NMRA logoTips 'nTricksPD logo

Everyone has their own way of doing things - but some are harder than others.
Some have come up with ideas for making those harder things easier.

This page is a collection of those things which can make your modeling easier to do.
It is a contributor's page.

Anyone with a good idea for simplifying the routine tasks involved in modeling, or has found a tool or a problem solution which makes work easier, or has found a source for supplies which are hard to find, is welcome to send it in. Send in your idea to Webmaster@potomac-nmra.org

Ideas already submitted:


DT-400 Replacement Battery Covers — Brian Sheron

The other day while I was running trains, I pulled the battery cover off of my DT-400 throttle to flip the battery around. When I put it back on, I apparently didn't get it aligned just right, and one of the "ears" that hook the cover into the main throttle body broke off.

I e-mailed Digitrax and asked if I could buy a replacement battery compartment cover for the DT-400. The response I got said that Digitrax doesn't sell them, but one of their dealers, a company called DD&B Systems in Ohio, sells them. I called the company, and I spoke with a very nice gentleman named Bob Chapman. He said he sells the covers for $7.50 each, which includes shipping. Address is DD&B Systems, 950 Raintree Court, Westerville, Ohio 43081-3134. Phone is 614-212-212 and e-mail is bobchap@columbus.rr.com

Foam Rubber Work Surface — Brian Sheron

How often do we find ourselves working on a model with miniature (nay! minute) parts,such as tiny screws, nuts, springs, etc.? And how often does that small screw you just loosened up or are trying to start into a thread suddenly fall out of the engine or car onto the workbench, and then somewhere such that you will never see it again (or at least until after you give up looking for it and drive to the hobby shop and buy a pack of screws even though you only needed one)? 
One way to reduce the probability of this happening is to work over a piece of packaging foam rubber. Many products, especially those that are fragile, come packaged with foam rubber packing. I'm talking about the packing that has hills and valleys in it, spaced about an inch or so apart. Working over a piece of foam like this has two advantages: one is that if you are working on a fragile or delicate model, the foam provides a soft cushion to set the model on, and 2.) when you do drop that small part, there is a high likelihood it will fall into one of the depressions in the foam and stay there.

Convert Radius to Circumference — Mike White

There are lots of instances in the planning and construction of a model railroad where it would be handy to convert a known radius curve into a linear distance along that curve.

This table converts often used radii to the full circle circumference that would be described by that radius.  We more frequently use quarter circle or half circles in our planning, so it will be necessary to divide each part (feet, inches) by 4 or 2 as appropriate being careful to convert any fractional remainders to inches and not decimals.

100 Often Overlooked Details — Scott G. Perry

With Scott Perry's generous permission, his article listing 100 details you may have missed that was published in the Jan-Feb 2006 MER Local has been extracted and posted HERE as a permanent reference

Starting Small Screws — Brian Sheron

And speaking of small parts, how many times have you had to get that micro-sized screw started in a hole you could hardly see? Yes, they make special screwdrivers that are supposed to hold screws in the screwdriver blade so you can start the screw. However, I have found they don?t always work well, especially with very small screws, and small screws with Phillips head slots. A trick I often use is to dab the tip of the screwdriver into a tin of soldering paste I keep on my workbench. The soldering paste is just sticky enough to hold the small screw on the end of the screwdriver while you maneuver the screw into position and get it started, Once the screw is started, the screwdriver easily pulls out of the screw slot. For you auto mechanics, axle grease will work equally as well.

Easy Pastel Weathering — Brian Sheron

There have been countless articles written on weathering methods for rolling stock and structures, with each method having its own degree of complexity or difficultly, and each with its own results. I've tried many of these methods, and the one I like most also turns out to be quick and easy and gives, what I think, are excellent results. It is a set of weathering pastels from Bragdon Enterprises (figure 1). I purchased mine at Mainline Hobbies in Blue Ridge, PA, a short ride north of Frederick, MD. It cost around $11 for a set of four different pastel colors. The set shown in figure 1 is the rust-tone set, which consists of 4 different rust-tone shades, and a plastic, divided container to hold the powders. They also make a dust-tone set with various shades of gray pastels.  "What is so special about weathering pastels"? you might say. What is different about these is that once you put these pastels on, you do not need to set them with a flat overspray. They will adhere like a paint, and don't come off in your hands.

