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RRRailways — on a budget, sourcing of materials

Filed under: Uncategorized — grypa666 @ 05:09
Following a scandalous ban on Railroad-line.com, I’ve transfrred my contributions there to my own blog.

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RRR — on a budget, sourcing of materials

Piotr Bein
Section Hand
Posted – 10/20/2016 :  04:43:58 AM  Show Profile  Visit Piotr Bein's Homepage  Reply with Quote

I bought several hundred feet of track (G gage, mostly LGB, and Pico, some Chineses, which I lay in shadow areas) at an average price of about C$ 1.50 – 2.50 incl. rail connectors.
Source: modeller fairs, club sales of used materials, ads on the net…
One fellow tried for several months to sell 70 ft. of LGB track, mostly long pieces. Finally, he discarded the ties, bent rails to sell to scrap buyer for $20. By the time I saw the ad, he had already bent the rails into sharp curves that cracked them.
A local club lent me a gadget. I used it “in reverse” to unbend the rails. Instead of 4-5 ft. tracks c/w joiners and ties, I had in my hands about 1 to 1.5 ft. pieces of rail, with lots of ends requiring cutting. Still, it made sense with my budget: 15 cents per foot of brass rail. Flex-ties were a dollar a foot, I bought 10 ft. or so, the price doubled to date.
Rail joiners (also for repairs of used tracks) I get at fairs – about 50 cents (the ordinary ones) to a dollar per piece (the brass little blocks with hex screws) — about 60 cents per piece.
Brass rail damage by over-bending is easily removed by careful unbending using hands only. Loose joiners are tightened with pliers. Gaps between sections are adjusted by filing, cutting off one of the rail ends. I threw out none of my used track purchased, yet.
Broken locomotives — I buy if I like them… In most cases they are repairable, convertible to battery RC for about C$ for middle size loco). When I saw an older Canadian National diesel, I could not refuse for C$ 60. It did not have railings, the fan cover was missing and had a head-on crash in its history, but I got it anyway: it was asking my mercy like a homeless dog:) Now, it crowns my Railroading Museum, high up in the air on an “antique” bridge I constructed for her (plastic crate sides and wood — a unique steel-timber engineering :))
At the same fair, I got a nice small Burlington Northern diesel (C$ 8) — harbour to mine run with only a few gondolas due to 3% slopes. Being immobile, she waits under the ore loading facility, while the gondola is being loaded with ore via a hopper (enamelled funnel) from minecars above. Or with waste granite from mine expansion — via the shute above.
The third loco was only 5 C$, and went straight to the Museum for its elegance, steam and chrome.
The year before, for 15 C$ I got a Chinese plastic old-timer steam loco. She has a tender and a rake in front to plow thru logs and rocks on the tracks. I did not realize until later that it was quite close to the 1st loco that has arrived in Vancouver, BC, from the East.
Also at that fair I found a nice (Chineses) old-time draisine with 3 guys and trailer full of detailed equipment at C$40 (each figurine would cost C$10 in the store at comparable quality). The motor seized at the first trials on powered tracks at a show. I have RC battery powered Playmobile diesel as the mainline workhorse), so I did not bother repairing (can’t do it myself) and put the dresine into the Museum (a storu for kids: 3 brothers, founders of RRRailways in 19th century :)).
Similar with the rolling stock: fairs and shows; I set a budget and negotiate prices until I get close. Broken stock is oftem for free — I use it as a source of styrene (textured and painted already) in repairs of better stock, to make girder bridges from sides of gondolas and for details in buildings.
Industrial roofs tend to be busy, so I use the bottom/s of a car upside down, adding a few details: storage tanks, air conditioners, catwalks and railings.
Rolling stock w/o undies is good for track-side:
– sheds for work/storage, bins for scrap metal, coal, sand and gravel…)
– small stations… I have converted a boxcar into a station for miners, with take-off roof and complete equipment inside (toilet, vending machine, coffee can), seats, waste basket, heaters, clothing hangers, map of the railway system
– hoppers… an old timer told me, Prairie farmers use to store grain, concrete mixing plants — cement… elevated or on the ground, connected to silo system piping.
Free wood:
– waste at construction sites,
– dunnage (treated, untreated and cedar) at lumber yards and building supply stores,
– demolition of properties for new developments (in rural areas sheds contain plywood and wood you may need: hardwood, cedar…); recently, I found de-laminated plywood at one such place; easy to cut into lumber for 1:24 scale, bend into curves
– own house: I dismantled a damaged deck, underside still good, top of boards heavily weathered (nice deep texture and beaten-up colour); I’ve dumped the worst pieces, keep the better ones, will cut the outside part into any barn type lumber I may need in my scale

