TimberSurf’s Model Railway  

Modelling Tips, Links & Guides for Model Railways

Lumsdonia Railway

A web page for my indulgence and sharing ideas and irregular updates on my Model railway

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Idea’s to make your modelling life easier or better or cheaper

   ALTERNATIVES - Section 400

Tips 400

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Tip 401

Maskol equivalent

I have need of masking off very fidly areas and realised I needed some Humbrol Maskol or equivelent. As I don’t have a Model shop near, I searched on line, it’s a few pounds but, but the postage nearly doubles it to £8! So a bit of experimentation is called for! I tried several products to see what comes off plastic easily, what sticks, etc. My hunch as to which one would be the winner came true.

Mix 90% Copydex with 10% water and add a few drops of red or blue food colorant.

Apply by brush (two coats are advisable to ensure good coverage)

When dry (less than an hour) remove as a stretchy one piece!

Price guide:- 125ml for £4+

Source:-  Ebay, many shops

Tip 402

If you can’t/wont solder, use crimps instead!

Purchase a decent crimp tool (about £20) and use bullet or spade connecters for connections. Infinitely more reliable than “choc blocks” and almost as reliable as soldering.

Available in Red for  0.5mm² to 1.5mm² wire, Blue for 1.5mm² to 2.5mm² wire and Yellow for 2.5mm² to 6mm² wire

Price guide:- 100 for £5+

Source:- Electrical wholesalers, Ebay, Electronics suppliers, Farnell, CPC, Maplin, etc

 Can’t solder?

Tip 403

 DCC Bus removable tap off

I never have the right colour paint in stock and frequently mix two to make the desired colour, acrylics only come in a few colours so inherently required tuning to a particular shade. A small mixing pot is required and for larger volumes I use a plastic shots glass (Tip 902), but for just a few brush strokes worth, this is a little over the top. So just collect used pill/sweety blister packs, old bits of packaging, anything that is dished and plastic. Use and simple wipe out with tissue for next time.

Price guide:- Free

Source:-  Every day packaging

Tip 404

 Paint mixing pot

Designed for making elegant nails for ladies, this tape comes in a few widths but you need the 1mm, It comes in laser, glitter and zigzag, none of which you want, but can be ordered in a single colour, choose white and yellow. Use for dotted lines or double white lines on your roads and single or double yellow lines by the pavement. Apply the self adhesive tape along the side of a ruler to keep straight. Buy the cases to keep it clean and assists the lay down.

Price guide:- £1 for 20 rolls (I am not kidding!)

Source:-  Ebay

Tip 405

 Finger Nail Tape

Available in 5mm and 12mm, these self adhesive rolls of masking tape are aimed at the Ladies who paint their nails! Work just as well as for modelling. May be cheaper or longer than the yellow modelling types or just easier to get hold off!

Price guide:- £2 a roll or less

Source:-  Ebay

Tip 406

 Finger Nail Masking Tape

Back to TIPS

It does not matter were your layout is, unless its in a ‘Clean room’ with HEPA filtered air supply, DUST WILL SETTLE on it! Cleaning with micro brushes, feather dusters and a vacuum is not only a  tedious an repetitive task , but it is also potentially damaging!

As you only use your layout for a few hours a day maximum, this means its unprotected for 90% of the time, usually for most, a lot more!

But how do you cover it?

Throwing a polythene sheet over the top is highly likely to damage buildings and lamp/telegraph posts, etc.

So I came up with this. Get the old metal coat hangers (or buy the modern plastic coated ones like I did) or find a supply of steel wire, about 2-3mm in diameter. Untwist the hanger from itself and straighten out to be a goal post shape.

Get some small hinges (any type will do) and knock out the pin. This gives two brackets. Screw them at intervals along the side of the layout. Insert the ‘hoops’ before covering layout.

Buy a painters/Decorators cover sheet (the cheaper the better as thinner) from the pound shop or paint shop. You can usually cut in half (12ftx12ft) to give two lengths.

Complete How To here

Price guide:- £2 a roll or less

Source:-  Decorating suppliers, pound shops, Screwfix

Tip 407

 Layout Dust cover

Although model shops sell brass bar in short lengths (305mm), a cheaper source is on a coil. Simply drawing over a small angle will straighten, for use as hand rail, catenary, drain pipes, etc. Available in soft and hard and from 0.1 to 3mm in diameter and various lengths (1 to 80 meters) and in natural, copper and silver coated.

Price guide:- £2 a roll or less

Source:-  Ebay

Tip 408

 Brass Wire

Need some fancy bolustrade? Then get some fancy cocktail sticks!

They come with decorative carved notches at one end  and can be cut down and used as wooden or stone balusters to make balastrade, by topping with a rectangular bar.

Price guide:-  £2> per 100

Source:-  Ebay

Tip 409


Its common to install a DCC bus with two single wires and to tap into it as a spur to the track with a “Scotchblock” fast connector, a very good way to allow joints anywhere along the wire with no special tools. An even better idea is to use ones that allow a blade crimp to make the third connection, this allows easy disconnection for fault diagnostics and ease to expand/move later without having to undo the scotch block

Available in Red for  0.5mm² to 1.5mm² wire, Blue for 1.5mm² to 2.5mm² wire and Yellow for 2.5mm² to 6mm² wire

Price guide:- 10 for £2+

Source:-  Ebay, Electronics suppliers, etc