To apply them, I simply dip a stiff-bristled artist's paint brush about 1/4" wide into the pastel powder, and then brush it on the area I want to weather. I start with a light coat, and then just add more until I get the desired amount of weathering. I use various rust shades on the trucks and wheels, around the angle irons on a wooden-sided gondola, and on the underbody brake detail. Figure 2 shows how I weathered a gondola load of wheels using the Bragdon Industries Pastels.

Finding Small Screws — Brian Sheron

Despite your valiant attempts to hang on to that small screw, they sometimes drop and hit the floor. Have you ever knocked that box of wood screws you were using to build benchwork on the floor? Or, if you are like me, knocked over that container of small track spikes and sent them all over the floor?  A small magnet on a telescoping handle (see figure) is a real timesaver when trying to pick up these small parts. I found mine at a tool sale at an auto show. However, they are sold in most auto supply stores, and I imagine some hobby shops would carry them too. They can also reach under those hard-to-get-at places that Murphy's law says is where all dropped parts will end up.

Cheap Clamps — Brian Sheron

If you work in an office, you will know that the spring-loaded paper clips are a staple (no pun intended)of the paper-pusher. However, these paper clips also make good, small clamps for holding small pieces in place and under pressure while glue dries. Also, did you ever have to glue something and hold it in place or keep pressure on it that was in an interior location? Small welding clamps may be the solution. These can reach in and clamp your work in that hard to reach spot. The adjustment screw on the end of the handle allows the width of the jaw opening to be adjusted to fit the width of the work you want to clamp, and also the locking pressure on the work when the jaws are closed. I also found these at an auto show, but any place that sells welding supplies should carry them.

Rolling Seat — Brian Sheron

  Harbor Freight Tools has a rolling seat for $29.99.  It is about 15" off the ground, rolls on 4 caster wheels, has a cushioned seat and a tray under the seat to hold tools, screws, etc. and seems ideal for working under the layout (wiring, installing switch machines, etc.). I just bought one because I'm installing some under-the-table switch machines, and got tired of getting up and down all the time.

Gluing Weights/Angle Plates — Brian Sheron

I have found numerous times that I need fairly heavy weights instead of clamps to hold some some model pieces together while the glue dries.  Also, when you are gluing the walls on  that building you are making, you want to make sure they are at a 90 degree angle with the base. One way is to buy professional modeler?s angle plates. However, these are fairly expensive (a 3" x 3" x 3" plate in the latest Micromark catalog is $27.15 ). I took a trip up to the local welding shop in our community and found 5 pieces of about 5" x 5" angle iron  cut  in about 3" lengths for which I paid a total of $10. I found a can of Rustoleum Spray in my garage, and soon had 5 good-looking pieces of metal that could be used for gluing weights  or even angle plates.  I also have an assortment of small pieces of metal bar stock I got at the welding shop that serve well as gluing weights.

Liquid Plastic Glue — Brian Sheron

Gluing plastic model kits together usually involves using a liquid plastic solvent glue, such as Plastruct or Testors. This requires brushing the glue on with the applicator brush that  is attached to the jar lid. For some applications, this method of application works fine. However, when you want to either cover a large area quickly or run a bead of glue down a seam or wall joint, I found that a syringe bottle sold in hobby stores works wonderfully. Running a thin bead of glue down a seam, where two walls join, a wall and a base, etc., puts the glue exactly where you want it. Capillary action draws the glue into the joint and results in a tight bond without excess glue. The picture is of a typical syringe bottle.

Using GoJo Pumice Hand Cleaner to Remove Lettering — Mat Thompson

A commercially available cleaning product that makes clean and easy removal of factory applied lettering on models.  Click Here for more.


Wax Paper Gluing Surface — Brian Sheron

Do you sometimes need to glue joints, such as butt joints or other joints which require holding them in place while the glue dries, and which glue is likely to ooze out onto the surface they are laying on? When the glue dries, you find you?ve glued the parts not only together, but also to the table! I keep a roll of wax paper in the drawer next to my work bench. Whenever I have to glue up something in which glue could ooze out and glue my work to the workbench, I rip off aa piece of wax paper and lay it on the workbench, then glue my work on top of the wax paper. Most glues will not stick to wax paper, so when the glued joint is dry, just pick up the work and peel off the wax paper. Any residual glue that is left on the work can be scraped off.

