Toy Trains – Layout Extraordinaire

Toy Trains – Layout Extraordinaire

You won’t believe what you can do with today’s toy trains.   Realism un-matched, sound as authentic as it gets and a chuff matched to the smoke coming out of the stack.

This is Three Rail Toy Trains, at it’s best.      I have a hard time not calling this model railroading.     If it was O Scale, two rail as in  Fine Scale  like Petter K’s, layout, a fellow model railroader and BVMR.    It would qualify.   There is a substantial influence from the model railroading side of things.    You’ll have to see this for yourself and as always decide for yourself.

In the mean time allow me to present you with  The HPJ RR. aka The Hidden Pass Junction Railway.   I’m in awe!

Trains Tour HPJ RR

Published on Jun 24, 2013

Two passenger and two freight trains tour the Hidden Pass Junction Railroad, an O-Gauge Hi-Rail model railroad layout. The Subway and L-Train are also in operation, as well as several accessories. Recently finished areas of the layout are shown.   Did you like that?   Thanks for watching 03Patines.

I really do love these kinds of layouts and clearly think they are in a class of their own.   I was in the process of building one of these for a boss of mine and he could of had the same thing.    I talk about it on another post so I will save the details for later.    See:   Rick’s Lament – Lessons Learned.

These layouts are loads of fun so don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit this type of railroading in miniature should the opportunity arise.



Layout – La Mesa MR Club

The LaMesa Model Railroad Club, San Diego Railway Museum, San Diego, California.

This is it!    The primo model railroad layout.     These guys and gals are true Railroad Modelers.     This is the cat’s meow, sorry Garfield.

One comment on You Tube, “Hey, they talk like it’s a real railroad”.    Yes they do because that’s how they operate it.   My kind of railroad operation.

You may need to bump up the pixels on your screen to get a clear picture.    The video was made in HD.    If you have trouble with any of the videos here on please “Contact Us.”

Tehachapi Layout June Modern Operating Session 2013 HD

Published on Jul 15, 2013

Thanks for watching NSmodeler24.

Time for a commercial break!     Click on it they pay me a half dime to advertise here and it doesn’t cost you a thing.    The only time you are not paying to watch commercials.

When I go down to The  San Diego Railroad Museum,  I usually operate on the HO layout,  The  San Diego & Arizona Eastern, a layout that closely replicates the Southern Pacific branch line.    It features  The Garrisso Gorge Trestle.    The BVMR’s (Bear Valley Model Railroaders)  will work out something with the RoundHouse Gang and we are off and running to operate  trains.    We get up… before we go to bed and spend the next night and day driving.   Hey, you have to make some sacrifices.

While down at the San Diego Model Raillroad  museum, I will go over to visit the La Mesa Club,  featuring the  Tehachapi Loop and  drool.    Makes such a mess and is so embarrassing.   COL   Without a doubt this is my kind of railroad operations in miniature.   The only way to run trains.   They don’t normally allow visitors inside the working area of the layout. I was lucky enough to get an invitation.    Standing in awe the whole time.    Rick, Rick we need to move on.   Yes, yes of course.   Thanks guys for the tour.   Awesome just awesome!

On one Saturday, I happened to meet up with a fellow railroad modeler operating an HO Scale Santa Fe Mail Train.     Gosh, if that didn’t set off some all but forgotten memories.   As a little guy, standing beside my dad.   I remember  asking him about the funny looking freight trains coming through Barstow.  You know the ones  with red and silver passenger units on the front end and baggage cars mixed in.     You’d find  flat cars with odd looking boxes and truck trailers on flat cars with all kinds of green and black box cars.   Not everything was a Santa Fe car, as I remember cars that looked like the Missouri Pacific and Texas Pacific Baggage cars.   Well sort of they were blue and white.   Those boxes on the flat cars, turned out to be the early version of today’s containers.    Dad explained it was a mail train and as an REA agent he used to work them.   Back to the fellow operating the mail train.   He was running as prototypically correct a Santa Fe Mail Train, as any I’d seen.   Wow!   I kept repeating that to the annoyance of the owner!  Wow!    Grin!

Get a chance to visit the museum you’ll find a gift shop with a lot of great things for sale.    Upstairs there used to be a sandwich shop with some of the best brownies.  I hope it’s still open.  The layouts will speak for themselves.   I promise you will be amazed.


Railfanning – Era Specific

Railfanning – Era Specific or Railfanning For Inspiration.   

Whether your are railfanning for inspiration or to see what operated during a specific time period  both  will bring you to hundreds of videos on You Tube and available at your LHS.   Todays DVD’s have taken over the market place and the quality is usually better then the VCR’s I own.    I turn to my catalog of videos often as I prepare my layout for a specific era.   For the purpose of duplicating  those trains that operated, Era Specific.

To the newbie something that is era specific may not be of any interest.    For example one newbie said to me,   I just want to run trains, ones with pretty paint schemes and I don’t care what passenger cars, freight cars and cabooses I play with .    That’s ok with me, I can play into that reality and have hours of fun. .

Eventually our visions of what we want may change and the newbie will be impressed with a particular layout or video they rail fanned.   Wanting something similar to or perhaps desiring to  duplicate it and ending up with a different vision.    I call that graduating up.

As for me my vision for my model railroad never changed, as I wanted to duplicate the trains I saw as a youngster, as they operated through Barstow, California.    This was my driver and still is to this day.

So, it’s each to their own.     Still I’d bet you can get some ideas by watching this video.

The Santa Fe and Southern Pacific in Southern California.    Can you guess the era?    By the way a nice still shot of a Santa Fe mail train.

TEHACHAPI – The SP and Santa Fe era


Visit Tehachapi from the mid-60s to the mid-90s — plus related regional locations such as Taylor Yard, Barstow Yard, Richmond Yard, Colton Crossing, Cajon Pass and the building of the SP Palmdale cutoff.

Learn the intertwined history of all the featured locations that are all part of the greater Tehachapi story. See all the great power and vanished scenes of pre-merger railroading at its best.

We trace the history of how, and why, two railroads used the same mountain pass and how the line was built. Don’t miss the wonderful vintage views of how SP opened the “Palmdale Cutoff” to better access Tehachapi.

Our visit to neighboring Cajon Pass also brings lots of Santa Fe vintage freight action — including a number of Passenger-Mail trains behind beautiful Warbonnet F7 and PA power.

Many diesels were tested by the SP over the years to work on the demanding Tehachapi line in both “point”, and especially “helper” service. Many failed to meet SP’s expectations and we review those years in the 60s and 70s. See the demise of ALCO and the problems with early GE U-series diesels and how GE improved their products to eventually eclipse EMD in locomotive sales.

