All posts tagged train layout

How to make fake plastic train buildings look more realistic

Plastic buildings for train layouts are readily available, but like any plastic model, it takes a bit of work to make them look realistic. You can get what you need at the nearest hardware store.

Use asphalt roofing shingles for cheap and easy roads and ballast

I saw a great idea in a train layout photo last week–you can make ballast for your track out of asphalt shingles. My first thought was that you can get asphalt shingles for free when someone in your neighborhood is getting a new roof. Just ask for a few of the old shingles. Hauling the […]

Gesso: Brushable, non-toxic primer

The best time to paint figures is when it’s over 50 degrees, because the first step is spraying them with a coat of primer, which requires a temperature of above 50 degrees. The problem is that when it’s that warm, that’s when you’re busy keeping up the yard and other stuff. Wouldn’t it be nice if […]

Another creative source for S gauge figures: Liberty Falls Americana

In the 1990s, there was a brand of collectible village called Liberty Falls Americana, made by a company called International Resource Services and sold in department stores. The product line consisted of porcelain buildings that are close to HO scale, but the figures are pretty close to 1:64 S scale.  Made-to-be-collectibles tend not to hold […]

Speed-painting figures for train layouts in five easy steps

Painting figures for train layouts is a task that few toy train hobbyists relish, but we can borrow techniques from other hobbies to solve that problem. The model railroading and toy train hobbies have solved a lot of problems for hobbyists in other fields, and I don’t think we borrow from those other hobbies as much […]

Creative sourcing for O and S scale train layout figures

Hobby shops frequently carry a decent selection of figures for O and S gauge layouts, but if you look at the magazines long enough, you start to see almost all of them have the same figures–and they’re probably the same figures the shop near you sells as well. There are ways to get a better variety […]

How to light the underside of your train table

There are few things worse than fumbling around in the dark under a train layout. So I mounted a ceiling-mount light socket underneath my train table to create a work light so that I could see when I’m working on my wiring. It’s another one of my 15-minute projects, one that pays dividends by making […]

Finding a connection to my Dad in a suburban St. Louis estate

Yesterday I wrote about my greatest estate sale find ever. Well, the very same month as that one, I found another estate sale featuring a Lionel 1110 locomotive, which happened to be my Dad’s first train. So of course I put that sale on my list. The 1110 wasn’t among Lionel’s finest moments, but I’ll […]

Why you need a voltmeter on your train layout

I’ve advocated voltmeters on train layouts before, but I realized something, after checking out a new-to-me Lionel KW transformer: It’s very easy for a vintage transformer to deliver more voltage than you intend, and through no fault of its own. The “problem” is that transformers step the voltage down on a percentage basis. In the […]

Farewell to a St. Louis Christmas tradition

I saw something sad in the papers this week: Macy’s is closing its downtown St. Louis store, the former flagship Famous-Barr (or Famous and Barr, if you’re old enough) store. And that means this past Christmas was the last Christmas for the American Flyer storefront Christmas layout.