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D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
- When you get cyanoacrylate glue on your skin, you can wipe most of it off. There will still be a residual amount left though. Wait till it dries then use a fine grade sand paper to sand it off. You won't have finger prints for a while, but a least you don't have hard finger tips.
- I keep a small box of clothes pins handy for clamps when I need them for projects.


Anyone who is or lives with a diabetic on insulin, use the caps that come with the needles.
Painted black or silver can be used on roofs for smoke stacks or pipes.
I'm a diabetic and I have a pile of those as yet unpainted. I have a container for sharp medical waste so I save the caps for my lancets also. And this is a load of my used lancets with the needle ground off, painted silver, and then an A/I wash for weathering.

The piece inside (don't know what it is called) of a tire valve looks like a auto transmission. Good for junk yards.
In HVAC/R we call it the core or schrader.
Im an auto mechanic for at least a little while longer. I will be finishing up a 2 year course in HVAC/R as well. Ive never thought of shrader valve cores as a stand in for a auto transmission.

My tip: Instead of spending the money or specially ordering the elastic power line stuff that companies like Berkshire Jct. sells. Just get the black colored elastic thread that craft stores like Michaels sells. Its the same stuff or close to it and is cheap. Like a dollar or something around that.


Just a few i have:

Save the old telephone wire. Strip it and you will have a lifetime supply. Can be used to wire layout as well as make handrails.

In o scale i have used spaghetti to make ladders, fences and fire escapes. White glue works best.

Never bought track ballast. Got sand from the beach and sifted out the size i needed.

Timesavers is a company selling clock parts but they have sheets, tubes and wire in brass as well as lots of small hardware and oils.

Over 90% of my railroad is built from free lumber picked up on the side of the road on garbage day.

Never throw out old electronics (TV, recorders, vcr, computers) without stripping out the wire inside and hardware. Good source for small flex wire.



Whiskey Merchant
Tree armatures

Living in the west, sagebrush is easily found make outstanding trees, right down to the bark. If there isn't any available, perhaps you may have a friend who can get you some.



wiring thru foam / hollow core doors

i had some problems running wire thru the foam and when the wire got thru the foam it got lost in the hollowdoor. so i took a rail from a discarded piece of track about a 9inch long took a # 55 drill bit drilled a hole thru the side of the rail, take the wire that needs to be sent thru the whole strip a inch off the insulation twist the wire thread it thru the hole in the rail bend it down so the wire lines up under the rail end twist the wire and push the rail/wire thru the predrilled hole in the foam push it thru the foam and door and the wire is snaked thru with no problem, afterwards i spray painted the rail white so i would not loose it.


Well-Known Member
When doing scenery, look at all the bushes and shrubs around your own local as often there are dead twigs that either fall of or can be broken off which make nice armatures for trees or as Montanan above said branches of Sage Brush, Oak and others make great trees for for your layout and with either the Oak or Sagebrush the natural bark can't be beat.

Also I've taken smaller sticks of Oak and cut them to length and then split them with an xacto knife and if they don't cut perfectly that added detail at no cost as the real Oak doesn't split perfectly smooth either so enjoy the effect as it as natural as it gets. Also another nice feature of using Oak sticks or others is that you not only get the natural bark but the small growth rings in the wood.

In fact I had Woodland Scenics wondering how I managed to model such great look cord wood, stacked Oak cord wood, till I told the lady there it was real Oak sticks cut and split and she said no wonder.

So remember, you just can't beat the real thing when it comes to realism.

Don't forget to stop at a garden or landscape center where they sell bulk supplies of Redwood bark and other items as they generally have a lot of excess scattered in front of the various piles that they probably just give you as it pretty fine but works just fine for our N, HO, S & O gauge layouts.

As far as dirt again it's readly available at either the landscape center or a field or lot near you or even along the edges of roads where there is a cut as there is most always loose dirt that piles up along the roadway or enough loose dirt in the bank to be had. If it should contain small rocks there is added detail once sifted out. Don't forget to use different fineness of screens such as tea streigners and flower streigners to get different coarseness of dirt and even small rocks.

Sift the dirt etc onto a couple of thicknesses of news paper at the fold area so once done you can easily let your effort slide off into any type of container such as an empty flavored coffee creme container, so it can be easily sprinkled on later or transferred to a container with a number of holes in the top as like seasoning bottles etc.

Also don't overlook dirt that has some different coloration to it as that all ads realism to your layout.

Need some straw to place in and around a farm scene or in cattle cars find a field with the golden oats pick or cut a bunch of the stuff as it crumbles when rubbed between your fingers or hands and make great natural looking straw because it is!

If you have any Ornimental Bamboo/Nandenia bushes, once they flower the stem of the blossoms with all it's little branches dies on the bush and make great looking small trees with some Woodland Scenics lace material added along with some ground foam of your choice.

Another tip is to use Woodland Scenics Hobby tack to place objects to check out the effect. As a suggestion, cut the clear acitate from plastic containers from the bakery section into small 1"x1" squares to hold the armatures of small trees with the Hobby tack after it dry in an upright position so you can get a feel of how you want them arranged on your layout. On hill sides, if the surface is free of loose material the hobby tack with also aid in the placement so you can step back and see if the effect is what you wanted.