This is a giant slice of railroading, with history, maps, narration — and most of all, wonderful trains.

These are scenes and visions that have all been swept away by the super-mergers (and laws effecting railfans) in 1995 and 1996. See how railroading was conducted before the work rules and equipment were all re-defined.

All this is with great sound in stereo. Don’t miss all the flying sand, vertical smoke, noise and powerful action that made these two railroads once standout as the most popular two out west.

Thanks for giving us a look and I hope you find the resources you need in our videos, Charles Smiley and associates.

There are a number of resources I go to when looking for era specific equipment and operations.     The locomotives and motors are important as they are era specific.    I tend to look at the equipment tied in behind the head end power.  Here you can find a very odd duck mixture of new and old.      Do you know how difficult it is to duplicate these trains with over the counter, ready to run toy trains?

Let’s go Railfanning and see what ideas we can glean/learn from watching the trains from yesterday or the ones today.


DCC / DC Switch – Spot Check

Switches, Part 3.

DCC / DC Switch, Pre-installation Spot Check / Exam:

Every switch needs to be spot checked, tested and/or examined before installation

A short synopsis:     

What is that a play on words or what?   You’d think so.

We’ve spent a considerable amount of time discussing
“Shorts” in the switches.   A some what repetitive subject and will eventually become redundant and of no importance over time.

Here’s what I’ve done and I guarantee it will work for you.  Let’s go shopping and by some track switches.     We just got back from the LHS with a brand new Electrofrog – Peco, Atlas, Micro Engineering, Kato Unitrack and/or any number of other switches. You’ll remember where I said any switch can be made to be DCC Friendly or better said Friendly to DCC and actually…I prefer to use DCC Safe!

Let’s hope that back  at our local hobby shop we examined them to make sure nothing is broken.    Once back home we can start the overall inspection.  

Starting with, if it’s an automated switch I want to ensure the solenoid will throw the switch points, moving them correctly, smoothly and all the way to the inside non-movable rails.  Then I want to go looking for power aka continuity, in the switch mechanism and look for those hidden dead spots and/or shorts.   Not the kind with those brown skid marks.    Those ain’t sexy!

Tools you will need:

  • A NMRA track gauge,
  • A hand held meter with a battery inside it to test for continuity.
  • Alligator clips or electrical probes.
  • Analog DC Transformer.   This is optional  unless you are using 16 volt lights to test for continuity.


  • I will test every piece of rail in the switch to assure there’s no dead spots or possible shorts.
  • I will use the NMRA track gauge to make sure everything is properly spaced  and the distance between rails and in the frog are correct.    I don’t need the frog and/or switch points dumping my train cars on the ground.   Here’s a tutorial on how to use a NMRA Track Gauge.

How to use a National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) gage from Model Railroader

Model Railroader Senior Editor Jim Hediger demonstrates how to use this versatile model railroading tool from the National Model Railroad Association. You’ll learn how to maintain standards for zero derailments. For more than 400 model railroad videos visit  Thanks for watching!

A hand held meter to look for continuity.   If that option isn’t available then 14 volt lights,  connected to an analog DC transformer will work as a susbstitute.

Shorts will usually show on the meter or on the transformer and should be easy to spot.

 If it passes the spot check it gets installed directly to the layout without any alterations.

Once it has passed the tests, I prepare to install it on the layout.   Did I already  say with No Alterations?  Yes I did.  Okay!    IE.,    No additions or deletions, soldering wires in or cutting rails or gaps in and around the frog.    I leave… the make up of the switch,  the whole of the switch mechanism / turnout  (dratted “T” word)  alone,    No Alterations!

  • Funny that we talk about resistance and the heat that can build up in the wires or rails.    Other authors have compared it to the heat of a soldering iron.     And then you’ll read where some authors suggest you hard wire in a bunch of wires  to your switches…by soldering them?   Really?  You might want to think that one through.     

I was a youngster (once upon a time) when I found an article in a model railroad wig wag illustrating How To wire in the frog to a reversing DPDT sliding switch.   I was curious and tried it and I ended up with parts I couldn’t tell you where they came from and something that resembled a puddle of goo.     True story.   Let’s say I learned my lesson the hard way.

  • Disclosure:   With regard to the above paragraphs.   I won’t mess with the switches I buy unless I want maintenance problems down the road.   If you have a maintenance plan and an adequate model railroad budget AND money is no object.   Then go right ahead.   I can’t afford to replace your or my  switches.    Not going to happen.  At today’s cost of switches, I want them to last as long as is possible.

I don’t know when  all the switch alterations became so popular to do however, it isn’t at all popular with me.

The Extreme:   By now you’ve seen some examples on how to make your Peco, switches friendly to DCC.   All the gap cutting, soldering of wires and DPDT’s to reverse the current in the frog….is going to an extreme.    It isn’t necessary and puts a bad light on Peco switches.  Best advice of the day is  don’t and leave them alone.    Install them as is, on your layout.   They are a fine switch and will give you hours of trouble free performance right out of the box.   To be said of the others you can find on the market.  

Peco recommends you simply put in isolation gaps on the rails leading away from the frog.   Once they are in you are good to go and Friendly or Safe for  DCC applications.

  • Take my word for it, there is no reason to conduct an autopsy or a pre-post mortem exam on any switch mechanism.   Would you expect a retired mortician to say that?  I said with a grin!   Bottom line it isn’t necessary.

We interrupt this train of thought for the following announcement.

News Update:  5-9-2016:   The newest run of Peco Switches.   You are going to like what you’ll discover about them.     Absolutely!

*A good friend and fellow model railroader Russ G., is installing the newest run of Peco switches on his layout with, get this,  no need to cut in any isolation gaps, no shorts and you can throw the switch at anytime on the layout and everything runs without those afore mentioned…. dreaded shorts.   

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming. 
If you are just getting started in the hobby this can be an extremely  confusing time.     There is more bad advice out there then there is good.  
If you are like a friend of mine, he visited every You Tube on the subject of laying track or  track construction.    His comment to me, “I’m confused”……”Do I really need to do all this stuff?”    My answer was and still is… NO!     Then he asked me, do I need to hard wire in all my switches?    Again, the answer is NO!  


Testing Model Train Tracks and Switches

Published on May 3, 2014

Short video on how to build up a train to test your track and switches or turnouts. You should routinely test your track as you lay it to ensure smooth operation. Building up a train with very different lengths and cars that are very light weight will help you identify problem areas so they can be fixed early on.   Thanks for watching!

