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Tracks, Issue #001 -- Model Railroading Newsletter
September 20, 2019

Building Your Model Railroad

Newsletter - October, 2019

WELCOME to the 1st issue of our new newsletter called 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.

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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 as 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] or [email protected]. Even better, if you have a tip or something you would like to add yourself for 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. 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 photos@building-your-model-

Getting Started in Model Railroading

If you're new to model railroading or renewing your interest in the hobby, you've come to the right place!

"Givens and Druthers" - This is a famous quote by John Allen, the proverbial father of modern model railroading, meaning simply that you have to make decisions early on about various aspects of the railroad you wish to create...

Check out the Step-By-Step page on our website to get an overview of how to build your model railroad. Once you see this, the process will become much clearer. Then you can go to the other pages for more details on how to do each section.


It's Autumn - my favorite time of year! You can probably tell from the style of scenery that I like to use. I've used this season in Appalachia as my main theme for my BR&S Railroad, except for one area that is elevated higher than the rest, which I have depicted as a winter scene, which actually makes some sense since sometimes that's really the way it is there - autumn leaves in the valleys and snow at the higher elevations..

And, of course, it's also time for Halloween. Make sure you have added a small Halloween scene or two to your layout, or even better, see if you can find a Halloween train. You could just dress up a few gondolas with spooky Halloween figures lounging in a bed of hay. Put a Graveyard scene somewhere on the layout. Have a few Zombies lurking around in the cities or at the train station. Check out the Gift Shop to see if you can find some of these items. See how many of these things the kids can find as they look around your layout!

Advanced Ideas

If you're an experienced model railroader, you have come to the right place!

You need to go to the Special FX page right away and see all the new projects you can get involved in. And you thought once your railroad was up and running, that's all there was to it, right? No way...

√Just Plug Lighting...
√Crossing Gates...

√Railroad Signals...

√Occupancy Detector...

√Quad Section Power Manager with Auto Reverse...

√Front and rear car lights...

Trolley Layouts

Trolley layouts can be a lot of fun! One of the best I've seen was the Holiday exhibit at the New York City Botanical Gardens a few years ago. The trolleys were all G-scale. Every structure in the exhibit was made out of plant material - very impressive.

You could create your own trolley layout or even incorporate a back-and-forth trolley in the midst of your urban or suburban layout while your other freight and/or passenger trains are moving by them on the mainlines. See how to do it here.

From the page on Automated Train Operation...

For reversing trains or trolleys, you can use the AR-1 circuit board by Circuitron, and 2 photosensors (Opto-Sensors). Place one photosensor at each end of the track. Then, from the circuit board, extend a separate wire to each of the photocells. The other wires from the photocells can be connected together and go back to the circuit board as one wire. Wires from a filtered DC source (12-15v) go through the AR-1 to each rail of the track, as in the following diagram…

If you want the trolley to stop at each end of the track and be delayed for a set period of time, substitute an AR-2 circuit board for the AR-1.

If you want your train or trolley to also stop at one or more points between the ends of the tracks and delay at each point without reversing till it gets to the end, you will need an AR-2 and a DT-4 circuit board wired as shown here…

Automated train reversal at ends with point-to-point stops in betweenThe above automated train operations are meant to be used for analog train systems only, not for DCC model railroad wiring. So, even without DCC, you can do some pretty fancy stuff with analog cab control and regular block wiring using the Circuitron circuit boards.

Or you could just buy a reversing track made by Bachmann...

Model Railroad Backdrops

I'm always looking for new ways to do things. I recently ran across this article in the November, 2019 issue of Model Railroader magazine​ on how to use a software program called Sketchup to create and/or enhance your backdrop ("Sketchup for Backdrops" written by Alex Marchand). You can use the program for 3d printing as well. In fact, what you do is create the scene you want in virtual 3d and then print it out on paper in 2d on a wide format printer. This is especially good for creating certain buildings, structures or industries in the background that allow the viewer to place your layout in a certain era or locale that might not be evident otherwise - The Empire State Building, or the Washington Monument, for example. You could create several scenes and stitch them together, then potentially send it to a company like Vistaprint that could create a 2.5' x 12' vinyl banner (other sizes available as well) that you could use for your layout.

Another possibility is to buy a photo from Adobe Stock like the photo above, for example (There are many to choose from.), and send it to a printing company like Vistaprint and have them print it out for you in whatever size you want.

√Model Railroading Books!

Learn even more tips and techniques from these great

Model Railroading Books

available through

Model Train Supply Store

Buy all your supplies here!

Trains, tracks, electrical supplies, scenery, tools, paints, weathering supplies, buildings, locomotives with or without DCC, freight and passenger cars.

Available in all scales from 12 major manufactures!

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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Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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