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Individual Clinics

Virtual Clinics

On-line Clinic Resources

Individual Clinic Details

Individual Clinics

Virtual Clinic Videos

          Railroad Infrastructure by Andrew Dodge, MMR - Virtual Clinic 1, July 19, 2020

          NMRA Master Builder - Cars AP  Certificate by Ernie Little, MMR - Virtual Clinic 2, August 16, 2020

   Potomac Flyer/ NMRA Author AP by Alex Belida - Virtual Clinic 3 - September 20, 2020

   Tips For Researching and Building Prototype Structures by Marty McGuirk - Virtual Clinic 4, October 18, 2020

●   Constructing  an Elevated Railway by Brian Sheron- Virtual Clinic 5 - November 15,2020

●   Using Styrofoam As A Base for Scenery by Tim Barr - Virtual Clinic 6 - December 7, 2020

●   3D Printing, How to Use It and Related Services by Zach Pabis - Virtual Clinic 7 - December 13, 2020

●   Painting Figures Using Citadel Paints by Alex Polimeni - Virtual Clinic 8 - January 17, 2021

●   Track Arrangement and Operation by John King - Virtual Clinic 9 - February 21, 2021

●  The Art and Technique of Lighting Buildings and Streets by John Sethian - Virtual Clinic 10 - March 21, 2021                                                                                                                                                                

●   Update on The Nickel Plate by Tony Koester - Virtual Clinic 11 - April 18, 2021

●   The Oregon Coast Railroad and More by Mat Thompson - Virtual Clinic 12 - May 16, 2021

●  Staging is More Than a Dark Space Under The Layout by Paul Dolkos - Virtual Clinic 13 - June 20, 2021

●  Introductory Guide to Making Model Railroad Videos by Rod Vance - Virtual Clinic 14 - July 18, 2021

●  Update on the USMRR Aquia Line by Bernie Kempinski - August 22, 2021

●  Going Beyond Prototype Freight Cars by Jack Burgess - September 19, 2021                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ^TOP

●  Prototype Modeling AP by Alex Belida, MMR, - December 19, 2021

● Northlandz  by Patrick Bentz - January 16, 2022

● Drake's Well Diorama construction by Alex Belida, MMR - February 20, 2022

● Building an Operational Railroad Crossing by Brian Sheron - March 20, 2022

● The Center of the Chessie's Passenger World by Bryan Kidd - April 24, 2022

● Do It Yourself Keep Alive and Stay Alive Devices by Gil Fuchs - May 15, 2022

● Prototypical Track Planning by Bob Sprague - June 19-2022

● Building a Programming Track and Programming Decoders by Ernie Little, MMR - July 17, 2022 - No video available, see PDF file in clinic section above

● Deconstructing a Prototypical Track Plan  - Bob Sprague - August 21, 2022

Southern Pacific to Yuma by Lee Stoermer - September 18, 2022

● If I Could Turn Back Time: Modeling the Ma & Pa in 1924 - Bob Sprague - October 16, 2022

● Installing Headlights in HO Scale Vehicles - George Gaige - December 4, 2022

● Making Coniferous Trees - Pat Rivard and Paul Hurly - January 15, 2023

● 43 Years of Tips and Tricks - Brian Sheron - MMR - February 19, 2023

● Details Make The Difference: Adding Details to Your Layout - Brian Sheron, MMR - April 16, 2023

● Signal Aspects and Indications for Modelers - John Vogler - April 23, 2023

● Building a Critter Locomotive - Alex Belida, MMR - May 21, 2023

● Demystifying the NMRA Chief Dispatcher Paperwork - Kurt Thompson, MMR - June 18, 2023

● What's New on the Old Ma & Pa: Update on the Ma & Pa, Roland Park Division - Bob Sprague - July 16, 2023

● Earning the NMRA Electrical Achievement Certificate with a small layout - Bill Mosteller - August 20, 2023

● Consider Operations - Brian Sheron, MMR - September 24, 2023

● Discussion of Model Railroading - Potomac Division Members - January 22, 2024

● Blue Water Railroading: The Pacific Northwest's Marine Railroads - John Gray - February 18, 2024

● Discussion of Model Railroading - Potomac Division Members - March 17, 2024

● Portrait of a Railroad - Jonathan Jones - April 21, 2024

● Down to the Sea In Trains - Ship Models for Model Railroads - Bernie Kempinski - May 11, 2024

● The Long Road to The Golden Spike and Other APs - Greg Cassidy - May 19, 2024

On-line Clinic Libraries


Individual Clinic Details

Scenery — Bill Carl

This clinic shows how to do basic scenery on a module using foamboard insulation. There are almost 200 pictures so this clinic has been divided into 14 sub-topics: Assumptions, Foam, Hot Wire Tool, Track, Fill in Cracks, Paint and Grass, Fascia, Rocks, Touch up Grass, Trees, Backdrop, Bushes, Ballast, and Small Details.View clinic

BackdropTutorial — J. Mark Chase

In this clinic Mark introduces the steps he followed from photo processing and manipulation to backdrop construction, tools, and methods used to go from a blank wall to a finished backdrop.View Clinic
Similar:  Creating Backdrops Using Pictures by Marshall AbramsUsing Styrene For Backdrops by Mike McNamaraBackdrops by BrianSheron, MMREnhancing Backdrops by Mike McNamara

Build a Warehouse roll-up door (Fine Scale Animation for Operation) — Bill Day, MMR

The clinic introduces fine-scale animation in support of operation. the clinic is about —Easy Animation—; virtually all of the animation is accomplished with Tortoise switches and turntable motors using black thread or music wire. The basis is a Design Preservation Module (301-35) with a roll-up door and a loading platform.View Clinic

Constructing Pine Trees of the Southeast — Mike Hart

Constructing pine trees of the southeastern U.S., using stick, clay and caulk techniques together with tree root branches, build a model from scratch fallowing four easy steps to create a very realistic looking tree. The photo shows the type of tree modeled.  View Clinic