Tips Of The Day:
  • The #4 switches although impressive to look at were/was and still are  to tight. On my layouts I  couldn’t back any trains of any length through them.
  • My  18″ radius curves were less than glamorous, difficult to operate full length train cars through them .   It wasn’t pretty.   I couldn’t back a train up (a reverse move) anywhere on the layout without it derailing.    I was ready to shove it where the sun don’t shine.    
  • On my follow up N Scale layout I was frustrated with the same results.  
  • I was never happier then when I learned that I could replace those dad-come Atlas switches with Peco and/or Kato’s Unitrack switches.  
  • Switches:  Power routed is best routed.  Power routed and with  a Live or Hot frogs.    
  • When I finally caught on to wider curves are the best curves, I was never happier.
  • Micro-Trains knuckle couplers are the best cuplers.   We don’t need any other stinking couplers.
  • Couplers;  Body mounted is best mounted. 
  • Principal:  Take the time to do it right the first time.

These are just some of the tips, that I’ve learned and wanted to share with you.   A difficult learning curve that I fought  until I finally woke up one day, discovering  the benefits.     What took me so long?

After applying the above tips of the day to my layouts.   The results were fantastic. Minimal derailments,  No More Stalling Out.   Never mind the difference between common rail wiring and the DPDT standards, as in block wiring that I finally wired in on my layout.      It was all  Good and Welcomed!

Here’s some helpful suggestions.

Block Wiring,  My favorite alternative:    Block Wiring is similar, if not the same as what some are now calling, “Power Districts.”   Except Block wiring uses DPDT Center Off Toggle switches to control the various blocks by shutting off the power to both sides of the track. 

Analog DC:  If you’ve done like I have for Analog Cab A and Cab B.   Which can be set-up, so DCC is on Cab B.   This allows you to choose between Analog DC Cab A and Cab B and or DCC.

DCC:  You can do the same thing when wiring in  Power Districts.  Except power districts are usually attached to a Booster Unit.   

DPDT Electrical Toggle Switches:  Upside:  The DPDT electrical toggle switches are not necessary unless you want to shut off the power to your  locomotives that are sitting on storage tracks.    Turntable, engine house or on the ready track.    I highly recommend you do just that.   Shut off the power to your locomotives when spotting them on a  storage track.    

Decoder:  There’s no need for the decoder to be working overtime sorting out all the packets of information coming through the track,  for other locomotives or diesels.    Never mind the voltage drop, the amount of voltage  it takes away from other trains you are operating, just to run the sound packages.   You know those gurgling, burbling, hissing, poping and humming noises of a engine while idling near by.    If you desire to listen to a engine idling near by you can accomplish the same affect in other ways.

Block wiring is old school for sure.   It took a while for me to see the benefits…about two seconds.     I happen to like it and it’s not required that you like it.  

The use of DPDT center off electrical toggled switches to control my blocks,    Keeping transformers isolated from each other.    DCC from Analog DC and/or Analog Cab A from Cab B.      Works well and I’m very happy with it.    Even with DCC tied in on Cab B, allows me to run Analog Train Equipment or DCC Trains.   I won’t give up this way of wiring-in a layout.   A great way and means to bring it all together.

It involves work and yes it’s taken me hours to get my layout to where it is.       For those who’ve seen it run… I’ve heard, “”Trains glide along.  I’ve never seen a layout operate so smoothly.  No glitches or stalling out and one fella said in shock and awe NO SHORTS.” ”      

That is until a train car with metal wheels decided to  leave the tracks and mix it up with one of my movable points in the switch.    No wiring nightmare of a  project is going to solve that problem.

There it is:

***That’s the key to my success.***

As always:   It will be up to you to decide what is or isn’t the right thing  to do. I do hope I made this clear as mud…uhh…err…clear as green algae in a pond.     Any questions?    Yes…No?

The best teacher is experience and if you explore various ideas shared here, that’s how you learn.    If you had been close by….during various phases of my learning curve,  you might of heard me say, “Heck, I’m not doing that again!”    Why would they suggest doing all that nonsense?      Just to keep you busy?     No, it’s more about finding the right resolution to a problem identified, then anything else.     In some cases, grasping at straws, last ditch effort, over complicating the resolution…. no matter how complicated it gets.   Sometimes… missing the obvious.

I once said to a professor, “Do I have to do it that way?” His answer, “You don’t have to do anything in life, if you don’t want to,” of course expounding on the subject and talking about consequences…. in a way you’d expect from a professor. I had the feeling if I didn’t do it the way he instructed me, in a most emphatic way, I’d flunk the course.

Well, there’s no professors here and you aren’t in class and no one get’s flunked from model railroading.

It’s your layout, you make the rules, you set the standard and “Number one is to have fun”, quoting Jim 157.

To continue:     DCC Friendly Switches Part 4, My Candid Remarks. No holes barred.    I tell it like I see it, as if I haven’t already.    More to come in the other “DCC Friendly”  presentations here on

Go have some toy train or model railroading fun.
We will be visiting again soon, I promise.
Unless you don’t want to.


DCC Friendly Switches – Misnomer?

DCC – Friendly Switches   Part 4, 

Are we misusing, “DCC Friendly,” when it only applies to  Switches as illustrated by Alan Gartner?   

For sake of this discussion I will use “Switch” in place of “Turnout”.

Is the use of “DCC Friendly,” a Misnomer?    How about a Myth?

The quick answer is,  DCC Friendly Switches aren’t “Friendly,” in the same sense of “User Friendly.”    It’s more like, “Friendly to DCC”.

  • I’ve shared rather indiscreetly some of my thoughts on the subject.     It’s time for more of the same.   No holds barred.
  • Here in this post I will be a bit more candid and to the point about my thoughts and feelings on this subject.  

I’ve said this already but I might as well follow up with, I prefer to use “DCC Safe.”   But there again Alan Gartner and other Model Railroaders of the day, didn’t ask me.  They didn’t have to… but allow me to throw in my take and my two cents worth.

First and foremost:    Let’s not overwork “DCC Friendly,” when it has nothing to do with, “User Friendly.”


My  model railroad partner and good friend for years, dear old Dad.   If he could be here he would say, “They went and made it to dammed complicated.”     He’s right they did!    They made DCC  way  to complicated.    Oh don’t get me wrong he enjoyed operating the complicated, Analog DC layouts I built for him but I think he’d be none to happy with this new technology.   It’s not  easy to operate and has a difficult learning curve.   Then add to that, “DCC Friendly Switches” and I don’t think I could print his response here.   May he rest in peace.

DCC is designed to be plug and play and is for the most part.   They (Who is they?) went and made DCC way to complicated, especially when it comes to Programming a Locomotive (Steam Engine) and/or a Motor (Diesel Engine).    A wide assortment of CV’s, Speed Matching,  Consisting and other hard to understand procedures.   It’s possible to learn it all and it’s taking me longer then with most things I’ve done in my lifetime.   Grumble, grumble, gripe!

