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Alister asks readers:
“I saw a demonstration of joining a drop wire to a buss. The buss was blue and appeared to be insulated. The guy had a plastic joiner which clamped the drop wire to the buss without removing the insulation on the buss line ( no soldering was needed). How does this work? I was told the buss wires for the different rails were best to be different colors so that there was no confusion when joining drop wires. For the buss lines to be different colors they will be insulated. How can contact be made through the insulation? Thank you.”
Club member Duncan from New South Wales in Australia sent in these planning tips to share –
I’m on to my 2nd layout so thought I would jot down some suggestions for others. Here we go…
The more carefully you think through the planning stages of building your model railway, the fewer problems you’ll have when it’s finished and operational. That’s my experience anyway.
I can’t stress enough, the importance of selecting the right track plan for the space you have available. The cars need to operate without derailing, and the railroad needs a reason to exist, because no trains run from point A to point B without a purpose. Also, I’m sure you’ll soon get bored if the layout is too restrictive, and doesn’t allow for enough operational variations.
Based on my experience, I would say you should be 100% certain of your track plan, and lay it out on your baseboard before pinning it down. I first pin the track lightly to my baseboard which I make from exterior Water and Boil Proof (WBP) plywood. You can use other materials. I don’t use cork.
I then test for smooth operation and test that the electrics of the track are correct. I do this before starting on the ballasting. This is really important, because it’s too late if you find problems after the ballasting is done. It’s just so hard to rip it up and start again. So check track alignments, wiring etc before you ballast.
As soon as I have finished and tested the wiring, I then test my various locomotives and all my rolling stock on the track. I do this to satisfy myself that the track is laid correctly and that it allows for good running. I hope this helps someone.
Johan sent in this question for readers:
“Thanks for your model train newsletters. I love to read them. One big question, I have my own DIY dcc command station (DCC _Gen v 2c ) with ACK Detector, Booster R-CDE and a Feedback module S88. What kind of DCC hand held controller do I need. I bought my first model train in 1974 the Lima type.”
Bob from the UK sent in this story:
I had until 3 months ago an up and ‘almost’ running layout in my loft, then-I broke my left hip-which shouldn’t be a problem NORMALLY, but it is giving me a lot of grief. On top of that my right hip which was replaced 4 years ago is also giving me grief, on top of that my spine is knackered, there are gaps where there shouldn’t be so I constantly get trapped nerves.
Apart from that I’m ok because I’m able to make single DIORAMAS which is what I’m doing now in my spare upstairs bedroom. Currently I’m making WATERLOO STATION and tracks plus turnouts. This has been a marathon job but I’m determined to finish it and God willing my Left hip will be okay in the future – when ever that might be. Morphine doesn’t help one bit, but with my other hobby Amateur Radio which I have been on since 1978 keeps me sane.
Enough said, I look forward to the future, because there is always hope.
For a lot of my weathering I use a solution of 1 teaspoon of India Ink mixed with 1 pint of rubbing alcohol (70% isopropyl alcohol). I use this for my LIGHT weathering jobs.
When HEAVIER weathering is needed I use a mix of 2 teaspoons of India Ink in 1 pint of rubbing alcohol. My personal preference is to use the Hunterline bottles of alcohol based weathering which I buy direct online. You might prefer another brand.
I do a lot of dry-brushing as it gives my projects a more “blended” look. To do this I lightly dab my paint brush (it must be dry and clean) in the color. I then brush most of this paint off onto a disposable paper towel. When almost all the paint is gone from the brush I am ready to start dry-brushing the object.
It takes a bit of experimenting and practice to master this technique, but it does look really good when done properly to subtly and slowly build up the paint layers.
Steve used a link on this page to post this question:
“I am operating a 060 Tank locomotive but am having problems on turnouts. At slow speed it stops. When I run it faster it sometimes derails. The loco appears to rise a little as it goes through the points. Has anyone got any suggestions please?”
Add your comment if you can suggest a solution.
Phillip asks readers:
“I am thinking of making an N scale layout and I have stacks of telephone wire, and I was wondering if telephone wire would be okay for wiring up N scale layouts. Thinking of a U shape layout about 3m x 2.26m x 0.7m in the garden shed. As the motors are a lot smaller than ones in HO scale, there would not be a lot of electricity going through. Can any advise if telephone wire will be okay?”
Lester model N scale and asks readers:
“I like to know how to wire a DPDT switch. I own a DCC system NCS. I want to make a section on my main track as a program track. It is isolated from my main track. What I need is a diagram on how to wire it so that the program track becomes a main track when it is thrown on and the other way the program track has power and the main doesn’t.”