Hard to Find Hardware — Pete LaGuardia

Tired of looking for hard to find hardware and when you do so you have to pay a high price.  Micro Fasteners offers a solution for your needs.  They offer a large assortment of hardware fasteners and drill bits that will meet your needs.  The unit price is extremely reasonable although shipping is a minimum of $8.  I have used them in the past and found their products and service highly acceptable . I especially use their Pan Head Sheet Metal Screw PN SMPP0204 (100 pieces for $2.75) for attaching trucks to the under body of my rolling stock.  This screw is a lot better than the ones provided and is a self tapping screw which secures the truck better than the original manufacturer.  If you have experiences the loss of the pins from some manufacturer provide for securing the truck you?ll find this alternative will eliminate that problem.
Go to their website and you can request a catalog sent to you via email. http://www.microfasteners.com

Drink Holders — Brian Sheron

During an operating session,  many of the "crew" will have a beverage with them. The last thing you want is for them to put it on the layout while they are busy switching a yard, or flipping turnouts to route their through freight. One bump and you may kiss goodbye to some scenery, a structure, or even short out the railroad. This holds true for me too, when I am working on the layout. While there are many commercial drink holders, those that are mounted to and stick out from the front of the layout can be a problem. People will walk into them or snag them when trying to pass a fellow operator in an aisle.  To eliminate this problem, there are drink holders made for boaters that fold up out of the way when not in use. I purchased mine at a local West Marine dealer. They cost about $10 each, so they aren?t all that cheap. However, I find them well worth the investment. When an operator finishes up his chores in one area of the layout, and moves with his train to another area, he simply grabs his can or bottle and flips the drink holder closed . When it is closed it sticks out no more that about 1/2? from the front of the layout  and poses no hazard to traffic in the aisles.

Soundtrax Stay Alive Capacitor — Pete LaGuardia

I you have a Soundtraxx DSD-LC or DSX Sound Decoder installed in one of your locomotives and have experienced the annoying restart or recycle of sound system, there is a way to eliminate this.  Soundtraxx has a Stay Alive capacitor. This capacitor maintains electrical path to the sound unit when your engine experiences a loss of electrical path between rails and sound decoder.  Installation of the capacitor is straight forward and simple.   Ensure the plus and negative leads are connected properly or will not work.

The two attached documents (PDFs below) will offer further assistance on the installation procedure. 
I've used this capacitor on two of my engines and the problem was eliminated.

Soundtraxx offers the stay alive capacitor or you can purchase the capacitor from:
Radio Shack. Their P/N #272-1029.
Digi-Key P/N P10271-ND (25V 220uf) at $0.48 each
Digi-Key P/N P10275-ND (25V 470uf) at $0.73 each
Soundtraxx information sheets:
     Soundtraxx DSD-LC
     DSX Sound DecoderCapacitor Upgrade

Hand Throw Turnout Indication — Brian Sheron

During a layout visit at the MER Convention in Princeton, NJ, I noticed a neat, simple way the layout owner used to indicate turnout direction  and also to grab the throw bar for hand-thrown turnouts that use hand throws such as those made by Caboose Industries.

First, tack a small nail or brad with a flat head into the layout table on both sides of the turnout throw, and locate them so the flat end of the throw bar will rest on the nail head when thrown. This will keep the throw bar off the ground and easy to grasp when you want to change the turnout's direction.

Second, paint the top of one of the small nails or brads red, and the top of the remaining one green. Then paint one side of the throw bar end red and the other side green. Decide on your color convention (green showing for when the turnout is aligned to the mainline, or when the turnout is aligned for the straight direction) and paint accordingly.

Figure 1 shows a Caboose Industries hand throw with the small nails/brads in place and painted. Figure 2 shows the turnout thrown in one direction, and figure 3 shows it thrown in the other direction.

Swivel Mount and Waist Apron as Third Hands — Pete LaGuardia

With today's growing interest in developing layouts for operation the need to manage paperwork, car cards, and throttles have become a increasing problem.  Below are two solutions which will assist in managing all this stuff.
The clip.com has one solution where you can hang your throttle around the layout where by freeing your hands. The throttle is attached to the fascia  in a way that you can still control the direction and speed of your train.  These  pictures of the swivel mount give more info on this item.
The website where you can get these items (Swivel Mount #1600RRKIT) is http://www.theclip.com/store/Swivel-Mount-RAILROAD-Kit.html

E-Shirts Plus has developed a waist apron that can assist in handling those items. This waist apron can be customized where by choosing a logo of your choice. The apron is designed with pockets which will hold your Throttle, Car Cards, Schedule, Pencils and Uncoupling Tool. I have attached a picture of the apron.   You can contact E-shirts Plus at the following  for more info these aprons:  de0147@comcast.net