I know of clubs where only one person in the group has taken the time to learn how to program decoders, speed match and consist locomotives and diesels.     They depend on him or her to do the job for them.    The hard work.

Add into all the ruckus and frustrations,  “A DCC Friendly Switch,” and all the hard wiring required???    Which is what I point at and say this isn’t “User Friendly,” as in “Plug and Play,” and shouldn’t be translated as such. To the contrary, it’s anything but….” User Friendly,” as illustrated by Alan Gartner.    In my not so humble opinion…it is a misnomer.

 I found  and maybe you have to… suddenly DCC looks less and less attractive.    Your asking me to do what…to my switches?  AND THEN…  I have to make my switches Friendly to DCC?   No way!     It isn’t going to happen. 

May I add:   It isn’t needed and it isn’t necessary!

Pointing to my layout and hearing myself say, (repetively), “It isn’t needed and it isn’t necessary!!!”.   I haven’t done that on my layout!!!!  Oh, I already said that.   Guess you can’t keep the obvious out of this presentation.   

DCC works on my layout without…soldering a maze of wires to the switch mechanism!    So why….. would I… want to do that?   In case you were wondering, I don’t.

I’m glad I didn’t bump into Alan Gartner’s “DCC Friendly” blog before having any interest in DCC.   If I thought I was going to have to hard wire in all my switches/turnouts (darn T word) to make them DCC Friendly. Which is anything but “User Friendly”. Well, this would of scared me off. I’m pretty sure it would have the same effect on newbies, the inexperienced as well as experienced modelers.   Those who are deciding whether or not to make the conversion to DCC.  

If you thought you flipped a lot of toggles when you operated Analog DC….. what’s it going to be like when each switch has the frog and set of movable points wired in to a DPDT reversing  electric slider switch or a  toggle switch?    Never mind… the maintenance of these track switches… is going to be overwhelming.    Do I dare say, making it anything but “User Friendly, Plug and Play,” and  you can quote me on that.

Then a new arrival the “Frog Juicer” shows up requiring a considerable amount of hard wiring.    As far as I’m concerned it’s a waste of hard earned monies…friendlier… but not easy to install,

As coined by Alan G.,  “DCC Friendly.”   It didn’t take me long to come to the conclusion that while the procedures have a plausible purpose, is do able and certainly brings to the attention of those who manufacture switches aka turnouts that something needs to be done. 

However, “Friendly” should be used in the same context as “User Friendly,” and/or “Plug and Play”.    I think I’ve already made that point but it’s worth repeating.  

What Alan has proposed is anything but “User Friendly.”  Hard wiring in your switches is not an easy project and in less then capable hands, you and I can destroy said switches.    Ask me!   It wasn’t pretty.   On the upside hobbyist have been using this same resolution to resolve the impossible problems… with their switches since before I was born.    Do able but anything but friendly!

Alan Gartner,  knows this and recognizes such.    What he does, is to encourage you and I to contact model track manufacturers suggesting they come up with User Friendly, Plug and Play track switches.   In the meantime what he proposes….well…is nothing new and goes back to previous years being older then I.       May I suggest as a last resort… procedure.

Unsure of what I’m talking about?   You can always go back and check out the links I provided on  DCC Friendly Switches Part 1.   You will discover from the various illustrations  exactly what Alan G. proposes.   It is do able but it  will cause you to  spend hours hard wiring in switches, to make them friendly to DCC.   He makes a well founded point and the information he shares is worth noting.    The cautions he shares are valid.     After you’ve had a chance to digest his presentation, I will leave you to your own conclusion.

In the meantime:

  • Let’s not over work the terminology “DCC Friendly,” when it has nothing to do with “User Friendly.”
  • By the same token let’s use “User Friendly, ”   in it’s  most accepted application,  “Plug and Play.”

I was starting to think that DCC Friendly was some sort of marketing scheme so the LHS’s can sell, Sell, SELL items at a higher profit.   That may not be true  but I’m sure marketers will see it as an opportunity to mark up the MSRP.       All under the guise of “DCC Friendly”.

The DCC Friendly  Syndrome:

I’m concerned about what I see developing on the internet and various toy train and model railroad wig wags (magazines) and websites.

I read somewhere, a question about DCC and whether or not a certain piece of flex track was considered to be DCC Friendly. After I picked myself up off the floor… from laughing so hard.   I had serious misgivings about the whole idea.

Question:  If I buy a (brand…your choice) of sectional track is it DCC Friendly?     Really?    Does it make a difference?    I hear my self muttering out loud.

Here’s some other examples:
  • How about some DCC Friendly Flex Track?
  • A DCC friendly Railroad Crossing aka Rerailer?
  • DCC friendly sectional track?
  • DCC friendly rail joiners?   
  • DCC…. SPDT or DPDT electrical toggle switches and wire?
  • Oh yes, and a DCC friendly city water tower with a built in siren to call in the volunteer fireman?
    And the list goes on.

What?  Are you kidding me?   Someone has been smitten with the DCC Friendly bug.   

Did we miss  the point of… “User Friendly.”??

None of the above is or needs to be thought of as  DCC Friendly and/ or known as such.   Not everything out there with exception to Alan Gartners, DCC Friendly Switches needs to be known as “DCC Friendly”.     Today’s model railroad wig wags roar with DCC Friendly articles.  

Do I dare say it’s a misnomer?!!!  

This is going to get way out of hand, totally out of control and more confusing as time goes on. Unless some one is able to Checkmate… all the nonsense.    “DCC Friendly,” at best only applies to Alan Gartners, DCC Friendly Switch presentations.

Then a friend of mine brought me his copy of MR.   I picked it up  and read to my dismay an article authored by Larry Puckett.,  “DCC Friendly Signals.”    My first response was you’ve got to be kidding?   You can read the article for yourself.   

Hanging myself out here, they don’t need to use “DCC Friendly,” as it implies to and for track-side signals.    Aiiyiiyii !!!!

And the latest to arrive on my door step is the March 2016 issue of Model Railroader with an article titled, “Are your locomotives DCC Friendly?”   I’ll leave you to read that article and make your own determination.

You can go to L. Puckett’s website (I do provide a link further down this page) and there you will find an explanation as to why he uses  DCC Friendly, so freely.    I’m afraid I agree with the original editor, the one that had him toss out half the article he wrote.   The one he wanted wanted to put into print.   

Pardon me if I don’t buy into this DCC Friendly stuff outside of Alan Gartner’s, presentation.    Alan makes a viable point.   One deserving our attention.

DCC Ready,   Friendly to DCC as in User Friendly or Plug and Play….I will accept.    But then nobody asked me.    Harrumph!

