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Tools - Model Railroading Tips, Tricks and Techniques

Tool Tips

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Track Nails
I read the post about using needle nose pliers to hold the nails while driving them in to hold the track in place. I use a nail set to push the nails in. I found that driving the nail in (even with a small hammer) would set the nail too deep and am very happy using the nail set (purchased at a local hardware store for about $3.00) to push the nails through the cork and into 3/4 inch plywood. -Charles Chapman

A Blender!
An old blender (or a newer inexpensive one) makes a great addition to any workshop. You can make groundfoam by filling the blender with water, and then adding chopped clumps of foam rubber and acrylic paint to the mix. Add enough paint to get the shade of your desire.

When thoroughly blended, let foam bits and pieces dry overnight on a paper towel.

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Use the blender to mix lightweight Hydrocal, as well. I don't know about the rest of you, but I have found that Hydrocal is not too easy to mix to the right consistency; the stuff doesn't 'dissolve' like normal plaster does. The blender makes quick work of it. Cleanup is easy if you first dump all of your mix onto a secondary "pouring" container, and quickly rinse the blender out under warm water in a utility sink or hose spicket. Pour your mix into the molds from the secondary container.

Also, to save some time, and mess, you might try buying 'pre-cast' rocks; there is at least one guy on Ebay who sells them pretty cheaply. -Chris

Small Nails
When I lay track, I find the small nails are too small to hold. I use needlenose pliers to hold the nail, place it in the hole in the tie, and then hammer it in. No finger damage! -Craig Wilson

When lubricating a small area(s) with either "Liquid Graphite", "Machine Oil" or any other lubricating material, I use a SYRINGE.  Purchase what size you are comfortable with at various stores. -Marty

I have had wonderful success with cutting down "Popsicle Sticks" to what size needed and Glue the various Grits of Sandpaper onto that piece. Glue both sides of stick.  Easy to remove and replace sandpaper.  Excellent control of sanding stick.  -Marty