The home of The Rip Track podcast, disseminating information about model railroading and worldwide railroad history.

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Reducing wheel flanges

With the move to more prototypical appearance comes smaller profile track and consequently, a need for smaller flanges on equipment. A lot of the newer equipment is already manufactured with small flanges or replacement wheelsets are readily available. But what do you do with the equipment that can't be addressed this way? Chuck the wheels in your Dremel and turn down the flanges. I've got to try this!

Modeler's Moment - Accessible wiring

accessible wiring

When you're building a multilevel layout, run the bus wires above the backdrops on your lower levels so you can still get to them if there's a problem. The wires that you run behind the backdrop are the ones that will develop problems; but then again, Murphy was an optimist.

Modeler's Moment - Tunnel portals

installing tunnel portals

Install your tunnel portals before you add the plaster and other scenic materials so you can better integrate the portal into the surrounding scenery. Unless the tunnel prototype you're modeling is brand-spanking-new, you shouldn't generally be able to see every edge of a portal that's at the bottom of a cut. Plus, you'll be able to fine-tune your train clearances more easily.

Modeler's Moment - Scenicking around track

protecting the track

You can keep scenery materials, paint and glue off the track when you're working on scenery by applying a srip of masking tape to the track. The tape should be wide enough that you can cover both rails with one strip. When the scenery is dry, just remove the tape.

Modeler's Moment - New book: Burlington observation cars

Burlington Observation Cars cover

A new book on the Burlington's streamlined observation cars just came out. It's got photos and floor plans of observation cars that operated on various Burlington named passenger trains of the 20th century. Oh, and it's got one of my photos in it too.

Modeler's Moment - Weathering ideas

Weathered box

When graffiti covers part of a car's mechanical data, it's often re-added "black box" style. Also, dents (from shifting loads or rough loading/unloading) under where a door slides are normally the first places where paint is scraped off, which leads to unusual rust shapes.

Modeler's Moment - Mix them up

Seattle buildings

Use different colors and styles on the structures in your model cities, even as far as to paint different colors on the same structure. These buildings were photographed in 2004 across the street from Seattle's King Dome (which is only a couple blocks from the city's main passenger station).

Modeler's Moment - Look beyond your borders for inspiration

Senzan Line, Japan Railway

Modeling ideas and inspirations can come from worldwide prototypes. For example, in this photo of Japan Railway's Senzan Line, notice the heights of the foreground foliage and how the colors and heights all even out as they recede into the background. Also notice that even though the track is at the bottom of a cut in the terrain, it's still raised slightly forming drainage troughs along each side of the roadbed.

JMRI vs. KAM

There's a bit of a row brewing over code included in JMRI (the Java Model Railroad Interface), and there's something that you may be able to do in the case. If you've attended the NMRA national conventions for the last few years, you've probably got a demo CD from KAM Industries containing software to control a model railroad from a computer. KAM is claiming that JMRI is infringing patents that it owns by releasing software that performs similar functions; KAM has sent JMRI's project leader bills for more than $200,000 in back licensing fees based on these claims. JMRI now has filed suit against KAM claiming harassment and that KAM's patent is invalid. What can you do about it? Well... (read more and find out)

Modeler's Moment - Show your work

Show your mold

Remember how your math teacher always told you to "show your work"? Well, the same thing applies for NMRA merit judging. Show off the mold that you made to create copies for your contest model; you're more likely to get extra points by showing your work. This model (and the mold for its truck sideframes) was at the national convention in Seattle.

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