Basic information about various hobby and craft topics.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

HO Scale Train Track

HO Scale Train Track

>Bachman EZ Track has revolutionized the model train hobby with its ease of use and durable construction. This model train track is built right into a plastic base eliminating the need to staple or glue cork or foam roadbed down before you can enjoy running your model train. With EZ Track you simply snap the track sections together, plug the transformer wire into the terminal section, put the train on the track and move the controller arm. HO scale train track was never so easy to use!

HO scale train track has evolved over the years. The early years of model railroading, hobbyists had to lay track similar to the method used in real trains. The ties had to be cut from basswood stock, a laborious process. The ties were glued to cork roadbed after the rail route was laid out. The stainless steel rails were then configured to the roadbed and carefully nailed in place. A track gauge was used to ensure that the rails were the correct distance apart. Track laying using this method was as much an art as a hobby.

The advent of Snap Track made the track laying process much easier and faster. Atlas is now the leading manufacturer of this type of HO scale train track. The track is pre-mounted on plastic ties in standard length. Straight track is available in a standard of 10 inch lengths, as well as an assortment of shorter sections. Flex track, which is ideal for either custom radius curves or long runs of straight, connection free track sections. Curves are available in fifteen, eighteen, or twenty two inch radius. Partial sections of 1/3 and ½ are also available. Different types of switches are also available for this track. Code refers to the height of the rails. Code 100 is the most common type available. Code 83 is scaled to accurately represent the rails on a real railroad. Model train track took a big step forward with pre-mounted track. This HO scale track was pioneered by Bachman, under the name of EZ Track. This track was already mounted on the roadbed which made it easy to have a model railroad up and running quickly. EZ Track comes in two different types, steel and nickel silver, as well as an array of different types of sections. There are eighteen and twenty two inch curves, different lengths of straight and crossings.

Atlas and Lifelike also manufacture similar products to EZ Track and Lifelike has an adaptor which allows EZ Track to be used with its Lock-Tite product. Atlas HO scale train track sections can be removed from the roadbed and used in a conventional layout.

Atlas HO Scale Snap Track

HO Scale Nickel Silver E-Z Model Train Track

Back To HO Scale Electric Model Toy Trains

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Monday, May 22, 2006

HO Scale Model Electric Trains

HO scale is the most popular size of electric model train available to hobbyists. And for
good reason. At 1/87 scale it is small enough to pack a lot of detail into a small amount of
space. A four by eight foot sheet of plywood can contain a lot of different scenes for the
train to roll through.
This popularity has produced an amazing amount of track, figures, buildings and other
accessories to be produced for the HO scale train. Indeed, there are more accessories for HO
electric model trains than there is for all the other scales combined.

Add to this the sheer fun of layout building and then watching as the little electric model
toy train rolls along through towns, farms, forests and parks that you, the builder, have
created. In HO your imagination is the only limit when it comes to modeling a train

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You can model any era in time and just about any type of terrain in HO scale. The electric
model train can be a logging operation, industrial spur, passenger line, coal train, grain
transporter, or any one of the hundreds of uses the modern train has come to be employed at.
HO electric model trains are versitle and fun.
You can relive the early days of railroading with the historical train sets from Bachman or
build a circus with a circus train from IHC.
The articles of this website will endeavor to supply you with the information you need to
properly choose the train which suits your needs. You will find links to various retailer
who are selling the HO scale electric model train products you desire. Happy

Friday, May 19, 2006

Rock Molds

Why make plaster rocks from molds when you could use real rocks instead? One reason is the
weight of the real thing. For a diorama or train layout you may need a lot of rocks to form
a cliff face. The weight of real rocks may be more than the base of the layout or
diorama may bear. Another reason is uniformity and ease of working with the plaster rocks.
The plaster rocks may be glued to the terrain base with a white craft glue, filled
in between easily with more hydrocal plaster and then the finished rock face may be
painted as desired with acrylic paints or pigments.
Plaster rocks are easy to make using latex rock molds. Rock faces add realism to
any train layout or diorama. Latex rock molds are flexible and reusable.They are also durable
and easy to work with.
The first step in making rocks is to mix the hydrocal plaster according to the manufacturer's
instructions. Then lighly mist the inside of the rock mold with water.
Pour the hydrocal into the mold, tapping gently when full to dislodge any air bubbles
which may have formed.

