Tracks-012, Issue #12 -- Model Railroading Newsletter

September, 2020

Building Your Model Railroad

Newsletter -September, 2020

Dieter's Trains: A Large Collection of LGB Locos and Rolling StockDieter's Trains: A Large Collection of LGB Locos and Rolling Stock

WELCOME to the September, 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.

Topeka Layout Series: Chapter 3

Follow Along as This Remarkable New Tri-level Layout is Built

Topeka layout benchwork nearly completed.Topeka layout benchwork nearly completed.

Here's the latest update on the Topeka layout that we've been following:

1. The team has finally completed their purchase of a total of  450 ft. (150 count - 36" flextrack for their two main tracks, each covering about 200' of main track run (plus some extra for the yard(s).

2. After purchasing and gluing down the rigid foam board to the bench work, they will start adding turnouts and Tortoises compatible with their new NCE PRO system. 

3. They have set up and organized a train cabinet containing Santa Fe and Union Pacific" Locos and assorted rolling stock of about 100 pieces so far...

Train cabinet: Locos and rolling stock ready to go!Train cabinet: Locos and rolling stock ready to go!
Train cabinet: a necessity for storage and organizationTrain cabinet: a necessity for storage and organization

4. They have lowered their main 40" table (bench) to 37" for the grandchildren's sake.

5. They can now provide a REAL TIME testimony to the old adage of "Measure twice, cut once." After cutting the legs down from 40" to 37", they suddenly noticed that half of their benchwork had different sized legs, which gave a very amusing "hilly layout" even before they laid the first track!  Lesson learned: ONE PERSON CUTS ALL THE LEGS!

6. After purchasing their new NCE PRO system, they are currently learning about its capabilities. At the same time they are learning about integrating it with their computer using JMRI.

NCE Power Pro DCC Starter Kit w/RadioNCE Power Pro DCC Starter Kit w/Radio

7. They have completed their manual for layout planning and operations.

8. Considering swing gate options - surfing YouTube to help decide. 

(Updates and Photos on the progress of the Michael L. Ballard Memorial RR: Courtesy of Topeka Phil and Eagle Andrew)

Considering swing gate options - wooden - as shown here, or aluminumConsidering swing gate options - wooden - as shown here, or aluminum

To be Continued...

What is the Best Height for Your Layout?

This is an age-old question that has no correct answer except that it just depends on what your preferences are. People used to say that the base of your layout surface should be about 40-45 inches from the floor – the idea being that this would bring the scenery closer to eye level, which tends to make the scenes more realistic. If the eye level view is the most important thing to you then you should make your layout the height that would bring most of the scenery up to your eye level. If you do, however, keep in mind that your younger children or grandchildren won’t be able to see anything unless you lift them up or have a stool they can stand on. Also keep in mind the amount of time that you will have to have your arms up in the air or how far you will have to stretch to work on parts of the layout. Also, it’s harder to see where all your trains are at that level if they are hidden behind scenery. The good news is you won’t have to use duck-unders, you won’t have to have tops for your buildings, you won’t have to have an elaborate backdrop and it will be easy to access the wiring under the layout – the reverse of which are all disadvantages if you build your layout at 33-37”. At the lower levels, you will have nice vista views of your trains winding around and through your scenery, which you won’t have at the higher levels. Ahh, decisions, decisions!!

(Reprinted with permission from BYMRR-Zine, Jun 2011)

Dieter's Trains

Dieter Steinhoff is a great friend as well as a model railroader.  He has always been fascinated by model trains, especially in G scale.  Having retired recently from his very successful Acoustic Sheet Metal business, he has acquired a fully finished large warehouse nearby, which is totally devoted to the display of his G scale train layout.  The railroad is in its infancy, but is rapidly growing since he now has the ability to spend most of his time there. Most of his tracks, buildings and trains are LGB products - probably the largest collection of G scale locos and rolling stock that I have ever seen.  He has assembled over 70 buildings for this layout himself. His young age of 83 doesn't seem to slow him down a bit. He has tremendous energy, a wonderful, friendly personality and always a twinkle in his eye, especially when he is talking about trains. 

Here are some pictures of his new layout, called Dieter's Railway, currently a work in progress.  I will show more pictures and videos as it develops...

Dieter's Trains:  Adding some detailAdding some detail - Passengers on the platform await the next train.
Steam-powered passenger train chugging and smoking through a small town.Steam-powered passenger train chugging and smoking through a small town.
Nice water effect on this G scale layout.Nice water effect on this G scale layout.
G Scale Model Railroading: Featuring Dieter's Trains - a Great, Fantastic, Huge and Growing Layout - Lots of fun for all ages!G Scale Model Railroading: Featuring Dieter's Trains - a Great, Fantastic, Huge and Growing Layout - Lots of fun for all ages!
Electric-powered G scale passenger trainElectric-powered G scale passenger train
Dieter Steinhoff: Master of G scaleDieter Steinhoff: Master builder and operator of this fantastic, fun, G scale model railway!