Creating Stencils for Your Logo — Gil Fuchs

When decals just won't do the job, you can't find them, or you can't get your hands on an Alps printer - create and paint your own logo on your preferred rolling stock using this technique, which is borrowed from the world of PCB production. The process is not very complicated, using your preferred graphic editing program, and materials available at your local Radio Shack store and on-line. The result is a durable brass stencil that can be used over and over with your airbrush to paint logos on a large number of cars, engines and/or buildings. As an added bonus, the printed logo can be made to have the fuzzy look of sprayed-on lettering, as in the prototype.View Clinic

Detailing and Weathering the MER—s CNJ PS-1 Boxcar — Mike McNamara

Changing the appearance of a model to fit the era that you model. View Clinic
Similar:  Weathering by John Paganoni, MMR — Making a Realistic Logging Car from a Plastic Flatcar by Raymond A. Long

Enhancing Backdrops — Mike McNamara

Add scenery between foreground trees and blue sky backdrop.Foam Core board cut to represent hills covered with ground foam provides a slight 3D aspect. Trees added in front to blend transition. View Clinic

Similar:  Creating Backdrops Using Pictures by Marshall AbramsUsing Styrene For Backdrops by Mike McNamaraBackdrops by BrianSheron, MMRBackdropTutorial by J. Mark Chase

Electronics — Bob Clegg

Bob Clegg of the New Jersey Division has put together an animated PowerPoint clinic that will introduce you to some basic model railroad specific electronics without pain. The theme of the clinic is that "You Can Do Electronics". Bob provides, as a part of the clinic, sources of electronic components that are more economical than the usual Radio Shack supplies. View Clinic

Installing Decoders in Steam Engines — Brian Sheron, MMR

Many models of steam Locomotives are not available with factory-installed DCC and sound, particularly older brass or die cast models. Brian shows you how you can install sound decoders in older steam locomotives relatively easy. He explains why the motor must be electrically isolated from the rails, and shows you ways isolate it. He also shows you how to get good electrical pickup from the rails for no-stall operation, and how to hook up and install a sound decoder (with or without a Current Keeper) and speaker in the tender.
View Clinic

Installing Sound in an Atlas RS-3 — Brian Sheron, MMR

RS-3 diesels were a large part of the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) diesel roster around 1964. These engines pose a bit of a challenge for installing DCC sound because the shell snugly fits around the motor and flywheels. However, loud, clear diesel sound can be installed in these engines relatively easily.
View Clinic

Intermediate Resin Casting — John Griffith

This clinic reviews how to make molds and then how to make resin castings from those molds. We will follow the process I used to model the East Broad Top's combine #14. We will discuss the trials and tribulations to produce adequate car sides and how to produce a celestatory roof with see through windows. I demonstrate how simple one-sided molds are used to produce car sides and a roof.
View Clinic
Similar:  Resin Casting Introduction by John Griffith

Layout Ideas From The Opera — John Pursell

Incorporate various tricks and techniques that go into stage scenery into your modeling. (From MER Local.)

Making Dwarf Signals — Marshall Abrams

Learn how to make a dwarf signal with a LED (Light Emitting Diode) that's only .1 inch wide. The LEDs we use are nice because the light from the individual chips light up a whole circle. This means that in addition to green and red, they make a quite nice yellow if both the red and green are turned on. They also come in a green-yellow version, which can be used on the main line approach track and two red-green on the main and side tracks. View Clinic
Similar:  Semaphore Signals by Jim Atkinson

Signals & Detection — Marshall Abrams

Flashing lights, crossing gates, and trackside signals all provide visual interest to a model railroad. They can also inform the operators about track conditions to guide operations. This clinic describes installing and use of occupancy detection using current sensing and optical detectors used to control crossbuck flashers, crossing gates, and trackside signals and repeaters for Automatic Block Signaling (ABS). Products and installation are discussed and available products are surveyed. View Clinic
Similar:  Semaphore Signals by Jim Atkinson

Making Trees from Sedum — Bob Sprague

  With easy to obtain and use primary materials, Bob shows you how to make some very realistic trees. The clinic also contains a handy list of materials for getting started. View Clinic

Passenger Operations — Doug Matheson

Doug discusses passenger operations on the prototype, with lots of pictures. Much of the article deals with equipment available in large scale (1:29). Pre-1948, Pullman owned and operated the vast majority of sleepers (and some others cars too). Post-1948 till about the mid 1960s, sleeping cars were very much in evidence but were owned by the operating railroad. After the mid 1960s sleeping car services declined to just the few long haul routes Amtrak and ViaRail run today. Railroads also operated a very extensive express service and postal services. Collectively, railroads ran more head end cars than all other passenger cars put together. Much of the passenger switching is related to sleepers, express and mail services operating on specified routes.View Clinic

Railroading Along The Waterfront With Walthers – Some Prototype Ideas And Future Directions — John Teichmoeller

  This clinic is based on the Wm. K. Walthers' —Railroading Along the Waterfront— project rolled-out in 1998. The material included in this program is designed with several objectives:
  • To discuss the prototypes, as best identified, for the Walthers products
  • To discuss possible changes to models to enhance fidelity
  • To discuss other prototype variations amenable to kitbashing with Walthers products
  • To give you additional informational resources  View Clinic
Similar:  Using Structural Steel to Create Industries and Scenes by Tom Brodrick

Realistic Finish on Brick and Stone Structures — Kathy Renninger

Custom model builder Kathy Renninger demonstrates some of the techniques she used to obtain realistic finishes on models which feature brick and stone surfaces. Her techniques were featured in the August 2004 issue of Model Railroader. View Clinic

Resin Casting Introduction — John Griffith

This is an introduction to those who would like to do castings. It will provide you the information needed to do your own simple castings. It covers the safety, tools, and materials required. We will talk about making masters, walk through how to prepare a mold from a master, and demonstrate how to cast parts. Along the way it offers tips on what John finds works and what doesn't. View Clinic
Similar:  Intermediate Resin Casting by John Griffith

Rocks Made Easy — Working with Rock Molds & Coloring with Dyes — Bob Johnson

Learn techniques for casting rock molds using molding plaster and assembling the castings into large, homogeneous formations. Emphasis is placed on blending the individual castings together and maintaining a realistic bedding plane throughout the formation. A major focus is on a quick and easy technique to color the assembled castings using a combination of washes,dyes, chlorine bleach and dry color powders. View Clinic

Scenic Express Supertrees — Bill Carl

Longer and short methods to making Scenic Express Supertrees are presented.  View Clinic

