Saturday, January 30, 2010


Here is a great video on lubricating model trains.

Lubricating with Labelle Lubricants

Adhesive Formula for Tenax 7R - Slow Acting

This solvent glue is a version of Tenax 7R this is slow drying, which allows for a tighter bond plastic-to-plastic.

Blend the following solvents:

6 parts xylene
1 part acetone
3 parts MEK (methyl ethyl ketone)

Note: MEK may be considered a carcinogen in California.

MEK makes a fine adhesive all on its own, but is much too fast (aggressive) for me. The Tenax 7R is a bit slower.

Do NOT use Methylene Chloride as an adhesive. It is very good by is a carcinogen.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Modeling Water - My New Blog

I decided to write my water clinic on a separate blog...

Go there for new links, tips and experiments!

Never Made It....

Well, my daughter and I had dinner together and then headed off to visit Packrat Paul and the guys at Train Night. But Scott forgot his driving glasses and the night got dark quickly. And he took a wrong turn. And he got lost. We finally got back home at 8:40pm.

We had a nice tour of Duluth and Dunwoody and a few other towns. But missed seeing the guys. Hopefully I'll see you tomorrow at the train show.

Good night.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Quick! Grab the Bastard! - Common Types of Files for Modelers

My article from Sn3 Modeling Guide...

Welcome to the first installment of Tools of the Trade!  My goal is to further our knowledge of model building tools and techniques while helping the model railroader develop his skills.  It also gives me a very good reason for continuing to buy the latest tools at the local hobby shop.  A tool is any device that enables the accomplishment of a job or task.  This can be a hammer, screwdriver, jig (now called a positioning device by the politically correct), camera or even a pen used for taking notes.  With that said, let’s jump right in and get our hands dirty.

The file is one of those items that I consider a mandatory modeling tool.  For the beginner it is one of the first tools that really requires the mastering of proper techniques.  For the seasoned model builder it is one of a wide variety of types and styles of metal (and plastic) shaping tools used for construction and finishing purposes.  There are many types of files in the world and my tool box has quite a collection. 

The basic parts of a file are as follows:

The file has an arrangement of cutting teeth or grooves along the face.  There are three basic groove patterns;  single cut, double cut, curved cut and rasp cut.  Single cut files have one row of parallel grooves and are used for finishing work under light pressure during the stroke.  Double cut files have two rows of grooves, one at about 45 degrees and another groove at about 75 degrees.  This type of file is used for rapid removal of metal and for rough finishing, usually under heavy pressure.  The curved cut file is a dual-purpose tool allowing for coarse shaping using the middle of the face, or for smooth finishing by using the sides of the face.  The rasp cut has raised burrs and is usually used on softer materials such as wood or plastic to remove large quantities of the surface rapidly.

Files are rated by the number of teeth per inch on the face, which we call the “coarseness.” There are two types of coarseness ratings; American and Swiss Pattern.  In the American rating system you have four types; coarse (the fewest teeth per inch with the most bite), bastard, second and smooth (which has the most teeth per inch and gives a finer finish).  In the Swiss Pattern system you have 00 (the most coarse), 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 (the finest). 

In model railroading we generally use six different classes of files.  Mill files are used for sharpening tools and for general filing.  They are usually single cut and slightly tapered in width, possibly being the most common of the files.  Machinist’s files are designed for metal cutting and are almost always double-cut.  They can be any shape over the length and are used for brass and other hobby metals.  Curved tooth files can be firm or flexible and can be mounted like a hacksaw for filing corners and unusual shapes.  Rasp files are used on wood and foam, such as a Surfoam tool.  These hungry files take large bites and remove material very quickly, especially on foam scenery.  Riffler files are smaller, specialty files that have a smooth handle and a curved filing tip.  They are designed for die work and are a handy for filing in tight places.  The most common file class for model railroaders is the needle file or jeweler’s file.  These are simply smaller renditions of the previous classes of files.  While diamond “files” are also a common item in most toolboxes, I don’t consider them a file so much as I consider them a sanding tool.

