From the pages of The Trainwire
Table Of Contents
Painting Small Parts
by John Evans
When painting small detail parts or figures, I have a
styrofoam (blue) block on which I have laid strips of carpet
tape (2-sided tape). I press the parts I want to paint
with a brush onto the side of the tape that is showing and
this way eliminate painting my fingers and leaving marks on
the detail parts. Great for doing barrels, oil drums,
by Bill Smith
While building a doll house for my granddaughter, I was
having trouble with the siding and shingles moving around
before the glue set up (Elmers white glue). Someone at
the craft store said to try Tacky Glue since it sets up
faster than Elmers. So I tried it and liked the
results. It will glue almost anything together.
Iíve used it to glue weights in cars and to attach both
paper and metal shingles (Campbell). It can be used to
make window glazing in small window panes, as it dries
clear. It is very thick and sets up fast. It can
be thinned with water. When I use it, I put a dab on a
piece of paper and use a toothpick to apply it. Donít
put too much out on the paper at a time since it sets up
fast. Price-wise, itís about $3.50 for an 8 ounce
bottle. It also comes in a smaller sizes. I got
mine at Pat Catanís Craft Store in Willoughby, Ohio at the
corner of Euclid Avenue and Route 91.
by Jim Harrison
Here are some of the ideas I use for background
scenery. The grape stems make ideal forms for trees
after they dry out.
Grape Stem Trees
use as is for a dead tree or add foliage
Insulation Plug for water and oil tanks
fits Handi-Wrap tube- use putty and plastic glue to fill the
grooves and make them look like metal
Small Wooden Matches for cattle pens
Large Wooden Matches for tower supports
Cardboard for braces and cattle pen slats
Aftershave sample bottles for cyclone vents
Painting Small Items
by Bill Smith
I found what I think is an easy way to paint small items
such as detail parts for buildings, loading docks,
etc. I put a small loop of masking tape on the top of
a paint bottle and stick the part to it. Then, as you
paint the part, you can turn the bottle to paint all the
sides. It also makes the parts easy to find and you
donít get paint on your fingers. It works well for
me. Try it sometime. It might work for you.
Building Backdrops by Jim Harrison
Donít throw out those building kit boxes after you have
assembled your building. Cut out the picture of the
building on the box cover and glue it to your backdrop for
background scenery. You can create a city or
industrial scene. The pictures on the boxes are
usually very good, especially the Walthers Cornerstone
series. Cut a bunch of them out, play with fitting
them together, and come up with a unique and effective
background. The price sure beats what you would pay
for one of the off-the-shelf backdrop scenes.
by Jim Harrison
Are you looking for signs for your buildings? I
recently tore my basement apart looking for a box containing
signs that I had been saving to use on buildings.
Needless to say, I could not find them though the box is
probably right in front of me. What I did find was a
box of matchbook covers one of my daughters used to
save. There was a wide variety of covers. Somer
were for products and some were for businesses. A few,
like one advertising King Edward Cigars that came from a
tobacco shop, were like the signs seen in the steam
era. It turns out that these matchbook covers make
great signs for your model railroad! They need to be
sanded very thin, almost to having holes through them.
They are then applied with thinned-out white glue.
They will settle right into the bricks.
HO McHenry Couplers On IHC
or Rivarossi Passenger Cars
by Jim Harrison
After initially installing McHenry couplers on my
passenger cars, I found that the couplers were low.
The instructions say to use a couple of layers of tape at
the front end of the truck pocket. I did not like this
idea as I thought the tape would fray from wear and would
also restrict the swing. My first attempt at an
alternate solution was to make a U-shaped carrier iron out
of wire. I drilled a hole on each side of the floor of
the car and inserted the wire. This worked well except
that it took too much time adjusting the wire to get the
right height. I then thought of using a small piece of
plastic from a cut-up credit card to put in the coupler
pocket. I secured this with a drop of super glue and
it brought the coupler to the right height.
For those of you who are interested in using these
couplers on Con Cor cars in trains that are not going
to be broken up, you can alternate using the couplers
designed for 6 wheel trucks on one end and one for 4 wheel
trucks on the other end. This couples the cars at a
good distance apart.
by Jim Harrison
I am always looking for unusual items I can use on my
railroad. So, a couple of times a year I take a run
through craft stores and toy departments at the mall.
Recently, I ran across a new item in Hills Department
Store. It was made by Micro Machines. Usually
their cars and planes are way too small for HO, but hanging
there was a card of 12 painted people the same size as
Preiser HO scale figures. The cost was $3.99. As
you know, this is less than a third of what 12 painted
people usually costs. There were: a) two ambulance
attendants and a person on a stretcher; b) three firemen,
one with a hose from a fire hydrant; c) three highway
workers; and d) one unusual group of a convict running away
and two policemen, one with a dog and one talking on a
radio. I was able to use all twelve on my layout.
by Lawson Stevenson
Here is a way to make a turnout throw using a DPDT
(double pole double throw) slide switch. This is
designed for HO but could easily be adapted to other scales.
I started by cutting off the tip of the rounded head of
the handle on the slide switch. I then cut off the
head of a Bachmann dummy plastic signal and super glued it
to the top of the slide switch. There is a red and
green lens in the signal head and you can use grain of wheat
bulbs to illuminate them. Use one side of the switch
contacts to operate the lights and the other side for
positive power direction control. Cut 1/2"
x 7/8" hole in your table top to mount the
switch. Add a touch of glue to hold down the switch.
by Jim Harrison
Since my railroad is mostly finished, I have been getting
at some of the projects that I have been putting off for
years. I have saved odds and ends over the years that
I have meant to use for scenery. I have also been
putting aside a good number of cars that needed a little
repair such as new wheelsets, a brake wheel, paint, decals,
I had several beat-up hoppers and godolas in addition to
a steam crane that I had put aside to add a bucket that I
had bought years ago. While trying to decide whether
to pitch them out, I remembered the old steam crane the NYC
used at the Ashtabula engine house to clean out the ash
pit. They had several old hoppers that they loaded the
ashes into. Since the ash pit was full of water,
loading the cars with the ashes really made a mess of these
cars. The top rims were badly beat-up and the cars
were rusty and dirty. So much so, that the numbers and
NYC emblem did not show at all. This did not matter
since these cars were never used for anything else.
The ashes were used around the yard to fill in low and muddy
areas. The crane was spotted on one of the outside
tracks at the roundhouse. It was self-powered and did
not need an engine.
This gave me an idea of what to do with some of the old
cars I had on hand. It did not take long to dirty-up
the old hopper cars using a little rust, black paint, and
water. I then used these cars and the steam
crane to create my version of the Ashtabula ash
handling unit. I also weathered one of the gondolas in
the same way and spotted it on the engine track at one of my
branch line terminals that did not have room for a coal
dock. I added a little pile of coal next to the very
These two small scenes let me use up four old cars and
add a little more to my layout that catches the eye.