Similar: Constructing Pine Trees of the Southeast by Mike Hart

Semaphore Signals — Jim Atkinson

As a modeler, Jim was only interested in a simple, single blade, three positions, upper quadrant signal. (from MER Local.)  View Clinic
Similar:  Making Dwarf Signals by Marshall Abrams


Scratchbuilding a Small Wooden Freight Station and Platform — Martin Brechbiel, MMR

Now that you have a few old time wooden freight cars built, you need a place to stop and load and unload those items you—ve carefully crafted as flatcar loads or packaged goods from your gondolas. (From MER Local.)
View Clinic
Similar: Scratchbuilding Wooden Freight Cars — Convert Your Flatcar into a Gondola by Martin Brechbiel, MMR

Scratchbuilding Wooden Freight Cars — Convert Your Flatcar into a Gondola — Martin Brechbiel, MMR

The quickest and easiest extension from the basic flatcar. (From MER Local)
View Clinic
Similar:Scratchbuilding a Small Wooden Freight Station and Platform by Martin Brechbiel, MMR  Simple Scratchbuilding Tool by Fred Willis

Simple Scratchbuilding Tool — Fred Willis

A simple jig that is very useful in aligning and measuring parts. It is cheap, easy to make, and ensures parts are aligned properly. (From MER Local)
View Clinic
Similar: Scratchbuilding a Small Wooden Freight Station and Platform by Martin Brechbiel, MMRScratch building Wooden Freight Cars — Convert Your Flatcar into a Gondola by Martin Brechbiel, MMR

Using a Drill Press as a Milling Machine — Evert Beekmann

  View Clinic


Using EXCEL to Create String Charts — Bob Reid,MMR

There is an easy way to display timetable in a visual way in Excel where the points that represent each train are connected by straight lines. 

View Clinic    View Completed String Chart

Using Styrene For Backdrops — Mike McNamara

Constructed the backdrop for the layout using styrene. (From MER Local.)
View Clinic
Similar:  Creating Backdrops Using Pictures by Marshall AbramsBackdrops by BrianSheron, MMRBackdropTutorial by J. Mark ChaseEnhancing Backdrops by Mike McNamara

Using Structural Steel to Create Industries and Scenes — Tom Brodrick

Shows some of the use of steel after it leaves the mill and before it becomes a finished building. The emphasis is on distribution from the mill, basic explanations of shapes and their designations, the use of these shapes in the building frame; pictures,descriptions, and ideas about the equipment used in steel erection.
View Clinic
Similar:: Railroading Along The Waterfront With Walthers — Some Prototype Ideas And Future Directions  by John Teichmoeller

Water Effects — Mark Sisk

Make water on your layout.
View Clinic

Airbrush for Model Railroading — My experiences — Clint Hyde

Airbrushes, Air sources, Paints, Target materials (wood, styrene, brass/metal), Techniques View Clinic

Replacing the External Antenna on NCE Radio Cabs — Ed Rappe

I subscribe to the Yahoo NCE DCC users group and several years ago there was an article about replacing the external antenna on NCE radio equipped cabs with an internal one similar to those found on NCE's latest cabs. Over the years on at least two occasions I've knocked an antenna free from its soldered on connection to the internal radio circuit board. Re-soldering the antenna back on to the board was relatively easy — but I always thought it was a weak design. Last month I turned and the cab bumped the fascia breaking the antenna—s solder connection. Rather than repairing the break, this time I decided to replace the external antenna with an internal one. I found the old article and ordered several Splatch antennas from DigiKey — they cost only $2.08 each!. The first cab took about 1.5 hours to upgrade, later ones perhaps 45 minutes. The internal antennas are a permanent fix for issues with broken external NCE antennas and radio performance is great.

For anyone interested in replacing the external antennas on their NCE radio cabs I've attached the article. Side note — among my 4 NCE radio cabs I found two slightly different version radio printed circuit boards (J and K). The article references the K board but the same approach applies to the older J version as well. View Clinic View Article Link for ordering Splatch antennas from Digikey


Railroad Worthy Industries — Mat Thompson, MMR

This clinic considers workflow of manufacturing and processing plants to help model industries with the size and bulk that justifies rail traffic. The results can add realism to a layout and improve a layout—s operations potential. Examples include kit-bashed and scratch-build industries. There are also examples of what parts of an industry are needed and not needed to suggest its size, examples of industries which handle many cars with little infrastructure, and how adding special car handling requirements can increase an industries traffic load and modeling interest. View Clinic

B&O Marine Operations on the Ohio River — John Teichmoeller

This clinic Presents results of research to date regarding the B&O's various marine operations between Parkersburg and Pittsburgh. It Includes discussion of issues involving modeling "Western Rivers" style steamboats of particular relevance to modelers with West Virginia or Pennsylvania coal theme layouts. View Clinic Read "The B&O Marine Story"

Details can make the Difference — Adding Details to Your Layout — Brian Sheron, MMR

The clinic will focus on the details that exist in real life, and how modeling them can add realism and bring your layout to life. View Clinic

Making a More Prototypical Waybill — Mike White

This clinic covers the development, construction, types, and uses of more prototypical model waybills on your layout. Information on the few materials needed, and sources of supply are provided. Extensive references are also made available. View Clinic Read Waybill Clinic Notes

Everything You Wanted to Know About Model Railroad Decals — Bill Mosteller

Who makes them, where to find them, who does custom work. View Clinic

History of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad — Ronald Beavers

The presentation covers the period 1847 to 1867 form the beginning of the O&A RR until it is merged with the Manassas Gap RR with the focus on how the O&A was used during the Civil War. View Clinic

Filling in the Model Contest Forms — Martin Brechbiel, MMR

A major impediment to entering models into the contest rooms at both Divisional and Regional levels occurs when the modeler is to 1867 form the beginning of the O&A RR until it is merged with the Manassas Gap RR with the focus on how the O&A was used during the Civil War. View Clinic