Periodically, I go to local lumberyards, asking for damaged cedar 1X1 nailers and get them at 75% discount.

– mismatched tints in paint stores, second hand stores (arts and crafts dept offers small bottles)
– take a bit from the can you bought to paint your house, car or what have you.

Sheet metal, styrofoam pieces, brick, concrete block, reinforcing steel rod, wire, cable, pipe, hardiplank etc.:
– demolition of houses and sheds, material already painted and weathered
– construction site waste.

Models of vehicles, houses:
– toys in scale 1:24 from second-hand stores and garage sales.

To assemble junk required to build a crane or steam tractor requires a lot of hunting over a long time, but is doable, particularly when you can’t fork out hundreds of dollars for a plastic kit (airplanes, trucks, cars). I bought recently at a show several styrene truck kits, 10 C$ per piece, normal price 50 – 100 C$. Also there, I got for C$30 a beautifulhull of a pirate ship. Previous owner ran out of steam at the upper deck, but the vendor did not have the remaining parts. My options: moor in the harbour as a wreck/museum, pretend it’s being renovated, or convert to a freighter or tanker ship. The hull is 3 feet long.
[more later]

Country: Canada | Posts: 80


Posted – 10/20/2016 :  6:22:57 PM  Show Profile  Visit adrian_batey's Homepage  Reply with Quote

Looks like you have the same attitude as myself. Although a mine scavenging and bartering is more towards building stuff on our small hobby farm and our country gardens ect. A few weeks ago my wife got me a whole roof of recycled Iron in reasonable condition and traded a bottle of whiskey for it.
We use Gumtree here which is similar to craigs list and find all sorts of items for free as people don’t want to pay disposal fees ect. Im on the look out for a recycled kitchen at some point. Would like to use the cabinets for storage and build my layout on top. My old club had this and it was fantastic to store all our tools ect.

Country: Australia | Posts: 1162 Go to Top of Page
Piotr Bein
Section Hand

Posted – 10/21/2016 :  12:41:42 AM  Show Profile  Visit Piotr Bein's Homepage  Reply with Quote

Corrugated sheet

1:24 panels made from flexible alu duct are cheaper than those from drink can metal, that needs shaping with a special gadget (could not find it in Canadian hobby stores).
I buy the fattest flexpipe, stretch it, and with scissors cut along the seam that looks sexy on its own. Without worrying about the slight spiral twist remaining (silicone gluing will straighten it), I cut it with sharp knife or scissors into roof or wall panels.
Again, don’t worry about damaging/denting the waves — it adds texture to the texture and makes your scratch’ing admirers pee in the pants :)))

