Use Copydex instead of PVA

I work in N gauge for ‘Hurst Hill’ so some ideas may not be suitable for larger scales.

I’m still building my layout and learning from many other model makers as I go.

One of the best tips I can offer is, whenever practical, consider using Copydex instead of PVA. It’s more expensive than PVA but the benefits are worth it:

  • Use neat Copydex for the trackbed (if used) and the track – you don’t need a continuous bead, just in key areas and it’s so easy to remove if you need to change a track. Slide a thin blade under the track and gently lift – it simply rubs off leaving the track ready for reuse. Using it for scatter, it can be applied thicker in places to give some gentle contours or shape to, for instance, a field or garden.
  • Diluted with water (about 1:4), it will hold ballast without setting so hard you can’t move it and it also helps keep the noise level down. An extra benefit seems to be that it doesn’t turn ballast green, something that I’ve read happens with some PVA and ballast combos!
  • Watercolour pencils of the right colour, carefully applied and barely moist can help cover the white edges and corners on card kits. Example pic attached Metcalfe small signal box.
  • Cocktail sticks cut down and coloured make first rate chimney pots. Example pic attached.

Hope these are handy for folk.

Dave Gould

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N Scale Model Railroading for Beginners

A lot of new modelers are confused between ‘scale’ and ‘gauge’. Oftentimes, they use these terms interchangeably but you see, these words mean two different things. The scale is defined as the proportion of the model (e.g. locomotive) in relation to a real train. On the other hand, gauge is defined as the distance between rails. The N scale is really quite popular today and the locomotives for this scale are 1:160 as well as the roads, trees, figures, automobiles, and buildings. Most of the N scale models make use of the standard gauge tracks wherein the rails are 4’ 81/2”.

If you want to create the best model railway layout for the N scale, you need to enjoy the hobby. There is no sense in doing something that you don’t love or when you’re not having fun. It is possible to create a functional and realistic layout with the N scale. Even if you’re not that experienced yet, you can develop new skills as time passes by. As a beginner, it would be a good move to do a lot of things for the layout. You should explore the many ways, techniques, and materials that you can use for your layout. If you see any mistakes, you need to correct them at once. Starting out with a small model railway layout is ideal and you must keep it simple. N scale layouts are not that hard to create.

Why don’t you make use of the existing resources that you find online? There are already copies and instructions on how to build a simple N scale layout which includes the detailing and scenery. You can stick with a certain technique first but as you gain experience you can now try new ones.

If you see mistakes in your layout, correct is at once. For instance, if you are not satisfied with the mountain’s appearance, you can change or improve it. There are many brands that you can choose from and you just need to stick to only one brand. That way, you can have a realistic model railway layout in the N scale. There is no right and no wrong when designing the layout. The requirements and needs of modeler vary and you’re free to choose your own designs or concepts.

Since the N scale is a bit small, this might be a challenging scale to work on especially for beginners. Still, if you don’t want to use the bigger scales, the N scale can be a great choice. Hobby shops are not always present in local areas, so if you can’t find one you can start shopping online. There are many online stores that offer a reasonable price for N scale model trains and accessories. Set aside a budget for the model layout and start shopping online. You can experiment on DIY sceneries. Start with simple ones like trees, grasslands, lakes, etc. The raw materials can save you lots of money and will bring out your creative side.

Hurry and have fun creating your N scale model railroads.

Ideas for Your Model Train Track

Model Train TrackAre you working on your model train track? If you are, there are very important things that you need to know. Working on the tracks can be a lot of fun but one simple mistake can lead to a non-functioning model railway layout.

Express trains are really fast and so you need to create a lot of straight tracks for the train to run on and if you are going to have curves, the radius bends should be large enough. These tracks will suit the trains that you’re using and even if you run them at higher speeds, the trains can still run safely. If you don’t plan the track layout carefully for the express trains, you send them off the track and who knows… the trains can be thrown away from the base board and get damaged!