Filling in the Model Contest Forms — Martin Brechbiel, MMR

A major impediment to entering models into the contest rooms at both Divisional and Regional levels occurs when the modeler is confronted with "filling out the forms" or "the paperwork". That phase or participating in the AP is apparently attached to countless myths, hysteria, and horror stories.This clinic presents an overview and discuss how to fill out the forms for entering your models into the contest room for optimal success. View Clinic
Similar: Obtaining the Authorship Certificate by Martin Briechiel Demystifying the AP Dispatcher Paperwork by Kurt Thompson, MMR    There is also a Special Interest report Earning Merit Awards that discusses how to best score points in the NMRA achievement program for modeling cars and structures. View Report

Electroluminescent Signs For Your Layout — Brian Sheron, MMR

This clinic describes what electroluminescent (EL) signs are and how they work. It then explains how to connect and install commercially available signs, and finally shows how custom signs can be created from EL kits that are commercially available.View Clinic

Build A Waterfall — Marshall Abrams

A waterfall adds interest to your scenery. This clinic describes how to make a waterfall using clear plastic packaging scrap, EnviroTex Lite epoxy resin, Aleene's Original Tacky Glue, and bristles from a nylon paintbrush. We discuss how to built up rivulets or cascades to give texture to the surface of the waterfall.  View Clinic


Operating With Single Cycle Waybills — Mike White

This clinic describes and explains an operating scheme for use with single-cycle waybills. Starting with the standard Setout, Hold, Pickup method in use by many, it expands this system to encompass many different types of waybill and freight movement conditions.
View Clinic

Operating With Single Cycle Waybills — Mike White

This clinic describes and explains an operating scheme for use with single-cycle waybills. Starting with the standard Setout, Hold, Pickup method in use by many, it expands this system to encompass many different types of waybill and freight movement conditions.
View Clinic

Creating Backdrops Using Pictures — Marshall Abrams

Use of pictures to produce backdrops is one of the hottest trends in realistic modeling. This clinic will cover how picture postcards, card stock models, photographs and other media can be used to make backdrops. Marshall will focus on urban scenes. Extensive web links are included.View Clinic

Detailing Athearn Blue Box Freight Cars — Nigel Phillips

Athearn Blue Box freight cars — we probably all have a few. Have a look underneath though — the brake gear is back to front! The story goes that the blueprint was upside down during the tooling for the under-body. With the trend to higher heights in baseboards, brake detail (or the lack of) is becoming more obvious and a modeling "must have" item. This clinic describes how to correct the position of the brake cylinder, air reservoir and triple valve, and add air lines, brake levers and wires using styrene strip and rod and copper or steel wire. The results meet my "3-foot" standard (if it looks good from 3-feet) and budget (the scrap box supplies nearly everything). Commercial brake kits with finer detailing (AB and K) give a much more prototypical look for those who like to get close-up. They are also a good source of various bits for a bash-build. Adding coupler trip-pin levers and air lines at the ends of the cars. View Clinic

Expanding the Long Island Railroad — Brian Sheron, MMR

In 2015, Brian expanded his Long Island Railroad. Like most modelers, he was faced with questions such as "what to model." and "how to design the expansion." Brian explains how he made these decisions, which resulted in modeling Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, and the Long Island Rail Road's car float yard in Long Island City. In his clinic, he explains car float operations, benchwork construction, including simple construction of curved backdrops, and installing a Faller Car System. His presentation walks you through the process with many photos and diagrams. View Clinic

Backdrops — Brian Sheron, MMR (updated 5/10/2023)

Model train layouts are mainly constrained by two factors, limited available space, and accessibility. Both of these factors will inhibit the viewer's perception of depth when viewing a model railroading scene, unless we can add backdrops to our layouts that will impart the feeling of depth. Brian will describe various techniques that a modeler can use to achieve the perception of depth on their layout. His clinic presentation includes many photos that show these techniques. View Clinic

Keep Alive — Gil Fuchs

Locomotives that stall on a gap or dirty track can be a source of frustration and a nuisance during operations. Keep alive devices are add-ons to the locomotive DCC decoder that can alleviate this problem. This clinic will cover installation and usage, as well as construction of a simple DIY Keep Alive device.  View Clinic

Modular Model Railroading — Clarence Guenther

Modular model railroading is a practical form of model railroading for space challenged model railroaders. This clinic explains what modular model railroading is and discuss its advantages and disadvantages. We will discuss the differences between modular and sectional model railroads and present different modular formats.  View Clinic

Weathering — John Paganoni, MMR

The purpose of this clinic is to demonstrate the use of weathering/aging techniques for engines, railroad cars, and structures. Focus is on subtle weathering using mostly chalks and chalk-type products such as —Doc O—Brien—s—, Bragdon Enterprises powders, and colored artist chalks from craft stores. A PowerPoint presentation, with pictures, will be used that was produced by Mat Thompson, MMR to highlight weathering and aging on HO scale models from the late 1940—s to early 1950—s. Emphasis is on subtle weathering versus heavy weathering because the prototype railroad (Central Vermont) I model maintained their equipment in excellent condition. Models will also be on display for members to review subsequent to the presentation. A major objective of this effort is to encourage members to participate in the NMRA Achievement Program and share their experiences in building and weathering their models.  View Clinic
Similar: Detailing and Weathering the MER—s CNJ PS-1 Boxcar by Mike McNamaraMaking a Realistic Logging Car from a Plastic Flatcar by Raymond A. Long

Working Diaphragms — An Origami Approach — Nigel Phillips

You will learn to make working diaphragms from paper (and optionally from thin styrene sheet and wire) that are useful for older locos and passenger cars. While the result will not be "fine-scale" modeling, they will pass the 3 foot standard (it looks OK from 3 feet) and the cost of materials is minimal. Participants will design, cut, and assemble working diaphrams for diesel loco consists and passenger cars. The example used in the clinic is an early Pullman passenger car in HO scale, but the technique is easily adapted to other diaphragm designs and scales. Skills required: If you can accurately cut, fold, and assemble (glue) paper, you can make diaphragms.  View Clinic

Switch List Software — Marshall Abrams

This clinic presents a computer program model railroaders can use to generate freight traffic on their own railroads. Computer generated switchlists use tables of the cars on the layout, their type, and potential delivery locations. The system generates moves of appropriate cars to appropriate destinations, attempting to avoid repetitious activity. The clinic describes how to use the RailOp program and also addresses JMRI Operations. View Clinic

Introduction to Model Railroad Operations — Marshall Abrams

Model railroad operations simulates the movement of trains on a railroad. Like any simulation, some details are emphasized and other details are suppressed according to the objective of the simulation. There are many choices to be made in establishing the rules and procedures for a model railroad operations simulation. This clinic provides a systematic survey described by Car Forwarding and Traffic Control Systems. Car Forwarding can be defined as is the purposeful movement of rail cars from one location to another. Prototype car forwarding is determined by customer needs. Model railroads simulate this part of the activity to varying levels. Two methods are popular for arranging model railroad freight: Car Card & Waybill, and Switch List.