Real stone

My friend is a stone artisan, but you could go to any of them; it’s cumbersome garbage, costly to dispose of, a treasure for you.
I get from his huge garbage container:
– dust from cutting/polishing various kinds of stone
– granite cylinders, diameter 1, 1.25, and 4 inch (cutting holes in gravestones etc.)
– other smaller shapes, depending on his current jobs. e.g. prisms — for end barrier on railway track, supports of a road or walkway across a dam or shallow river, cross girders on top of bridge pillars, crate-type reinforcement of slopes (I have a few, they look great on the plan); wedges — I built a few stone stair runs with them, a narrow plate (or incline of e.g. stone triangle) is required, also glueable to wood with PL 600 but not waterproof then
– narrow strips of counter-top slabs — decking of bridges, sidewalks, streets and squares…
– smaller stone slabs (granite, marble, artificial sandstone in various colours…) for: (1) underlays of larger buildings or groups of structures like restaurants in a food centre, (2) heavy wharves in ports that stick out above water so you can attach fake piles, watertight structural steel wall, masonry retaining wall or what have you
– larger, damaged slabs — I break them up into smaller pieces, and build mini-retaining walls
– old thick broken gravestones — three surfaces irregular, for Rocky Mountains in your garden 🙂
– 3 to 4 inch thick cutoffs from gravestones, one surface irregular, others smooth — for curbing an area of the plan so wife knows her limits 🙂 or for setting heavier retaining walls, edges of track runs, rocky riverbanks, mountain slopes, city level differentiation, dam framing and dam mass, tunnel entries… I have all of these, zero maintenance, just weed pulling from joints :))
– small pieces of rock chiseled off — interesting textures and colours, use your imagination… I use larger pieces in the mix of Rocky Mountain massive, smaller ones — mine waste.
I built two small stations entirely of different shape of stone mentioned above.
Ine inch dia, cylinders serve as pissers in one dam — water flows between them laid on top of the dam horisontally in the flow direction. The pissing sight abd sound fascinates kid and adult :)))


The ugliest tile most likely has interesting reverse side. From construction waste, I got a few large tiles for model undies with an inch or two cut off smoothly, the rest intact. I used one with earth tone colour and slab pattern for an undie of a bashed LGB station.
I watch my Home Depot for deals on tile end of line. A sq. ft. sheet of 1×1 inch natural stone and similar high-value tiles become 3-6 C$/sheet. Lots of fun to play around with them. I have just paved a pedestrian mall 🙂 in a village with them — looks great!. I staggered them and the missing fields filled with either halves that I cut with a chisel and hammer, or an easier way — with hardiplank chiselled exactly to size.
Sidewalks, paved paths, city squares could be made as mosaics of broken ceramic tiles.
Small, elongated glass tiles are good for industrial windows and skylights, and are cheaper than stone tiles. Similar shape of any kind of small tile is good for base skirts of buildings; fill the joints with e.g. latex caulk of suitable colour; remember that mixing, stirring latex caulk hastens its hardening considerably.
On the street side of my largest station, I glued elongated little tiles to a treated 2×8, forming steps as well. I had enough left over for a skirt of a station restaurant, and got more recently as they came on sale.
O got the biggest tile surprose at a recent fair. The vendor beside my table (non-commercial, showing only) spotted lath for tiling on the roof of my station model (I used the lath as trusses). He asked if I would like more, incl. metal ones, also tiles. He is a tile setter, promised to drop off remnants from a job when he is nearby my house. After they finish a job, the rest of tiles goes into garbage.
Not having any more of my favourite tile,the salesman handed me a 1.5 sq. ft. sample glued to a particle board_- “Take it, it’s free”.
I can cut it on the wood side into strips along joints and use it as skirts of a boilding or similarly.


Rubber lining for ponds is C$/sq. ft. I needed C$500 worth if it, so I hunted for a couple of yrs for second-hand pool linings without success. When harbour management centre was ready, just bought what I needed, calculating exactly, in order not to waste too much.
I have two ponds, one larger, so the width of the latter became the length of the smaller one, sharing sq. footage on a diagonal. To these sizes I built my ponds; the only waste is folds to make the shape of pond less boring, and rounded corners, but even this I saved for a few uses:
– shimming to level off trestle and other bridges standing in water on a rubber membrane
– strips for belt conveyor models
– membranes for smaller bodies of water (instantly, I identified a couple of possibilities :))
– expansion of membrane to accommodate a new detail on the shore after the fact; rubber-cementing the piece is the only option without draining water thru a leak in the overlap.