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Allow to dry for at least thirty minutes.
For variety in the rocks, you may deliberately distort the mold before pouing the plaster
by bending and twisting the rock mold. Hold the mold in place with sand or wadded up
wetted newspapers while the plaster is drying.
Do not remove the rocks from the mold too soon, as this may cause flaking of the plaster
After the hydrocal plaster is dry, you may remove the rock casting by turning the mold over
and gently twisting the mold.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Model Trees For Architectural And Diorama Projects

Model trees are an excellent way to add realism to any train layout or architectural
. You will find a large variety of model trees from which to choose. Just about
any kind of tree is available in many sizes. Trees don't necessarily need to be scaled properly
because in nature trees of all sizes are found.

Some model trees are ready made. They are usually self standing, but the base is usually
removable to make the tree more realistic. Merely remove the base and stick the pointed
end into the terrain base. No painting or glueing is required for these trees, although a few
drops of craft glue in the hole at the base will help hold the tree in place.

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You will also find model tree kits. These are usually more realistic than the ready to use
ones and are much more economical if your layout or architechural project requires a lot
of trees. Usually the kit consists of flocking, special glue and armature. The flocking is
spread out on wax paper, the glue is brushed onto the armature and the armature is then
dipped in the flocking. Trees are easily and quickly made using this process.

Model trees are perfect for parks, forested areas, lawns and office models with
landscaped areas around it. Landscape Your City, Suburb, or Country Scene With
Realistic architectural model trees

Monday, May 15, 2006

Making A Rock Mold With Liquid Latex

Making a mold with latex rubber is an easy process. If you have rocks or other objects you
would like to duplicate you can do it with liquid latex rubber. You can even duplicate rocks
in the field if there is sufficient time to allow the latex to dry.
To make a mold you brush the latex over the item to be duplicated using a synthetic fiber
brush. Make sure you work the latex rubber well into the surface to be duplicated and work out
all the air bubbles. Allow to dry thirty minutes.

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After drying, apply two or three more layers in the same manner as the first. After the last
layer is dry, the mold may be peeled off and is now ready to use.
If you want a mold with a little more strength, add a layer of cheesecloth to the mold after
the second layer is applied. Press the cheesecloth into the latex rubber before it has dried
completely and apply at least four more layers over the cloth.
You may use hydrocal to pour in the completed mold.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Lightweight Hydrocal For Dioramas and Train Scenery

Hydrocal has many uses in diorama building and in train layouts.
Use lightweight hydrocal to build terrain for model scenery for school projects, train layouts,
and other scenery applications. Lightweight hydrocal is easily mixed with water to form a
tough plaster shell or to pour into latex molds.
Specially formulated for terrain model builders.
Half the weight of Hydrocal and it goes twice as far.
It's the tough, quick setting product you will prefer!
Use hydrocal for casting rocks, creating hard shell scenery, filling in
around castings and as an adhesive.

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Hydrocal may also be carved with a hobby knife or dental pick when it dries.

Leaves a smooth finish.<
May be used on Plaster Cloth for making strong hard surfaces.

May be tinted with Woodland Scenics Earth Colors (liquid pigments) or acrylic paints. Hydrocal
is a porous material which accepts color by absorbing it into its pores. Do not use
a sealer of any kind on hydrocal before painting, as that will prevent the plaster
from soaking up the paint.
Instructions are listed on the side of the package.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Styrofoam Sheets For Diorama and Train Scenery Projects

Styrofoam sheets are used for many craft and hobby projects. Popular hobby projects include uses for train scenery and diorama projects. Foam board is mainly used in railroad layouts as a terrain base for the elements for the layout. Use over the plywood or Homesote base, or substitute.

You may use foam sheets in railroad layouts instead of heavy plywood, but you will want to build a wooden framework first. The framework can be made from lightweight furring strips or similar material, with slats placed at the bottom of the frame to support the Styrofoam sheets. Glue the foam board to the slats for strength using a compatible Styrofoam or craft glue.

Styrofoam boards are easy to cut, carve, or drill. And since there is a variety of different thick nesses to choose from there is sure to be one perfect for your project. The foam sheets may be cut with a utility knife, or a hotwire Styrofoam cutter. The foam can also be textured with craft paints, shaped with pencils, or carving tools. Use toothpicks or floral picks to hold pieces together while gluing.