Prototype Traffic Control is the purposeful movement of trains from one location to another, as determined by customer needs, physical constraints, and the desire for profitability. In the model railroad simulation we typically schedule or sequence trains. In rough order of increasing complexity, model traffic control includes: Random — run anything, anytime; Sequential — trains running in a specific order; and Timetable & Train Order (TT&TO) — trains run by time (usually using a fast clock) according to rules patterned after the prototype.
View Clinic

Oahu Sugar Company — Hawaiian Railroads — Nick Kalis

Modeling in Fn3 the narrow gauge Oahu Sugar Company as it appeared and operated in 1944 under wartime conditions. This layout demonstrates how the techniques of European exhibition layouts can be applied to an American semi- permanent layout. Two themes will be evident - sugar cane operations and WWII as it effects the home front.
Benjamin F. Dillingham founded the Oahu Sugar Company (OSC) on 20 acres of land leased from James Campbell in the vicinity of Waipahu. In 1897 its first locomotive arrives and in 1899 the first harvest of sugar cane is accomplished. Additional locomotives follow. The plantation grows to over 12,000 acres of leased land. By 1939 the railroad reached sixty miles of three-foot gauge track plus an unspecified amount of portable track on which 939 plantation cars (860 four- ton cane cars, fifty flat cars, and 29 other cars) operated. The presentation includes extensive use of photographs.
  View Clinic

Modifying RTR Turnouts and Making Your Own From Scratch — Nigel Phillips

The aims of this clinic are 2-fold: Modifying RTR turnouts to make them DCC friendly and looking more like the prototype; and constructing turnouts from scratch to fit your layout (and not the other way around) when what you want is not available as an RTR item in the code rail that you use. Many RTR turnouts come as power routed designs, and depend for electrical continuity through the frog on a physical contact between the point blade and the stock rail. Simple wiring modifications and frog isolation will make them DCC ready. Some of the examples covered will be converting old power-routed Shinohara turnouts to 100% DCC compatibility, changing those pressed point blades in Peco turnouts to solid rails, and making a left- or right- hand crossover from two regular left- or right-hand turnouts. Constructing your own turnouts is not complicated, and is very cost effective with some simple homemade jigs for the frogs and point blades or with (expensive) CNC-tooled jigs if you have large numbers of turnouts to make. The clinic describes how to make inexpensive turnouts using your own jigs and simple tools, how to solder the frogs and rails to copper-clad ties, and how to wire the turnout for DCC. Some of the examples covered will be a #6 wye and a double 45—diamond crossing.  View Clinic

3D Printing Without A Printer — Gil Fuchs

3D printing has made a major impact on Model Railroading, as it has solved a long-time problem in the hobby of the viability of small run productions. 3D printing allows the modeler to obtain exactly the model he/she desires at the desired time, team up and share projects with others working on similar designs or road names, and/or print their products at home. Getting a one-off unique item is not an issue, and if one spends the effort to acquire some CAD skills, models can be designed using a computer with free software, the only major cost being one's time. Several approaches to 3D design and printing, currently available for modelers, are presented and compared. Areas where 3D printing can be successfully applied are reviewed with examples with references to relevant resources to help get you started.  View Clinic

Prototype—Based Track Planning — Robert W. Sprague

Railroad Prototype Modeling (RPM) is trying to replicate the appearance and operations of real railroads as faithfully as possible in miniature.  Applying this philosophy to track planning presents particular challenges, because few modelers have enough space to reproduce prototype track layouts and distances in scale and still maintain operating interest.   View Clinic  Visit Bob's Web Site

Ships and Boats for the HO Waterfront — Mat Thompson, MMR

The HO scale Oregon Coast Railroad has a major seaport and several smaller dock and pier scenes. This clinic focus on ships, boats and harbor buildings available and the reasons why they may or may not be suitable for a specific location and era.  View Clinic

Obtaining the Authorship Certificate — Martin Briechiel, MMR

This clinic addresses part of working towards your Author Certificate in the NMRA Achievement Program without any quaking in fear with memories of those endless term papers or reports at the office that tormented you in another time and place. This category is really far less intimidating than you think and is readily achievable while being a creative experience that encompasses giving clinics, videotape, web pages, or the traditional article publication format at a variety of levels. The clinic goes through all of the requirements & rules, discuss the "nuts & bolts" of "how to do it". Secondly, this clinic includes Martin's experiences with personal hints and tips for being a successful Model Railroad Author from an NMRA clinician through to being an Associate Editor and columnist.  View Clinic
Similar: Demystifying the AP Dispatcher Paperwork by Kurt Thompson, MMR Filling in the Model Contest Forms by Martin Brechbiel, MMR.    There is also a Special Interest report Earning Merit Awards that discusses how to best score points in the NMRA achievement program for modeling cars and structures. View Report

Demystifying the AP Dispatcher Paperwork — Kurt Thompson, MMR

Chesapeake Division's AP Director and MER President (2018-) goes over the requirements and paperwork needed for a member to earn this AP certificate. In a setting more of a seminar than a clinic, Kurt presents the paperwork he submitted 25 years ago when he earned his first AP certificate. If you are interested in seeing through the "fog of the requirements" or just have some questions about your own paperwork, this clinic is for you. Remember that this certificate was easy enough that Kurt earned his. View Clinic
Similar: Obtaining the Authorship Certificate by Martin Brechbiel, MMR Filling in the Model Contest Forms by Martin Brechbiel, MMR.    There is also a Special Interest report Earning Merit Awards that discusses how to best score points in the NMRA achievement program for modeling cars and structures. View Report