Once I found a bulky roll of truck tire traction tread for ten bucks at a garage sale, I knew my roads would be rubber. One side smooth, they are ideal for straight road sections.They willsurely kill any weed underneath :))) while the thickness will fend off grass from the road surface.

From a demolition I got later 1 inch rubber mat for free. Most workshops have them on the floor, also farms to protect animals’ feet on hard surfaces. The mat could be cut to fit road curves, seamless intersections etc.

I use rubber from windshield wipers as fillers in gaps, waterproofing the joint between roof and walls in take-apart models. Rubber transmission belts become bumpers in gates and on building corners in industrial areas.
I used sections of discarded rubber hose (small holes under pressure) to build irrigation system attached to the overflow in both of my ponds. The hoses direct water to open-bottom shallow gravel pits at the foot of nearby trees and bushes. Micro-levelling the system was fun! And it works. I got extra good suppers for finishing this project :))) My wife requested the system.
[more to come]

Country: Canada | Posts: 80 Go to Top of Page
Piotr Bein
Section Hand

Posted – 10/21/2016 :  12:55:05 AM  Show Profile  Visit Piotr Bein's Homepage  Reply with Quote

Hi Adrian
I do the same on my acre: scavenge as much as I can, buy as little as possible. Last year: my lumberyard had treated board on sale, I covered over 800 sq. ft. of deck for…. 150 C$ plus screws and wood preservative.
We are so fortunate to have a bit of land to play on!
Good idea with the layout on used cabinets. But don’t you want to try G gauge outside? It seems more fun to me, and you don’t need to mass produce the greenery. On the contrary, you will have to pull weeds out several times a year, cut excess of branches once a year, clear an occasional uprooted tree :)))

Country: Canada | Posts: 80 Go to Top of Page

Posted – 10/21/2016 :  07:34:10 AM  Show Profile  Visit adrian_batey's Homepage  Reply with Quote

Oh i have defiantly considered a garden railway. I’m sure it will happen in the future. Something else that may be of interest in the coming months probably the new year is my conversion of a 40ft shipping container into a layout room and hobby studio.

Country: Australia | Posts: 1162 Go to Top of Page
Piotr Bein
Section Hand

Posted – 10/21/2016 :  12:06:27 PM  Show Profile  Visit Piotr Bein's Homepage  Reply with Quote

Post here your container conversion experience, pls.
I looked up social housing for a discussion; lots of dwellings, some quite cool, built of shipping containers.
Are you going to DIY: openings, welding and drilling? I could work with wood, that’s it.
Another option I would consider for a studio is a boat hull turned upside down. Need a hauler with a crane to move and set in place. Could jack it up, too.
I’m doing just that: Fish & Chips restaurant plus 1 or 2 fisherman huts under parts of a hull 🙂

Country: Canada | Posts: 80 Go to Top of Page
Piotr Bein
Section Hand

Posted – 10/24/2016 :  01:03:13 AM  Show Profile  Visit Piotr Bein's Homepage  Reply with Quote

