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Tips for beginners

In this section you will find helpful tips for new people.  It's just a compilation of thoughts accumulated over the years in trying to help new people get started.  It's helpful tips for issues that new people encounter. New items are added as they come up.

Click here for a Neat bottom view drawing showing many details described below.

Building a module: Need parts?

Among the materials that you will need are some that we can supply that are a perfect fit, the right quantity, and free or at our bulk cost..  Currently you get these from Norm.  See our website for prices if any.  

Items needed and available free
Sky paint
Black, semi gloss (never use flat)
Gray ballast
Velcro to support skirt

For sale at our cost:
14-gauge track bus wire set w/Molex $4
12 volt bus $4.00
Cab bus $5.00 (nonrefundable)
Metal "original" leg brackets (See Rob)
Stand-up Leg parts $1.75/leg (wooden leg not included), $7/set  (not long leg)
Velcro (16’) to mount Plexiglas onto your module $7
SP&E badges, $2.00

Have some DCC questions?

There is a link (Related Links) in our side bar of links that provide some excellent DCC information and tips.

Setup/down Tips for New People

There is a Setup/Takedown notebook available at each show that shows the steps in order as well as how to do them.  Please don't attempt to do tasks that you have not be trained to do.  Instead work with someone else to learn how to do each task.  Also try to learn new processes  at each show.


Here is a nice checklist to evaluate your cars. If the following are satisfied, then the cars will work very reliability and it's more fun. Of course, the opposite is true.

Wheels are metal
Wheels in gauge
Wheels are clean
Wheels are perpendicular to the axle. (don’t laugh)
If the trucks are metal, make sure that the insulated wheels are on the same side
Wheels are in gauge.(Use a NMRA gauge to check the wheel gauge)
Axles are square to the trucks  (especially true where wheel width can be adjusted)
Cars roll freely down track of 1% grade
Trucks swivel freely on bolster (Many are too tight)
Couplers are Kadee (Plastic ones are very unreliable)
Couplers center themselves freely
Use a Kadee coupler gauge to check the following:
     Couplers are the correct height
     Coupler trip pin is the correct height

Use a scale to weigh the cars:
Ideal weight of car (1 oz plus 0.5 oz per inch)

Club policy: Eventually we would like to specify that any rolling stock on the layout has been certified.  Right now we are in a transition phase.  You can (and should) get your stock certified in the near future.  This can be done at some work parties and even during shows.


Yes we have a road name, the Seattle, Pacific & Eastern (SP&E). Plans are to use this name on our:
1.  Show applications instead of 4th Div HO Modules SIG.
2.  Shirts
3.  Rolling stock ( car colors are available)
4.  Inquiries about our Road and who we are.

TRAIN ACTIVITY LIGHTS (currently inactive)

With our backboards blocking the views of train activity, it’s really hard to tell if the mainline is blocked or train stalled. Ideally each person should watch where he is going and watch the rear whenever his train is stopped.

Since this "ideal" is not perfectly met, we have developed a system where a light is posted on the backboard showing that train activity is occurring and operators should be especially careful. Such lights should be posted under the following circumstances:
1. When "switching activity" is occurring that sporadically blocks the main.
2. Entering or leaving the yard via the wye.
3. Using crossovers (these block both rails)


As of Fall, 2010, we adopted a club shirt with our logo and name on it.  Periodically we will order more when we get several requests.  Sizes and prices are listed in the Bulletin Board

Designed by Norm Curtis 2011, 4d HO Modular SIG