If you have long-wheeled trains with carriages, you will need radius 3 tracks. There are times when the radius 2 tracks can’t handle full speed especially if you have the Eurostar loco or the class 90 model train.

If you have small locomotives and wagons, you can create curvy track layouts that travel in or out of the valley, bridges, and tunnels. Since the trains usually run slower, they can run on smaller bends. This track layout is also suitable for coal trucks and small tankers.

Working on the tracks is a very important stage. New modelers can stick with model train kits so that everything they need is already included in the kit. The tracks can be a continuous loop, out and back, and point to point. As you gain experience, you can now mix and match these tracks. The most basic is the continuous loop and the train set just goes round and round the tracks. The out and back type will require a much larger space. The tracks are more complex and will already include turning circles, stations, and tunnels. The point to point is also simple like the continuous loop but it includes a station; the trains can go from point A to point B.

Try to develop a workable plan and don’t attach the tracks when you’re just trying to figure out the final outcome of the layout. You can use pins to secure the tracks so that you can change them if you’re not satisfied with the outcome. It’s typical to encounter some problems but you have to overcome them. Depending on the size of the layout, you will need to determine how many tracks you need for the corners, bends, etc. Think of a theme so that you can easily finish the track layout.

The table for the layout should already be ready before you layout the tracks. It would be best to have the tracks in the different areas of the layout. The out and back type can be complex for beginners but if you’re more experienced, you can try it right away. The model train track is really a great aspect of making the model railway layout so take your time.

Steps on How to Build a Model Train Table

A model railway layout will not be possible if you don’t have a model train table. This will serve as the base that will hold the weight of the entire layout. Because of this, you need to ensure that the table is strong and durable. The standard tables found in your house are usually not a good option. The drawbacks are too obvious and it can ruin a beautiful layout. If you’re really serious with model railway layouts, you need to get a quality table.

Ordinary tables are not that good. Using your dinner table is not a good idea because your family will soon complain about it. These standard tables have no holes to feed the wiring or power cables. It would a great idea to build your own model train table but the question is – how?

You need to be choosy when building the table for the layout. The ideal table should be sturdy and will include the basic structures like a top, bracing mechanisms, and 4 legs. The common height for the table is 28 inches but you can choose the desired height that will suit your project. The parts of the table can be purchased in local stores or from online stores that sell wood or steel products. Get a top that is strong and don’t forget to put some cross braces, just to be sure.

Decide on the shape of the table. You can make a square, round, or rectangular table but you can also create other shapes. Next, decide on the style of the table’s legs. You can not limited to square legs because you can also get the cabriole, farm, flared, taper, trestle, and turned. The underside of the table should also have a ‘finish’ to make the table more attractive. The raw materials for the table can be purchased from a local store and you will just need to cut and nail or screw them together. To ensure a stronger table, you can use wood glue as well. To create a leveled table, you can use clamps and squares.

If you think that this DIY is too much, then you can just buy a used table from a consignment or garage sale. For the holes, you can just drill them. You can make the table look new once more by sanding it and later on applying a new paint color. Even if the focus of the audience is on the model layout, it still pays to create a good base. Everything should look perfect and if you can make a good quality table, your layout will surely look its best.

The table’s raw materials are not that expensive and you can save a lot of money if you build your own layout base. However, you must be prepared to invest time and effort to create the perfect table. What are you waiting for? Follow these steps and in no time at all, you will have a good looking table to work on. Next step… the model railway layout!

Atlas Model Trains – A Lifetime Of Innovation

In 1924 Atlas Tool Company was founded by Stephan Schaffan Sr. His son, Stephan Schaffan Jr., didn’t have the same passion for tools as he did, enjoying to spend more time with his model airplanes. Working for his father didn’t make as much money for his taste and he often harassed the owner of the hobby shop he frequented about possible ways to make a little extra money. Finally tired of being harassed the owner gave him some model railway parts and told him if he wanted to make money to improve upon it. He did and Atlas Model Trains was born.

