General Tips & FAQs

From kitbashing ideas to dazzling TrainMaster™ magic, from wiring diagrams to spectacular scenery, the real expertise comes from you -- and so do many of these hints. To submit your own hint, please go to Talk to Us and drop us a line. It may show up on!

Meanwhile, this is the place to find the information you need to take your hobby to the next level of fun.

How To Create A Plowed Farm Field

Take a piece of corrugated cardboard with the corrugations facing up. Apply spray-on adhesive or glue, then sprinkle on earth colored sawdust or scenery dust.

Shawn Ruehl
Timonium, MD

Log Loads For Your Lionel Cars

I have a 1955 green NYC 6462 loaded with genuine wood logs from my front yard. A diameter of 3/8 inch is a good O-gauge size. Cut to the desired length you need. Also, 3/8 inch diameter dowels make good logs for log dump cars. Stain them if you like.

Mark Perlman
San Jose, California

Lighting Small Areas

Lighting small areas like stoops, porch lights, etc. can be easily done using fibre optic strands available from Edmonds Scientific and others. One big advantage is the convenient placement of the light source and the ability to light more than one area per bulb. At the accessory end, small dab of glue makes a great simulated bulb. Different colors are easy; simply add a colored shade over the light source.

Patrick Calhoun
Des Moines, Iowa

Creating Trees for Your Landscape

If you need trees for your landscaping, you can take pine cones and spray them with green paint. For the snow and winter effect, touch the tips of the cone branches with white paint and sprinkle some glitter on them while the paint is still wet.

How to Create a Chain-Link Fence

To create a chain-link fence for an industrial park, cut lengths of 1/4 inch dowel wood into 3 inch sections or "poles". Then spray them with a silver colored spray paint. The next step is to spray paint a 2 3/4 inch tall strip of screen (you know, the nice fabric that keeps those pesky flies out of the house). Let the paint dry overnight. Drill 1/4 inch holes in your train table every 5 or 6 inches where you want the fence to be placed. Next, glue the "poles" into the holes in your train table, then glue the screen to the poles. Your industrial park will now have a more professional look.

Naperville, IL

How to Create a Grade

You can use 1 inch Styrofoam, stacked, with a roughed up edge to create a small hill. This will also hold the weight of a train so you can use it to elevate part of your track, to create a gentle grade. Also you can easily paint this to match the color already on your layout.

Matt Walsh
Orland Park, IL

Ivy Effect

I was modeling a part of town close to a "forest" and wanted an ivy effect on some of the buildings. I used twine cut to length, and dipped it in white glue. I then dipped that into ground foam. You just glue that onto the building. It's easy to do, and is a nice visual effect.