Model bullet train

John’s been in touch – he’s made an all American model bullet train:

“Hi Al

I have been receiving your model railroad information subscription for some time.

As you might know the U.S. has no high speed rail, that is until I made it. After repainting a Kato bullet train into Amtrak colors the rail road dream is on…

I am 63, retired and struggle with all this new technology but would love to show some modelers my layout ( as bad as it is) via pictures and a short video

I have lots of obstacles to over come. My rail road hangs from the ceiling because of the space available in my tiny little apartment. I have no sense of spaceial design so layout is difficult for me as well, but I have the basic track design down and track tested and working.

You really do offer a great service to those of us who don’t have local clubs and friends to talk to about our hobby.

model bullet train


model bullet train


Thank you for pulling us together.


John’s model bullet train really did put a smile on my face, I loved it.

Now on to Dave:

And now on to Dave:

“Hi Al… well I know posted too many lately, but well it was raining this afternoon, so what can one do?

No gardening, and so back up in to the loft and run a few trains, used the Mobius a bit, and spotted a lot of work that needs doing on the layout, which you do not see with the normal camera… they do have three uses..



Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

“Hi Al

Someone asked if the water on my harbor was superimposed.

Definitely not (I would not know how to do it anyway)

Here are a few photos of the water in the harbor.

Many thanks

Brian – the HOn3 guy – Knysna RSA”

model railroad harbor

model railway harbor

model train harbor

“Hi Al,

Spent many frustrating hours trying to carefully strip the ends of the very thin wires on LEDs and Grain of Wheat Bulbs. I even resorted to not stripping them but just soldering them hoping the heat would burn off the plastic. Not ideal but it mostly worked. Today I have found a solution !!!!

I got an old pair of nail clippers, the cheap nasty sort from Christmas crackers, and squeezed them on 3 different gauges of spring steel wire. This created notches in the clippers which are just perfect for stripping theses fine wires. Hope this might help any one else struggling with the same problem.

Best regards,


“Hi Al

I just want to share this with you, as some of our other readers might have had similar problems with signalling.

On my layout there is a passenger station with two platforms, that needs to be signalled for operating sessions as the engineers needs to obey the signals.

I encountered a bit of a brain teaser when it came to the simple arrangement of 3 signals at each leg of a turnout or switch.

On the opposite side of my layout, the arrangement is quite easy, as there is a single platform, so a simple double pole switch does the trick. Throw it to the left and it turn the east side home
signal green and the west side home signal red, and vice versa when thrown to the right.

At the next station which is more complex, I wanted to use a similar switch arrangement, which also helps with interlocking, that we do not get to opposing green signals.

I then realized when the Home signal controlling entry into the station, on either platform 1 or 2 is green, I need both the starter signals on platforms 1 and 2 to be red at the same time. To keep cost down, I opted to use only one single pole switch double throw switch to select between platform 1 and 2 to turn the starter signal green.

Another single pole double throw switch controls the home signal. If I simply wire the signals from the switches, I end up getting a green and red signal at whatever platform I select the starter to be green at, as there is a feedback from the home signal switch to both red starter signals.

Then it dawned on me, why not use the diode matrix system I am using for my turnout control for the signals too? I quickly drew a table with the 6 signal lights, and the switch positions, and saw that I would need 4 diodes to control the signals. I then wired the diodes into the signal wiring, and hey presto, all is working well.

(I still have to install the signals on the layout, but now the wiring is sorted.

I include a PDF with the wiring diagram. Hope this can be of help to someone.


Henry in Pietermaritzburg, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa”

model train signal wiring

What a clever lot you all are. Some great tips today – a big thanks to John for sharing his model bullet train, and to Dave, Brian and Henry.

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.

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

16 Responses to Model bullet train

  1. John Birch says:

    Excellent water effect. I remember someone touching the water on my layout expecting to get wet!
    I like the nail clipper idea. A very good one!

  2. Harold Payne says:

    I thought I would pass on this info.
    The US has had hi speed rail service on the east coast
    since 1939, when the Pennsylvania RR started using
    GE GG-1 electric engines which traveled at 90mph and pulled
    up to eighteen passenger cars.
    These engines were later used by Amtrak until 1984, when they
    were replaced. Current rail service between New York and
    Washington D.C. travels at 115 mph.