Back in the early decades of the 1900s model trains were difficult to assemble. Owners that enjoyed this craft had to build everything from scratch. They would then have to go through the difficult process of assembling them. Stephan Jr. took improved on this design by making what he called a “switch kit.” Jr. the found a way to fashion the rail to a fiber track making it the first rail joiner to be easy to join and created pre-assembled tracks and turnouts. Jr. and his family quickly outgrew the basement in which he started. So he and his father opened a factory. Atlas trains became the first mass produced model trains. They went on to be the reason many people got into model railroading.

Today Atlas rains are still among the leaders in model railroads. They specialize in the selling of HO, O and N scale trains. The family still runs the company, with Stephan’s daughter at the helm. They now offer customers a wide variety of track options.

Atlas is known for their innovative True-Track that is designed for their HO scale tracks. This track is snapped into a grey base. It gives the hobbyist an advantage. Unlike the majority of tracks the True-Track doesn’t have to be secured, the roadbed base doesn’t have to be secured to the table or bench for the train to run properly. If you don’t want to put the track on the base you don’t have to. The track is so versatile that you can attach it directly to the bench top. The True-Track is available in their HO and N scales.

Atlas trains are among the leaders in track manufacturing, with their innovative Snap-Track, Custom-Line turnouts, and Super-Flex tracks.

Their HO scale comes in two heights of track. The HO 83 is .083 inches high, while their HO 100 is .100 inches in height. Their N scale also comes in two codes, the code 55 and code 80.

If you are still new to model railroading they can help you figure out what your railway should look like. The offer several different layout books that can help you.

Those that are the true do-it-yourselfers can enjoy their expertise on wiring. Atlas also offers hobbyist a how-to book on electronics. Their step-by step books make electronics easy for you to do it all. It is complete with diagrams to help you on your way.

Atlas model trains have everything for you to make your model railroad. Not only are they manufacturing trains and tracks for their railroads. They also offer a wide variety of structures and accessories. The structures available include everything from buildings to animals and people.

They are also home different clubs for railway enthusiasts. Their Golden Spike Membership has many different levels. These clubs are pay to join clubs and the different levels include different perks. Some have free cars while others have not just cars that can only be received by joining but access to areas that others can’t enter. These clubs are available only on their “O” site and the free cars that can be received by joining the higher club entrances are O scale only.

With its long history of innovation, it’s little wonder that Atlas trains is considered to be the leader of the pack when it comes to model railroading.

Considerations To Remember When Making Your Own HO Model Railway Layout

For many people who are interested in the hobby of model railroading, the layout is the most important part of the whole process. The how you lay out your track will ultimately determine how your world looks, what scale of train you have and more. Your HO model train layout is probably best dreamed up before you head out to the hobby store.

The thing about layout is, its design will be unique to you. Unless you follow a diagram in a book or manual, this will be your town, your track. If you are new to the hobby then you will probably want to copy a design from a book or website, and there is nothing wrong with that. In time you will feel more comfortable with design that you will begin making your “town” look more like something that reflects you.

Before heading out to the hobby store is the type to get out the paper and pencil. You should know the dimensions of the area in which you plan on setting up your track so you can make sure that your layout will fit. You don’t want to overdo you design, if you design you track layout and it won’t fit on your bench then it will ruin the whole look of your town, you’ll have to take more time to redesign you layout, which will lead to greater frustrations.

Since you are choosing to use the HO scale, which incidentally is the most popular of all the scales, then maybe you should choose to set up your train on a plain wooden door or large piece of plywood. A door is generally bigger than a table top and is sturdier than a piece of plywood. So a door might be your best choice to use as a bench.

For an easy to shape layout, you might want to use Styrofoam. It might sound a little strange, but Styrofoam is a great base for your layout, if you are a complete do it yourselfer. This material can be formed to your needs. By simply carving the foam into the hills and valleys that you need you can essentially do anything you want. Even if you plan to have a city along your track, the foam will make a great base for your city. It’s convenient since you will be able to stick your trees and press your buildings directly into the foam base. This will help ensure that your scenery will stay put.