Instant “barn” boards galore

Last year, I dismantled my deck to replace the boards. I saved most of the old planks (2×6) since the other side was still good, showing the wood preservative colour, no cracks, as opposed to discoloured, cracked, deeply textured up-side.
Today, I advanced a bit on a restaurant model for my layout in the garden (1:24). I had a general idea: restaurant and take out at Port/Refinery station (I have an eating place at or near every station). Main customers: workers. Look: rustic, a bit haphazard.
I kept a ship screw 1 inch dia. (copper and other metal) for restaurant’s name on the roof — “Ship Screw”. Recent buy for a buck at a modeller fair, a tin roof from an older caboose toy, gave me a boost to start building.
Story — as always with my models and settings (kids love them!): the first restaurant at this place, before the modern port and refinery were built, had been a diner in a caboose, run by a railway worker, named Joe Smilie who lost his leg in a rail accident. RRRailways Co. gave him an old caboose and an early pension, and set the caboose with a heavy crane for him beside the tracks. In the olden days, the station was for a farm and fishing village, years before port and refinery came. He started a business in the caboose, named “Ship Screw”. A fisherman (his name was Screwy) whom he befriended gave Joe a screw from his boat when Screwy’s boat burned down in a fire (Screwy was careless with fuel). You can see Screwy’s screw on the restaurant sign, here.
When the port was built, displacing the village, Joe was sad, but his business boomed as so many harbour workers were coming to eat at Joe’s: hearty breakfast in the morning and take out of wholesome lunch pack for work, harbour office staff and truck drivers for lunch, night shift for dinner and food pack for the night… Joe had to expand his restaurant, added this here side to the caboose. His wife, called Cookie by everyone for her sweetness, cooks so well, that “Ship Screw” hosts wedding etc. parties that come from Cedar City on the other side of Cedar Lake. It fit right into Joe’s business: weekends for the parties when port and refinery work only one shift, feeding the workers on all other days. So he had to expand again, adding this side to the caboose, and also a garden annex half under the roof for rainy days. End of story.
So, the additions on both sides of the caboose are somewhat different in style. Joe saved better boards from old barns and piers of the fishing/farming village that was (a pile of old scavenged lumber at the back of Joe’s caboose.
On table saw, I cut the richly textured side of my 2x6s into 1:24 lumber. The walls I built from a sign that weathered in the garden, but lost its “Welcome” letters in the process. I cut it lengthwise into two parts of equal width (height about 10 ft., ok for restaurant and the elevation of the top of Joe’s caboose that RRRailways set on a section of track.
The sign was made of 1.5 x 1/4 boards with 1/4 inch gaps. I cut out window openings in both halves. Then glued “barn” lumber along the bottoms: a 3/4 inch actual width (most of my models have a bit oversized lumber dimensions which gives viewers an impression of solidity, and me– durability to my models). At the top of the walls, I glued 3/8 “barn” pieces. In between, covering the gaps in the original sign, I glued 3/4 inch boards vertically. Next step: window framing, different in every wall, since Joe built them a few yrs’ apart 🙂
Next step: I don’t know, whatever comes… my style of model construction, no drawings, just a general idea/story …and looking thru my junk for what might work.
Roofing on the two additions will be different. Corrugated sheet metal on newer side… for the older side, I ran out of fish can lids :))) — a large order for crates for farmers and fishermen market, and another for local fisherman co-op (metal crates for icing the catch). So perhaps a tar roof? — from piece of asphalt shingle, with added marks of ageing and repairs.
Garden annex would be in nice, cedar lumber, with some old “barn” lumber, roofing same as the new side of Joe’s restaurant.
Pictures — when I finish ;)))

I regret I did not dismantle the deck before I built my barn models.

Country: Canada | Posts: 80 Go to Top of Page

Premium Member

Posted – 10/24/2016 :  08:03:41 AM  Show Profile  Visit sgtbob's Homepage  Reply with Quote

Piotr, You have such interesting posts, how about some photos??????



Country: USA | Posts: 2777 Go to Top of Page
Piotr Bein
Section Hand

Posted – 10/25/2016 :  6:11:29 PM  Show Profile  Visit Piotr Bein's Homepage  Reply with Quote

When it comes to electricity, cameras, I am an idiot, rely on my wife but she suffers of fibromyalgia, i.e. between placing my order and getting the pic on my hd is a month 🙂
But no worry: they will come. She took a bunch of pics a year ago, incl. my best models, but they have not arrived on my hd yet.
You don’t want to see my models, Bob. They would eclipse yours …just kidding
Have you made any water- and weatherproof models?
I’d like to know your experience … and the pics of course 🙂

Country: Canada | Posts: 80





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