  3. NJ Mark says:

    Lots of great tips and photos and videos. Thanks to all. Cheers! NJ Mark

  4. Norman Rosen says:

    John: Your redo of the bullet train looks excellent! Well done.

  5. Live the green realistic water. most of us use blue but the green is much better. thanks for the pictures.

  6. I agree with the problem of taking the insulation of off fine wire – even the gaps in my teeth didn’t match. Found an adjustable stripper at a used electronics shop – has the initial on it – KYP -. lost the card it was attached too – even my dentist is happy no more insulation stuck in my teeth. Additional recommendation – I use WAGO multi wire trap connectors under my table so that I can attach numerous lights quickly and easily and can remove them if I need to make a change


  7. Keith Willoughby says:

    Your version of the bullet train is fabulous, please post pic’s and video if you can….. would love to see it.

    Thanks Keith (UK)

  8. Tony Foderaro says:

    Amazing water effects.the best I’ve seen

  9. Robert Bouskill says:

    John – High speed rail

    Love your depiction of modern Amtrak. America is dependant on freedom and so the wild, wild west mentality prevails. So unless you figure out a way to have someone else pay for what you want you have virtually no chance of getting it. That is why other nations like Japan have these things, because they work together rather than trying to find the most cost efficient way to make anything. Both United States and Canada suffer from federal and provincial or state governments fighting amongst them selves as well as local municipalities, You will never see your dream. Elon Musk as a worse idea of a tunnel from New York to Los Angeles in which you ride in darkness and the vision of enjoying the countryside is completely lost. Young people have no idea how to enjoy the things they have.

  10. For the semaphore signalling on my father’s layout, we used PECO accessory switches on the point motors to determine which way the points were set, and as we were using a home-made controller, we replaced the DPDT switch on that with a DPTT (triple throw), with the third set of contacts wired into the signalling circuit to determine the direction of train movement. So set the route, switch the controller switch in the desired direction and the signal clears ready for the train to depart!

  11. Jamie says:

    High speed rail in Europe and Japan were paid for in part by the Marshall plan. The United States helped build and pay for high speed rail after WWII.
    I love the TGV in France. 185-190 mph.

    We could have high speed rail in the US if only back after the war, we wouldn’t have scrapped passenger rail and the infrastructure associated with it. The interstate highway system and jet engine technology led to commercial air travel and doomed rail in the USA.

  12. Warren Ferguson says:

    Stunning harbor water effect, Brian. What’s your secret?
    Warren – AL, USA

  13. Tom says:

    Excellent water and lovely Dock scene Brian. Looks like the water in most docks around the UK. Keep going and enjoying it. Thanks for the inspiration. I am ex Cape Town now living in Hull England.

  14. Robert Brady says:

    This is for Brian / first of all great looking Diorama! Now How in gods green earth do you keep the dust from accumulating on the water? Doesn’t it tend to stick to surface ?
    From Robert B

  15. Brian Messenger says:

    Firstly to Tom, I am also ex Cape Town now in Knysna. Thanks for the kind words. I am very proud of my harbor especially the Woodland Scenics realistic water and it is still unfinished.
    Secondly to Robert, thank you and it is part of the lower level end of my HOn3 double deck layout in a 14ft by 10ft converted garage. When dust appears on the “water” I use a large women’s blusher brush to dust it off. The dust does not stick to the surface as it is quite hard. If a boat or barge is left on it for a day then yes it will stick to it but only temporarily and can be lifted off. WS water is a fantastic product if used properly, I accidentally left a marker buoy on it in the wrong place overnight and when lifted off the next day, it left a mark and I panicked but a few hours later it disappeared. That is how flexible it is.
    Brian – the HOn3 guy – Knysna RSA

  16. Brian Messenger says:

    I forgot to add that once the harbor is “finished” the boats and barge will be permanently positioned in the correct place because wiring for the lights on them will have the wires going through the hulls and “water” to buss wires under the layout for power via switches on the front facia of the layout.
    Brian – the HOn3 guy – Knysna RSA

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