You also have to consider if you are trying to replicate a specific railway or if you are making it up as you go along. If you are replicating a specific railway or portion of a railway then you need to be sure get the details right. In this type of situation, you might want to get pictures of the railway. If it’s one that is no longer in existence, then you need to do your research to ensure you have it all set up correctly.

In the case of an antique type railway you might have to weather everything to make the layout look right. Since the track, engine and everything you will get will, of course, be brand new it will have to be made to look older. You can find many weathering techniques on the internet.

The most common track design is an oval shape. For those who are more experienced in laying out track you might find some figure eight designs, or sidings that end in a horseshoe shape. All of these things will play into the layout of your setting and scenery.

Especially if you are new to the model railway game layouts don’t have to be complicated. Your HO model train layout will reflect on how you perceive your railway to be. So no matter what you choose to do, make something that is totally you’re own or something that is a replica of a famous railway it’s all up to you. Your imagination is the limit.

Rivarossi Model Trains – The Italian Collectors Item

When Alessandro Rossi started his company in 1945, he knew that he wanted to make model trains. His fascination with trains began as a small child when he was given a Hornby Meccano train. This old clockwork train inspired Rossi to create Rivarossi model trains years later. He learned everything he could about the trains by reading subscriptions that his father bought him, written in both English and French.

At the time that Rivarossi was the only model train manufacturer in Italy. Rossi setup shop in a part of a factory the created electric commutators. This is where Rossi met his soon to be partner, Riva. Riva unfortunately wasn’t with the new company long, once he realized the direction things were headed.

Rivarossi started out producing solely the OO scale trains. In the early 1950s, the interest from America caused the company to start going in a slightly different direction with the production of HO scale trains. By the 1970s, Rivarossi sold mostly to the United States. Under pressure from their clients the company moved in the direction of creating the N scale trains.

Due to some financial difficulties, however, the name Rivarossi is not produced by its own company anymore. Today the intellectual rights and casts are owned and still produced by the Hornby company. While the Hornby line of Rivarossi is still a popular line, true collectors often search for the original trains that were once sold by Rivarossi. Their N scale line, however, is the property of Atlas motel trains so you can find many of their N scale designs here.

If you are in the market for one of these little gems you just need to take a stroll on the internet. Since these trains are exceedingly popular don’t be surprised if you find some of these pieces can be a little pricey. A great place to start your search is on EBay. You can often find good deals on these types of models. If you are looking for one in good condition, be sure to look very closely at the pictures.

Vintage pieces can date all the way back from the middle 1940’s which ran on AC power, unlike most of today’s trains. Rivarossi didn’t start developing and producing DC powered trains until the mid 1950s. The AC powered trains are probably the most difficult to find. Since they were not manufactured for as long as the remaining models produced by Rivarossi, these will be on the upper end of the range when it comes to prices.
With such a limited amount of trains made this way it’s little wonder why they are considered to be among the more popular pieces collected by enthusiasts.

Finding original 1940’s pieces might be a little difficult or pricey for many collectors. There are still extraordinary pieces available. Even if you aren’t interested in spending that much, there are other, newer models for you to choose from. Another popular version is their Big Boy. While this was one of the more popular pieces in the later years of the company, the original Big Boys are still sought after by most collectors. These HO scale models replicate the 1940’s engines that were so massive that it required eight axles per engine. The actual engines were used to help run supplies during World War II. Because of the historical significance of the actual engines, the replica trains have become popular.

If you still want one of these wonderful pieces and are willing to do a little restoration work, there are several vendors out there that have just that. You can get some for real cheap if you are willing to do some of the work. You might have to put in a new motor, or replace some other parts that are prone to wear but it is worth it to have a fully restored Rivarossi model trains. Be careful, however, when you purchase one of these second hand trains. You want to make sure that you inspect the engine as closely as possible. You want to ensure that the engine you are purchasing is not rusted in any way. There is some damage that may not be repairable and you need to look for that kind of damage. You also need to know your limits when it comes to restorations. You don’t need a train that needs more work than you can perform so it will be restored properly.