Atlas RS3 Headlights — Brian Sheron 

A number of manufacturers make a decoder that mounts on the motor frame of an Atlas HO scale RS3 diesel. One of the more painful parts of the installation is the headlights. The Atlas engines use a piece of clear plastic to transmit the light from a circuit board-mounted bulb to the headlights. This circuit board has to be removed to mount the decoder. Also, the clear plastic is custom-formed to fit around and under the shell weights. Hence, to get directional headlights, one usually has to resort to cutting the clear plastic, trying to glue lamps in the shell so they fit under the shell weights and will still transmit light to the headlights. The Atlas RS3 headlight is actually two smaller headlights located side by side. I found that Miniatronics 12V/30mA  bulbs (Model 18-712-10) are tubular in shape, and the diameter is approximately the diameter of the headlamp opening. Thus, I was able to easily glue two of these bulbs in each end of the shell (one per headlamp opening). They fit within the opening of the shell weight so no modification to the shell weight is needed. The wires are then connected in parallel and soldered to the DCC decoder board.
The Digitrax decoder I used (DH150A) is rated for 1.5 Amps. An HO motor such as used in an Atlas HO engine shouldn't draw more than around 0.5 amps. Thus, it can easily handle 2 bulbs at each end of the shell (60 mA), and the headlight is now really bright because of using 2 rather than 1 bulb per headlight.

Hot Melt Glue Pot — Nicholas "Nick" Kalis

This is a great item — it is a glue pot — it even has a handle to keep a glue stick in place. I just ordered it for around five dollars from www.consumercrafts.com — though shipping was $8. I learned about these from Paul Dolkos; it makes for quick assembly of a wooden scratchbuilt structure — glue takes to long to dry. I could not find these at any hobby shop nor at craft shops. I have used a glue gun to melt glue but I find them very cumbersome. These pots are surely better. Paul points to it with pride in a video or a home layout tour — not sure which it was.

Iso-Tip Cordless Soldering Iron — Brian Sheron

I was perusing the MicroMark catalog a while ago, and saw that they had a rechargeable battery powered wireless soldering iron. It is called "Iso-Ti Cordless Soldering Iron" and costs about $60. Every time I have to go under the benchwork to solder something (switch machine, track wire connections, building lights, etc.), I have to drag out an extension cord, pull out the soldering iron and, if it is a pencil point iron, wait for the tip to heat up, and then if I set it down, remember not to put my hand on it by mistake since it is still hot, and also not get tangled up in the electric cord. I was a little wary at first, because some battery-powered soldering irons I've tried before did not work well at all.This cordless one works great. Push the button and the tip is hot in seconds. Take your finger off the button and it cools right down, No cords. There are 3 different size tips available, depending on what you are soldering. If you have frequent soldering to do that is under the benchwork, it is great. I keep it in a charger stand on the workbench, and when I'm soldering at the workbench, it is easier to reach for it than to pull out a pencil tip iron and plug it in.

Stop Older Decals Breaking Up — Tom Baker

1. Spraying old decals with Testor's Glosscote or Dullcote.
2. Painting old decals with the decal preservative marketed by Micro-Scale works as well.
3. Spraying old decals with Testor's Decal Preservative, a product that a fellow modeler gave to me, works very well.

All methods require that one allow time for the product to dry. All of the above-named have worked. I model in S and have used some very old S-scale CHAMP decals, and they have come out fine. I do not advise applying old decals without application of some product that preserves them.

I have also found that Micro-Scale decals require extreme care in application. If the package has been opened or is old, then an application of some preservative is necessary. Testor's Decal Preservative has worked best on old Micro-Scale decals I have found.

[Tom' is the best discussion of this topic I've encountered.  He posted it originally on the Yaho Steam Era Freight Car Discussion Group.]

Cleaning Track — Bob Rosenberg

Nickel-silver track, which is mostly nickel [and contains no silver - Ed.], forms a surface oxide but the oxide will conduct electricity, so abrasives are only needed if the track becomes extremely dirty. Since I?ve allowed that to happen on occasion, those wet/dry fine sandpaper sponges you can get at paint stores, or the paint department of Home Depot, work quite well in getting the big stuff off. Additionally, there was as article (Improve Performance with Transmission Fluid by Steve Carter, Model Railroader, May, 2011, p. 58) about a large club on the west coast that uses Automatic Transmission Fluid to keep their tracks clean. I tried it and it works but it does have to be cleaned off periodically or it leaves a mess.

Mortar and Mullions – What To Do? — Pete LaGuardia

As a model railroad hobbyist, I was never satisfied using washes, paints and other methods to simulate mortar joints on brick buildings.  No matter what method I used or saw never really defined the difference between the brick and mortar in a way that represents a life like appearance.

