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Joining flexi track on a curve  

Joining flexi track on a curve can result in the joint often trying to 'go straight' resulting with the curve not being a smooth curve. This can be almost eliminated by not having the opposite each other.

First prepare the track to be joined by cutting as shown below being in mind the the greater the distance between the fish plate positions the





Increasing the time laps on a Gaugemaster SS1

Do you have a single line in which runs backward and forward say between a station bay platform and run across your layout into a tunnel or another station and want it to run automatically. I do so what I did is used a very reliable Gaugemaster product called a super shuttle (SS1) but found that the maximum time available to run trains from one end to the other is around 90 seconds which was not enough for my layout.


 After investigating the  PCB inside the box I found that if the value of the component used to set the maximum time supplied is exchanged for a higher value the maximum time would also increase.  I have now achieved a max time of 4 minutes before the train returns.

What you must remember is because you have removed the PCB and modified the circuit components Gaugemaster may not repair if failed in future use. Mine has been in use for around two years now without any problems.

Idea came from Martin Hollebone in Northampton in 2010


Running Berco 3 wire Colour Light Signals with 2 wire feed


Berco colour light signals are fitted with LED's which need a 2 volts DC supply. Because most people have a 12 volt DC available a resister is already installed in the common lead to reduce the 12 volts to 2 volts so the LED's do not blow. The light is normally controlled by a single pole two way switch which allows the selection of red or green illumination.

This is fine if you are controlling the signals by switches but some automatic systems like the Gaugemaster SS3 unit controls the LED lights by reversing the polarity of the supply down a twin feed wire. This is a problem with the standard lamp so I have created a circuit using four diodes to change this control from three wire to two wire control.


Please note the directions of the diodes by looking at the silver rings on the end of each diode.

The 1 amp diodes  are available from Gaugemaster with a part code of GM74 for a pack of 20. 



Now connect the  supply from the SS3 to the left side and the signal to the right side with the common lead to the centre connector as below.

When the supply on the far left (which must be DC) is connected with the '+' wire to the top and the '-' to the bottom the red LED light lights up. Now reverse this supply with the  '+' to the bottom and the '-' to the top the green LED lights up.   It's as easy as that !!

  Idea from Martin Hollebone, Northampton 


 General wiring - How to avoid a 'birds nest' of wires

When wiring a completed control panel to your layout you often end up with  a 'birds nest' of wires. One way to avoid this is to use 'ribbon cable' which is basically single cables in different colours joined together in the form of a rainbow ribbon. However this is not always suitable for feed to point motors that may be some distance from the control panel requiring thicker cable to eliminate volts drop but great for indicators, signals, street lighting, etc.

There is a thicker three core cable in the form of a ribbon available for point motors.

Both cables are available online from places like 'Maplins', 'Rapid Electronics' , or similar 



          Multiway 'Ribbow cable'                             3 core 'Ribbon cable' (for point motors)

 Gaugemaster stock the 3 core ribbon cable suitable for point motors


Beware of the problems when using PVA

Sometimes the diluted glue/detergent mix used to ballast the trackwork can seep into the MDF (chipboard) joins where trackwork crosses over those joins. If the glue mix soaks in it can cause the join to swell at that point. This can create a pronounced hump and cause the track to lift. I'm sure you can imagine the problems that could cause and the problem could be tricky to fix. I would also advise using undiluted PVA to paint any areas that will be ballasted. To be on the safe side I would extend the painting an inch or two beyound the area to be ballasted. I would thoroughly seal the MDF joins, screw holes, and any area where the diluted glue mix might penetrate.

So, it is better to avoid it happening in the first place. The trick is to seal the edges of the MDF board with undiluted PVA at the point where a track could cross. Before putting the track down I would paint all the track bed area with suitable paint.

To be on the safe side I would give it another coat when dry. I would also seal any extra holes I might drill (such as point motor and wiring holes) before ballasting. I've had an expansion hump in a join under my track and I know how annoying it can be, so I'm now super careful.

Idea from Pen in the Railroad Modeller Club


Idea for quick and easy ground cover

If you are looking for a quick and easy way to cover the contours of your layout with a flexible material that is already coloured a mixture of green try this product. The material can be finished off with suitable scatter materials and them sprayed with either diluted PVA or hair spray. 



Intended for hanging basket liners it is available 'on the roll' from all good garden centres.

Idea from Peter Arnold in Northampton


Making your own plastic filler

 You can make your own plastic kit filler by cutting into small pieces the plastic sprue left over when you have finished your kit and putting them into a spare bottle of plastic glue.

This will thicken up the glue over a few days and create an ideal mixture for filling in gaps or putting into corners to strengthen the kit.

Boat builders often use this mixture to make the hull of model ships water tight. 


Idea from Tony Newstead in Wellingborough



Parking carriages with lights in sidings

 For those of you who are running lite carriages on your layout controlled by DCC and want to park them in a siding and turn the lights off this is a very quick and cheap way to do it.


The first thing to do is decide which siding you want to use to store them in making sure it is long enough for the whole rake of carriages. Now make a cut in ONE of the rails close to the point so that track becomes 'dead' or you could replace a metal fishplate with a plastic one.  Now wire a SPST switch across the gap made when you cut the track.


Now when running the complete train into that siding put the switch in the 'on' position. After the carriages are parked and the loco leaves that siding put the switch in the 'off' position and the lights in the carriages will go out.

 Idea from Martin Hollebone, Northampton


Why a train will not climb a steep hill