DCC Systems Fail:

It appears the DCC systems we have today are incomplete with what appears to be inherent flaws, built into the decoders.  Not just one flaw but several…..!!!!!

Communication in most electronics  is a two way street.    DCC decoders do not talk back to the Control Center and you aren’t able to diagnose a decoder by plugging it into a diagnostic tool.   At least… not at the time of this writing.

In our group of BVMR’s we’ve sent off a number of defunct decoders requesting information as to why they failed.    No one company… seemed to be able to answer the question.     Most were reluctant but kind enough to replace the decoder.

One response from an Internet Resource and/or on line hobby shop indicated it might be, “To many shorts.”    Damage accumulated after suffering a  number of power spikes.

News Update 5-7-2015:   MRC came out with something I hear being described as a DCC Decoder Dr.    Not sure what that means but I do know, no one has figured out how to use it…yet.    I will be looking into this and you will be the first to know whether this is a good tool to use or not.    Here’s a link:

Update on the Rug Doctor,  uhh…err  DCC Decoder Dr.     Our DCC guru managed to get it to work and tested one decoder but didn’t learn much other then how to to re-program the decoder .   Again,  Not exactly what he…we were looking for.

The good news:  

DCC Is friendlier to my layout, then anything I’ve done yet.   With the flip of a DPDT electrical toggle (cut off switch) and I can switch over from Analog DC to DCC on Cab B.    Confused?   No need to be it’s the simplest solution to many a toy train or model railroaders DCC Dilemma.  Seriously!    See details about my layout and how I wired it in The Howland & Pacific Railroad,  DCC Works On My Layout.

Everything we’ve used in the past to build a toy train or model railroad will work with DCC.   For example my layout.    I didn’t purchase anything or rewire anything to make it DCC Friendly.  With one exception with an eye on the future.   I have two 14 gauge bus lines (not Greyhound) that run from Cab A and Cab B out to the six or seven control panels around the layout.  

DCC Is Friendly to my layout as in Plug and Play or to more accurately describe it:    Easy to Hard Wire In.   Point being it should be “Friendly” to anyone Else’s layout.       It is User Friendly, Plug and Play and everything appears to be DCC Safe. 

Now to solve the programming and CV dilemma.    Today you can download computer soft ware that will allow you to program your locomotive or prime mover, set up speed matching and those dreaded CV’s.     Without a doubt it’s  worth checking into.

Thoughts to ponder about Terminology:

It’s a fact, Model Railroaders misuse railroad (Rails) terminology at best. Let alone misuse our own model railroad terminology.    The widely accepted way and means of  verbal communications and lingo.   In the paragraphs above is/are  perfect examples of misusing, “DCC Friendly”.  Gosh!    What are we thinking?  We’ll let them off with a verbal warning…this time.   Grin!

Toy Train enthusiasts don’t need to worry about terminology or even railroad lingo after all it’s all  about  the fun of playing with their toy trains.     No one is trying to sound like the real deal.  Just have some fun running trains.

Don’t we all!


Researching  DCC Friendly Switches puzzled me right off the bat.    We need what?    Why?   The first Question I had  is… has there been any standards established?    The answer is yes, however it’s not specifically for the Switch conflagration.

NMRA has done a superb job of establishing a standard for DCC. A visit to their website would be  appropriate right about now. See:  NMRA 

Old Made New: 

I then went back to revisit  Alan Gartner’s website/blog and re-read what he presents.    What he puts forth,  is a very old resolution, to a very old problem, going back and/or predating my arrival in the world of model railroading.  

If you are curious as to how far back this goes?  I was sure it had all started during the summer of 1962.    The year my dad came home with a PINK Mercury.    What was he thinking?    Chick magnet?    It was officially, “Champagne.”  Yuck…no guy wants to learn how to drive his dad’s car…PINK?

Turns out the issue of hard wiring in switches goes back further then that.   I found an article, in a model railroad wig wag dated 1952.    Not happy with that?   Ok, even further back to an article before Model Railroader, where the founding fathers hard wired in the switches back in the 30’s.    It was complicated then and time consuming  and what’s been proposed today, is no different. A wiring nightmare. Do I dare say “Nothing new going on here.”

I had the opportunity to ask an old timer… asking him, “Why did they  go  to all the trouble to  hard wire-in their switches?”  He said we were hand laying our “Switches” and we couldn’t buy switches like those you have today.     Hum-mm!     Makes sense to me.

It’s a matter of choice and over the years… I choose to ignore the hard wiring options. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’ve attempted to master the art of hard wiring in several switches. What I ended up with was two deformed switches and parts that I had no idea where they came from or where they should go. Deformed by the heat of the soldering iron.  For me….in the end, money spent that didn’t come easy and was a total loss.   Can you tell I don’t forget things like that.

** Worth noting:**
Funny but we are worried about the heat created  in resistance and the damage it can do to a decoder and  the wires we string out under our layouts and to our switches. Incidentally the heat in a short has been compared to a soldering iron. See Larry Puckett’s articles in Model Railroader or go to his website: .      
Do we really want to solder a bunch of wires to our switch mechanisms?      I don’t but you need to decide for yourself.
DCC Sound:   

I enjoy the sound features that DCC  manufacturers have incorporated into their systems.    I like the idea of a sound decoder for all kinds of railroad noises.   For example the sound of freight cars going over a rail gap with the audible clickety-clack of the wheels.    Or the various sounds you hear from refrigerators cars and passenger cars as the compressors work overtime to cool them down.    The DCC Sound Decoder with the sound of  Water, as you hear it pouring  into a tender.

Russ G.,  a fellow BVMR has one of these but he didn’t use a DCC Sound Decoder.    Sound on your layouts  can be accomplished via other ways.  At a cost less then buying sound decoders.   See:  Nick Muff’s Layout.

That’s my Two Cents and I Take Change:  You’ve been getting my two cents from the start.  

Update  Posted Here on 5-9-2016rh: 

Bachmann is currently advertising a Blue Tooth, application.      I don’t know if that’s new technology or simply the use of current technology with a new twist.     Stay tuned!

WIFI:   You will also find a post on a new WIFI app..   Check it out!  Things are a changing and right in front of us.

