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LED Lighting in Downloadable Buildings

LED building lights scale model

Bob might have spotted the LED lighting in Rich’s photos below and has this question for readers:

“What is the best way to control led light bleed in downloadable card stock buildings? Black core flute and interior walls?”

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Track Grade Confusion

Don is into HO and asks:

“I used to understand grades, but not now. What is the best or most grade you can use going up hill and how many inch’s per foot for each one?”

Don here is a handy grade calculator for you http://www.modelbuildings.org/free-track-grade-calculator.html

Don, sorry your other question wasn’t published as it required more clarity and details.

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Strange Locomotive Problem

Wayne posted this question to readers:

“I have several steam locos in both N and HO gauge and they run poorly forward but run MUCH BETTER backwards. Any Ideas, cause or cures? Thank you.”

Use the COMMENTS link to add or view answers.

To post a question use the ASK A QUESTION link.

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Passenger Car Lighting

Dan models HO and asks readers:

“I have a Rivarossi collector passenger car non lighted and it looks like a Athearn pleasure dome passenger car. I would like to add internal lighting. Please advice . I have the lights for a Walthers pleasure dome car. I do not know the next step. Please advice thanks guys.”

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Downloaded Plans Constructed and Positioned on Layout Ready for Final Detailing

Rich W kindly sent in these photos of a couple of house plans he downloaded from the modelbuildings.org website

model layout houses scale ho

First photos of houses before final detailing. Photos courtesy Rich W.


Here’s what Rich had to say – “I mentioned I would send a few pictures. These is first shots of section before getting put on the layout. I still have some more details to do, but thought you might like to see these. Yes, I cut the windows out and used non glare tape inside the houses. Because of space I had to hang a few near the edge of cliff and so with the texture sheet I made the decking, and cut wood to make the railings. Thanks again.”


scale model houses railroads

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LEDS Without Track Isolators

Michael asks readers:

“Is there a simple way to turn on an LED when a switch is moved using a standard atlas switch control, without putting in a large number of track isolators?

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Double Crossover Switch #6

Steve asks:

“I have had a HO Double Crossover Switch on back-order from Walthers for about 6 months. Has anybody had this much trouble in purchasing this Double Crossover.”

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DCC and DC Confusion

Gabriel posted this question for readers:

“Hi. Can DC and DCC work on the same layout by switching between the two? Can the clips for the points converting for DCC affect DC operation? I am considering also buying HO DCC equipment but to run on the same track. Thanks.”

Help for beginners here.

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Those Were The Days

trains australia historyVictoria, Australia 1952. Victorian Railways new diesel electric B 60 locomotive being delivered to Melbourne passes one of the S class ‘Pacific’ steam locomotives it eventually replaced.

The B class were the first mainline diesel locomotives and were used for both passenger and freight services.

The design was based around the successful Electro Motive Diesel F-unit locomotives with a distinctive bulldog nose. They featured a streamlined drivers cab at each end.

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Kato Turnout Switch Controllers

Fred models N scale and sent in these questions:

I like the Kato controllers but would like to place them on a different level than the power packs.

Does a someone make, or show how to make, an extension cable to accomplish this (instead of the standard direct connection)? I guess my real question is does someone sell the proper male & female plugs.

I believe my last question was confusing.

Instead of plugging them into the power pack/transformer directly, I’m looking for a cable that will run from the transformer to the 24-840 switch.

I am controlling 2 turnouts at once in a single situation, but that is on the output side, I’m looking for a cable running from a 22-014 power pack to the row of 24-840 switches on their input side. This is so I can put the controllers on a different level than the power packs.

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Getting Kids Interested in Model Trains

Sharon is hoping for helpful getting started advice from those in the know:

“Hi my son who is 12 is trying to start his own OO set. We are both complete novices so would appreciate any help!!! He has got a starter set with a small Great Western engine with a 12 AC controller. He has been given an old Evening Star steam train which have been told works! However not on our track. When reading websites is it something to do with it being DC?? Any help much appreciated. Thanks.”

