Podcast: Episode 10 - Model railroad tips from show exhibitors

People installed on an HO scale moduleSome people installed on an HO scale module.

For this episode of the podcast, we're going to focus on model railroading and save the prototype history and data for a later show.  It's October, and now that the days are getting colder and the nights longer, that means that model railroad season is well under way in North America.  Model railroaders are home from summer vacations and are getting together to build, operate and just talk about their layouts with each other.  Also, model railroad shows are increasing in frequency as we head toward the end of the calendar year.  Last week I spent some time asking exhibitors at the Green County Model Railroad Club's annual model railroad show here in Wisconsin for their favorite model railroading tips.

Tips from exhibiting model railroaders:

  • If you see an item that you like, buy it because you never know when you'll see it for sale again.
  • Clean the track - you could use track erasers, Brite Boys, lighter fluid or transmission fluid (but be especially careful with dangerous and flammable liquids like these!!!).
  • Know the technical support contact info for the DCC system you're using.
  • Start simple.  Build a module that does not include any track switches and concentrate on the scenery to get started.
  • Plan and build your layout or module on paper first and rebuild it on paper before you begin to build the layout.
  • You can change the trees on a layout or module to match a season if the trees are simply resting in a hole on the module.
  • Duct tape can be useful for quick repairs, but when you have time, fix the repair properly and permanently without the tape.
  • Always be aware of your train's location on a layout, especially if the layout uses DCC.
  • A little bit of extra weight can help smooth the operation on lightweight freight and passenger cars.
  • Look in your junk drawer for inspiration and miscellaneous parts for your layout.
  • The flower and stem structures of some real plants such as sedum or goldenrod can be used to make model railroad tree armatures.
  • Empty tubular containers (like mailing tubes, salt cartons or empty toilet paper rolls) can be used to make silos or water towers.
  • Squeeze bottle caps can be used to make air conditioning units on structures.
  • Look at objects that were originally designed for use in scales other than the scale in which you're modeling.  Is there a way you can use those objects on your layout even though it was built to a different scale?
  • Model railroading doesn't necessarily have to be an expensive hobby.
  • Clean the wheels on every locomotive that you plan to operate.
  • Check and recheck the wiring on any modules that you bring to shows for exhibition.
  • White glue can be used on couplers that don't match up properly to hold the train together during operations.
  • Use reliable parts and equipment on your trains.
  • Add more feeders to power the tracks.
  • Keep your benchwork construction squared up.
  • Keep the communication lines open between yourself and your fellow modelers.
  • Get started on your scenery because even just a coat of grass looks better than the plywood plains.
  • Add a few curves in the track as it goes around more prominent scenic features to add visual interest to the layout.
  • You can always add more people to your model railroad scenes.


  • Help support the podcast by starting online shopping through the Amazon links on this website
  • What did you like or didn't like about the show?  Email suggestions for future shows to podcast(at)riptrack.net
  • Become a fan of the Rip Track on Facebook
  • Leave your 5-star positive review of this show on iTunes

Listen to Episode 10