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

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Modeler's Moment - Provide for drainage

G scale turntable

When you install a turntable on your outdoor layout, don't forget to provide for drainage. This G scale turntable's drain is covered with a small section of screen to prevent clogs.

Modeler's Moment - A sign for everything

railroad sign collection

Railroads had signs for just about everything. Seen here in this private collection are signs that indicate locations where an engineer needs to blow the horn, vehicle traffic warning signs, a hazardous materials placard, and a few safety awareness signs.

Modeler's Moment - Happy Golden Spike Day!

Golden Spike ceremony

It was 137 years ago today that a telegraph operator clicked his key in time with a spike hammer to signal the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in the United States. The famed Golden Spike was driven on May 10, 1869, at Promontory, Utah, after which, Andrew J. Russell took this well known photo.

Modeler's Moment - Ties to be replaced

old ties

When ties have reached the end of their usefulness, they are often marked with brightly colored paint. Using a bright orange or yellow marking, the maintenance of way crew can easily spot which ties to replace. This section of track, with three ties to be replaced, is along the Mississippi River in Wisconsin.

Modeler's Moment - Working through Wisconsin

Working through Wisconsin

It's a busy day on the Soo Line as 2-6-0 number 123 takes a local past some small industries loading their wares onto another car. This scene is on the HO scale layout of a friend of mine here in Madison.

Modeler's Moment - Coiled wire open load

wire open load


Here's an interesting open load that I found heading westbound at Rochelle in 2005. Each of the coils is held in place by a strap that wraps around the top of each coil. Now if only the load was considered part of the car for NMRA Achievement Program judging...

Model scale comparison

There is a plethora of different model building scales out there, and if you like scratchbuilding, you're not limited to those that have kits available. Here's a quick roundup of the most popular scales in model railroading and how they compare to other model building hobbies.

Modeler's Moment - Autorack loads

loaded autorack

Use those undetailed cheap plastic automobiles as loads for your covered autoracks. The rack's perforated side panels will prevent the viewer from seeing any details on the cars within it, so all you really need on the load is the general shape and color. This autorack is an HO scale model.

Modeler's Moment - Use structure mockups

structure mockups

When you start on building the scenery in your city or industrial areas, make some cardboard and paper mockups of the structures that you want to include. The mockups can help you determine if the structures you want are the right shape and size for your layout; if you use the DPM wall templates, you'll even know what you need to buy to build them.

Modeler's Moment - Weathering powders

powder weathering


A light dusting with any of the popular weathering powders can make a car look only slightly used. Don't forget to weather the trucks too. And yes, I do weather my MicroTrains cars!

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