N Scale On a Dime (or less)

Grey One Sep 9, 2010

  1. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

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    Yes, times are hard for many of us. Model railroading can be very expensive in any scale. Still, I know there are lots and lots and well, 10s / 100s? of ways to achieve a lot with a little.

    How can this be? The use of - free - material. Free? Did I say "Free"? Yes I did.
    Trees made from wire or dried weeds. The wire which is in that cord of that appliance you never threw out or the extra power cord for your printer.
    Buildings made from colored paper and printed on
    Pipes made from straws
    Fences made from - almost anything
    Small hills made from carving foam / wads of paper / or?
    "Turd Polishing" - taking a cheap old item and making it cool looking.
    Weathering cars and buildings can be done very cheaply

    No, you can't expand into the next room but you can still enjoy model railroading.

    Folks, please post "How to Enjoy N Scale on a Dime" type projects.
     
  2. Mos6502

    Mos6502 TrainBoard Member

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    Next time you do a load of lights... try and get all of the lint out of the lint trap in one piece - you can dye it green and make fairly convincing (though very fragile) grass.

    Strange but true, I picked that hint up from an old British book on model railways.
     
  3. jdetray

    jdetray TrainBoard Member

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    A source of cheap plastic sheet stock for modeling projects is the generic "For Sale" signs available at Wal*Mart or similar stores. One large sign costs $2-$3 and provides enough plastic for several projects.

    The signs are white on the back and take paint well. The plastic cuts easily. It can be glued with Testors glue for styrene, so I imagine any styrene glue will work.

    Hint: The less lettering on the sign, the less it costs. A "For Sale" sign costs less than a "For Sale By Owner" sign. True!

    - Jeff
     
  4. National Mallets

    National Mallets TrainBoard Member

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    Pick up the hair at a barber shop, and use it to duplicate Cape Cod.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 9, 2010
  5. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    I hit a favorite hobby store in MT a couple years ago, and scored a 30' coil of bumpy chenille for 10 bucks. Cut the bumps apart to make cheapy trees. A can of cheap green spray paint, and some ground foam and I could make hundred of trees on the cheap. I would run out of scenic materials long before I run out of chenille. I just have very little time to do that now that I am back in college.
    Tearing through the pile of projects ammassed over the years should keep me busy for a long time, if I had the time to work on them.
    One way to keep modeling on the cheap is to look at the most unlikely areas of the home for anything that could be useful for modeling. You don't need rock molds to make realistic rocks--just heavy-duty aluminum foil, as seen on the lastest issue of N Scale RRing mag.
     
  6. maxairedale

    maxairedale TrainBoard Member

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    I get used 2 X 4 ft ceiling tiles from work for making rock landscaping and as the surface the railroad is built on. These tiles are being replaced because they are either water stained or broken. The hill in the image below as made with the recycled ceiling tiles, cardboard strips (old box) and masking tape (left over from a painting project in the house). The large rocks came from the driveway.

    [​IMG]

    Gary
     
  7. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

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    Instead of buying your trains at the LHS or online, buy them at swap meets.
     
  8. oldrk

    oldrk TrainBoard Supporter

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    [​IMG]

    I wanted to model a pulpwood car that the C&O had. For the load I went out in the yard and cut small branches from a pine tree and glued in place. Cost..$0.
     
  9. Fishplate

    Fishplate TrainBoard Supporter

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    Some of the old-timers on the board might remember Rodger Letourneau. He was the MacGyver of N scale, a master of cheap/free detailing. There was a Model Railroader article showing how he detailed CP F units using staples, bits of paper, and plastic price tag strings from clothing stores. They looked pretty good, too!
     
  10. SleeperN06

    SleeperN06 TrainBoard Member

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    I made these Microwave Dishes out of ping pong balls and phone wire.

    [​IMG]

    I made this Backyard pool out of a cap of a water bottle.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Fotheringill

    Fotheringill Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I have done it and made a cut to shape asphalt parking lot then sprayed flat black. It works and it is, indeed, cheaper.
     
  12. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

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    Grey One,

    I think there's been two threads on a topic like this in the past. including one started by you, and one started by me (blush). I don't have time to run these down tonight, but maybe another mod could.

    My <dime tip? Skewers from the grocery store. About $0.01 or less a piece. Good for masts on ships and just about anything that needs 1-foot diameter poles (with or without tips). They are really cheap!
     
  13. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

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    Thanks Pete,
    Ya, mine was in "Inspection Pit" titled "Cheap Easy and Quick". I couldn't find it either.
     
  14. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Steve-

    Do you recall approximately when that topic was started?

    Boxcab E50
     
  15. CraigN

    CraigN TrainBoard Supporter

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    I built all my benchwork and subroadbed from Plywood strips that were being thrown out at my old job.
    I then used foam sheets ( both pink and white varieties ) for my terrain that was thrown out at my present job.
    My bottle brush style trees are made from some bailer twine that I have. ( I live near a farm )
    The spring wire I use to connect my electrical slide switches to my turnouts is cut from used guitar strings.
    That's it for the free stuff so far on my railroad.

    Craig
     
  16. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    Recycling is great, eh? A great tip is to ask at construction sites for leftover scraps that would be otherwise tossed in a dumpster. Always ask first, however, to avaoid "complications". Contractors have to pay to have waste hauled away--recycling keeps the earth greener, and saves the contractor money too. In most cases, they would likely be happy to oblige.
     
  17. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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  18. SP-Wolf

    SP-Wolf TrainBoard Supporter

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    For window shades--go to your local hardware store(Lowes or Home Depot) or who ever has a large paint department. Pick up what ever color swatch you like. They have a great veriety of colors.Works for buildings or passenger cars. Cost: $0.00

    Enjoy,
    Wolf
     
  19. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Wolf: I just hope the G scale guys don't see your idea. Heh, heh, heh...

    I use ordinary home improvement store sand, graded and sifted, for basic ground cover. As silica, it is somewhat clear, so it has to be painted or covered with foam.
    [​IMG]
     
  20. brakie

    brakie TrainBoard Member

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    Heres a money saver for background buildings.

    I have 4 of these 2-D buildings and all they are is laser paper "buildings" on foam core backing..All 4 of mine cost less then $30.00 including shipping and I am sure save me a ton of money buying kits..

    You be the judge.

    [​IMG]
     

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