Options we’ve never had so many options.
Simple Solutions:    
It is the simple resolutions I recommend you turn to, to solve your switch related problems.    In most cases…. as stated here on the hard wiring-in of a switch, isn’t necessary. There is a simple resolution to the perceived problems. Which I’d try first and resort to the hard wiring, only when I’m ready to $#!+ can the turnout. Notice, now I call it a turnout.
The simplest resolution has to do with how you cut in your isolation gaps after the diverging ends of the switch.
You may have already read where I said:
  • “Practice on old junk… stuff first”. Yep, I said that.
  • “Use the simple resolutions first.”   You can quote me.
  • Steve H., would tell you to, “Go back to the basics” to solve and troubleshoot your problems on the layout.  
  • David B., would say, “Follow the path of the current”.
  • Greg M. said, “Don’t let the smoke out of the electronic components.”
  • David E. advised, “Heat can kill a decoder.”
  • Then the Author of said,  “DCC is Friendly to my layout” and would add, “It can be Friendly to your layout.” That I said.
  • With advise like this, how can you fail?
  • “Cut in those Isolation gaps as prescribed by Peco”  and or “Block wiring,” as I suggested.    Your good to go and your done.

I thought we were done and then it hit me.

You Like Things Complicated?

***On the other hand***  

If you like having things complicated and are up to the task at hand. In that case try hand laying your own switches/turnouts. There are lots of satisfied customers and hobbyist doing just that. With some remarkably exceptional craftsmanship, with outstanding results. You need to visit a club,  operations night, where they’ve hard wired-in and hand laid every piece of rail. Hat’s off to the guys and gals that have patience enough to complete such a project.   Salute!

In Conclusion:

But never finished.

As a reminder going back to, none of my switches are DCC Friendly as illustrated by Alan Gartner.    DCC is Friendly to my layout and works just fine.  Do hear me when I say,  without all the hard wiring, heat from a soldering gun and/or the need to dissect a switch mechanism prior to it’s demise.   All with the potential of destroying said switch mechanism.    Not on my layout!!!

Did I manage to debunk some myths?    Is it a myth or do we need DCC Friendly Switches?     It will be up to YOU to  decide.

  • I do agree:   We  need trouble free switches.   Further noting;   it  doesn’t matter how or what scale they come in.   Whether or not you use AC or DC to power up your layouts.    Whether or not they are power routed or not.
  • You know the definition of insanity.   Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Thanks for taking time to read this.   I can only hope you found it informative and helpful.    Do note, I’m sold on DCC and the performance I get from my trains.    I’d highly recommend it!  For a newbie just getting started or old timer making the conversion.   I promise, it’s going to be a challenge and a difficult learning curve.

Keeping it simple silly is my motto   Utilizing the simpler resolutions, is how I play the game.

I can only hope you found the four part presentation on “DCC Friendly Switches,” helpful and enlightening.    A little head knowledge pro and con, is never a bad thing.

The best to you and I hope your choices will lead you down the tracks to a happy, satisfying and successful Toy Train or  Model Railroading experience.


Now go have some fun with your toy train caricatures.    Grin!

RH Out!

Switches versus Turnouts

We need to talk! 

Switches…The Real Deal!

Switches versus Turnouts.

Originally this was meant to be a post script to DCC Friendly Switches.  I will be grinding an old axe of mine and stepping up on my soap box.   It’s war drum beating time.   So… be forewarned.

You need to know and there again maybe not.     We are loosing the battle of tradition.     Whose?    The Rails of the good old U.S. of A.   You never hear them use the term “Turnout.”    Unless they were rail-fans or hobbyist before going to work for the railroads.

Is it wrong?     I’m going to let you decide but first  hear me out!

This is not a potato or tomato thing.    This is the real deal.

A “Turnout,” is what my dad and his brother put on to wear, when answering fire calls.  Volunteer firemen for  the Barstow Fire District, Barstow, Ca..   Also part of a group of first time, paid firemen. 

When driving these circuitous mountain roads to and from Big Bear Country.  A “Turnout,” is what you pull into to let the faster drivers  past you.  Before they run you off the road and down a cliff.

Occasionally a group of BVMR’s will “Turnout,” (The proper use of the word) to visit other fellow model railroaders on operations night.

The Rails:

As far as the Rails on the railroads on the 1:1 foot scale are concerned…they are “Switches,” not “Turnouts”.  In keeping with the American vernacular and lingo of The Rails.   Incidentally time hasn’t changed that.    You can still hear  the herder, on the scanner, directing switch crews:  “Switch one no, switch two no, switch three yes.”

Not that I want to hang my family out here like this but I never ever heard any of them  refer to anything that sounded remotely like a, “Turnout”.   I’ve always heard them refer to the diverging track mechanism as a, “Switch.”   In case I haven’t already informed you:   They served the Santa Fe Railroad, out of Barstow, Ca.   as Rails or Railroad Employees.  What a time it was for this little guy to watch them switch the yards, make switch moves and bring the locals into the switch yard.   Is it becoming clear yet?   🙂

My Model Railroad:

On my model railroad, they’ve always been called switches  and will always be called switches.   Where and when American types of  toy train enthusiast and model railroaders got their head turned around?  I have no idea.   Most model railroad wig wags (magazines) have called the whole of the mechanism a “Turnout,”  longer then I’m old.    Most of the time it’s misused.



My research says the usage of “Turnout,”  started in Britain and Europe and carried over to today’s US. of A. modelers and hobbyist.   An engineering and design thing.   Having started in the foreign engineering school’s and college’s.

Today’s U.S. of A., railroad engineering departments hold true to calling the whole of the mechanism a turnout.     However, the Rails, have nor will it be likely they ever will…  call it a turnout.           

When operating my model railroad you will only hear me say “Turnout,” when I install them.   Should someone walk into the room and misuse “Turnout”…

You will most likely here me say in profundity (no I didn’t say profanity):   Switches, they are called SWITCHES and not Turnouts.


A definition I adopted later in life but was never happy with.    The engineering department installs turnouts, the whole of the mechanism.   They design them blue print them and etc.   You don’t throw a turnout.  Unless you pick it up and throw it out the window. 

A switch is the moveable points that switches a train from one track to another.    Thus the reason you hear the Rails refer it to it as a “Switch.”  That’s where switchman, switch move, switching the yard, throwing the switch came from.   Not to forget switch-men and not turnout-men.   Oh, before I forget, “You throw the switch”.   I did say that somewhere above?   Yep I did.  it’s worth repeating.

Pretty sure we lost most of the audience on the east coast and in the midwest.

Perhaps to late to change it in today’s world of model railroading but you can’t blame me for trying.     

For those of you who know me well, you knew that was coming….right?     And, no I wasn’t kidding.    Well, I won’t charge you for the above statement or tid -bits of information, as it is free.

After reading my take on one of the infamous toy train websites, one fine gentleman at a train show confronted me saying,  “I run my trains through my turnouts and I don’t give a (expletive I can’t use here) what you say”.   That’s ok sir, I heard myself saying.    What you do on your toy train model railroad is your concern and not mine.    See I do take change.

No one said you have to subscribe to what I’m suggesting here, nor did they say you have to change your vocabulary to comply but you might want to consider using said terminology correctly.