A friend of mine recently mentioned he used DAP— Fast'N Final Lightweight Spackling to simulate concrete walkways and roads. I tried this and it worked great. I decided to use the same material to simulate mortar and I was very pleased with the results. The material is so simple to use I just rubbed it on the bricks with my thumb which filled in the relief nicely and gave a great representation how mortar should look.  I continued to rub the bricks with my thumb removed the excess from the brick surface. Recently, I purchased Walthers Cornerstone Machine Shop ( https://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/933-2902) — low and behold the window panes and mullions were molded into one piece. Now what? How do I paint the mullions and keep the panes clear?; I came up with a method first spraying this item with Dull Cote on both sides.; Next I took a black Sharpie and painted the mullions. Then I applied the window panes to the building. The overall result was very pleasing and gave me the results I was looking for. Try it yourself and I believe you will find it easy to do and happy with the results.


Installing Kadee Couplers on Athearn Locomotives — Bill Mosteller

  The first step is to drill and tap the coupler tab for a 2-56 screw.  Kadee offers a #246 2-56 Tap & Drill Set ideal for this purpose. Countersink a drill starting point in the hole or dimple in the coupler tab. I use a nail for this, I can never find my countersinks. Then, use the smaller drill in the set to drill a hole through the tab. Finally, tap the hole for a 2-56 screw using the provided tap. Work slowly, use oil, and clean the tap regularly. Repeat on the coupler tab on the other end of the locomotive.

The next step is to select the right screw for this job.  You might think a 2-56 screw, blade or Phillips head, would be idea, but I'm giving you a different idea here.  Use a Micro-Fasteners Allen (hex) head SCS0204 -2- 56 x 1/4 -Socket Head Cap Screw -Stainless 50 pcs/pkg.   (Pete LaGuardia's article reminded me of this company.)  Mark Castigliano of Branford Hobbies and New Haven Terminal taught me this.  Mark produces custom painted New Haven locomotives.  When I objected that nothing else in the hobby uses Allen wrenches (so you've got to buy the tool) he pointed out two benefits: (a) it's harder to mar a paint finish with an Allen than with either a blade or Phillips screwdriver, and (b) you can hold the Allen screw on the tool one-handed.   I was sold!

Finally, screw the Kadee coupler box to the underside of the Athearn coupler tab.  Because the box is mounted  under the locomotive's coupler tab, you'll need a #27 or equivalent to get the coupler height correct.


How to Ballast — Tim Barr

We constantly see "how to ballast" advice in articles in magazines or videos on the web—dump huge quantities of ballast out of a cup or spoon it onto the track, spread and smooth it with a big brush, and wet it with squirts from a trigger type spray bottle. Even the Woodland Scenics video clip on ballasting promotes this outdated technique. It gives less than optimal results unless one spends much time and effort taking ballast AWAY from the rail bases and tops of the ties. There's a better way—apply the ballast in small quantities and simply stop when it's just right.

Use a "kitchen shaker" to "salt" the ballast onto the track. I have a dozen shakers (purchased at Wal-Mart), and I use them to apply fine ground foam for scenery as well as ballast. You can apply ballast 20 grains at a time with these shakers, and almost "mist" on fine ground foam. They are transparent, the size of a coffee cup, have a handle, and a screw-on top with 100 or so 1/16" inch holes. If you can't find shakers like that, drill 1/16" holes in the lid of any jar that size—a cluster of 15 or 20 holes over on one edge will be enough.
1) Fill shaker 1/3 to 1/2 way with ballast.
2) Tip shaker over at an angle and tap it to sprinkle ballast from just a few holes at one edge.
3) Fill the spaces between ties without going over the tie tops.

4) Tap the rails with the handle of a screwdriver or paint brush as you go. This will cause the ballast to jump off the tops of the ties and settle it between the ties—a lot quicker than brushing. (This is one of Brion Boyles' "magic tricks")
That's it—it will seem slower than the "dump and spread" technique, but it's actually faster.

