Everything on model trains, model railroads, model railways, locomotives, model train layouts, scenery, wiring, DCC and more. Enjoy the world's best hobby... model railroading!

DCC for Lights and Train Detection

Peter models HO and asks readers:

“What do people think of there DCC electronics for train detection and lights?”

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Locating Scale Model Vehicles

Rickie asks readers:

“I need to know where I can buy all the cars and trucks I want to put on my layout. I also am planning to have a number of rail cars that will transport cars from a factory. I don’t need die-cast as I’m sure they will cost a bundle, but I want 1:87 scale autos and trucks to closely match the HO scale. Any suggestions would be helpful.”

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Poll Results – Progress of Your Layout

About 400 readers responded to our last poll which asked –

“On a scale of zero to five, how finished is your model railroad layout?”

Results were as follows:

  • 0. Unfortunately I don’t have a layout yet 21%
  • 1. 21%
  • 2. 23%
  • 3. 21%
  • 4. 10%
  • 5. ALL DONE! I’m Finished! 3%
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Techniques for Making Tunnels

Click here for plans for making tunnel portals, bridges, and walls

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How To Prevent Rust on an Old 1920’s Train

Steven hasn’t supplied a photo, but sent in this question on how to prevent rust:

“I recently acquired an early 1920’s Ives standard gauge engine with 2 passenger coaches which given their age are still in good shape. There are some scratch’s and chips in the paint but there’s no rust on the bodies. This train was being set out in the trash by an older lady who said it was her late husband’s boyhood train set.

Depending on who you ask, doing a paint restoration would take away in the value of these as antiques, and repainting them at this time isn’t on my to do list. However, I don’t want them to start to rust.

I plan on storing them in double ziplock bags with a light coating of oil until I run them again, and yes the engine still runs which surprised me, and will be running under the tree next week.

I’m open to suggestions on what would be best to keep the train bodies looking original and not starting to rust, and also suggestions on keeping the track from rusting while stored. Thanks in Advance for your advice.”

Steve you can post a photo of the train in the comments section under this posting if you would like to share one.

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Christmas Tree Arrives By Train

Perry sent is these photos of the Christmas Tree arriving in the town of Gungemyre on his Greater Muttering and Cussing (GM&C) N gauge layout.

Christmas Tree arrives by train

Scenery techniques and ideas…

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Now Available – 7 New Wild West Buildings

Just Released! This video clip might look a hundred years old, but 7 of the scale models seen here are brand new to the series. Feedback on the quality of the 6 existing plans has been very encouraging, so we’ve increased the town size to 13 buildings by adding: the Palace Hotel, Dry Goods & Clothing Store, Barbers Shop, Telegraph Office & Stage Depot, School House, Church, and Land Office. The existing series of 6 western buildings includes: the Sheriffs Office, Bank, Blue Mountain Saloon, Gun Smiths, Black Smiths, and General Store.

Plans for 13 WILD WEST Scale Models

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Add a Funny Caption to this Photo

santa at station

Here’s your chance to get those creative juices flowing. Write a funny caption for this photo and post it on the blog using the Comments link below. Photo by Anneli Salo.

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Poll Results – Will your layout have a Christmas component this year?

The results are in for our Christmas train poll –

Readers to this blog were asked: Will your layout have a Christmas component this year?

Results were:

  • No, my layout wouldn’t suit a Christmas theme (48%)
  • Unfortunately I don’t have as yet have a layout (28%)
  • Yes, I’ll add a small touch of Christmas to the layout (18%)
  • Yes, my layout will have many Christmas elements (6%)
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Using Old Doors as a Baseboard

Seb is planning to build N scale asks readers:

“A friend has offered me 3 very old solid timber doors for free to use for my layout baseboards. I’m thinking they might be too heavy when all the scenery and track is on top. Your thought?”

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Should DCC Locomotives Still Work on DC?

Hayden asks readers:

“I have an HO loco fitted with a DCC chip that I couldn’t get to operate on a friends DC setup. Is this normal? Could I damage a DCC loco trying to run it on DC?”

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What Train Gradients for Double Header Locomotives?

Although Scott focuses on HO scale, the answers to his question will no doubt be of interest to folk using other scale. Scott asks readers:

“Can double locomotives help out in steeper grade?  Can you have two trains hauling many boxes? What is maximum number of boxes can one train can haul?  Two trains?  On gradients? Thanks.”

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How to Wire Relays

Ted says his question relates to O or On30 and asks:

“I have been looking for a clear description of how to wire relays. The info I have found so far is not clear. I am looking to use relays to stop trains at stations – some sharing the same track. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.”

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New Spot The Difference Puzzle

With Eagle eyes you’ll find 7 differences between these train scenes. Can you spot them?

spot the difference railways

Add your answers using the comments link here.

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Questions on Installing Trestles

Gary is into O scale and seeks help from readers:

“I am installing Lionel # 111 Trestles on 1″ foam on 1/2″ plywood. The design for screwing the trestle upright is difficult trying to get a driver vertical. Bad design, any suggestions. Could it be glued to foam.

