Sample Projects

Welcome to the Sample Projects page. Also see our Facebook page for ongoing Rail Tales projects.



Project: Construction of an as yet un-named HO layout in 5 x 8. The original layout  had scenery that was interesting and not badly done but the track radii were forced and so trains would not run on it. The design also was not friendly to operations:




The new layout design has two interactive loops and an internal set of spurs for switching. It is set up as a Timesaver problem. We are using Peco track and switches. This is a DCC layout using NCE systems. It will ultimately have ANE turnout control and a control board.

Work in Progress:



Project 3: The client purchased a large table and lots of product for it and requested help in maximizing the potential. As the table and client already had significant supplies of Atlas Code 83 and some track already installed, we continued with Atlas Code 83. We did switch from foam to cork for additional work. The client is doing most of the work with classes and instruction and some track laying performed by Rail Tales.

The basic design is two very large loops with along climbing branch line and a large yard and engine service yard.

Current Progress:

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Class June 18th 2014:

The customer is building a 4 x 6 layout for HOn3 (Narrow gauge) and brought the layout into the store for a class in laying roadbed and track. The layout design was made by Rail Tales. The customer had already built a good table and had laid the inclines. We had to make a few small adjustments in alignment to get the track to fit properly but overall, the initial work by the customer was quite good. This area is the tricky part where four switches interact and cross as they start into inclines.

The track is Shinohara code 70 HOn3 laid over cork. We secured the track with Woodland Scenics Foam Tack Glue. This does a good job but is still removable if necessary.

Make sure you don’t get glue under the switch bar.

The minimum radius is 18″ measured on the inside rail. The grades are all 4%.

This layout is intended ultimately to be connected at each end to other modules in the future.

Note that Shinohara switches have powered frogs and so the frog rails need to be isolated from the rest of the layout. Theoretically the frog is powered by contact between the points and the rails but we will probably add separate drop wires with a polarity switch to improve conduction.

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June 20th (project delivered)

This was a brass ‘baby mallet’ (2-4-4-2) that the client wanted to have converted to DCC, stenciled with the name “Old Rose Mining Co”, and weathered heavily to match the rest of his fleet.

The first step in a decoder project is to make sure it runs well and is constructed in such a way that a decoder can be installed. Many brass locomotives run very poorly and a decoder will NOT fix this. Fortunately, this little gem had a good can motor and pretty good gearing. After a little tuning and cleaning, it running smoothly.

If I am working with American prototypes, I prefer using Soundtraxx equipment and they make a compact light logging sound decoder perfect for the job. The decoder and speaker both fit neatly in the tender. I created a speaker box under the coal load (and made a new coal load) and linked the tender and loco with a TCS 6 pin connector (I prefer the Soundtraxx connector because it is sturdier but it was too big for  this situation). The loco does not currently have working lights but I wanted to be able add them in the future (or I’d have used a 4 pin connector). The  power pickup was in the tender for the left rail and loco for the right; not ideal but it the loco was heavy and with the use of conductive grease, a reliable electrical flow was established. I did have to drill holes in the brass to make the wire connection.

Unfortunately I do not currently have a camera that takes good close up pictures so I don’t have shots of the decoder and speaker install but it was nothing special.

The coal load was a piece of black styrene with lots of holes covered over by Vallejo “Lava” gel medium and a sprinkling of Woodland Scenics coal. (while the gel is set but not hard, you can poke through the drill holes easily).

The loco was already a nice faded black color, so I just cleaned it with alcohol and then dishwashing liquid and water. There are many very good ways of weathering locomotives but I prefer a series of washes and drybrushing with some airbrush work as needed.

I use Vallejo for all my painting and weathering now: the washes create beautiful effects very reliably and quickly and the regular paints drybrush very smoothly. They dry slowly enough that they can be blended without any additional medium if you work fast. If you work more slowly, Vallejo makes an extender that works great. Also, the Testors Acrylic Thinner extends the drying time and careful use of the Cleaner makes the paints easy to blend but both these products soften the finish so if you are not sealing it afterwards, I recommend using the extender instead.

I did not have to use a matt varnish sealer on this one because the initial finish was very flat and the lettering was dry transferred with Vallejo Decal Fix applied over and under rather than a decal. I did not have to airbrush any dust or grime on the running gear because the customer requested that the running gear be left silver so we can see it move as the train runs. The action of the articulated unit is very cool!