Tracks-008, Issue #008 -- Model Railroading Newsletter

May, 2020

Building Your Model Railroad

Newsletter - May, 2020

RailTown, USA - Model Railroad Scene.  Waiting for the early morning train.RailTown, USA. Waiting for the Early Morning Train.

WELCOME to the May, 2020 issue of Tracks - a monthly newsletter published by Building Your Model Railroad, 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.

Whitelisting the email address of this newsletter is important. It assures that it doesn't end up in your Junk or Trash box every month. Please right click on the email address of the sender, copy the link and then go to your contacts program and paste it there as a new contact. You only have to do it once.

Note: √= sponsored link - See disclosure page for details. If you see a √ next to a link on this page or on the site, that signals that the link is an ad. So if you click on it and purchase something, I might get a small (very small, I might add) commission on it. Just so you know.

Requests: If there are any particular subjects that you would like to see in the newsletter, please let us know at [email protected]. Even better, if you have a tip or something you would like to add to the newsletter, please send it in!  Use the form in the Comments section of the BYMRR website.

Back Issues: And don't forget, there is a huge amount of information in the 33 issues of the old newsletter called BYMR-Zine as well as previous issues of Tracks.  Back Issues are available here.

Thank you for subscribing. We have lots of new tips and tricks in this issue to add to your model railroading pleasure. And please tell your friends about us. The more we can spread the word about model railroading, the better.

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].

Contributions Encouraged:  If you have a tip, picture, video or an article about model railroading that you would like to share in this newsletter, please let me know.  I'm always looking for more information.

Social Distancing

As we all have been staying away from each other during this pandemic, a lot of us model railroaders are spending a lot more time with our railroads, which is great, but we're still missing out on a lot of the fun of getting together and talking about our hobby - what we're doing, new things we've learned, showing off our new projects. 

One of my fellow model railroaders in our local division, sent us all an email, basically encouraging us to all try to stay in touch online. My eyes were opened!  I thought, of course - we're surrounded by all this socializing technology, more than we've ever had in the history of mankind and we're still staying huddled in our corners not really talking to each other.

Part of it is a certain amount of anxiety and even some degree of despondency about what's going on in the world that I think we're all feeling right now - some much more than others depending on how directly it's affecting them. 

However, despite physical distancing, we still should be talking to each other - putting up pictures on Facebook and Instagram, telling each other what we're doing, making videos of our newest projects to share - connecting with each other.  That's what I've been missing!  So I've decided to make a more concerted effort to send more emails, post more of what I'm doing online to local clubs and organizations and try to stay more connected.  I hope the rest of you will do that as well.  I can't wait to see and hear more of what's going on out there.  In fact I would love it if you would send one of your latest projects to me so I can put it up in the next newsletter.

Tell Us about Your Latest Project!

Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.

Upload Individual Photos

Jim Zim's Home and Garden G- Scale Railway

This video has apparently been around awhile, although I just saw it today for the first time. Isn't this awesome!  Wouldn't you just love to do this at your home?  It gives me lots of ideas, but my spouse would never...Or would she? 

Tips from the Past

Dental Plaster - Consider using dental plaster√ instead of Hydrocal to make rocks. The detail in the finished rock casting is much clearer and sharper than using any other material.  Remember to use lukewarm water. Put the water in the bowl first, then add water slowly while stirring to get the proper consistency (thick soup). Try not to make bubbles if you can avoid it. (Ref- Paul Scoles, Model Railroad News, 2010)

Floor Tiles - The next time you are at you local home improvement store, take a look at the linoleum floor tile.  If you take one of these 12" x 12" tiles, and cut it up into thin strips and stack them on top of each other, you can create a perfect retaining wall for your layout.  If you go a little further and cut those strips into small 1/4 - 1/2 inch sections, then stack and glue them together like bricks, you can curve that stone wall any way you want to, to conform it to the place where you want to put it on your layout. (This great article by Randy Hawkins appeared in his Blog: The Coffee Valley Railroad, Feb 4, 2010)

