Life can be frustrating sometimes if you are a railway modeller because so many things can go wrong or just not look right from the model electric trains and tracks to the rolling stock and scenery. There is actually a very simple reason for this and that is because everything is in miniature so often it may take a magnifying glass to identify problems. The following details common problems that arise and some useful solutions. For a speedy locomotive, contact is key as the current needs to be gathered and the metal wheels need to be spotless. If they are not in pristine condition, the models may lack power and stall. Over a period of time, dirt can build up unnoticed and the train will lose contact with the rails and as this is such a small area it needs to always be kept clean. It is not difficult for a build-up of dirt to cause debris that will obstruct the track to train contact causing it to stall or twitch. The wheels must be metal so never replace them with plastic ones, a mistake made by some in the past.
If you are purchasing passenger cars, check first if there is seating as lack of it will make your carriage resemble a toy. If not, this can be rectified if you buy commercial window tinting material, possibly from a hobby or craft store, then cut it to the appropriate size to fit inside the window so it gives the impression of glass without the transparency. Realistically, this may appear to be polarized. To avoid making the track layout appear muddled, avoid shiny surfaces and kill all gloss by treating it with a solution called Dullcoat. In effect this is a clear lacquer product without gloss that will make all your components look weathered, just like the real thing. Any railway modelers however, should remember not to apply this anywhere near the track or wheels as it will compromise the electrics.
If there are any parts of the track that are concealed from sight, using a small mirror will assist you in locating any inaccuracies that would usually go unnoticed. Rail alignment is easy to check as you can place the mirror to look along the track in order to see the far side of both rails at the same time. Examining the track like this will also allow you to pick up on any minor issues such as kinks, dips or alignments that are slightly out. It is much simpler to use a mirror in many different aspects of track location without having to stretch over the layout. Watch out to see how the track reacts when your train is running as this will give you an idea of any spring in it.
It is not just the wheels that need to be immaculately clean but the track that they run along does too. To keep your tracks in perfect condition, all you need is a lint free cloth – such as the micro fiber variety – and some warm water with soap. Hold the cloth tightly against your fingers and apply it along the track. Then once all moisture has dissipated, run a dry micro fiber cloth over the length of the track making sure no soap remains. Finally, any railway modeller worth his salt needs to ensure he leaves tracks in the scenery. In reality, you never see a car or truck drive through a field or along a trail without leaving a mark so to add realism – if your layout permits – leave tracks behind vehicles so they appear to have been driven on. For additional drama, you could even add skid marks near your level crossing if you desire to make it look even more authentic.