Fails and Fubars

Nobody is perfect.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I haven’t failed, I’ve just discovered some new methods that don’t work.

Being on the cutting edge means that sometimes you get cut.


Yeah, we here at Rail Tales make mistakes too. It doesn’t stop us from trying new things but it does occasionally make us use bad language and head for the Band-aids. We’d like to help you avoid some of our mistakes by revealing things we’ve done wrong, regardless of embarrassment.


#1) Use fresh sharp blades when cutting. Sure, nobody likes to throw away knife blades but nearly all our injuries have resulted from using blades that where not sharp enough rather than ones that were too sharp.

#2) Don’t use soldering flux if you have an open cut. It REALLY hurts.

#3) Make sure that the area in which you are pouring your water resin is water tight. Then make absolutely sure a couple more time. Then pour only a little in your first pour in case you are wrong. Resin wants to embarrass you by escaping from its assigned location so don’t give it a chance. Cleaning half a bottle of resin off the floor and table is no fun. It is also expensive.

#4) Just because it says the word ‘primer’ in the paint name doesn’t mean it actually functions as a primer on all surfaces. Sometimes the term refers to the color (as in the color of primer) and sometimes it is primer but only for certain surfaces (such as Vallejo colored primers which you should treat as ordinary acrylic paint).

#5) Super glue really will glue your fingers together if you let it. Treat it with utmost respect.

#6) Never look down the nozzle of an airbrush with you hand anywhere near the trigger. ‘Nuff said…

#7) Don’t put the DCC locomotive on the track while the track power is live. We all do it. Nobody wants to shut the track power down while you fiddle with a locomotive. It’s still a bad idea. You can blow out the decoder if you slip and short the locomotive across the tracks. You probably won’t but you can.

#8) If you absolutely cannot resist the urge to test to see if the paint or resin is dry yet, use a toothpick on a spot that won’t be noticed. Fingerprints are really hard to remove.

#9) Once you have cleaned the model and primed it, if you can’t help but handle the model by the primer surface, use gloves. It’s best if you plan your job so you can avoid touching the primed surface at all.

#10) Read the directions. Really.

#11) Test fit before gluing or soldering. Really Really…

#12) Always check your electrical work as you go. Definitely don’t ballast and scenic a section of track before you make sure it works perfectly. Electricity wants to embarrass you so don’t give it a chance.

#13) If you add tint or color to water resin, it will reveal any and all imperfections in the underlying base, including indented lettering in the foamboard you thought you’d covered up. CSI labs need to know about this… If you need a smooth surface to the top of your water, either sculpt the bottom of the water basin or lay down perfectly smooth material like styrene sheet or the new Modelling Sheets made by Woodland Scenics or you can pour hydrocal into the basin and then seal it with scenic cement.

#14) We have discovered that Woodland Scenics brand “Realistic Water” reacts very badly to changes in humidity. If you use this product, be sure to use it in a LOW humidity environment and make very sure that any surfaces underneath are completely dry. If used in a humid situation or if there is moisture in the underlying surface and the pour is then moved to a low humidity situation, the resin will bubble even if it is totally cured! We do not recommend using this product for deep pours (layered pours) because of this. It still works very well for shallow pours but we have switched to Vallejo ‘Still Water’ instead, mostly because it takes Vallejo paints as a tinting agent. About every 10 years, Woodland Scenics comes out with a product that has some sort of problems. Considering that 99% of their products are excellent and they have some of the most innovative and invaluable products in model railroading, we’ll give ’em a pass on the not-so-great Realistic Water. The Water Effects is still awesome…

#15) If you think your electrical plan is so simple that you don’t need to keep the wiring neat and the colors consistent, you are eventually going to be wrong…

#16) Thin super glue, accelerator, and fine parts with narrow spaces between them are a very dangerous combination. Don’t use thin CA on small parts- a tiny amount of medium or thick CA is better.

#17) Old paint plus airbrush = lots of extra cleaning time and spatter on the model. Old paint, especially old acrylic paint, should be brush painted only or simply thrown away. That $50 model with the 20 hours of build time is worth the $3.30 for a new bottle of Vallejo…

#18) If you don’t think you need to double check your measurement/fit before cutting, you are eventually going to be wrong…

#19) If you don’t think there is a difference between a degreased model and one that still has the mold release agent on it, you are wrong.



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