N scale bridge – Tony’s

Tony’s been in touch with his N scale bridge build, but first up, Keith:

“Hi Al.

Thank you so much for creating and maintaining this site. It is a wonderful spot to rub elbows with those so very talented modelers out there.

I have found what I consider a very good but inexpensive to get a good backdrop. I have noticed all sorts of modelers’ approaches to creating the background look on their layout. Some folks are talented enough to paint their own – not me.

I found a really good solution on line. I sent a banner company a photo I wanted to use, and they printed it on a 4′ x 15′ banner (no grommets or border roping) for $22. I asked them, after I had seen the quality of their work, if they could flip the photo so I could butt them and have 30′ of exquisite mountains. I got it. They even cropped the photo according to my instructions.

Here are a couple of photos that show some of the banners – sorry but I am not landscaped as yet. Those are the Alaskan Rockies

Keith G”

Model railroad backdrop

model railroad backdrop

Now on to Tony:

Tony’s been in touch with his N scale bridge design:

“Hi, my name is tony and I thought you might like these pics.

I have been modeling n-scale for 35 years. I saw your tip about using sedum for trees.

This scene is the Bailey Logging Company, it is on the Green River and Meristein Valley Railroad.

I used sedum for almost all of the trees on the hill when I built it three years ago.

If you are iterested the trestle is built from round toothpics cut to scale lengths between 8 and 20 feet then I nic them up with my modeling knife and painted them.


N scale bridge and engine shed

N scale bridge

Tony’s bridge reminds me of Greg’s trestle bridge (which you can see in the middle of his post).

And Bob has put together a wonderful ‘how to’ on Trestle bridges. I’d love to see a toothpick bridge version.

“I found a great way to keep the truck screws from comming loose. Take a toothpick and put a very small dab of rubber cement on the threads of the bolster…making sure not to get any on the face of the bolster where the truck makes contact. Tighten the screw appropriately. The screw will not come loose…but yet stays soft anought the the schre can be removed without any problems.


Now on to Ben:


I am starting a HO scale layout of Pacific NW logging using around 1900 as the time I want to represent.

I have started making Giant Redwoods and Giant sequoias for this. I have found that many confuse these trees as being the same and model them incorrectly.

It turns out they are completely different tree species. I have a prototype model of a Giant Sequoia found in Oregon and sometimes in California and I am working on a prototype for a Giant Redwood found in the northern coastal region of California.

This shows on the left the basic structure of Giant Sequoia w/o foliage; center right is smaller completed Giant Sequoia.; on the left is the trunk of a Giant Costal Redwood. Note differences in bark and trunk configuration. Can send building details if desired.

On the left, trunk and limbs of Giant Sequoia before foliage and on the right are two Giant Sequoias with the smaller of the two in the foreground. Details if desired.

This is a scratch build Giant Sequoia. 24” tall, so 174ft. in HO scale.


There’s lots of tree posts on the blog – Rob’s how to make trees springs to mind.

Lastly, a cry for help from Steve, who has a problem that is more common than folk think:


I have enjoyed your articles for quite some time, but never have submitted anything as I am not a great story teller. But now, I would like some help or advice.

I am having trouble with intermittent operation of several locomotives on my HO scale DCC layout. This is happening with several steam locomotives, but not with diesel locomotives. All the affected steam locomotives are sound equipped. The diesel locomotives are a combination of sound and non-sound.

The steam decoders involved are: TSU-1000 heavy steam, MRC 1618 HO scale heavy steam [on two different locomotives] and LokSound V4.0, M4.

The steam locomotives will run for a few inches, then stop for a second or two, then start again. Happens repeatedly and consistently on every section of track. Track has been cleaned. Wheels are clean. Track voltage is continuous, does not drop out when the locomotive is stalled.

I even set up a small test section to eliminate possible wiring or other issues with the main layout. The test section is just a four foot track connected directly to the DB150. Same problem with the locomotives.

So, the question is: What could possibly be the problem? I have searched Dr. Internet, but could not find any suitable explanation. Just the usual causes – track dirty, wheels dirty, pickups dirty.

I was hoping that one of your savvy DCC expert subscribers could provide an answer to this perplexing issue.

Thank you much for your help.


A big thanks to Steve, Ben and Tony for sharing his N scale bridge.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you leave the comfort of your chair and start having fun again, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PS More N scale layouts here is that’s your thing.

29 Responses to N scale bridge – Tony’s

  1. Roger Coleman says:

    Maybe the steam locomotives are drawing too much power and the internal resettable fuse switches them off and on again. Try swop a satisfactory decoder from a Diesel to a steam loco and see how it works. If it’s okay then the issue is probably the steam decoder is under powered. Likewise try a steam decoder in a diesel.

  2. Greg Marples says:

    Keith, great idea on the backdrop! I just spent way too much money on 30 some feet of really nice, commercial backdrop. Money I could have used on more fun things on the layout. Tony, really nice trestle! It takes a lot of skill and patience to get those glued together solid enough to stay together.

  3. Steve Fisher says:

    Tony, , you tell how great and economical this printing shop, but you don’t tell us the name nor the telephone number. Come on Tony Help your fellow modeler a chance to get a real nice backdrop for his or her layout.

  4. David says:

    Love the trestle bridge wonder did you have drawings of what you planned – I’ve thought of coffee stirrers to create a Brunel timber fan viaduct in 00. but need tooo many – coffee overdose .

  5. Terry Miller says:

    The printed backdrop certainly is better than a bare wall, but in my opinion the perspective is wrong. The mountains are just too big compared to the foreground railroad scenery. (And I live in the Rockies where we have BIG mountains! lol)

    Terry/Idaho USA

  6. Rich from Long Valley N J says:


    Can you share the name of the banner company?

