A big part of this hobby for me is reading.  And I love to read railroading in bed – what could be a better way to wind the day down?  Taking a large book to bed, like say the 1941 Locomotive Cyclopedia, isn’t just awkward it’s downright hazardous lest I nod off… I recently designed, and built, and tested, and modified, and tested, and modified again a book stand so that I could take heavy books like the Locomotive Cyclopedia to bed.  Even better, I built it from leftover benchwork materials (11mm birch plywood & dimensional pine).  This works for me … Continue reading BOOK STAND


The Broadway Limited Imports Address Changer has made the typically cumbersome (in my experience) programming of decoder addresses so easy.  It is very worthwhile, especially so for a layout with lots of locomotives like an engine terminal. In the past it was a frustrating experience every time I tried to program a locomotive with a four-digit DCC address.  Even with a power booster, I found that I had the most success working out the math for doing the long-form way.  A tedious and time consuming procedure that wasn’t always successful, especially if I did the calculation wrong. Now, the Address … Continue reading ADDRESS CHANGER


Here’s a handy tool that isn’t talked much about – the tapered reamer.  It is great for opening up holes.  While using an No 11 X-ACTO blade is an easy way to bore out a hole in, say, polystyrene, as the hole gets bigger it becomes less round and then becomes a jagged mess.  The reamer pictured above will do diameters from 1/8″ to 1/2″.  It makes very round holes by simply turning it clockwise.  The more it cuts, the bigger the hole gets. The hole created will have the same taper as the reamer.  To counter this, I insert … Continue reading TAPERED REAMER


This post shows how I have used the NWSL tools to dismount a driving wheel and re-install it while ensuring the proper quartering. CASE 1 – Re-quartering a Driver Wheelset Here we have a surplus traction-tired driver (without gear) from a Broadway Limited Imports 4-6-4 J1 Hudson.  As I don’t care for traction tires on my locomotives, this was a very convenient item to practice on.  We see it mounted in a Puller frame with V-plate support under the wheel and installed in the Sensipress+.  As the axle diameter on this import model is 3.00mm, I have the 3/32” adaptor … Continue reading RE-QUARTERING WHEELSETS


My apologies for how long this post has taken to be written.  Being new to this, there were some small parts that I needed, but didn’t know about them until after I had the Quarterer 2 in hand. The Quarterer 2 is a tool used to ensure that steam locomotive driver wheels have their crank pins properly positioned when the drivers are assembled onto the axle.  The prototype steam locomotive has the crank pin positioned one-quarter of a turn away on one wheel in relation to the pin on the other wheel on the same axle.  The reason why one-quarter … Continue reading QUARTERER 2


Have I mentioned that I use Tamiya TS-80 Flat Clear lacquer?  Probably too often, sorry, but I view this product as important to my layout as anything else. Until I gave it a try, I had experimented with acrylic flat clears via air brush: PollyScale/Testors, Badger, Tamiya, True Line Trains, Vallejo.  I had mixed results.  Sometimes I got a model that was flat and looked natural, sometimes I got a model that looked dusty or chalky, even when using the same product.  I couldn’t get a handle on consistency to my satisfaction. I had tried flat lacquer spray from Testors … Continue reading THE KING OF CANS


The following tool is not an original idea, but I think it is worthwhile mentioning.  Someone I know spent a lot of time building a resin box car (and did a nice job of it) but in a moment of inattention laid it down and crushed the delicate stirrups. I like to use a simple handle, made from a 1/4″ wide brass strip with a hole at each end, for painting car models. It simply attaches where the truck screw holes are… …it keeps fingers well away from airbrush spray…. …and it prevents one from laying the model down on … Continue reading HANDY HANDLE


The tools I ordered from NorthWest Short Lines for dismounting driver wheels/gears and for the proper assembly of those items again (“quartering”) arrived a couple of weeks ago.  This is totally new to me, so in spite of Dave Rygmyr’s detailed and patient e-mail replies to my questions, I did miss a couple of small accessories for the Quarterer 2.  I’ll do a review of the Quarterer 2 in another post.  This post will describe the tools: Puller 1&2, Sensipress+, and The Aligner. I’ve never been good at cutting corners, so I typically spend more and buy the proper tools … Continue reading PULLERS, SENSIPRESS+ & THE ALIGNER


I have always found it interesting to see the space where railroad modellers work.  Here is mine…. My “Backshop” is located in a rather optimistically named room called, by my real estate agent, a Den.  It is 6 feet wide by about 10 feet deep.  I do have a plan for a shadow-box shelf switching layout that could go along the back wall and the one to the right. Front and center is my work table, a kitchen table from IKEA with 2×3 risers under the legs to allow better clearance for my legs when using the drafting chair shown. … Continue reading MY BACKSHOP


I prep for painting flexible plastic parts (delrin plastic) or any plastic part that has a shiny finish by blasting them with baking soda.  This creates a dull/satin finish that allows the paint to “bite” into the surface better. The instrument for applying the media is a Paasche Air Eraser; basically a miniature spray gun the size of an airbrush.  The Air Eraser came with a jar of aluminium oxide which works very well even on metal, but I am personally not comfortable with using this for health reasons.  I use baking soda (Arm & Hammer) instead.  This works very … Continue reading SODA BLASTING