Layout Tours

One of the things that I really like about model train shows and conventions is going on tours of layouts created by other model railroaders within the area of the convention. I really missed that this year since almost all the conventions and shows were cancelled due to the pandemic. 

However, even though we are cooped up in our homes for the foreseeable future, we can still enjoy a good layout tour, now and again, thanks to the hard work of Jenny and Ross Waters who have taken to the road all over the USA to interview expert model railroaders and to take high quality photos and videos of their layouts. 

It's actually mind boggling how many really good layouts there are out there. Below is a link to many of these layouts and interviews that have been professionally recorded by the Jenny & Ross team as part of their business called, Trackside Model Railroading (TMR).  I love to watch the videos and learn about what other model railroaders are doing. The operation and scenery of these layouts are very inspiring, not to mention the educational benefits.  I have taken away many ideas from these videos that I found to be useful for my own layout.

One of the nicest things about watching these videos is that they are AD-FREE!

Here again is a link to many of these TMR DVD/BluRay discs and other DVDs that are available in our store at bargain basement prices...

[Okay, I admit it. I have to apologize for another shameless ad to sell DVD/BluRay discs!  But these are really good and the above testimonial is all true, not to mention that the prices here are the best you can find anywhere. Plus they make great gifts for your favorite model railroader!]

BYMRR Hobby Central Layout Tours

Modelers' Tips


I've written about this before, but it's worth mentioning again, especially if you have an older layout and, all of a sudden, you're starting to see a lot of derailments, which almost always occur when you are showing your layout to family or friends. There are lots of reasons why this can happen.  If your railroad is being victimized by the rail gremlins, you may want to revisit the page on Troubleshooting Derailments.

Wiring Tips

  • Looking for wiring diagrams to help with a project for your railroad?
  • Automated reverse loops for DC and DCC?
  • Automated stations stops and starts?
  • Automated timed stops and reverse memory?
  • Automated track routing?
  • Station stop every eighth time?
  • Two-Train staging in opposite directions?
  • Train Following Train with Momentum Control?

It's all here in the Dallee Electronics and Wiring Guide!

What's your next project going to be?

For Gluing Windows to Your Buildings

How many of you have been frustrated by the plastic glue residue left on "glass" windows when attaching them to the inside of your buildings?  You build this perfect model structure and when you attach the windows, they have this glue goop on them that you can't get rid of. 

According to an article by Jared Harper in the August, 2011 issue of Model Railroader, this won't happen if you use √Pledge Floor Gloss Liquid, instead of plastic cement to attach your windows.

Aluminum Flashing for Cliffs, Terrain, Structures

Inexpensive aluminum flashing from your local hardware store has lots of potential uses for your model railroad - cliffs, mountains, tunnel liners, buildings, bridges and others.  It is bendable, moldable, paintable and can be cut into various shapes and sizes.  Check out this article by Geoff Green along with the many comments that follow.

And the Survey Says!!...

Our recent survey during the month of August 2020, answering the question of whether the BYMRR site should switch to a paid membership without ads, showed the following results:

  • 18% said they wanted a paid membership site without ads.
  • 82% said they wanted to continue as a free information site even if we have to have ads.

So, there you have it! Democracy in action. We will continue as a free information site.  However, please continue to give us feedback on our general survey about what you like or don't like about the site and what topics you would like to see in the future.

Based on your previous responses, we have upcoming articles on Landscaping, History of the Union Pacific and Restoring Older HO Trains.  

And you thought we weren't paying attention!

More Great Videos:

Jim Vail's Glenwood & Black Creek Narrow Gauge HOn3 DCC Layout Tour

(I apologize for the ads in some of these videos, but they are not mine and I can't seem to get rid of them. Nevertheless, the videos are awesome and well-worth your time.)

Morada Belt HO Scale Layout Tour With Dave Stanley

Farewell WP Oregon Division Layout Tour with Mike Coen

UP 844 how it operates from Running a Steam Locomotive Vol 2 Excerpt

Check out our Rail Modeler Train Store for all your train supplies -  everything you need to build your model railroad. 

  • Competitive pricing.  
  • FREE DVD with every order over $50.00.  
  • Also get a one-time 10% discount just because you read this newsletter. Use the secret Coupon Code 0EE1M5RMYR7F at checkout.  
  • $1.00 donation to charity occurs automatically with each order (does not affect your price).

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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