Tips & Tricks

N-Scale layout using scenery breaks

How do you run a fairly long train on a smaller layout without it looking like the train is chasing itself? The answer is by using scenery breaks. Mountains with tunnels, and a bit of clever track layout can create an effect where running trains look great on smaller layouts. This video shows how effective scenery breaks can be on your layout.

Some tips on selecting Christmas tree trains

Looking for a train to put around the Christmas tree? Here are some tips on how to choose the right one.

Decide whether the train is more for a Christmas decoration or a new hobby. A complete starter set, which can run about $200-$300 and includes everything from the track to the transformer is the easiest way to set up a Christmas decoration.

The most popular Christmas tree train is an O-gauge, an electric train set that plugs into the wall and has cars that are about 10 inches long, according to Lionel, which manufactures electric trains.There are many types of add-on cars and accessories available for an O-gauge.

Think about how much space you have. With the track included in most sets, most people set up a 40-inch diameter circle around the Christmas tree, according to Lionel.

Train cars should take up no more than one-third of the track, says Duane Miller, owner of Caboose Hobbies in Denver. You don’t want the locomotive chasing the tail of the train, says Neil Besougloff, editor of Model Railroader magazine.

Purchase the train from a reputable dealer, says James Pentifallo, owner and manager of Ridgefield Hobby in Ridgefield, N.J. A reputable dealer sells and services trains all yearround — not only during the holidays.

Buy a reliable name, such as Lionel, MTH Electric Trains or Bachmann Trains, says Pentifallo.

Don’t shop only by price, says Besougloff. Consider the quality. You want to make sure the train runs next year, he says.

Be careful about used trains. You may be buying someone else’s headache that will cost you more to fix than it’s worth, says Pentifallo.

Used Lionel Trains Buying Guide

Are you in the market for a used Lionel train? If so, here are some tips and tricks that can help you locate a good train, and save you some money on the price you have to pay to get it.

First, knowing how collectors of used Lionel trains put a value on them will help you to get your best deal. In addition, if you are intending to sell your train later, knowing what affects the resale value is an important consideration.

Once you have a handle on how to look for an appropriate price, you are ready to go shopping for your used Lionel Train. You will find some of your best deals at garage sales, flea markets, in the For Sale sections of newspapers (especially the small community newspapers), at estate sales, and sometimes on Ebay. Most of the people selling their used Lionel Trains through these methods do not understand the real value of their trains. To them, they are just some old stuff. You can find some really great buys if you keep tabs on these markets.

(Read article here)

(Some of the advice in this article is also helpful if you are in the market for used trains in general)

Tips and Tricks

Ran across this great website that has a lot of different ideas for model railroads.  The creator of the site models in HO scale, although he does have a lot of suggestions that would be of juse to N-Scalers as well.

Here are a couple of my favorite tips from the site.

Water: Wal-mart sells a great material for creating very realistic looking water, its called gallery glass. Its in the stained glass making section of the crafts department. It comes in several colors. I found the crystal clear dries to that and can be worked to create a surface that looks like moving water. the greens and blues are nice as well, but keep in mind that they dry to a darker color so that the “Penn Central” green you use will dry to a very nice shade of “lake” green.

Ground Cover: I am some what of a weekend wood butcher if you will excuse the expression. I do however produce a lot of sawdust and over the years have tried to think of things to do with it. When I started modeling railroads I found that it was easy to use as ground cover as well as adding colors on my trees.

Once I have collected the sawdust I make a bee line to the grocery store and buy some fabric dye. There are hundreds of different colors if you take the time to shop a little. You can also buy it in liquid or powder form and although both work well I prefer the powdered kind.

Mix up the dye according to the directions and start adding your sawdust. I add the sawdust until all the liquid is gone and then some. I them put the colored sawdust in a baking dish and put in a 250 degree oven for an hour or so to dry it out. Once it’s dried and cooled I bag it in 1 or 2 gallon freezer bags depending on how much I have to store it until I’m ready to use it. I apply it to the ground with carpenters glue and to my trees with spray glue or hairspray.

Window Glass: Don’t use super glue (cyanoacrylate) for this, as it will fog the window material. White glue, like Elmer’s, will work, though it does not really stick well to plastic, and you may have to reapply the window to the model from time to time. For a more permanent solution, go to a hobby shop that has model airplanes, and get some “canopy cement.” This is a glue that will attach the plastic window glass to a model while leaving the glass clear. The glue doesn’t know that it is being used on a train and not an airplane, and the merchant who sells it won’t care

Visit the site to read more tips here