April 2021

Spring Edition

Tracks-04-21 -- Model Railroading Newsletter

April, 2021

Building Your Model Railroad:
Tips, Techniques and Information
for All Ages and All Gauges

Tracks Newsletter - April, 2021

WELCOME to the April, 2021 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 gauges 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 BYMRR.com 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 bymrr@building-your-model-railroad.com. 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.

*Videos: One of the most common requests that I get from the survey is to show more videos. I have included more than ever in this issue and will continue to do so as it seems to be appropriate. Incidentally, if you have not already done so, I would highly recommend upgrading to YouTube Premium, mostly so that you can play the videos without having to watch the ads. It's definitely worth it! (and I make no commision on that.)

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 photos@building-your-model-railroad.com.

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.



What's Marklin Up To?

At least the Pandemic was good for something!

According to a recent article in the New York Times, Marklin sales have been booming over the last year, and it's easy to guess why. People have become so isolated and sequestered in their own homes with nothing else to do, the pandemic has led to a tremendous resurgence of model railroading. Model trains are flying off the shelves to help supply the new layouts that folks are creating at home. 

More than that, the text and pictures go on to explain in considerable detail how Marklin actually creates these miniature wonders of the world.

Here is a link to the NYT article, sent in by Dieter Steinhoff in Virginia Beach, who has his own fantastic O gauge layout that has been featured in this newsletter before, and is further updated below.


Dieter's Trains - Part 2

Last year, Tracks featured an article called "Dieter's Trains", demonstrating the beginning of a warehouse-sized G scale layout. I revisited his layout again recently, while Dieter, his wife, Petra, and friends were working on it, which they continue to do almost every day. Dieter has constructed over 100 buildings himself. More scenes, bridges and figures are being added all the time. The innumerable little details are the things that make the railroad come alive. He plans to open the layout to visitors for free once it is "completed". Even his storage area is a marvel to behold, containing hundreds of G scale locomotives and rolling stock of all types and road names.

Here are a few of the pictures I took while visiting...

Dieter and his O Scale Train LayoutDieter and his G Scale Train Layout
All Structure Kits Were Built by DieterAll Structure Kits (Over 100) Were Built by Dieter.
Waterside Camping on Dieter's O Scale EmpireWaterside Camping on Dieter's G Scale Empire
Stopping at the Silverton Railroad StationStopping at the Silverton Railroad Station
Storeroom Full of Hundreds of Locomotives and Rolling StockStoreroom Full of Hundreds of Locomotives and Rolling Stock
More of the Same!More of the Same!
Train Power ManagementTrain Power Management
Dieter and his O Scale Train LayoutDetails! Details!

Modeler's Tips

Add these to your notebook of favorite model railroading tips:

  • Pine Bark: You know those big bags of stuff you use to cover and protect your flower beds? There are dozens of uses for this very inexpensive natural material. I've used them for "rocks" painted gray or brown and embedded on a hillside. They are great to use in a stacked form as a natural retaining wall. Here is yet another application as an underwater "rock", or at the bottom of a creekbed...
The The "rocks" in the stream on this model railroad are pine bark! (Courtesy of Earl Hackett)

  • Making Something out of Nothing:

There are lots of things you can do with common household items while building your model railroad at home. 

