Introduction to model railways/Tools

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This page will list the normal tool requirements and where you will use them. Note that not all these tools are required all the time, and many could be considered “nice to haves”. But like most jobs, it is a lot better to have the right tool rather than struggling on and either taking longer, or making a mess of it, or both!

Over time you will build up a selection of tools that you prefer.

Baseboards[edit | edit source]

Woodworking tools required for the basic framework and baseboards include

set squares. Marking out timber for cutting

steel rules. Drawing straight lines.

spirit levels. Essential the main board is level.

circular saws, jigsaws, chop saws and bench saws. Cutting timber to required size.

hand saws. More careful or small cuts

Junior and Senior hacksaws. Cutting metal components.

Powered screwdriver - large and small with range of bits. Makes large number of screw fixings easier

Selection of hand drivers (Phillips, Pozi and flat)

Electrical[edit | edit source]

Small screwdriver set with multiple bits. Used in various jobs on the model

Multi-meter. Circuit testing typically for correct voltage, and for open circuits/continuity testing

Soldering iron. Connecting main power feed and droppers to rails, connecting droppers to main bus.

Soldering iron stand. Safer use of soldering iron

Wire stripper and cutter. Better and easier preparation of wiring.

Crimping tool and selection of cable crimps. Wire connection is best done with crimps.

Other wire connection systems can be used eg:

  • “Chocolate blocks” - aka terminal strips, standard screw type
  • ”Chocolate blocks” , male/female connector type
  • “suitcase clamps” ( as used in the automotive wiring business)
  • Wago connectors are also effective and easy to use (Screwfix).
  • solder strips. Useful for connecting lighting circuits and other accessory systems

range of electrical wires. Much of this can be recovered from redundant electrical equipment, or sourced from electrical wholesalers

Track Laying[edit | edit source]

Small hammer. Used for initial placing of track pins.

Long nosed pliers. Holding track pins as you hammer them.

Set of pin punches. Used to drive track pins the last few mm into sleepers.

NB . A fuller discussion on track laying techniques will be covered later

Pair of quality side cutters (Xuron or similar). Cutting rails to length (not required for setrack installations, essential if using (flexitrack)

Side cutters. Cutting wire or other small components to length Bull nosed pliers. Holding and gripping larger components

Utility knife (eg Stanley knife). General use, and for cutting sleepers (normally required when using flexitrack)

Mini electric multipurpose tool (eg Dremel) (these can be mains or battery powered - battery powered better for most purposes). Various models available in various sizes. Great utility for cutting, grinding, drilling, polishing, sanding. Etc)

Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]

Clamps - one-handed carpenters clamps in various sizes. Used while gluing, extra pair of hands while measuring etc.

Fixed bench clamp. Holding components while drilling, gluing etc.

Magnifying glass and stand (also comes with small clips). For small detailed work

Inspection lamp. General illumination especially useful if wiring under the boards and you have not got a fancy hinged arrangement to make access easier

Head mounted lamp. Used while doing close work, under the boards soldering etc.

Dust-buster cleaner. General clean-up of the work surface and scenery area

Miniature cleaner (as used for PC cleaning). Getting dust etc out of small/delicate areas.

Compressed-air can. Pushing dirt/dust out of nooks and crannies

Soft brushes. Used to gather dust of very delicate components prior to vacuuming

Scenery[edit | edit source]

Air compressor. Weathering stock and painting modelsmand scenery

Airbrushes. Used with the air compressor. Needs practice - refer tommultiple on-line resources for details

Spray booth. Good practice if spraying a lot of models

Static grass applicator. Essential for adding grass details to the model

Wide range of paintbrushes. Used for painting models from figures up to backdrop scenery

Various glues

  • PVA. General water soluble adhesive with wide range of uses
  • contact adhesive. Used for more difficult surfaces and where PVA will not work (eg plastics)
  • hot glue gun (large and small). Wide range of uses, and easily removed where not required. Can be “stringy”
  • cyanoacrylate (aka superglue) - gel and liquid. Rapid sticking of multiple surfaces. Especially useful for fixing skin to plastic....
  • PVC and other specialist plastic glues . Used for building styrene models etc.

Further information[edit | edit source]

Introduction to model railways/References and further information