Cordless Soldering Iron - Cordless is the way to go when considering soldering irons.  Cords on other irons get in the way and are constantly pulling the iron off the desk where you are working, which is actually dangerous.  I loved my butane soldering torch, but then after about a year of heavy use, it started leaking and I kept running out of fluid.  So then I got the Wahl Clipper 7700 Iso-Tip Cordless Soldering Iron with Quick Charge Kit√, which is probably the best one I ever owned and I still use it after 10 years.  If this one stops working well, I might reconsider the butane torch again.  Some of the newer ones are probably better made than the one I used years ago.

Cleaning track - NEVER use the rubber eraser-like pad that comes with most cleaning kits. It scratches your tracks and leaves a lot of metal and rubber residue all over your tracks and turnouts and your locomotive wheels.  Also NEVER use isopropyl alcohol because it actually reduces conductivity of the track.  What does work well for serious track cleaning is Goo-Gone followed by a thin layer of CRC 2-26.  The CMX tank car works fairly well with CRC 2-26 sprayed on the pad.  Don't forget to clean your locomotive wheels as well!

Seaboard Railroad Station Museum

I recently ran across these pictures that I took at the Seaboard Railroad Station Museum a while ago.  You can read all about the station here...

Seaboard Railroad Station Museum

But what I was really excited about was to marvel at the fantastic modeling - the realistic scenery and the scratch-built structures completed true to scale.  This was modeled by the Tidewater Division of the NMRA and certainly attests to their expertise in model railroading...

Small Dioramas

These are really great to do if you want to take a break from the empire layout you've been working on. They are especially fun to do to celebrate a particular theme or a holiday like Halloween, Christmas or even Easter, or you could make one for each season. Put it on a shelf in your home or at work.

You would probably want to do this in N or Z scale, but it could work for HO as well.   It would be easy to do and something that you could actually finish in a relatively short time.  Plus it would give you a great feeling of accomplishment.

Use your imagination and creativity.  Make something humorous, or something beautiful or well detailed, with, of course, a train being the focus. It could be a scene from the past, like the Promontory Summit or the Dewitt Clinton, or you could focus on a particular railroad or industry, depending on where you work or what you might be interested in. 

Also this would be a great time to work on your scratch-building skills.

Here is a nice little video by Luke Towan showing how to create a fantastic waterfall diorama from scratch...

More Great Videos

Layout Tour - Modern NS Asheville District in HO Scale 2020 by NSmodeler24

How to Create Detailed Realistic Terrain and Scenery by Everhard Junction

The Most Amazing Trains in the World

The Top 15 Extinct American Locomotives

Upcoming Train Shows and Events

Unfortunately, the NMRA National Convention in St. Louis had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Oh well, Maybe Next Year.

Most local train shows will be cancelled for the foreseeable future, at least until July or later, so for the safety for all of us, we will just have to "hunker down" and work on our own model railroad projects at home. This would be a good time to work on getting a few of those AP (Achievement Program) certificates you've been wanting to get to but never had the time for.  I'm, of course, referring to working toward getting that Holy Grail of model railroading - The MMR (Master Model Railroader).  (Click on the links in the text for more information.)

And don't forget to use social media to connect with other model railroaders, not to mention friends and family you may not have talked with in a while:)

Sunflower in front of rail car

Check out our Rail Modeler Train Store for all your train supplies -  everything you need to build your model railroad.  Low flat rate shipping on most orders.  Competitive pricing. $1.00 donation to charity on each order.

Hope you enjoyed this issue of Tracks. Feel free to pass it on to your friends, family and other model railroaders. If you have a great tip or article that you would like to publish on the website, 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 newsletter for Building Your Model Railroad.

And, as always, thank you for visiting the BYMRR website at We are committed to providing all the newest techniques, tips and articles to help YOU build your own great model railroad!

-Greg Warth

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