  • Use strips of plastic gutter guard to make guard-rails.
  • Use pieces of an old screen to make chain-link fencing.
  • Use bristles from a toothbrush to make icicles.
  • Plexiglass covered with streaks of clear silicone sealer makes a great waterfall.
  • Clear silicone sealer over small rocks makes a realistic creek with rapids.
  • Use regular, natural aquarium gravel for talus.
  • Make dirt roads with a mixture of white glue and sand
  • Use sifted dirt for ground cover
  • Grow your own sage bushes in the backyard to use for bushes and trees.
  • Use small branches from your bushes as the armature for trees. 
  • Pine cones with the outer shells removed, dipped in diluted white glue and sprinkled by hand with static grass, make very realistic pine trees. Add tiny "fairy lights" with a battery to make a Christmas tree.
  • Use kitty litter over diluted white glue for ground cover.
  • Use sawdust for ground cover.
  • Use old ceiling tile stacked up and roughed up on the edges to make cliffs or mountains
  • Use an old flatcar without the wheels to make a small bridge.
  • Use old wheels , rail ties, pieces of rail, clipped toothpicks, etc. to make a junk pile or a junk load for a gondola.
  • Use popsicle sticks to make your own buildings. 
  • Use black or grey construction paper to make shingles for a roof. 
  • Use twigs from the backyard to make log loads. 
  • Use old necklaces to "chain" the logs to your flatcars.
  • Use painted strips of cardboard to make a retaining wall.
  • Create a stone wall using thick cardboard or foam-board. Cover the surface with white glue, then cover it with small stones and let dry. Spread tan or gray-colored Hydrocal over it to use as "mortar" between the stones and lightly rinse off the excess.
  • Take photos of signs outside. Crop and shrink them on your computer and print them out on decal paper. Then apply them to buildings, street signs or billboards.
  • Take photos of rooms in your home. Resize them in your computer and print them out. Use them in the interior of buildings.
  • Use old clear plastic from products you've purchased to make "glass" for your windows. If they have an interesting shape, paint them and use them as flatcar loads.


More Pics from the Blue Ridge and Southern Railroad

Freight Haulers Lined Up on the Classification TrackFreight Haulers Lined Up on the Classification Track
Two Seasons on the BR&S Model RailroadTwo Seasons on the BR&S Model Railroad
Three Levels on the N Scale BR&S Model RailroadThree Levels on the N Scale BR&S Model Railroad. Whoops! Just noticed a tank car derailment and some renegade wiring. I guess it's not a perfect world even on a model railroad.
Processing Lumber on the BR&S Model RailroadProcessing Lumber on the BR&S Model Railroad
Bird's Eye View of the Peninsula on the BR&S Model RailroadBird's Eye View of the Peninsula on the BR&S Model Railroad.

Great Deals on Stocked Items at TrainStoreOnline.net

Bachmann HO Scale Locomotive GP 18 Union Pacific

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Over 50% off retailBachmann HO Scale Locomotive, GP 18, Union Pacific Pre-owned, Excellent condition, Rarely used, Over 50% off retail

More Great Videos:

Wyoming Division Historical Model Railroad Update and Tour


An Amazing Waterfall with a Secret by Luke Towan


Everard Junction Layout Update Spring 2021


10 Errors to Avoid in Soldering


HO Utah Belt by Eric Brooman


Potomac Division Layout Tour Lehigh and New England Railroad, Catasauqua Branch, MER-NMRA by Todd Hermann


Union Pacific's Superpower Addiction


The Gettysburg Railroad Explosion 25 Years Later


How To Make Realistic Model Railroad Scenery - Landform and Terrain



Check out our Hobby Central Train Station for all your train supplies -  everything you need to build your own model railroad. (Also available: RC cars, trucks, planes, helicopters, games, puzzles, tools, gifts and much more.)

  • FREE SHIPPING on most items for orders over $25.00.  
  • Competitive pricing - especially considering free shipping.
  • New discounted products added every day.  
  • Also get a one-time 10% discount just because you read this newsletter. 
  • Use the secret Coupon Code: TRACKS-0421 at checkout.  (Only good for "In Stock" items during April 2021)
  • Join our Empire Points Program.  Earn 3 points for every $1 you spend. Use the points you've earned to get even greater discounts on future purchases. Get 100 points just for signing up!



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 bymrr@building-your-model-railroad.com

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
https://www.bymrr.com. We are committed to providing all the newest techniques, tips and articles to help YOU build your own great model railroad!

Take care and be safe.

Greg Warth

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You might also like these pages:

  • Tracks: March 2021

    This issue of Tracks is once again chock full of news, information, tips and videos all about model railroading and railfanning.

  • Tracks Model Railroad Newsletter

    The February 2021 issue of Tracks contains a ton of useful information all about building and managing your model railroad.

  • Tracks: January 2021

    Tracks - a model railroad newsletter with lots of great tips and tricks on how to build your own model railroad.

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