More model railway tips and tricks

“Hi Alastair,

Latest part of my 00 guage model town with the water park and the town pub.

I am really enjoying doing this, I made the pond from model water.

The pub has turned out better than I had hoped. more to come at a later date.

The stone wall I made from a length of cardboard and covered in PVA glue I then sprinkled fine pebbledash which I sived through a cheese grater; came out great.

Keep up the good work sending all these tips and great ideas from everyone.


Stuart P”

(See more of Stuart’s layout from an earlier post here).

“Instead of using ballast and track underlay I went ton a vinal shop and bought an offcut of brown spotted or flecky underlay that is used for laying vynal and cut it into strips for track underlay.It looks the real part. Track underlay out here in NZ is so dear.

Thanks Murray”

“Another tip for people doing benchworking is to have your plywood cut at the lumberyard before you bring it home. Most plywood comes in 4’by8′ sheets. This can be bulky to haul up to the attic or down to the basement. With a little forethought, you can have the lumberyard cut it into 2’by4′ pieces; or 4’by4′ pieces; or whatever specific measurements you need.


“Hi Al.

Not sure i sent you this yet.It’s my end train flashing warning light.Think they call it a fred.If ya dont want it on.Grasp it and unplug.or plug back in.

The two holes i made in the car are the same size as the leads going in.almost invisible from the outside.There is an old computer connector inside the the car that the unit plug’s into.Then that run’s to a temporary battery pack.

I plan on running power from the track later to run it.No wires should show.Really easy to make.Im going to shrink it smaller alittle and better material.Only a test.tell me what ya think”

Been playing with these idea’s.Im useing phone boxes to distribute 12 volt and 6 volt power.You jack into the box like a phone.My street light’s are plugged into the phone box and if need replacement or repair just unplug from phone box.My signal’s are also plugged into the phone box.Any thing can be plugged into the boxes as long as you leave the connector on.Said this before when i sent you the how to wire signal’s.

Other is a test.My warning tail light at the end of the train.It flashes every second.And if you dont need it on there.You can pop it off.I made two so tiny holes in the back of it same size as the Led posts.And those post have a plug on the other side with a a battery pack inside the box car.It’s a test so far work’s great.I will steal power from the track later to run the 2mm flashing Led

There’s a lot of talent out there, isn’t there? Thanks for sharing everyone. Please keep them rolling in.

That’s all for today folks.

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.

26 Responses to More model railway tips and tricks

  1. builder Kim says:

    wow thats a nice the sky.That’s a great idea makeing the wall’s thanks for the pic’s and Al for showing them.thanks

  2. Glenn Roach says:

    Al your signal light at the rear of your train looks good. Just in case u are not familiar with them. They are about 24″ long, an wide enough for batteries when it is left on a train sitting on a siding. Also their is a hose with a coupler to attach to the air brake line to power an air generator to power the light when the train is moving. If u want to age them to look used also some reflective stiping on them also. One other thing if u have a shack on the yard where crews get their replacements make some extra ones have a pipe rack holder for them outside the shack.
    Keep up the good work on your layout. Your idea for the stone was real good an got a “DUH” from me about how simple to make in any scale just be changing the size of the stones accordingly.

  3. builder Kim says:

    Thank’s Glenn.Didnt know that.When i change the size i will reajust.Also attach a hose and run it under the car.In canada we have the same thing.But our’s hang in the middle above the coupler.They have a few sizes and design’s from what i saw.Glenn do they sit on the rack in the weather or are they protected inside on a rack.It does have a reflective strip on the front of it in photo.well okay red anyways.will adjust as well.All in all.dont see or have seen anyone else come out with the idea.Glad you injoy you an idea.If you make one be nice to see it.thanks Glenn and Al.Back to my new project hope everyone likes it.

  4. THOMAS says:


  5. Ian says:

    Layout is looking great i love the smoke keep the ideas coming. really look forward to the pictures so many ideas.

  6. Duncan says:

    Hi Stuart, thanks for the stone wall idea. I just tried it with some coarse beach sand and then with some fine sieved river gravel ( from a tropical fish tank). worked well both times for different scales. Nice pub ! D/

  7. paul Otway says:

    Nice work Kim.

  8. jean says:

    super super super

    gros merci

  9. Terry King says:

    What i would like to know is how do you keep it so clear of dust.

    A duster used to break things or send things spinning.

    I started to use a hair dryer to blow the dust away it sort of worked but not controllable, Now I have upgraded to an air line to blow the dust away. Great for detailed cleaning,

    Your layout looks so clean, Must be kept in a clean sealed room with air locks (Grin).

    Well done very impressive in deed.

  10. Ken Hecker says:

    That water looks great. Love the shallow areas. This group has given me some excellent ideas.