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The craft foam sheets can also be used to simulate rock layers on a train layout or diorama project. Glue multiple layers of the Styrofoam sheets together, carve and shape them to simulate rock layers. Foam boards may be textured using acrylic spackling, Gesso, hydrocal plaster, or modeling paste.

Styrofoam sheets can be used for diorama bases. If two or more need to be glued together to make a larger surface, stick tooth picks, craft sticks, or similar product into one of the two edges which need to be glued. Apply a liberal amount of Styrofoam or white craft glue and press together. Use wax paper underneath. When the glue dries, you should have a nice strong bond between the two foam boards

Styrofoam sheets are ideal for use in model train scenery as they are lightweight and
easy to carve.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

How To Make A Diorama

Most of us at one time or another have studied realistic dioramas, relief maps, or other
scene representations in museums, nature centers, zoos, and other public exhibits.
Scenery making techniques are also used in many hobbies enjoyed by countless millions of
people. Model railroading, model building, dollhouse building, and school projects are
just a few of the activities which can be enhanced with terrain modeling. This series
of articles will teach you how to make a diorama

A diorama is a scene reproduced in miniature used to tell a story or create an
impression, and many people enjoy building small scenes for display. A diorama can represent
a historical, scientific, fantasy, or just about any scene the hobbyist desires.
Dioramas are used extensively by museum and other institutions to interpret concepts to
their patrons. Nature scenes, geologic representations and many other concepts are
communicated to visitors by the use of dioramas.

Model railroading also uses scenery to make the railroad appear more realistic.
Mountains, lakes, roads, cities, and forests can all be modeled in a railroad layout.
Think of a railroad as a series of dioramas.

Model builders can also use scenery to enhance the display of their models. A model car
can be displayed in a driveway, garage, or racetrack setting. Military models can be
displayed in a battle scene. A scene can be created for any model you can build.

Doll houses can also have their display improved by the use of scenery techniques. Lawn
and patio additions can be made to dramatically increase the charm and realism of a doll

Many school projects can be improved by simple scenery building techniques. Working
volcanoes, history and social studies models, science projects can all benefit from
scenery building materials.

Slot car race tracks can also be enriched with scenery. You can build a model
representation of your favorite racetrack, be it Indy, Daytona, or Talladega.

Scenery building materials and techniques have been refined over the years and easy to
use products have been developed to greatly simplify the process from the old chicken
wire and paper mache days. The new materials are faster, cleaner, easier, and produce
a much better end result than the old methods.

Making a diorama is simple and the materials are easily procured. Styrofoam, duct
tape, newspaper, hydrocal, plaster cloth, ground foam, and lichen moss are the basic
ingredients. Acrylic paints and rock molds can also be used.

Styrofoam or plywood can be used as a base for the scene. Newspaper is wadded up and
used for hills. Duct or masking tape secure the newspaper to the base and help form the
terrain. Plaster cloth is stretched and formed over the newspaper/foam base.
Hydrocal - a specially formulated plaster made for modeling - can be poured into rock
molds. When dry, the rocks are glued to the hills to form realistic strata and boulders.
You can make your own molds using liquid latex rubber, or use ready made molds.
Acrylic paints are used to color the rock and dirt. Ground foam in different colors and
textures simulate grassy areas. Ready made trees or tree kits can make up forests in
the scene. Add buildings, models, and figures and Voile! You have created a

Scenery kits are also available. These contain everything needed for the scene. The
Scenery Kit by Woodland Scenics is the perfect 'how to' kit. It's designed to help the
beginner get started, or assist experts refine their skills.

A diorama can be any size. A mini scene for display on a shelf can be no more than
four inches in diameter and covered by an acrylic dome. A larger scene can be
constructed on a table. Most dioramas are twelve inches by eighteen inches or so.
Size depends on the hobbyists taste, space available, and subject matter of the diorama.

The diorama can model anything the hobbyist desires. It can utilize military models for
a battle scene. Animal figures could be displayed in a realistic setting. A treasured
scene from childhood could be constructed to preserve a cherished memory. Car models
could be shown on a racetrack or pit area.

A model railroad could be thought of as a series of dioramas. The train rolls through
a series of scenes ranging from city streets, industrial areas, and farmland.

Enchanting scenes can be constructed utilizing
model castles and fantasy figures.

A slot car track could be constructed utilizing the Brickyard at Indy as a

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