Modeler’s Forum

The next Modeler’s Forum meeting will be Thursday, June 27 at 7:00 p.m.

Rules for the 2024 “Square Footer” Contest are now available HERE.

Come and join us! It’s basically a show and tell. Show off your model work, explain or demonstrate a new technique, bring that new tool we all need, or just come and socialize.


Modeler’s Forum January 13, 2024
by Jamie Robinson

Six hardy modelers turned out for the Modeler’s Forum on this very sloppy day.

Bob Willard opened the Forum by showing a new micro drill he had purchased from Amazon. It has a self-contained battery, charged via a usb cable, and it came with a set of bits and a tiny drill press. It has a low speed, suitable for drilling into styrene. You can check it out HERE. Bob brought along his O Scale trolley freight motor too. It’s a work in progress, but quite well along. Bob used his new drill to make the necessary holes to attach the grab irons to it. Bob has also equipped it with radial couplers. He said he’s not quite satisfied with their operation, but to a layman, they seemed to function quite well.

Kent Waterson was up next. He has set his Smaug vs. Laketown project aside for a bit and spent some well-earned time working on his layout. He’s putting up benchwork and has built up his helix. Kent drew the helix in CAD and created it entirely from trapezoidal pieces. Pretty impressive in the photos (really don’t understand why he didn’t actually bring it to the meeting, though…). Kent described the method he uses for coving his backdrop in corners. The coves are constructed from concrete forming tubes cut into quarters, then to the proper length. The tubes are very strong and can be mudded over to meld with the backdrop. Kent is also spending the necessary time to create bulletproof layout wiring by making sure that every individual rail has a power feed wire. This is sheer drudgery (believe me, I speak from experience on this), but pays huge (invisible) dividends in eliminating future problems. He’s running 12 awg buss wires and 18 awg track feeders, connecting them with “suitcase” (insulation displacement) connectors. Connectors for these wire sizes are somewhat hard to find and certainly not inexpensive. Check an example HERE.

Mitch Kennedy asked some questions of the Forum members about pouring resin water, wondering whether or not it was necessary to secure elements in streambeds securely before pouring. Consensus was “definitely yes!” Mitch spoke about how his interests have been reinvigorated since joining the Great Falls Model Railroad Club and how much he appreciated it. He has been working on his layout and related how he has carved a waterfall out of fiberglass. He made sure to save the chips for use as scenic elements too.

Steve Doughty attended the forum, listening and contributing to the discussions. He didn’t bring anything this month, but that’s never a reason to stay away.

I (Jamie) brought a new O Scale model release from Sierra West Models. It’s a 3d printed Best 60 crawler tractor. Sierra West’s 3d printed models are simply outstanding. The models come in small packages without instructions, but complete instructions are available online for download from the Sierra West website. This is a classic example of stash-building. In my experience, you need to buy things you want when they are available, even if you don’t need them right now, because they may well not be readily available in the future…

Dick Holman came to the Forum too. Though he didn’t bring any models, he brought ideas for the 2024 Square Footer Contest. All the attendees participated in a vigorous discussion of the 2024 contest.

All the necessary decisions were made and the rules decided upon. There will still be two classes of entrants: Novice and Master. Anyone winning their category as a Novice will be automatically elevated to Master status for future contest entries. For 2024, the contest will be themed “In the Woods” and entries must be on a round base, sized by scale: N Scale – 2” diameter; HO – 4” diameter; O Scale 8” diameter. The only element that will be allowed to overhang the base is foliage. For the complete rules, go HERE, or check out our website post HERE.

The December 16, 2023, afternoon meeting of the Great Falls Model Railroad Club Modeler’s Forum started immediately after the club’s annual Christmas party, which was well attended. 

Bob Willard began the meeting by demonstrating how he makes realistic-looking tar paper roofs.  He covers the roof with paper tape and then paints the tape with black paint.  The paper tape can be bought at any drug store because it is used by people who are allergic to regular tape.

During ExTRAINaganza, four club members had submitted entries for the Foot Square Model Contest.  All of these entries were on display during the club party and the Modelers Forum meeting.  Dick Holman’s contest entry was a water scene with two airplanes on floats in the water.  He explained how he had sanded and shaped many individual parts of the models in order to make them look good.

Jamie Robinson displayed several new Menards O Scale vehicles which he had recently purchased.  The details on the cars and the finished look were outstanding.

Travis Johnson brought a scale speedometer he plans to use to estimate the scale speed of his locomotives.  He has been experimenting with the speeds of his locomotives to see if he can provide some consistency.  He displayed a chart showing the speed variation between locomotives during these tests.

Ellery Goode explained that he is experimenting with making concrete castings using Elmer’s Glue and Plaster of Paris.

Kent Waterson brought in a structure he is building as part of a large display.  In addition, Kent had a double crossover track switch and showed how he uses a servo to make the turnouts work properly. 

There was a brief discussion about having another modeling contest for next year’s ExTRAINaganza.  No theme has yet been decided on.  Someone suggested limiting contest entries to the size of a peanut butter jar cover or something similar.

The next meeting will be on Saturday, January 13 following the member meeting (about 2:15ish).











Resprung Type B truck equalizing over a toothpick



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  • Bob Willard and his Steam Shovel...