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 Welcome to Motley Junction

Hints & Tips.


The items mentioned may seem obvious to modellers, but I’ve been modelling over 40 years and only discovered ear cotton buds recently.



Health and Safety warning: the items below work for me. They may not for you. Sharpe things cut and glues and other liquids may have fumes that you should not inhale. Suggest you use a face mask that fits over your nose and mouth. Safety goggles are also suggested when using a slitting disc or cutting where bits can spring off. Hot things burn e.g. soldering iron.


Bits Box– I rarely throw anything away and have a number of boxes which hold pieces that have fallen off stock and I don’t where it came from and other bits and pieces.

Cotton buds– cheap from £1 shops and great for putting liquids on to clean wheels etc. Also for mopping up when painting. Loads of uses and cheap.

Wood cocktail sticks– cheap and allow you to put tiny amounts of glue or lubricant into small places.

Tweezers– can be bought cheaply at £1 shops. Helps locate and use tiny screws etc

Wood tea/coffee stirrers– from cafes. After you have used it on your beverage, take it home and can be used fill gaps, put a edge on it and it will clean paint from windows if you have caught them when painting, without scratching the plastic window.

Vaseline – a tiny drop on the end of a screw driver holds a tiny screw in place in putting back into a model.

Loo roll– cheap and ideal when cleaning brushes or wiping clean equipment.

Zap glue and Kicker– when I found this my life changed! Once applied it instantly dries with the Kicker. No waiting

Glue n Glaze– Great for glazing window spaces in models and buildings

Cutting mat for a long time I did without one, but it is much safer to use one when cutting card or bits of plastic with very sharp blades.

PECO Electrolube– it’s expensive for what you get, but this revised product is a great cleaner and lubricator

WD40. If used carefully is a great grime remover.

Wheel Cleaning Brush– Peco do one. I make mine from sued shoe metal brushes. Separate the brush by taking some out of the middle. Wrap exposed wire round the two sections of brush and solder to secure. The wire should only be exposed around the wire of the brush. Connect two wires to track with crocodile clips and hey presto a brush that cleans the wheels on your loco if it is powered from its chassis. 12v DC supply = it’s safe.

PECO Track Gauge– red piece of plastic that helps you keep the right distance between tracks and track to platforms. 00 and N gauge versions

Wheel gauge– to check the back to back of the wheels are parallel & suit 00 track. I buy old Tri-ang rolling stock and the wheels have to be “spread” to fit PECO 00 track otherwise the wheels bounce over the point work.

Oil / paste buy the right oil for locos. The pastes that lubricate are good too.

Mini drill– runs off 12v and good for drilling and using a cutting disc.

Track rubber– the better ones don’t leave any debris on the track.

RELCO– only available 2nd hand now, but a good electronic track cleaner. There are modern versions by other manufactures

DAPOL Track Cleaner– gets rave reviews but I have not found it that good. Perhaps because my tracks are always a bit grubby therefore it has a lot to do.

Rolling Road– expensive. Bought one recently and it certainly helps running locos in while you can get on with something else. Also useful after an engine repair.

Controllers– I use old H&M’s. Why? Because they are robust and if you half the resistance you can make the Hornby 0-6-0 locos crawl along instead of going at 60 m.p.h.!

T Cut– for removing transfers etc from models. Promoted by Model Rail. Use carefully with a cotton bud. Does a good job.

Sweet containers and yoghurt pots etc– especially if you can see in them. Great for storage

Magazines– Model Rail, Hornby Mag, Railway Modeller, BMS. All have good advice and reviews.

Local Club– if you have one, give them a visit. Can sometimes be a bit daunting as you can feel they know everything and you know nothing!

Exhibitions– should encourage and inspire you.

Local Model Shop– support it. Cambridge hasn’t got one since Model Zone went bust.

Swap Meets– you can see what you are buying; often bargains and good for spares. One person’s rubbish is another’s need!

Card from clothing packs etc – great source of card.

Tea (dried) great as ballast or just to give a covering and texture to a baseboard. Cheap!

You Tube great for advice, inspiration and seeing what’s out there.

Ebay– I don’t do Ebay but it is a great source of supply for our hobby. Watch the prices, they can be “silly” for what you get.

The Bachmann and Hornby Members Clubs source of support, reviews and exclusive models.



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