Rivarossi trains, even though they can still be found new, their vintage pieces are the prize for many. As the first Italian manufacturers, they are a true gems.

How to Choose Between Analog and Digital Model Train Transformer

You’ve decided that you want to get into the model railway hobby. It’s a fun and often time consuming hobby. By now you’ve probably decided on where your railway will be located, what the layout will look like and what your landscape will look like. You have been comparing scales and engines and you might even have your first engine picked out and ready to go. Now how are you going to power it? Model train transformers can actually be as individual as the trains themselves.

If you buy an out of the box set, then choosing a transformer is going to be a no brainer. This is because they will give you the transformer that you should use with this train. End of discussion, that transformer is designed to work well with that train set. That being said it doesn’t mean that down the road you can’t upgrade your transformer.

Analog Power Supply

When choosing your transformer you need to know a few things. First off is the train you are running set to accept AC, DC, or both? Some have a voltage range listed only in AC volts. Some have it listed only in DC volts while others might say 9Volts AC or 12V DC, this is an example of course but you see what the package may look like. If that is the case then you have a little wiggle room on which type of transformer you purchase. You need to know this information because if your train is set to run strictly on DC voltage and you hook and AC power supply up to it, you could damage your train. Of course, most if not all the trains produced today can handle both types of power.

Once you’ve determined the current type that your train will accept and the number of volts needed to run the train you need to consider everything else. What this means is how many accessories are you planning on also hooking up to this single power supply? Are you planning on hooking up the train, all its cars, and the towns to this transformer or are you planning on having two separate transformers to do the job. If you want one transformer for your whole set then you will need a power supply that has more voltage output than what your train alone needs. Don’t worry this won’t damage your train because there will be more items taking care of some of that power. In other words the more things drawing power from the supply the “bigger” the power supply needs to be.

Digital Command Control

With that in mind you might also consider a DCC ready locomotive. The Digital Command Control system is slowly replacing the power packs. Since this is the new industry standard you might consider starting here if you are just starting out. These DCC systems can help to power everything. It’s accomplished by the modulation of volts while encoding digital messages. It runs the trains without worry of which type do I get.

Probably one of the biggest advantages to going this route versus the traditional power supply is the simplistic wiring, for multiple trains. To operate multiple trains in the past you had wire the trains on separate blocks with separate switches. That meant when you ran the trains then you would run the risk of running into this block wall if you failed to make the switch before the train entered the area. This could lead to short circuit and loss of train control. DCC makes that wall go away. You don’t have to worry about the boundary, everything is set up on a single block and you can cross as you please.

If you are purchasing a new set, it is probably best to choose the DCC power supply. Its simpler and the way trains are heading with their power supplies. Everything is going digital these days. If you are purchasing an older train or are already into model railroading the DCC may not be for you. It can be expensive to upgrade your trains to this new technology.

Digital or analog, new or traditional choosing the right model train transformer is probably the one thing that will take a while to make the determination. You need to take your time and research all your possibilities before taking the plunge.

Tips for the N Scaled Bachmann-Highballer

It can be hard to obtain the needed information about the Bachmann-Highballer especially if you don’t know where to search for them. If you want to create a layout which has several trains running on it, the N scaled Bachmann-Highballer is an excellent choice. You see, it was called ‘highball’ because it indicates that the track can accommodate reckless speeds of the trains. However, you still have to be extra careful in using this scale and model most specially the throttle. The term highballer was used to describe train engineers who prefer to drive at very high speeds.

What are the features that you can expect from the Bachmann-Highballer? Once you purchase this set, you will get the EMD F9 diesel locomotive. It ensures smooth running and it already comes with an operating headlight and all-wheel drive. You will also get an off-center caboose and two freight cars, speed controller, power pack, E-Z track in nickel silver (24” circle), and a detailed instruction manual. If you purchase online, you can enjoy around 32% discount but only if you shop around first.