Downsizing to a Shelf Layout — Fred Miller, MMR

Many model railroaders hesitate in building a layout because of limited space. When Fred Miller moved to a high-rise condo he was faced with either —arm-chair— model railroading, or continuing his life-long hobby of building a model railroad. This story is about how he designed and constructed a —shelf layout— to meet that desire for building an operating railroad. View Clinic

Estate Planning for Model Railroaders — Marshall Abrams

This clinic is addressed to model railroaders who are uninterested or unable to continue and want to dispose of their model railroad assets. It also applies to the estate executor who doesn—t know much about our hobby and who has many other things on his or her mind at the time. Topics include: priorities, inventory & value, high value items, written instructions, planning for layout disposition, selling, scenarios, fees, scenarios, references, professional services, and using eBay. View Clinic There is also a Special Interest Report.  View Report

History of Model Railroad Control Systems — John Glaab & Gil Fuchs

The clinic is a review of technologies, systems and methods developed as part of the evolution of model railroading, to support the fundamental need to run  trains sharing the same layout and track — from the late 1800s to recent years. The first part of the clinic covers early attempts to provide multiple train control, analog systems and the shift from central panels to walkaround train control. The second part covers digital systems and standards, ending with a call to action for members — to promote standardization for the benefit of the hobby. View Clinic

Insurance for Your Model Railroad — Marshall Abrams

Most model railroaders never think about insurance. This clinic will help you to determine whether your homeowners— insurance sufficiently covers your model railroad. A decision will require some data gathering and decisions on your part: These questions will be addressed:
  • What coverage does your homeowners' policy provide?
  • What are all the components (e.g., motive power, rolling stock, structures, scenery, benchwork, scenery, structures, wiring, track, power and control electronics), of the railroad worth?
  • What is your subjective assessment of the risk?
  • Are you going to include repair labor in the insurance? Custom builders are expensive and unlikely to be willing to do repair work on site.   View Clinic There is also a Special Interest Report.  View Report

Introduction to C/MRI — Jay Beckham

This clinic is an introduction to Computer/Model Railroad Interface. Some of the content is provided by Dr. Bruce Chubb. It will cover some fundamental electronic and electrical information as it relates to C/MRI. Also, it will cover the basic parts that are used to provide signaling and the operation of a CTC system. It will also cover some alternative circuits that relate to C/MRI. It will not cover JMRI or LCC. View Clinic

Introduction to Micro-Controllers — Terry Terrance

Ever wonder what a microcontroller is? Ever wonder what it can do for your model railroading endeavors? This clinic will describe what a microcontroller is, how it works and what it can do for you. After a survey of some available microcontrollers, we'll transition to focus on the Arduino, the grandad of experimenter's microcontrollers. The Arduino's hardware and software will be described. View Clinic

Layout Background Sound — Fred Miller, MMR

Adding background sounds is a way to enhance the "multi-dimensional" effect on your layout. Industry, city, or country sounds broaden the viewing and operating experience. There are a number of commercial "sound boards" offering pre-recorded or recordable capabilities with prices ranging from $10 to $100 and varying quality of the recorded sound and playing time. This clinic explores available options including easy construction alternatives. View Clinic

Modeling Urban Scenes — Brian W. Sheron, MMR

Brian's HO scale Long Island Rail Road primarily models many urban and suburban scenes found on Long Island, including Brooklyn, Queens, and Penn Station in Manhattan, and the town of Huntington further out in Suffolk County. His clinic focuses on how to plan an urban scene for your layout, identifying the key elements that make up urban scenes, and then explaining what the key modeling components are for each element, and how they all can be combined to produce realistic scale model urban scenes. Brian discusses how to create realistic backdrops for urban scenes. He also discusses using techniques such as —cutaways— to model underground stations, and also modeling overhead subways, or —Els—. His clinic presentation contains many photos that illustrate the techniques described. View Clinic

Molding and Casting in Hydrocal and Resin — Jay Beckham

This clinic covers the basics of producing one-part rubber (RTV) molds from scratch built or other masters. It also covers making castings from the molds using two- part resin and plaster. The master is a HO Scale item useful to most model railroaders.  View Clinic

Multi-Function Animation DCC Decoder — Fred Miller, MMR

This clinic is about a custom designed inexpensive decoder developed to operate lights, sounds, and motion for animating buildings on a layout. This decoder operates from DCC track power and accepts DCC commands to initiate the animations. The construction and details of the decoder are presented along with several animated demonstration buildings operated from both a LocoNet time-of-day Scheduler and a standard throttle. View Clinic

Vinegar, Pickles and Railroads ... Oh My! — Rod Vance, MMR

This clinic talks about modeling the pickle and vinegar industries during the time period from the late 1800s to the early 1970s. We'll talk about how pickles and vinegar were made and processed, including looking at the typical structures and facilities used in their production. We'll also talk about the special railroad cars used to transport pickles and vinegar. We'll finish by surveying some of the structures and freight car models commercially available in our hobby that can be used to represent the pickle and vinegar industries. View Clinic

Visual Aids and Wiring Techniques — Pete LaGuardia

Pete demonstrates wiring techniques used to control turnouts, double-slip turnouts with LED, and controlling tortoises from multiple locations. Along with visual aids used to assist operators both doing visits or operating sessions. These techniques and wiring aids have been featured in model railroad over the years. View Clinic

Working With A Professional Layout Designer — Fred Scheer

Fred walks you through a bit of history, then choosing to use, and picking, a layout design pro. He explains how things go, from pre-planning to a completed design. Fred addresses time, cost, and the re- design issue; and mentions a couple of surprises along the way. You'll get a quick look at Fred's railroad and hear about the inevitable "What-I'd-Do-Differently" list. And, there's a short list of some resources now available to the design-challenged that weren't around 10 years ago.  View Clinic

Focus Stacking — Norm Reid & Jeff Fleisher

Every model railroad photographer faces the same problem: how to get the locomotive and caboose both in sharp focus. While traditional film techniques can help, one of the best methods now possible with digital technology is focus stacking.