Some other things that will improve your ballasting.
Use fine grade ballast in HO—the medium doesn't look as good.
Paint cork roadbed the color of the ballast before laying the track. In addition to allowing a thinner layer of ballast because of less "see through", the glue adheres better to the paint.
Apply straight white glue to the beveled shoulders of the roadbed with a narrow brush first. That will hold the sprinkled ballast in place so that you don't apply too much there.
Use SUPER Wet Water to wet the ballast before applying dilute white glue. Super wet water is a 50-60% isopropyl alcohol/water mix with a few drops of Kodak PhotoFlo added. The PhotoFlo is what is used to get the water to "sheet" off developing photographs, and is far superior to dishwashing detergent as a surfactant. Between the alcohol and the PhotoFlo, the water will soak into the ballast beautifully. (This is a "magic trick" garnered from an N-Tracker at the Greenberg show in Norcross GA whose modules had the best ballasting job I have ever seen).
Ditch the squeeze trigger spray bottle and get some empty hair spray bottles from some friendly female. It takes longer to wet the ballast with one since it sprays a mist, but you will avoid the occasional "water bomb" droplets that you get from trigger bottles—the craters the water bombs leave are impossible to fix.
Make absolutely sure you have completely soaked the ballast with the super wet water before applying glue—that's the most important step.
50-50 diluted Elmer's is adequate for gluing the ballast, and adding some alcohol and detergent to it helps.
Use an old Elmer's spout top bottle to apply the diluted glue. Run it along the inside and outside of each rail, holding the spout up under the rail head—let the glue run over the rail base and soak into the ballast. Do this until white puddles form in the ditches and between the ties in the center of the track.
Let it dry for a couple of days and scrub the tie tops and rail bases with an old toothbrush. That will remove nearly all stray bits of ballast. A bright boy will remove glue residue from the tops of the rails
It goes without saying that you should take some leftover track and roadbed, make up a little "layout", and practice on that first.

Self-Service Track Warrant — Marshall Abrams

An elegant, dispatcher-free solution for granting a train "occupancy rights" to a track section.

  Here are three solutions to the problem of stopping a car from rolling on an incline.

Click-it Train Brake — Dave Renard

A useful application of BIC pen parts for holding cars on a grade    

Hill Brake — Paul Voelker

A different approach — effective, simple, and economical.    

Electromechanical Brake — Brian Sheron

  An article on a simple, electromechanical brake appeared in the Potomac Flyer in the Spring, 2012 issue.

Kitchen Magnet Tool Holder — Brian Sheron

An "off-the-shelf" solution for keeping tools handy — a long, strong, horizontal magnet. 

Easy To Make Holder For Campbell Shingles — John Paganoni

Campbell shingles look great on model structures either as roofing or siding; however, when you break the package open, the roll of shingles is hard to keep organized and when the job is done re-rolling those things is a hassle. A holder with a reel can save a lot of time and frustration when cutting lengths of shingles and then having a way to neatly put them away until the next time they are needed. The picture shows the parts needed to make a tool that can be clamped to the edge of the workbench. The main item is a reel from an old tape recorder. This one held the entire Campbell shingle roll neatly. The bolt, washers and nuts serve as an axle for the reel. The aluminum angle stock (the one shown is 1 1/2" stock, 1/8" thick, 5" long) was drilled for a 1/4" bolt and attached directly to the workbench. A longer piece would be necessary for just clamping to the bench.

Cheap and Easy Metal Roofing — Alex Belida 

To make a metal roof seen in the photos of a barn I was building, I took a soda can, cut off the round top and bottom and unfurled the body, bending it and then weighing it down to flatten it. I used normal scissors to cut strips of metal to create the individual roof pieces. I then took a serrated sewer's tracer wheel to make markings in the metal to simulate seams. (I realized this can also be used to simulate nail holes in siding.)
After installing the roof, I brushed India ink wash over the metal strips. I then sprayed the roof with Dullcote. Weather as you prefer with paint, pastel or powder. (FYI The underside of the roof was painted black to cover the imprinted imagery of the soda can exterior.)

Annealing Brass Wire For Easy Bending — John Paganoni

Brass wire right from the package is usually quite rigid and therefore hard to bend into tight curves. Try using an inexpensive gas cigarette lighter (usually at grocery store checkout lanes) to anneal (take the temper out) of the wire. DO NOT DO THIS ON THE WORK BENCH OR NEAR ANYTHING THAT WILL BURN! Simply hold the wire with pliers and run the lit lighter under the length of wire you want to bend until it turns a dark blue-green color. Let it air cool (dunking it in cold water may harden it again). Practice is highly recommended! This procedure should make it easy to make bends that retain the shape you need. Just remember, the annealed brass "piping" can be easily bent during handling of your model, so exercise care. The piping in the area around the smoke box in the photo illustrates some unique challenges in creating a prototypical model. The piping circling the top of the smoke stack is unique in itself.


Last modified: January 13 2020 15:46:27.