If you are wondering if the tracks of Bachmann-Highballer can be extended, this will depend on how creative you are. Originally, the track is circular and if you purchase extra tracks, you may be able to create a track that goes into different directions. To be able to do this, you must consider the model and for this project, you are going to concentrate on the Bachmann-Highballer. Try to inquire at the local hobby shop or the online store if they are selling tracks. If you can find stores that sell additional tracks, you can purchase the very important ones that you really need. Before making the purchase, you can already sketch out the tracks that you want to extend and their designs. By doing so, you can determine the needed additional tracks that will make up your model railway layout.

The 11-piece rail tracks are curved, so if you want to extend the tracks, you can make use of straight ones. Simply use the internet to find other Bachmann tracks that is compatible with the Bachmann-Highballer. The tracks are snap-fit and this is an important feature that you need to watch out. Never purchase an incompatible track because you will waste your money and you won’t be able to attach it to the curved tracks of the Bachmann-Highballer.

So, what are you waiting for? This is the best time to start your search for the perfect model railway layout and you can also try American Limited Models, Athearn N Scale Trains, Atlas, and many others. The N scale is an excellent choice because of its size and the ease of detailing. As long as you’re a creative person, you will be able to create an extended track with your Bachmann-Highballer. Not everyone can succeed with model railway layouts but if you put your heart to it and mix it with a bit of imagination, you can succeed. Put your N scaled Bachmann-Highballer to use and purchase additional tracks that you can add to the curved. This will be an additional cost but it’s worth the money.

Electric Model Trains – Scales to know before making your purchase

As you may know, having looked and looked at the different types of model trains available. Where there are some steam powered engines out there they are few and far between. You have probably realized by this point that the electric model train is the most popular type of model out there. It didn’t use to always be this way. When the original model trains were invented they were clockwork trains, but that changed quickly all it took was an inventive mind.

While most of the electric trains run on DC power there are some that run off of AC power. The majority of trains started out as AC slowly converting over to DC as time went on. There are still many trains systems that use AC power even if DC is more popular.

There are many scales of electric trains to choose from. The G scale is the largest and generally runs outside in a garden or yard type setting. Because of its larger scale it is easy to handle and most are easy to set up.

If you are looking for a table top variety of electric train there are several to choose from. Probably the most popular, however, is the HO scale. The scale of this model is 1:87 which is much smaller than the G scale but still bigger than the smallest available. This popular scale is perfect for children as it is easy for them to handle without being too small. Since it is the most popular, it is the one with the most accessories available.

Just a step up in size is the O scale. This is scale electric train is just about twice the size of the HO so it too is a popular type for children. Since it is a little larger, it will take up more space and therefore might not be ideal for some model train enthusiasts. It is probably next in popularity to the HO scale but you won’t find as many accessories.

Another scale that is popular with some is the OO scale. There are many that would argue this is not a true scaled engine since it is exceptionally close to the HO scale, with a scale of 1:76. So close in fact many use HO scaled items as accessories to this scale. These trains can and have often been used interchangeably with the HO tracks and cars. A hard core enthusiast would probably never own one of these trains, but if you are looking for something just a little smaller than the O scales but not as small as the HO this is a perfect compromise.

Another popular electric train scale is the N scale. Still smaller than the HO, but nowhere near the smallest available this train is often known as the narrow scale. These trains are generally narrower than other models making them ideal for tight spaces.

The smallest of all the scales is the Z scale. With a scale of 1:220 this scale is the true table top model and is often referred to as the TT scale. These trains are extremely tiny are most definitely not for the younger generation. Only those who are used to handling these types of trains should invest in them.

Probably the best thing about electric model trains scales is that they are a standard. If you have an HO engine of one name brand you can use an HO car from another name brand and it will work. Scenery and landscape made for your favorite scale is the same way, you can pick and choose which pieces you want from any number of companies. The versatility of the scales means your electric train will be able to run in a layout that is totally you. You are not restricted by the brands at all, the sky is the limit.

No matter what your passion, you can find an electric train that will fit your needs and space and still look great.