  11. Danny Henderson says:

    Lots of great ideas to use especially the rock wall fence idea

  12. Bob S says:

    I need help. I recently received a few early style ” S ” Gauge plastic rail cars. My question is the cars have a white fungas or stain on them . How do I clean it off ? Is this a common problem or it caused by how thy where stored ?

    Bob S

  13. ken says:

    thanks for all the great ideas. keep them coming. having a problem with some couplers, there not strong enough to pull other cars. can you help. where do I get parts to fix these. they are 80’s and 90’s cars and engines, and lionel. I hope someone can help. thanks, ken

  14. Tim Morlok says:

    Kim, Yes they are called FREDs ( F…ing rear end device) by the employees because they replaced the caboose. Some of them are equipped with a radio controlled valve that will open the air line on a signal from the engineer in the case of an emergency. They have a stubby antenna on top. Keep up the good work. Tim – retired Union Pacific conductor

  15. Warren Ferguson says:

    Well, I learned something to hang on to with the FRED’s. I had never heard the term, but you can bet I’ll be using it from now on!

  16. Stephen Gispanski says:

    Great lay out Stuart, nicely done. The water looks really good. Now about the RJ 11 jacks, I guess you could have used RJ45’s and have more things plug in, but that means if one thing went wrong, it means more things out for that one. Copper inside the jacks needs to be cleaned, ( oxidizing copper ). In my many trades I used to be in telecom and data com. I also worked on GP 40’s for the South East of United States. Our shop would receive the GP 40’s off the high rail and strip them down, refurbish them and make the locosmotives look brand new. Everything was stripped down. So the light that was hooked up on the end car is known as Fred. Keep on trucking my fellow RR’ers.
    Stephen G, Tampa Fl. P.S. I am still looking for a good RR name.

  17. Hemi says:

    NICE work guys!!!!! I LOVE the phone jack idea…. I’ll be using that wiring technique on my own layout…. I EVEN have old Security switchboards too. to do much the same, that also got my hands on a few feet of 62 conductor wire as well!!!!! -Signal wiring mostly….. ALL color coded too!

  18. john thorogood says:

    I use to work for Western Electric repairing phones and have used phone wire for a multifold of projects. Excellent example of using what’s available and not reinventing the wheel

  19. john thorogood says:

    As an ex-firefighter observing all that smoke coming out of those chimneys I would say those home owners are using the incorrect wood and are destine for serious chimneys fires. :>) Maybe a nice fire scene would be just the ticket. I plan on one in my Garden RR.

  20. george says:

    to BoB S

    That white is old plastic mold release agent that surfaces after many years. Just clean with good old WD40 and the cars will be spanking new.

    BTW I am into S scale big time and think it so much better than HO due to my age and dexterity. I just think it looks better at visual distances on a layout too

  21. George moffatt says:

    A well known rr modeler uses his layout skirting to keep dust off his huge layout.
    Many modelers use skirting, which is attached along the edge of a layout, to hide the clutter underneath. This gut installed grommets every few feet on the bottom of his skirting, and when not using his layout, lifts the skirting upside down and attaches the grommets to hooks in his ceiling. Instead of grommets, you can use sewed-on circular straps or anything that can be attached to hooks.

  22. Great ideas everyone thanks for the info

  23. Bill Kennedy says:

    Great layout. Many creative ideas. My next comment is to all modelers. When describing the in’s and out’s of what you do, please be more specific in what you are using. for example, I don’t know what “model water” or “PVA glue ” is. Just a thought.

  24. I love the stone wall around that parking lot of the beige building. I would like to hear how you made that. It’s very original and beautiful! You did an awesome job! The whole layout is great, but I love that wall.

  25. ScenicsRme says:

    @Bill Kennedy: Google can be your friend. You don’t need to search mjust on a specific term, but you can ask questions in the search bar like “what is PVA glue?”
    But since this is an international forum, Using generic terms is often better than specific brands that may not be available in the reader’s country.
    I don’t know where you are located, so I can only answer your questions in generalized terms, you will need to do a little work to find out the brands available to you.
    “Model Water” comes in several forms: as dry pellets that are melted and poured to simulate water when cooled, and 2 part liquids that are mixed together and poured in place and allowed to cure. They are both available from several scenic materials suppliers. I would suggest checking out the extensive list of how to’s on Youtube to see how other’s use them.
    PVA glue is the generic term for the thick white, very low odor, household or carpenter’s glue found in a laundry list of brands. They stick to a myriad number of materials, all dry clear, are all water soluble when wet, so can have water added to thin to a consistency suited for gluing wood or paper model buildings together, and various scenic materials on a layout. It can even be used for adhering foam, roadbed, and track in place. It is a very versatile adhesive on a model railroad. Again check out Youtube.

  26. wayne says:

    looks great

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