Focus stacking involves making a sequence of photos at varying focal points, then "stacking" them to create combined images that are sharp throughout. The clinic will present two methods for creating stacks and demonstrate the hardware and software needed to produce stacked images. Examples are presented.
  View Clinic

Fantasy Meets Reality — Alex Belida

In this clinic Alex explains how he enhanced the experience of building his fictional Eureka and South Pass RR by writing his own history for the railroad and by creating articles portraying events in its turn-of-the-century Nevada locale. Then he discusses how he discovered there is a real life prototype for his operation and how that is shaping his future plans.    View Clinic

Having Fun with Operations — Mat Thompson, MMR

Operations is a fun way to increase your enjoyment of model railroading but in the beginning it can seem intimidating. This clinic focuses on helping you understand what happens during an operating session to help you get over the new-guy confusion. Mat starts with easy things you can do beforehand and then discusses the operating jobs you can expect and how to do them.He'll cover the few rules you actually need to know and suggest a few things you might want to bring. He'll even talk about the no-no's — things not to do if you ever want to be invited back!  View Clinic

Railfanning — Dave Arday

This clinic has two parts. The didactic first part covers
  1. The relationship between model railroading and railfanning,
  2. Safety issues,
  3. Types of railfanning, and
  4. Railfanning information ing it can seem intimidating. This clinic focuses on helping you understand what happens during an operating session to help you get over the new-guy confusion. Mat starts with easy things you can do beforehand and then discusses the operating jobs you can expect and how to do them.He'll cover the few rules you actually need to know and suggest a few things you might want to bring. He'll even talk about the no-no's — things not to do if you ever want to be invited back!  View Clinic

Railfanning — Dave Arday

This clinic has two parts. The didactic first part covers
  1. The relationship between model railroading and railfanning,
  2. Safety issues,
  3. Types of railfanning, and
  4. Railfanning information sources.
The remainder and majority of the clinic consists of slide shows from several railfanning trips, including the Cumbres & Toltec, Western Maryland Scenic, the Tehachapi Loop, White Pass & Yukon Route, and the Canton RR, with a little bit of background information on each.  View Clinic

Building a Turntable — Nigel Phillips

Lazy Susan, M12 and the Gear-head. No, not a pulp fiction novel, but how to build a small turntable using readily available components at a fraction of the cost of a proprietary kit or a RTR one. The first build Nigel describes is an On30 "gallows" DCC turntable, 7.5" in diameter, built using a 2" square Lazy Susan bearing, an M12 (12mm diameter) bolt, and a gear-head 12v DC motor that is rated at 2 rpm at 12v, and even slower if desired. Electrical wiring is probably the most challenging part, as 2 separate circuits are usually required, one for the motor (DC), and one for the track (DCC). Some extra items such as a pulse-width speed controller, and a track polarity reverser, are covered (the bells and whistles). The second build Nigel will describe is a wood platform turn-table using a 6" diameter Lazy Susan bearing, again in On30. He uses the same approach but different in detail. Some of the issues in polarity reversal, track power wiring and indexing are reviewed. The basic components come to about $25, adding the bells and whistles is about an-other $50.  View Clinic

Design Enhancements — Nick Kalis

This clinic applies artistic concepts to improving the story our layouts tell. Topics covered are: 1) Four steps in design (pick the story, design your scenes, select your scale, design as you build); 2) Design Basics; 3) Seven Principles of Design.   View Clinic

Building the Building for Building the Layout — Jerry Stanley

Jerry knows that building an actual building just for the layout takes a level of expertise beyond most modeler’s ability. He addresses the process to select a building site, what type of building to build on different terrains, the basic requirements to provide a set of plans for a building permit, and “things to consider” when designing your hobby room building to get these things done correctly. View Clinic  There is also an article.  View Article

Success With Static Grass Todd Hermann

Static grass seem daunting, but it's not that hard to get good results with the right materials and a little practice. In this clinic held at the Hobby Barn on January 30, 2021, Todd Hermann shared some of his techniques that he uses to achieve the look he wants to achieve on his layout. View Clinic

Modeling in 2 Rail O (1/48) Scale — John Sethian

Much this presentation pertains to how accessible O scale is, dispelling myths about O scale being too expensive, requiring too much room, and that the layouts are “plywood central” without scenery. The larger size gives the feel of heavy moving machinery, and fine details can be added and seen without heroics. Most equipment is readily available. The clinic includes sources, suppliers, and techniques. You may come away with a changed outlook on O scale! View Clinic

Modeling the B&O West End — Terry Terrance

Terry Terrance's M∓K Junction Model Railroad (O Scale) is part of the “double humped” B&O crossing of the Allegheny mountains. The grade on Briery Mountain (Cranberry Grade), the crossing of the Cheat River at Rowlesburg, WV and the grade up Laurel Mountain (Cheat River Grade), is depicted in condensed form on this layout. Rowlesburg was a helper station as trains needed to be pushed up the grades in both directions out of Rowlesburg. The track is designed to create the feel of the prototype with heavy grades and very little tangent (straight) track and to be scenically sincere, that is, trains pass through a scene only once. There is quite a lot of information in the clinic and related layout tour. View Clinic    View Layout Tour

 Modeling the Railroad of the Civil War & more — Bernard Kempinski

Bernie is a freelance writer who has written dozens of magazine articles and several books on model railroading. Bernie uses some of the latest technology and techniques to build his 19th Century Civil War O scale railroad, including laser cutting, photo etching, 3D printing, spin casting, battery powered locomotives, and a microprocessor controlled telegraph system. His blog is a journal following the history, design, construction and operation of his 1/48th - (O) Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Fredericksburg line in 1863, and other model railroad projects. He is also the proprietor of Alkem Scale Models, a cottage industry specializing in fine scale kits and detail parts. View Blog*    View Video — How to Operate the Aquia Line    View Video — The Port of Los Angeles HO Scale Layout Project    View Video — WWI Battle of Cambrai     View Video — (more) Battle of Cambrai     Visit Alkem Scale Models*     View Book Review — Model Railroads Go To War     View Book Review — Waterfront Terminals and Operations
  * If Chrome or Firefox raise a warning, use a different browser or check your settings.

Backdrop Painting - Ken Wilson (4/10/2021)

Ken Wilson's clinic covers several considerations in painting a backdrop for a model railroad. His clinic includes alternatives to backdrops, what to paint backdrops on, tools to use when painting a backdrop, picking subject matter of the backdrop, painting different types of clouds, and taking photos for backdrops.

