Building Your Model Railroad

Newsletter - August, 2011

WELCOME to the eighth issue of BYMRr-Zine - a newsletter published by the author of the website Building Your Model Railroad, and devoted to providing breaking news and tips to model railroaders of all ages and all scales in a quick and easy-to-read format. Resources are always credited where appropriate.

Thank you for subscribing. We have lots of new tips and tricks this month to add to your model railroading pleasure.

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Photos: We're always looking for new photos for our Gallery pages. If you have photos of your layout that you would like to share with other model railroaders, I'd love to post them on the site. Send them in to [email protected]

Basic Structure Modeling

I recently purchased a new Kalmbach book called, Basic Structure Modeling for Model Railroaders (Model Railroader Books) , by Jeff Wilson and Terry Thompson. I highly recommend this as an excellent resource for anyone who intends to use model railroad structures on their layout (just about everyone). It includes detailed information and lots of photos demonstrating how to build, paint and weather plastic or wooden models. Scratch-building, detailing, placing decals, working with styrene and building roofs are all covered as well. There is also a section containing very inspiring photos of completed models that will stimulate you either to get started right now or give it up as impossible (just kidding!). For those of us who didn’t have the benefit of this instruction when we started putting models together, there was a lot of trial and error and learning the hard way. If you want to know how to do this right from the start, get this book! There are things to learn from this even if you're an expert. You can purchase it digitally now as well in print!

Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum

This has to be one of the best railroad museums in the country (I must admit I haven’t seen them all, but I’ve seen a few). Located in Baltimore, MD, I visited it the second time this past weekend and I have to say it’s better than ever. It had to be restored in 2003 at a cost of $30 million after half the roof collapsed following two severe snowstorms. The renovated museum reopened in 2005 and features multiple locomotives from the 19th and 20th centuries that have been completely and beautifully restored by the museum’s own restoration facility. Not only that, but one of the C&O passenger cars has been converted on the inside to house a fantastic HO model railroad layout extending from one end of the car to the other. This includes continuously operating trains that never derail, wonderful countryside scenery surrounding the Potomac River, several bridges, and a city scene with buildings representing Baltimore.

Outside the roundhouse, there is a large, detailed G-scale garden railroad with several levels of trains, waterfalls, bridges, natural greenery, tunnels and other features. There are plenty of things at this museum for the whole family to enjoy including a real train ride inside an air-conditioned passenger car. Check out the You Tube video…

Pick Up Your Metal Junk

Here’s a tip by Ron Baile that I read in the newest (July-August, 2011) issue of The Local. Attach a Kadee magnet to the bottom of a freight car. Then use a locomotive to push it around the layout after you’ve been doing track work. It’s amazing what kind of things you will find on the magnet that have been laying around the layout.

Keeping the Costs Down

Model railroading can be an expensive hobby. You have to learn how to cut the costs down as much as possible. The one thing not to skimp on is having locomotives that work well. Beyond that, you can fix, make or buy inexpensively most anything else. Avoid buying built-up structures. Instead, buy plastic kits or plain styrene or cardstock for your structures and learn how to kitbash or scratchbuild them into unique buildings for your layout.

Look around you for things you can use – like cutting liter soda bottles in half to make the insides of tunnels, using toilet paper rolls for making silos and grain elevators.

Use inexpensive speaker wire for wiring track feeders and lights.

Use twigs from your bushes or cones from your pines to make trees. Go to your local craft store for bundles of sage, baby’s breath and other tree-like craft material to make large numbers of different kinds of trees. Or use clumps of polyfiber –spray-painted and covered with ground foam - to make large forests.

Sheets of green moss can be purchased inexpensively from craft stores or garden stores. These can be used as ground cover for large forests or mountains.

Start with DC, which is less expensive than DCC. You can always move to DCC later – Just make sure the DC locomotives you buy now are DCC-ready.

Use pine bark mulch stacked up and glued for retaining walls. Or use old cork or ceiling tile stacked up, broken edges forward.

You can use sawdust, sifted dirt, coal-dust or kitty liter for ground cover or ballast.

Use small stones from your gravel driveway for talus.

Use inexpensive Sculptamold to make ground goop and to make rock outcroppings.

Some people like to use shoe polish to paint railroad ties – If you do, don’t mix any alcohol with your glue when you add ballast. The shoe polish will run.

Use paper models for structures. Use software made by Evans Designs to print sheets of brick or stone that can be used for structures or retaining walls.

Save the Styrofoam packing that can be cut up into sheets or box shapes. These can be used to build structures, tunnels, and bridges or used as filler under plaster-cloth terrain. Or you can use them to create an elevated area for a town.

Toothbrush bristles can be used as icicles.

Use paint and high gloss varnish for water areas.

Inexpensive chalk dust can be used for weathering or coloring wood structures. Lichen skewered with toothpicks make great bushes for hillsides.

Paint your backdrop using a combination of blue and white paint – bluer on top, lighter near the horizon.

Use the site for free information.

Always be looking for inexpensive or free things you can use for your layout. Don’t be afraid to use your imagination and creativity to make something out of nothing. And when you do, let us know, so we can share it with others.

Hope you enjoyed Issue #8. Feel free to pass it on to your friends, family and other model railroaders. If you have a great tip that you would like to publish here, please let me know - The more, the better. Any comments or suggestions are always welcome. You can either go to the Comments/Contact Page and enter your suggestions there or contact me directly at [email protected]

Thank you for your support and for subscribing to the free BYMRr-Zine, the newsletter for Building Your Model Railroad.

And, as always, thank you for visiting the BYMRr website at .

-Greg Warth

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved

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