  7. George Zaky says:

    Fabulous backdrops.
    Nice bridge-you N guys are some thing else.
    The majestic trees of the west. Would love to see them on your layout. Nice job.
    Perplexing problem. I would think that the inrush current for the Steam motors would be higher than the diesels due to gearing ratios and configuration. The DB150 is large enough, but has sensitive safeties to prevent going to straight DC @ 16 V when the DCC signal is lost & sending the engine off the track. Try adding a “Keep alive” to one engine and see if that works. The TSU-1000 is good for 1.5 amps in rush & an HO motor should not be a problem. I am not a fan of the other decoders but the problem seems to be for all the steam units. Did you install these decoders? If you solve this let us know or ask Big Al for my email.
    Good luck

  8. George Zaky says:

    This dawned on me after I clicked send for the last response. Old guys seem to do more often.
    If all the decoders you have are set to factory defaults then try changing CV’s for motor functions such as CV-03 to a higher # to lower acceleration. This wont cost you a thing except time and brain pain.

  9. MatiSon says:

    Perspective can change drastically depending on several factors including distance and height. I see nothing wrong with the backdrop, in fact I like it a lot. Thanks for sharing, Keith.

    Tony: Regarding the toothpick trestles: What did you use to glue them together? I once did something similar with super glue, and nearly killed myself (literally) from the fumes. I was building indoors with windows closed during the winter.

    Ben, I love the large trees. They are very realistic. Please let us know how you made them.

  10. Richard G Langellotti says:

    To MatiSon: I’d try Aleene’s tacky glue. It’s basically a PVA white glue that has quicker tack and setup time. You can only do a section at a time, but at least you won’t have lung damage afterwards.

  11. L. Zarling says:

    Please Al, report the solutions for the DCC steam engines hesitation problems. Thank you for all you do to help the modelers.

  12. Ronald Seto says:

    I think the trestle is great. I would like to see a close-up picture of it.

  13. Mike Balog says:

    Hi Tony:
    Great looking layout… Liked the Wood Toothpick Trestle… It reminds me of that
    Famous one on the Burma – India Line… “The Bridge Over the River Kwai”….
    ~ Mike, N.H., U.S.A.~

  14. Chuck Holsclaw says:

    Did you install the decoder, have it installed or buy it with a decoder already installed. If it runs a few inches and stalls and if your track and wheels are clean. Make sure you have feeders connected to every piece of track . I have feeders at 3′ intervals and have some stalling. I went thru on one sectionand put feeders on every piece of track and no more stalls. If you still have issues it could be a decoder issue, loose wire or decoder problem itself. Hope I’ve helped you.


  15. Steve says:

    Thanks George and Chuck.
    The decoders are factory installed. I did increase CV3 various amounts to the max, but no change. Also reset to factory defaults, but that did not help. Feeders every 5 feet.
    Will try the stay alive capacitor once I get one. Do not have any in my parts.

    Roger- I have not tried the decoder swap. Sounds to be interesting idea. Shouldn’t be too involved if the decoders are not hard wired.

    Thanks all for the input. Just wish I had some other layout to try these on. Might rule out a bad controller.

  16. Mark Covey says:


    Love the background. Can you share the banner company contact information?


  17. Patrick Andrew Talley says:


    See if there is a local club that you can visit. Most clubs will welcome you & let you (and help you) use their layout to resolve your problem.

  18. Steve says:

    That would be a great way to rule out controller issues.
    But, no clubs nearby. Sadly.


  19. william j plmer says:


  20. Steve says:

    DCC Update. Hi. I acquired an NCE Powercab system recently. Tested it on my sample track and all problem engines ran fine. Installed the system on the layout and all engines operated perfectly. So, appears the problem was the Digitrax system, even though it was tested by Digitrax and certified as working properly [I sent it to them several months ago]. But, it is a computer, so who knows. Maybe just some weird compatibility issue. Anyway, thank you all for the tips and the help.

  21. Rich B. says:

    Another winner, keep these on track. Way more like this than I would ever of thought. Hope to see fewer (just plain bad) submittals. Not doing hobby any good or my eyeballs…

    Rich, Regards

  22. TJK says:

    Kieth, you should be arrested. You stole that banner for $22, very nice.
    That toothpick bridge is terrific.

  23. Don says:

    from the trees to the stock yards all is awesome

  24. robert dale tiemann says:

    nice work on the trestle, ive seen it before. time consuming.ive seen people use popsicle sticks cut down, dowel rods split down the middle, etc. all turn out very nice, and are time consuming, but worth the results.

  25. Arthur Joseph Romano says:

    I just appreciate using different solutions for building materials. Making a silk purse from a sow’s ear always works for me. Bully!

  26. Steve Ruple says:

    Good looking trees Ben, awesome job !!!!!

  27. Nancy from Gig Harbor, WA says:

    Oh my! Details are all so wonderful. Will look into making Keith’s backdrop of the Rockies. I could use Robert’s trestle for my layout as when we were little kids would go with Dad to the foothills to watch the stream engines blow billows of pure white clouds hauling cars for all they were worth up the Continental Divide. Marvelous! Realistically, I might do better trying one of Ben’s Giant Sequoia. Oh, boy! Except…there are none in the Butte, MT, area. But I so enjoy the work of these three men. Thanks, Al!

  28. Jeff says:

    Oh my God!!!! That bridge is amazing!!!

  29. Rob Morrow says:

    Alastair – Did Keith G respond with the banner company he used for the back drop? I want to try them.

    Rob in Philadelphia

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