Track Tips

A few tips for those traditional track users (and probably others).

Test all track (new or used) to make sure that there is no shorting from the rail insulators.

When planning your layout use the widest radius curves that you can. O27 or O31 might be fine with the trains you have now, but in the future?  Also, they will run better (and they can go faster!) with wider radius.

O27 curves can be found with O42, O54 and O72 radius, O curves with O42 and O72 (not sure about O54).

When laying out your track, mark where you will need fibre pins for blocks with a piece of masking tape – it’as a lot easier to do this than to remember after you screw the tracks down.

When screwing the tracks down, don’t overtighten and bend the ties, this could change the gauge slightly, or cause insulator shorts.

Avoid track joints when possible – single lengths equal to 3 straight tracks are available – use them when you can.  Also, instead of using short filler pieces when needed, cut one of these longer pieces to the length of one or two tracks plus the filler piece.

Have fun building!

Lionel Eras

This does not need to be an expensive hobby – If you are resourceful. Lots of free, or close to free, stuff can be had/made for the layout.

I’ve made neat barrels from the moisture absorbing inserts that come with one the CVS brand of Prylosec. I just spray them red or green and paint the tops silver – done.

Buy your significant other quality roses – they come with tubes on each stem to hold water. I sprayed these with a grey primer, glued them together in two rows, added a propane company sign (cut out of the yellow pages) – instant propane tank farm.

Pink or blue Styrofoam scraps can make wonderful viaducts or retaining walls when worked with a hot Styrofoam cutting tool. I like the one called Tippi. Check out their website and you will see how easy this is.

The beaded white Styrofoam sheets that come as packing makes a great basis for mountains, etc. when roughly broken and glued in layers (white glue). I like to paint them with a grey latex paint and then dry brush with green, black and brown. Add groundcover, pieces of lichen etc.

Speaking of ground cover, even a small woodworking project will produce a couple gallon coffee cans of sawdust. Use some as is and use Rit dye to dye the rest green.

Don’t forget that dried used coffee grounds also make good dark brown ground cover.

Fall is a super time to find weeds (goldenrod is great for this) to make trees. I pick the good ones, sometimes glue two together at the stems and shape with a scissor. I then spray them from both the bottom up and top down with green, red, yellow or brown spray paint, sometimes using a combination of these colors as a dusting over coat. I thicken and texture the stem “trunk” with hot glue and paint it a brownish-grey with latex paint.

The free logs for the layout or car load are branches or twigs cut to size.

How do you hold loads to your flat cars? Burn the fuzz off of pipe cleaners and what’s left looks like chain. Like the bands that Lionel uses? Pick up a pack of hair bands from your local chain drug store. Many in the package are white or silver and look exactly like those used by Lionel. Give the other colors to the kids.

What are your free ideas??



Nostalgia: The good feeling one gets when thinking about old times with friends, family, places and, yes, even things.

Nostalgia is largely the main reason why we collect things from our past, be it trains, dolls, baseball cards, Pez dispensers, or whatever. It is fun to try to recapture what we had, what we wanted, or what we remember from our childhoods.

When it comes to trains, that nostalgic feeling is the main reason so many of us buy Pre or Post-war trains and accessories, even though the modern versions are more realistic, have digital sounds and digital remote control features. Even the track many of us use. Many people build new layouts, with the same tubular track that has been around for over 80 years, over 100 years when it comes to Standard Gauge. This is true even though there are many newer track systems available that include prototypical ties and built-in ballast.

The basic design of many of our layouts, plywood over framing, is way dated when compared to newer methods, such as open frame – but plywood tops are still readily used.  Many of us still use the same scenery materials that have been used for at least 90 years – sawdust (dyed or otherwise), coffee grounds, paper Mache, lichen, etc. Again, this is so even though much better and realistic materials are available today.

Many of us prefer Plasticville and similar buildings from the 1950’s. When compared to the current scale and detailed buildings available today, somehow the old stuff just look “right” on a layout to many of us. Some of us name areas of our layouts, buildings, etc after family and friends.

Certainly all of these things are true when it comes to the Warrenville Railroad!

Some take adding good memories of people, places, things and even movies and television shows to their layouts even further. A great example of this is Mike and Ronnie’s layout. Check out the blurb about it, and the pictures of it, in the “Friend’s Layouts” section of this website and you will see what I mean.

Nostalgia: A wonderful thing.


Musings on the updated site and hobby

I was wondering what to write about on this first post on my updated site. Then it dawned on me, I’d write about the updated site.

First of all, I love it (Thank you Karen, my webmaster daughter)!

Warrenville was down for a week and, as strange as it seems, it felt odd knowing that my means to share my hobby was not available. Apparantly, I love sharing the enjoyment that it gives me more than I thought it did.

I hope that the site’s visitors enjoy the website. Maybe it’ll spark an interest and get new people involved. It does not have to cost a lot of money, or take a lot of time, to collect trains, build a layout or operate one. A layout does not need be be large to enjoy. Read “About Warrenville”, I started small with no expectations. Growing the layout, and starting a layout was just fun for me!

The friendships I’ve made over the years because of this hobby are incredible!

Try it – you’ll like it. As one great cartoonist once said in a strip “Trains are not just a hobby, they are a way of life!”