Ok, so I’m needling you a little or a lot.   It’s free as in N/C.  Sorry no refunds.    What did you really think i was going to charge you for this toy train and model railroad seminar?    I should!  I’ve put enough time into it.  Grin!

Don’t hit the delete button, that’s my job.


A Mission Statement

No this isn’t a statement about  California’s Missions.   You can read the history books to learn more about them.    Try to find the original manuscripts.     There’s been way to much written out of California’s history  as a result of…. let’s not get me started.

Most every business, hospital or church has some sort of mission statement.   Here on we have a mission and I will state it this way, it’s our purpose and  goal to help you.    Whether you are an experienced model railroader or a newbie to the hobby.   Whether you’re interest is toy trains or model railroading.    It’s all about you!

Mission Statement:

  • To help newbies find their way through some of the difficult learning curves.
  • To show  the beginner the  various options available.
  • To promote the hobby from a hobbyist perspective.
  • To help you find answers by providing links and videos to my research.
  • To avoid some of the pitfalls that are out there.
  • To show you and not tell you how to get your layout built.
  • To help you through some of the negative stuff out there.
  • To teach you what I learned from the school of hard knocks and lessons learned.
  • To keep you informed.
  • When it all works out, to share in the joy and fun the hobby brings to each of us..

It isn’t a easy learning curve but if you are up to the challenge as in enjoy a challenge….you got one.

I was once asked what I hoped to get out of this website.   My initial response was “Nothing!.”     You see I’m not looking for approval from my fellow toy train enthusiast or model railroaders.    I’m not looking for recognition as a person.  I’m not looking to make a name for my self.    Of course I’d be honored but that isn’t what this website is about.     For me it’s to late in the game, to leave some sort of legacy behind.

It isn’t about me.    I’m not looking for acceptance into some of the tight circles, clicks and clubs that are out there.   You know the type that tend to be exclusive.    Perhaps more influential and closed door then they need to be.    This isn’t about me or them,  it’s about you.

Yes, I do throw my hat in the ring right along with my  two cents worth of wisdom.    To be included with the other words of advice by the many presenters here on    I give you what I believe to be the  straight scoop and the right stuff.  I won’t deliberately mislead you.

As for me, I’m not really a toy train enthusiast or model railroader.   I favor the Railroad Modelers, the Prototypers.     Don’t get me wrong I can play trains, switch industries, push and shove a lot…. (the only place I can get away with such behavior) or operate a prototypical layout for hours on end.    I can take any layout offered up and enjoy it in the same way.

The only thing I don’t like  is when the paperwork turns into a real job and I spend more time pushing cards then I do pushing train cars and operating trains.    IE., When each individual train car ends up with a car card or tabs that ride around on top of each freight car.   Something in the area of realism gets lost for me.    I’d rather operate with a switch list and take the local out to work the industries.

Beating the war drums:   My personal mission.   Yes,  I have a war drum and I beat it from time to time.   Not so discreetly, I might add.    Yes, I have my own soap box and stand on it a time or two here on    I  slam/attack and even laugh at some things model railroaders consider sacred,   Why do they consider them sacred as in unflinching.   I have no idea but they do.  I take the bull by the horns… and look the situation straight in the eye and  take it head on because and only because, it’s just wrong!  Yes, model railroaders have developed a sub-culture all of their own.   It resembles railroading but is way off the mark.    They deserve to be ribbed and teased about it a time or two…don’t you think?

The language and verbiage of most model railroaders,  doesn’t begin to resemble that of the professionals Rails / Railroad Employees those who work and run the 1:1 foot scale. Listen when I say it’s two different worlds.

If all you are doing is playing trains then it doesn’t matter.    But, if you want to operate like the real deal…then it does.     If your interest is in toy trains and only toy trains, then it won’t be your intent to operate like or even sound like the real deal.       Now don’t let this out as I don’t want to have to run and duck for cover.    Model railroaders,  think they are a step or two above it all.   A bit snobbish at times.  Are they?  Not by much, I can assure you.   They aren’t that far off from being toy train enthusiast.  True!    But does it really matter?

As a friend of mine would say, “We are all playing trains just at different levels of reality,” credit to Steve H.

What are the different levels of reality?

  • Toy Train Enthusiast:   Anyone operating with three rail track or track that is out of scale, to include the train equipment running around on the layout.
  • Model Railroaders:   Typically operate on two rail track that is to scale as is the train equipment.     Still operating like it was a toy train layout.   IE.,   Fantasy and Freelance layouts.
  • Railroad Modelers/Prototypers:    Typically operate with accurate rail sizes and train equipment to scale.   Will pick a specific time or era to model in and will operate train equipment specific to said era.   Whose language, verbiage and lingo will reflect the 1:1 foot scale and the Professional Rails that operate such.

The good news is:   You don’t have to  be like me or any of the other options mentioned above.        You can be yourself.

Why?    Because, this is all about you!  Your Own…. Self Discovery Mission.   Or said another way an individual interpretation of how best to build and operate your toy train or model railroad.   Your own, miniature fantasy world.    You don’t have to resemble the real deal.  Just enjoy the hobby….. however, you interpret it.

The Future:   The future of Toy Trains and Model Railroading is in the hands of the youth.     It doesn’t rest on us  old farts to carry the torch, as we are a tiring  and  dieing breed.    It will be up to the youngsters and  newbies in the hobby to carry said torch forward.     Who among you  will pick-up and carry the torch?       Who, will, define or redefine the hobby?    Who will write their own mission statement?

As always take what you want from here and leave the rest behind.  Just a reminder:  It is about  you the reader, you the potential toy train or model railroad enthusiast.    If you are experienced or think you are….and even if you aren’t.   The good news is it’s for all who  come here to take back to their layouts what’s been made available here on   Some idea, some creative thought, A track plan, scenic how to’s or something that strikes you as the perfect thing for your train layout.    Take what you want   from

Around here:   Rule #1 is to have fun, credit to Jim 157.

The biggest compliment I could ever get and would hold true for any presenter here:    I saw this on and incorporated it into my layout.     Yep, that would have most of us here grinning ear to ear.

Here’s a sampling of what you can expect to find here.

Joe Fugate interview | Model railroad tips | Model Railroad Hobbyist | MRH

Published on May 29, 2015 – MRH What’s Neat columnist Ken Patterson talks with MRH publisher Joe Fugate; 2) Jeff Myer and Mike Budde’s latest projects; 3) The Fox Valley Hiawatha; 4) More tips and tricks with foam, 5) And 8 great train runbys. Part of the June 2015 issue of Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine.    Thanks for watching and we hope to hear from you Ken and Joe.