Help for anyone getting started in model railroading – Beginners Blueprint to Model Trains

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Bridge for Hornby 3rd Radius Curves

Copper models HO/OO and asks readers for advice:

“Hi all, I’m looking for a bridge single track or sections to suit 3rd radius Hornby curves. So far I’ve had no luck locating a manufacturer. Some advice would be great.”

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Track Bedding Help

Kent lists his scales as HO and N and asks:

“I bought two 8 ft. H x 8 ft. W Spruce Pine Fir Dog-Ear Fence Panels for an eight foot split gate. I have two 8×4 panels. Is it too heavy to work with? Also what about pool table felt for bedding? Green felt for grass? Any thoughts please.”

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Logging and Mining Railroad Ideas

Brock hasn’t provided a lot of detail, but hopefully someone can assist:

“I have a HO scale logging and mining railroad. Any tips to make it more prototypical? Thanks.”

Brock can submit a photo and more details using the COMMENTS link below.

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Identity of an AF Die Cast Locomotive

Edward has this question for readers:

“I’ve been offered an S scale Die Cast Locomotive. They say it is Atlantic 300. But it has 6 main wheels, none in the front, and none in the back. But the cowcatcher is extended more than average and it has a coupling like a switcher. The body resembles a 342 Switcher. But the 342 switcher has 8 main wheels. And there is no e unit in boiler. Can someone help me identify it please?”

Add your comment below.

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Plans for Scale Model Backdrop Buildings in HO, OO, and N scale – Free Catalog Available

Free Catalog http://www.modelbuildings.org/Free-Catalog.html

Backdrop Building Plans http://www.modelbuildings.org/background-building-plans.html

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Freight Cars for BNSF in Canada

Brock models HO scale and poses this question:

“I model BNSF in Canada, and wondered what freight cars should be on my layout? Any ideas please?”

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Value of Model Train Equipment

As regular readers will know, this blog does not do buy/sell/swap of used model railroading trains and accessories. We leave that to model train shows, and websites like eBay and Craigslist etc.

That said; we are often asked to put a value on how much second hand items might be worth. That’s not something we do. Obviously there are potentially a lot of factors at play including the condition of individual items, the location of the buyer and seller, the likely demand for each item, the cost of shipping etc.

The only real answer is that a secondhand item is worth what someone is prepared to pay on any given day. That’s why a visit to a local hobby shop, or model train club is often a worthwhile way to ascertain the level of interest in an item. Even if they don’t want to purchase the product, they can at least see its condition in real life, maybe test how well it works, give an estimate of what they think someone might pay, and perhaps some advice on how to go about selling it. Talking with vendors at model train shows is another way to gain a better insight.

From a buyer’s perspective; buying second hand goods can be fraught with danger without actually seeing the product and testing it out. But it could also be a golden opportunity to grab a real bargain.

Here’s an example of a recent email from John K. Obviously to protect the privacy of readers we don’t publish email or physical addresses or phone numbers, but readers can post an opinion on this blog of what they think these items might be worth if sold privately.

John who models 3/16 scale wrote: “I have one instruction book 1954, 20 curved sections of track, 6 strait sections, 2 696 track trip, 1 704 manual track trip, 1 overpass 24 pieces, 1 steam engine and tender needs repairs, 1 flatcar with logs, 1 empty car, 1 caboose 938, 1 industrial crane browning hoist 944, 1 road sign with sound, and 1 transformer. Is there any value to this set and how much should I advertise it for?

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Mining Town Plans

scale model mining town models

N Scale Track Plans

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Everything DCC

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Use Tiny Railroad Micro Controllers

A micro controller is basically a small programmable computer device to help the model railroader “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.


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).

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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.

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Scenery & Layout Ideas

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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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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!

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