Saturday, July 7, 2018

Make a Hi-rail truck for $1

Another Dollar General project! These Matchbox pickup trucks caught my eye at $1 each, and looked like they could easily become hi-rail vehicles for the maintenance fleet.



Matchbox vehicles are generally oversize for HO, but this is a Matchbox Datsun mini-truck. My HO scale ruler measured it at 20 feet long. My full size Silverado pickup is 19 feet long. Close enough - the mini Datsun makes a good representation of a full size pickup in HO.



The body was painted white to be a utility body, with the addition of some tool boxes and gas cylinders. The hi-rail axles are beads glued onto wire. The roof light is a 3mm amber LED with the leads cut off.



Sunday, May 27, 2018

Memorial Day baseball!

Memorial Day little baseball underway at Mudgett Field. Note the dugout enclosures donated by the railroad.




Monday, May 21, 2018

People painting on a picnic table

Camping season has arrived! Over the winter I like to save up little portable projects to take to the picnic table at the campground. This weekend was painting little people. They come pretty cheap from China via eBay ($1.29 per 100, free shipping). The catch is you get to do the painting. Once set up assembly line style, it goes pretty fast. There are 500 people being prepped for the layout. My goal is to have the layout “fully populated” by the September 8 Maine Model Railroad Tour.




Sunday, May 13, 2018

A new combine arrives

Here is a Tyco old-time combine modernized for service on my mixed train. First I popped off the clerestory roof and was surprised to find the body had a full roof already. Then the silhouettes and truss rods were removed. The roof was painted aluminum and a couple ventilators added. Weighted up to spec, glazed windows, added a view block inside. Grab bars highlighted with a silver Sharpie pen. Now it’s ready for service in a Cape Ann mixed, picking up fishermen and hikers from those remote flag stops! 


Combine on the tail end of a local mixed train.


Remote flag stop at Cascade serves fishermen and hikers.


Before. Pic from eBay seller mikecdog.


Pop off the clerestory roof to reveal a full domed roof.





Sunday, April 15, 2018

Solar Panels

Do your remote lineside buildings and signals need a power source? Make your own solar panels! Here we see a panel installation on a section maintenance shed.


These are made by layering the following materials:
1. thin styrene base 
2. vinyl electrical tape (for black color)
3. clear packing tape (for a shiny surface)
4. fiberglass mesh drywall tape (for individual panels)



Stick the layers onto the styrene then cut around the desired size panels. That's all there is to it. Light 'em up!



Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Lineside relay enclosures

New HDMI cables come with protective plastic dust caps over the ends. These make handy HO scale lineside relay enclosures. These are painted off-white or aluminum, and the doors are drawn on with a fine-point Sharpie pen. They rest on a couple of small nails poked into the layout, so they stand up a bit off the ground, like the prototype. 


Passenger car before and after

I primarily use rebuilt Tyco passenger cars. They are rugged, and shorter than prototype so they fit and look better on the layout. Here is the before and after the rebuild: Stock Tyco car on the right. A rebuild is on the left. Rebuild includes removal of the man-with-pipe-reading-newspaper silhouettes, replacing old light bulbs with constant intensity LED lighting, new diffusers, new paint, and decals. Note the advantage of the new lighting: this train is standing still. The bulbs on right car are off. The LEDs on the left car are at full brilliance. This is a DC layout, no decoders needed. Pickups are wired through a bridge rectifier so the LEDs see consistent polarity independent of direction of travel, and a keep-alive capacitor keeps them immune to dropouts.