead looking stuff for my lay out, more than I can use. Different colors from orange to green to brown. Never gave it mush thought until I looked at the cost at Hobby Lobby. You just have to have an imagination, which cost nothing. Just thought I would mention this.

  14. John Marshall says:

    Adding to Kim’s info, the Styrofoam package bottoms used for meats in the grocery store can be used in the same way as the foam board.
    A good recycling/repurposing idea to cut down on trash in the landfills.

  15. Mark Jarvis says:

    Hi Will

    Another poibility for your tents is to use toilet tissue, smeared with PVA glue, hang over a piece of cotton and allow to dry, You can use the cotton as guy ropes or cut off and use the tent free standing, cheep coloring use a wash of cold tea, it stains like canvas

    Mark

  16. GEORGE HENDERSON says:

    I THINK THATS A BRILL IDEA, IVE TRYED WITH MY FAMILY BUT IF THEIVE GOT TO THINK ABOUT TOMORROW ….THEN ITS NO GOOD, THEY ALL WANT TO GET AND HAVE IT NOW……
    THE PLAYSTATION IS KING…..
    WRONG!!!!
    i like the dino in the photo lol. a great job well done.

  17. michael brookman says:

    Great stuff as always! Like the suggestion of the craft board. I’ll be looking into that. michael

  18. deon says:

    looks good I have been interested in the polystyrene system for a while now cant get hold of it but it looks like a great way to form up a layout

  19. Bob says:

    Really like the Abington, PA / Crane, NY modeling. It is based on many of the same buildings I am using and it’s good to see someone having success with them.

  20. Ralph in Eureka, Missouri, U.S.A. says:

    Eric, Very nice, smooth running layout. Can you please show us what is going on under all those elevations? Can’t tell if there are ramps or helix or both to get from level to level. Thanks!

  21. Ian Mc Donald says:

    I like the campsite part for tents I got white sheet glued the corners then painted white it stiffened the cloth looked alright. anything that is scratched built gives me more pleasure its usually a bit rough but I made it. that track is pretty darn good so cant wait to see the scenery.

  22. Ken says:

    Nice and cheap when on a budget trying to build a bench a lick of paint and this or glue they can be made into anything you can think of from tunnels to mountains thank you for sharing

  23. Larry Johnson says:

    Al, The pictures above are the FIRST installment of the A&CRR!

  24. Creig says:

    Thank you Alastair, And thank you Eric, for posting latest update, And keeping us all glued in suspense and anticipation for next update. /plays video again 🙂

  25. Larry Sheesley says:

    When I built my campsite, I bought one set of woodland scenic s campground stuff and then I used those tents and playground equip as templates to make my own out of balsa wood, Popsicle sticks, taffy apple sticks, toothpicks, and plain ordinary scrap plastic pieces from modeling kits( the spurs). I made swing sets out of cheap little kids cosmetic jewelry chains and such. You would be surprised what you find around the house that can be used..

  26. Paul Wienold says:

    I think the “toys” are close enough they do not detract from the layout. Using tem obviously kept the young man’s attention. From such could come a lifelong hobby. I wish him luck, patients, and delight.

  27. Robin Hallam says:

    love the campsite, use of the lichen for edging,

  28. Nick says:

    Kim left a tip about Crafters Board. Where does she buy it? I can’t find it anywhere….

  29. Dave Massimi says:

    I too would like to know more about “Crafters Board”, so thank you to Kim for bringing it to our attention. To Will…while your railroad looks great, I think your ability to involve your son is absolutely brilliant, and I’m sure both of you will remember the experience for a long time. If you’re still looking for tents, try diorama websites on YouTube…type in How to make tents, or something like that. Much good luck to you and your lucky son!

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