There are many different file shapes and sizes.  The picture shows many of the different file profiles that are common for modelers.   Round or “rat tail” files are handy for getting in small spaces.  I often use the tapered square files for track laying since they easily can remove burrs on the web of the rail.  Most hobby shops offer a variety pack of different shapes and sizes.

In our next column we’ll discuss the proper techniques of filing and how to choose the right file for the job.  For now, grab the bastard (usually a flat mill file that is single-cut and reasonably coarse) and go to work!

Like this article?  See more of these on my new blog TRAIN TOOLS!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Piedmont Division Meeting

What a great night tonight!  I love going to the Piedmont Division NMRA meetings.  Where else can you get 100 guys together and talk trains for hours?

Peter Youngblood (about to be MMR) is a fantastic clinician!  Probably the most entertaining I've heard in years and so talented!

Come join us on the second Tuesday of every month!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Fascianating Evening at Keith's House

We had a great time over at Concrete Keith's house tonight!  Its the first Train Night I've been able to go to in a while so it was nice to get out in the ice and snow.  Almost everyone was there!

Concrete Keith
Coalfinger Ken
Popsicle Rick
Packrat Paul
Glue Bob
Ken - yet to be nicknamed
Gator Scott

If you didn't make it, why not see a video from that evening!  Oh, we have all the cool tools!

My first project was to analyze the the placement of the gravel company.  Originally it was over in another corner but the building has very interesting lines and the location was making the fun parts of the building out of site.  So I grabbed it and stuck it in another corner that has a "dead" spot.

When pitched at the correct angle the structure comes to life!  The corner we later decided will become the lime mine and there will be a while excavation in the corner.  Perfect!

It will look good from all sides and especially when you walk down the long back aisle.

I'll take these four photos, fade them out and print them full size.  Then I'll take some color pencils and sketch in the rest of the picture and send them to Keith.

WOW.  Did I say that?  Oh yes.  This is an AMAZING piece of work for someone who is not inclined to scenic stuff.  The rockwork is fantastic.

This is looking down the waterfall.  Keith is going to come work with me on some other water pours to get ready for this rather tricky waterfall.  This is looking straight down the fall to see where the water will hit.

The top basin and the fantastic rock point will look fantastic.

Man we had a crowd tonight.  We were all working in the West Buffalo terminal.  Glue Bob (shown with glue though we weren't letting him use it) is on the right.  Keith (orange shirt) is making sure he keeps the lid on tight.  No glue on the fascia!

Our team job tonight was getting the fascia on the layout in West Buffalo.

Using 1/8" Masonite and some 2" x 2" wood we carefully bent and mounted the Masonite using 1 5/8" drywall screws.

It bends nicely around the turntable area.  Speaking of turntables Keith (who is a highly experienced and talented modeler) gave me som great pointers on building one from scratch.  Thanks Concrete!

Do you smell smoke?  Wow!  Bob, your drill is on fire!  Once you let the smoke out it doesn't work anymore.  We're still not sure how it happened but the burned out drill is no more.

Done!  Wow....very nice!  Some spackle, a coat of paint and some very nice electronics panels and it is good to go!

We finished the entire work load in about an hour, so nothing left to do but run trains.  So I took one Westbound.  Here we are passing the rolling mill.  The layout is based around steel making, but the feed industries aren't set yet.  So I've volunteered to make an industry map for Keith and I have a list of his available kits.

Another deep gorge and river!

Nice bridges adorn the layout.

The run time on this long layout is amazing.  Almost 30 minutes to go from staging to finish.

!@$!#@$ foamers!

You just have to love a train on a bridge like this!

And so much more scenery to go!

What a great night.  Keith is a fantastic host, modeler and friend.  It is always good to go visit.

Next week at Paul's!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Big progress is being made on the Dixie Central!

Big progress is being made on the Dixie Central!

Adding New Feature

I constantly need stuff for the model shop and have been keeping a "want list" for quite some time.  But it is on a shared spreadsheet on Google.  So I'm going to move the list to the right column.  That way, if you have good ideas about what to get or where to get it cheaper, maybe you'll share it with me!