If you want to easily make some rock molds get a quart can of liquid latex and once you've found a rock/s you want to make a mold of a portion of it, clean off any loose stuff first and paint that area with the liquid latex being certain to push the bristles into all the cracks and crevices and let it dry and then give it another coat and and let it dry then you can peal the mold off the rock and have a mold to work with. Remember most molds need to lay fairly flat to begin with to allow you to pour the Hydrocal into them so take that into account when making your molds. By not making the molds to thick or stiff it will allow you to let your casting conform to the terrain of your hillside or cliff. Just wait till the Hydrocal is about 80% dry and pre-wet the area with water that has a couple of drops of dish soap added as a wetting agent.

Oh, if you want some great looking HO scale Redwood logs find a bottle brush bush, and if there are any branches that are trimmed off you'll probably have some to use. The Counties often use these bushes for ornamentials shrubs and generally having trimmings.



Narrow Gauge Logging Nut
Using white or carpenter glue, dilute it down some.
Now, go pick a live flower or plant and put the stem in the diluted glue mixture.
The plant will suck up the mixture into its veins, harden and never 'die'.

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Well-Known Member
Use a mixture of Glycerine and water to spray on dried foliage such as Caspia to give it new life when it's getting dry.


Well-Known Member
Another tip, when replacing screws in a cars trucks or on a loco to ensure they thread back into their hole properly is to turn them same way you did when unscrewing them, generally counter clockwise or in a Left direction, with a lite downward touch until you feel then drop into the treads then you can turn them, clockwise or to the Right till they are as tight as you want. Don't over due it though.

Also, when tightening the screws that hold the trucks to the bolsters be certain the trucks have a fair amount of room to wiggle from side to side so they can adjust for variations in the track.

Also be sure the ends of the rail that butt together don't have any burrs on the inside that the flanges might get caught on or on the top. Champfer [litely file down > at a slight angle] the adjoining top edges and on the inside of the rail where the flange comes in contact with the rail. This will allow much smother operation.

This is very important where rail has been cut to ensure all burrs have been removed. Also on the base so if using rail joiners they will slide on easy.

Another tip in dealing with open frame motors with carbon brushes, the space between the commutator plates, the Copper plate area the brushes rub against to make electrical contact, will after awhile become loaded with carbon and short out between plates causing the motor not to run right or stop completely.

Use a fairly thin stiff piece of paper to place in the back of the slot and drag the carbon toward the front so it can be brushed or blown off. There are also spray cleaners available that work well too but tend to be a bit messier to use but effective too!


Master Mechanic
Another natural armature to use when making trees found in the Southeast, is Wild Oak Leaf Hydrangea. During the spring and summer, these have a cascade of white blooms. Pick them in the fall, after the blooms turn brown and use a pair of scissors to cut off the blooms, leaving the seed pods in place. These can then be dipped in diluted white glue and covered with ground foam, or other items to simulate leaves. They make a very good tree, some of which can actually be foreground trees, depending on how the foliage is attached.


Whiskey Merchant
No legs on wall mounted benchwork

If you are going to mount benchwork on a wall, here's a money and time saving tip. Instead of having legs under the front of the benchwork, I use an ol d cabinet makers trick. I use half inch rigid conduit (electrical). After figuring out th length of conduit I need, I hammer each end flat, and drill 2 holes on each end. I usually flatten about the last three inches of the conduit. I usually mount the conduit at about a 45 degree angle, running 2 screws into a wall stud, and the other end to the inside of the outter part of the benchwork. The inner part of the benchwork is at the top of the 45 degreeangle, and the bottom part is screwed into the well studs. With the ends of the condiut flattened, the conduit is easy to bend. It is amazing how strong this mount is. I had a friend who weighed over 250 pounds doubting this mount and told him to put his entire weight on it. No problem. He was amazed. The best part of this type of mounting is the lack of legs at the front of the benchwork to stub your toes on while operating. It also makes it easier to store items under the benchwork if needed. If you are interested and can't quite figure out how to do it, I can post some pictures. Most of my layout is mounted this way and has held up with no problems at all for years.


Narrow Gauge Logging Nut
I did the same thing with 2x4's that were hinged rather then screwed firm on my wall mounted layout. The hinges were a lot easier to work with out front. I then just folded the legs back at about a 45 until they hit the floor molding.
Worked great! No legs to trip over.
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Whiskey Merchant
I had originally planned on doing that, but I had conduit handy, and it's somewhat cheaper. Also the conduit uses very little space. Four screws and in each brace ( I founf that one each 32 inches was more than sufficient) and a section was done. I used 1 x 4 open grid and marked a line on the wall at the top level where I wanted the benchwork, used a clamp connected to a piece of longer 1x4 to hold up the outside, screwed the rear of the benchwork to the wall, adjusted the clamp on the outter edge for level, ran the screws in and it was done. I had prebuilt the benchwork "modules" and had over 60 feet of benchwork mounted permantly mounted in less than 2 hours, and this included running a few screws between each benchwork module. I probably helped having mounted countertops and cabinets in the past.


Whiskey Merchant
Here are some pictures. My benchwork averages about 48" from the floor. With these braces, the bottom, mounted on the wall is usuall two and a half to three feet from the floor leaving plenty of space for storage if needed, and sure makes wiring and other under the benchwork tasks extremely easy.

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