Modeler's Moment - Paint simple backdrops

a simple backdrop

When you start your backdrop painting, remember that you don't always need photo realism for rural or mountainous scenery. Often just a rough shape of the mountain in an appropriate color palette will be sufficient. Closer mountains will have colors that appear similar to your layout's scenery. However, keep in mind that distant mountains on the prototype appear in progressively bluer shades until the mountain is just a "purple mountain majesty" in the distance, so you don't necessarily want to use the same colors as your foreground scenery.

Modeler's Moment - Provide clearance for your trains


When you're planning and building benchwork, be sure to leave enough clearance around your track for your largest trains to pass through unobstructed. Cut away sections of wood and place turnouts and turnout motors so they won't block your trains. Run your tallest, longest and widest trains through narrow sections until they will pass through without problems then leave a little extra room for future acquisitions. If there isn't enough clearance before you add scenery, then you'll never have enough clearance.

First fatal accident on a maglev

Sad news coming out of Germany today. The first fatal accident on a maglev occurred this morning on the Transrapid demonstration system near the Dutch border. The train left the station at 9:30 local time and sped up to about 200 km/h (120 mph) in the short distance of 1 km (0.6 mi) before colliding with a maintenance of way vehicle on the track. Reports so far indicate that 19 of the train's passengers plus two maintenance workers have died in the collision. The system where the accident occurred has been in operation four days per week since 1984, so this is proven technology. So far, analysts are pointing to a failure in communications between the train's operators and the maintenance crew. So this was the first accident, here's hoping we don't see another for an extremely long time.

Modeler's Moment - Go when you can

Triple-headed mainline steam!

I've learned long ago that if you're ever given a chance to go out railfanning, do it. It seems that every time I go out to shoot trains, I see something special. To use today as an example, I had an opportunity to go to the Quad Cities to see the double-headed special pulled by the two Chinese steam locomotives on Iowa Interstate. When I finally got to a good photo location, another railfan told me that 261 was coupled into the train too. The train pulled into the town and all three were steamed up and working! Bonus!

Modeler's Moment - Happy 999 day!

999 at the Chicago museum

Today is the 115th anniversary of the record-breaking run of New York Central's Empire State Express. On September 14, 1891, the Empire State Express, pulled by 4-4-0 locomotive number 999, ran from New York City to Buffalo, a distance of 436 miles, in 7 hours and 6 minutes, an average of 65 mph. Officially, the train's top speed was 82 mph, but unofficial reports put the top speed as high as 112 mph. 999 is preserved on static display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

Modeler's Moment - Another aspect of railroadiana

Sheet music: Hold Dat Train!

Need something else to liven up your railroadiana collection without spending an enormous amount of money? One modeler I know added sheet music with railroad related themes to his collecting activities. There's quite a lot out there, even some referencing specific railroads and trains. In this image of "Hold Dat Train!" a minstrel from around 1918 is running to catch L&N's Dixie Flyer as it leaves the station.

Modeler's Moment - Every layout should have a castle

A castle...

Some modelers just don't have the time to build the exquisitely detailed castle including every last brick in the walls and a drawbridge made from individual planks. If you look at it right, you can see a castle in the most mundane of materials like this packing remnant. Remember rule number 1 - "This is my railroad" - and never forget the unwritten rule number 3 - "Always have fun with the hobby."

Modeler's Moment - Micromodules

T-Trak modules

Want to operate in a modular layout but don't have the space to work on an NTrak module? Take a look at T-Trak; the typical module size is as small as 8¼ by 12⅛ inches. Such a small module size should easily fit into the 2 square foot space we each have on our workbenches for current projects. These T-Trak modules were displayed at the 2005 National Train Show in Cincinnati.

Modeler's Moment - Well, why not?

do not flush

If you've got track passing through a closet or small room, try to minimize the number of rail joints, and thus the number of potential derailment locations, through the small room. Derailments will always happen at the most inopportune time, especially when this small room is in use.

Modeler's Moment - Another source of N scale vehicles

N scale Mustang

Here's another source of N scale vehicles that you may be able to find at your local grocery. The "Bonus Game Token" scales out close enough to N scale to work, even in the foreground (after they're painted, of course). There are 30 models available of different US prototypes from the 1950s to the present, but they're a limited production, so get them when you see them.


Subscribe to The Rip Track RSS