Another question. When the track connection is over an existing bottom track , the trestle will be too close for a train to pass. I would like to know how to support the area, when installing a trestle won’t work. Thanks for help.”

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Modifying Bachmann EZ Magnetic Couplings

Szilard who models in HO has this question for readers:

“Hi! I have a question regarding changing or modifying of Bachmann EZ magnetic couplings for a Märklin short coupling. I have recently bought a Bachmann rail crane and would like to use it in a yard mostly parked up, but occasionally move it. So just wondering if its possible or I can’t make it work?”

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Rewiring Tyco Chattanooga Tender

Lou asks readers:

“Does anyone out there have the correct info or know where to get a diagram to wire the HO Tyco Chattanooga Tender from the motor to the engine? I disconnected the wires and left the project sit for a month. I can not remember what went to what. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.”

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Rivarossi Allegheny Locomotive DCC Installation

Rivarossi Allegheny LocomotiveJohn models in HO and asks:

“I have a Rivarossi Allegheny Locomotive. Has anyone converted a recent model to DCC plus sound? I know space is tight in the loco shell when looking at the tender. Any advice out there please. I am looking at Digitrax decoder. Regards J”

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FREE 2017 CATALOG

Scenery Techniques

Watch the video now.

Use Tiny Railroad Micro Controllers

A micro controller is basically a small programmable computer device to help hobbyists “make things operate.” It is clever way to realistically replicate the movements, actions and functions you are likely to see on a full size railroad.



Micro control technology can be used for:

Rolling stock and scenic lighting effects, street lamp lighting, lighting up of structures, emergency vehicle flashing lights, replicating a campfire or arc welding, tall structure tower lighting, block occupancy detection, turnout operation, motors/servos, solenoid, infrared, right-of-way signal lighting, current sense, crossing gate & signal operation, semaphores, flashers, turntable control, gate arms, draw/lift bridge control, fast time clock, DCC testing, scenery sound control, wireless controls, and lighting fixture day to night control. Read more...

The good thing is; a micro controller can be programmed to perform one, or just a few, simple tasks over and over again.

Why DCC is so popular

A simple DC (Direct Current) transformer will give you a nice chugging locomotive going one way on your model train track, however, with a DCC unit you can have the flexibility of having an entire train-switching yard happening right in front of your eyes! That is the adaptability that is available with this coming-of-age technology in the hobby!



By using the Digital Command Control, you are opening up a whole new range of possibilities. A continuous electrical current is sent to all of the many things you have installed on your train layout, however, now you have a digital receiver installed in each various items. You can therefore control each and every one of them with the selectable controller and enhance the operation and, more importantly, the look and feel of your system.

The technical side of the DCC is, actually, not as complicated as you might think. In reality, a DCC system is usually easier to wire than a straight DC system.

More dcc ideas...

Model Train Help Ebook

Deciding the Era and Location

The choice of scenery you decide on all depends on what era and location you are depicting with your layout. You will need to do some good research on the railroad and its surroundings to make sure you get the scenery perfect (if that’s what you want).



If you are depicting a historical train setting or a certain era, you will want to use old photographs to determine how the scenery should be built and laid out. Remember to think through all aspects of the scenery. This is one of the best areas to really showcase your talents, so take your time.

More scenery ideas...

It’s YOUR Railroad!

Your rolling stock and locomotives might actually be the center of attention on your layout, but the scenic features that surround and envelop your layout is what's likely to make your train setup stand proud of the rest. Your selection of scenery and structures will add an element of customization that will make your railroad truly unique.



Scenery, structures, and fine detailing is a fundamental aspect of any good model railroad, particularly if it is intended to replicate a true-to-life railroading scene. How realistic or authentic you make your railroad is entirely up to you... and you alone.

Some enthusiasts like to replicate every tiny detail so as to accurately depict, in every aspect, a miniaturized version of a real life scene.

Others in this hobby adopt a more "free-style" approach and choose to mix and match accessories and features they personally prefer. Even though the purist will possibly be unimpressed with unrealistic or out of context elements, it is YOUR railroad layout so you can make it anything you personally want!

N Scale Track Plans

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Watch These Club Videos

Club members access helpful new resources each month: diagrams, video tutorials, articles, track plans and more. Watch the tour videos here.

SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION

Submit Your Model Railroading Questions!

Before you submit your model railroading question please add some feedback, answers or comments to other postings on this model train blog. What goes around comes around... so if you can help others in the hobby, someone else may help you.

Important - Please add plenty of supporting details to any question you submit (eg. scale, solutions you have already tried etc.) , as the clearest and best questions usually get the best answers. Also, please check your spelling and punctuation as all questions need to be approved by the blog moderator prior to publication. Approved questions are normally published within a week (if not sooner).

Submit your model train questions here.

Submit Your Article

Would you like to write an article and have it published?

Preference will be given to articles that help others progress in the hobby, maybe suggesting an idea for their layout, a quick tip or two... or perhaps a little bit of good advice based on your model railroading experiences.

We are all in this hobby together, so the more we can do to share ideas and help each other, the better.

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Scenery & Layout Ideas

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