Handy Tips & Ideas

The “Member Only” model Train Club includes hundreds of model railroading tips. Members can even submit questions and access hundreds of answers.

Here are some quick tips to get you started:

A Mirror Can Be A Helpful Tool

A small mirror or mirror tile can be helpful when looking for kinks, dips and misalignments in track.

To check alignments simply set the mirror on the edge on the track. The mirror will enable you to inspect the alignment of the rails, not by looking directly along the rails, but instead by looking into the mirror at the image of the rails. This will save you from stretching or bending over (no so easy as we get older) or getting track imprints in your cheek. When you bend down and sight along a rail the track can appear to be very smooth. However, by looking at the image of the rail in a mirror, kinks and dips are often easier to spot.

The mirror can also prove useful when placed alongside the track to view the action of trucks and wheels while the train moves over a trouble spot.

Also, consider using a mirror when laying track in difficult locations and even track that is out in the open.

How to keep your layout free from dust and cobwebs

Dust and dirt, are any model railroad’s biggest enemies. The first step to keeping track clean is to eliminate the sources of dust and dirt. Among the best ways to do this is to put your layout in its own room (if possible). To cut down on dust and dirt, finish the walls and ceiling.

If your layout is in a basement or attic, consider installing a suspended ceiling in the entire room or just over the layout to reduce the amount of dust and dirt that gets on the rails and scenery.

A vacuum with a slit end works well for cleaning away dust. To avoid sucking up any parts of your layout try putting a piece of nylon over the end of the vacuum hose. A brush attachment can be used for removing dust from fixed structures. Also, sweep the surrounding area regularly to keep dust down.

Keeping windows closed also helps, as open windows let in a lot of dust and dirt. If possible, it is best to keep your layout and workshop areas separated to reduce contamination. Also, a no smoking rule is a good policy, because cigarette smoke can leave a buildup of grime on the track.

Running trains is the goal – not nudging stalled engines. By cleaning track regularly, you can keep your trains running smoothly. Dirty track is the result of dirt and dust that accumulates on railheads. Also, an oxide forms on both brass and nickel-silver rail over time. The oxide on brass rail inhibits electrical contact, whereas the oxide on nickel-silver rail is conductive. For this reason nickel-silver rail are preferable.

Dirt and dust are less of a problem with pre-molded roadbeds. The roadbeds hold the sections securely together to help prevent dirt from reaching moving parts.

Also, other model railroaders contribute ideas on a regular basis. Here is a an example:

Clever Ideas For Scenery

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