View Clinic

Build a Flat Car - Martin Brechbiel, MMR (2/27/2021)

In this clinic, Martin provides instructions on how to scratch build a flat car using wood. The clinic was presented at the Hobby Barn and he provided the needed wooden parts cut to the sizes and shapes needed to the participants.


Scratch Building a Flat Car using polystyrene plastic - Ernie Little, MMR (5/8/2021)

The first step in scratch building most cars is building a Flat car as the base. Building cars with polystyrene plastic uses the same steps but the material is not subject to splintering and absorbing glue and paint. In this clinic Ernie  provides information on the scratch building process and constructs a Flat car.

Building an Operational Crossing - Brian Sheron, MMR (3/20/2022)

Railways often cross roadways at grade causing a need for warning devices to alert motorists and pedestrians of approaching trains. In this clinic Brian provided information on how to install automatic operating crossbucks and crossing gates on a model railroad layout.

Building a Programming Track and Programming decoders - Ernie Little, MMR (7/17/2022)

Having a programming track is an important item for your layout. Whether the programming track is separate from the main layout or connected to the main layout though isolation does the programming track is important to your layout to allow you to program your locomotive decoders and other decoder controlled equipment. In this clinic Ernie presents information on the construction of a programming track and also basic DCC programming.

Do It Yourself Stay Alive and Keep Alive Devices - Gil Fuchs

Keeping your locomotives and other electrical devices going despite an electrical gap in the tracks or some other electrical related issue is important to your railroad operations. In the Clinic Gil provides information on building your own Stay Alive and Keep alive devices.

The YVRR - Not Just Prototype Freight Cars - Jack Burgess

The Yosemite Valley Railroad caused Jack Burgess to have to design and build model railroad cars due to the lack of commercial availability. In the clinic he provides some details of why and how he did it.


Introduction to Making Model Railroad Videos - Rod Vance (7/18/2021)

Rod Vance shares his knowledge and expertise in the making of making model railroad videos. Making videos of your model railroad layout or other associated activities is a great way to share your hobby with others. In this clinic Rod presents on the choosing of video editing programs, the stages of creating a video, and other information on the making of videos.


Modeling Drake's Well - Alex Belida, MMR (2/20/2022)

While working on a Master Model Railroader project, constructing a Densmore Tank Car, Alex found another interesting project dealing with Drake's Well, which was an oil well drilled in the vicinity of Titusville, Pennsylvania. The crude oil from shipped via the Oil Creek Railroad to Meadville, Pennsylvania where it was then forwarded via rail to New York.This clinic was done virtually and a pdf file was created from his power point.


Modeling an Elevated Railway - Brian Sheron, MMR

Elevated railways are used in congested cities separate railroad tracks from other forms of public transportation and are usually less expensive to construct than underground railways. In this clinic Brian focuses on elevated railways in New York City. In this presentation he covers the four main elements of an elevated railway, track support, the track, third rail, and cover boards, details, and the subway portion.

Painting Figures with Citadel Paints - Alex Polimeni

There is no right or wrong way to hobby only the way you want to do it. Painting of figures and railroad related items can be challenging to the modeler and Alex offers his advise on how to do it.

Prototype Modeling AP - Alex Belida, MMR (12/19/2021)

Alex created a diorama of the Woodsboro, MD train station. In this clinic he explains how he did it and provides pictures and maps he found during his research.


Rolling Brake Systems - Ken Wilson (11/25/2022)

Knowledge of the various braking systems found on railroad cars is important when it comes to modeling a car. In this clinic Ken provides information on the various braking systems, where they are found, and history of railroad braking.


The Art and Technique of Lighting Buildings and Streets - John Sethian (3/21/2021)

In this clinic John Sethian provides information on the ways to light buildings and streets. He provides information on light sources and how to power them, installing lights in side buildings and structures, installing outside lights, and special effects of lighting.

View Clinic


Working Diaphragms - An Origami Approach - Nigel C. Phillips

Working diaphragms in plastic for passenger cars and cab diesels locomotives can be expensive and difficult to assemble. NIgel provides information on a method to provide them that is quick, inexpensive, and only uses paper, card stock, and some glue.

View Clinic

Vertical Boiler Engine Project - Alex Belida, MMR

Alex Belida shares how he scratch built a vertical boiler engine based on research he conducted. This clinic describes his journey of this build and provides some of challenges he faced.

View Clinic

Earning the NMRA Electrical AP certificate with a small layout - Bill Mosteller

Bill Mosteller shares how he went about earning the National Model Railroad's Electrical Achievement Program certificate using his small layout. The slides shown here contain the information he covered in the virtual clinic he presented to the Potomac Division on Sunday, August 20, 2023. The video is available by clicking on the link in the Virtual Clinic Videos found at the top of clinics page.

View Clinic

Consider Operations - Brian Sheron, MMR

Brian Sheron presents information on the considerations of how to set up and also how to participate in Model Railroad Operations. The presentation was done during a virtual clinic he presented to the Potomac Division on Sunday, September 24, 2023. The video is available by clicking on the link in the Virtual Clinic Videos found at the top of clinics page..

View Clinic

Clinic Libraries


Electric Railway Modeling School

This schoolhouse is a repository for articles on electric railway modeling (street cars) and for recording electric railway prototype facts that can be used for modeling purposes.

  • Room 1: Catenary and Trolley Wire — Construction and Operation
  • Room 2: Track Construction & Operation
  • Room 3: Electric Railway Vehicle Painting & Lettering
  • Room 4: Electric Railway Vehicle Couplers
  • Room 5: Repowering and Rewiring
  • Room 6: Modeling Tips
  • Room 7: Traction Models

Australasian Region Clinics

Australasian Region of the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) covers Australia, New Zealand and some Pacific Islands. The purposes of the Region are to promote, stimulate, foster, and encourage by all manner and means the art and craft of model railroading and the preservation of the hobby's history, science, and technology.

Pacific Coast Region Clinics

Here are links to clinic handouts and presentations given at PCR and Division events. Not all clinics from the event will be listed. Only the presentations and handouts provided by the clinician will appear here.

Gateway Division Library                                     

Here are links to clinics, articles, photos, and reference materials on model railroad related topics.