They tried an experiment with photographing a computer screen and it didn’t work out to well.    I can’t take responsibility for the bad pictures at the start of the video posted here.    I just know, I won’t try that.

Here on you will find a catalog of video tutorials to watch.   Many of the same participants as seen in the video above.   Go to “Categories” in the upper left hand corner click and scroll.

As for the two of us here at   My associate and I won’t get rich.   Not this way.    We allow advertising and the only way we make anything here is if you the visitor clicks on the advertisement, watching it from start to finish.      Not likely to happen but it does defray the cost of this website/blog.   Sure we could use some sponsors but I wouldn’t count on that happening.

Wish I could hang around long enough, to see what happens next.   With my luck I will be pushing up tumbleweeds on Cajon Pass.   Which isn’t  likely to be that unpleasant.   Grin!

Don’t get me wrong here.   I’m not through until I either hear the bell toll or the fat lady…SING!    I haven’t heard either of them…yet!    Although, at one time a few years back  I could of swore  a fat lady was sitting on my chest.    Not a fun time.

Someone will need to be standing by to throw the switch   not a “Flipping Turnout” a “””SWITCH”””  a track switch,  so I can crossover.    So, if there is an after  life I hope to meet the almighty switchman of switches and all the other railroaders. model railroaders and toy train enthusiast who have gone on  ahead of us.  Let’s not get in a hurry.

In retrospect:   The fun for me has always  been in the construction of a model railroad.  The reward was the ability to run trains over my layout as trouble free as is possible.     Those days are almost over.    I like a challenge and toy trains,  model railroading  and prototype operations filled the bill.

Remember, it’s just a hobby!

Who said it wasn’t fun?    It was loads of fun and  still Is!

Just frustrating at times.

It’s your turn, allow me to hand you the torch and it will be your place to carry on.    Until, at some point in your future….there arrives such a time as you find it necessary to do the same thing.

In the meantime I’ll keep the front porch light burning and the trains running.



Rail-fanning – For Inspiration!

Rail-fanning brings all kinds of opportunities to see, hear all while visiting the real railroads.    Here you can pick-up on ideas for track side structures, track design, scenery and just about anything you want.    Don’t forget train operations.   Watch how the crews move the various train cars around the train yard, pick-up  and set out  freight cars at the various industries and then watch how they make up trains.

Here’s Joey P., with one of his good friends Peter Furnee, out doing what else?    Rail-fanning.

Model Railroad Inspirations – Clinchfield Railfanning

Published on May 8, 2015

In this video we go way back to 1998 and take a look at an incredible stretch of railroad that has inspired myself and many others. This is the former Clinchfield Railroad alive and well in 1998 in the form of CSX.

This video features the sights and sounds of hardcore and “in your face” mountain railroading. The steep hills, tight curves and intimate scenes are very similar to how we, as modelers, construct and build our layouts with space considerations in mind.

This video shows just a small part of how we combine rail fanning with our other interests such as camping, hiking, fishing and of course – shenanigans!

All clips were captured from ancient analog video, so be aware that the clips are formatted as best they can be and it is what it is. The sounds alone are worth the video time. It’s all in fun for anyone that likes high horsepower trains in action, but if you are a hardcore mountain railroad fan, you should really enjoy it.

If I receive positive feedback on this video, I will gladly share more.

I did not have time to go through and list locations in the overall video. These are clips I grabbed at random from a set of tapes. This covers various locations from as as far north as Elk Horn City and as far south as Boone.

Please be sure to help our hobby grow by sharing and subscribing to this channel. Stay tuned for more videos.     And thanks for watching from Peter F. and Joey P. of .

Those two know how to rail-fan.   Hat’s off to you guys.

Just a word of caution.    Trespassing on railroad property can be dangerous as well as illegal.     Keep that in mind as you hike around looking for the perfect photo shot.

There is more rail-fanning videos to be found on You Tube.   They are free  to visit and watch.    Do a “Railroad,”  search.    All kinds of never ending videos will jump up at you.   All for our rail-fanning, arm chair experience and pleasure.

Keep coming back to    If you like what you see tell a friend.    Oh heck if you don’t like what you see tell a friend.  You don’t even have to like us to tell a friend.   How about that?


Scenery – Water Scapes

Water, water falls, sea scape, lakes, streams, rivers all tend to allude the every day hobbyist.    It isn’t that difficult to replicate but it is a bit tricky and time consuming.

Scenery – How to make a water fall.

How Waterfalls Are Made: For Model Railroads (and Nature’s Wonderland)

Building Water on The Seaport Model Works display

Published on Feb 21, 2013

Everybody loves the water on the Sea Port Model Works display. So, in this 10-minute video Dave Frary shows you how he built the water. He will demonstrate how to paint the harbor bottom using only four colors, and then how to seal the surface. Dave will finish by showing how to apply Mod Podge using a mop brush to produce realistic results. Learn more at for watching now go build your own water scene, James D.

Model Waterfalls and Rapids – Model Scenery | Woodland Scenics

Published on May 14, 2012

Learn more at – Learn how to model realistic waterfalls of various types and sizes. Matt offers tips and techniques for using Realistic Water™ and Water Effects™ to create cascading, three-dimensional, and free-falling waterfalls, currents and splashes.

Items Mentioned in This Video:

Realistic Water (C1211)
Water Effects (C1212)
Earth Colors Liquid Pigments (C1216 – C1223, C1228, C1229)
Foam Sheets (ST1424)
Plaster Cloth (C1203)
Rock Molds (C1230 – C1248)
Lightweight Hydrocal (C1201)

YouTube Channel:…    Thanks for watching, Matt.

Who said it couldn’t be done?


Classic Toy Trains – Introduction

I talk a lot about toy train operations and what you can do with it.    I know you are waiting for a punch line.    Not this time.

However, I will make a very clear distinction here.

  1. If you are playing with three rail track and trains out of scale…you are a Toy Train Enthusiast.
  2. If you are playing with  track and train equipment more to scale you are a Model Railroader.
  3. If you want your trains to reflect the 1:1 foot scale and build to prototype dimensions, right down to operating your trains like the big boys, you are a Railroad Modeler.
  4. Freelance:    You will find alot of over lap on various  train layouts.     Freelance,  a kind of do your own thing.     Some guys and gals will operate prototypically correct trains while the scenery and cities  are fictitious or named after family, friends or favorite places they enjoyed visiting.
  5. You can sum it up as,  anything goes!

Here is a video introduction to Classic Toy Trains, the Toy Trains Wig Wag.   How to build a layout in five minutes.    See how they do that.   I think you are going to like it.

Build an O gauge FasTrack train layout in 5 minutes | Classic Toy Trains magazine

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