Cheap Everything Tips

Discussion in 'Tips & Tricks' started by TrainGuyRom, Dec 15, 2008.

  1. TrainGuyRom

    TrainGuyRom Member

    I am on a tight budget. so I have developed tricks to build a nice rairoad on a budget.If you have anything to add, please do.:mrgreen:
  2. TrainGuyRom

    TrainGuyRom Member

    TGR Tip #1

    For larger scales, a single figure costs aroud $7.00 unpainted. A trick is to make them yourself! How? With clay! Head over to your dollar store, buy some modeling clay (the kind you cook in the oven instead of a kiln) have a commercial scale figure at hand to get the proportions right. build the figure, stick it into the oven, bake, and paint! Spend 25 bucks and you could make anywherefrom 4-20 figures!

    For smaller scales (like N and HO) buy unpainted, and paint them yourself. The paint can also be used on structures, vehicals, trains Etc.
  3. TrainGuyRom

    TrainGuyRom Member

    TGR Tip #2

    This tip is for smaller scales (N & HO)
    At train shows & swap meets you can buy a package good quallity trucks couplers, & cars. Buy a bunch of cheap cars, and some nice trucks & couplers.

    For many cheap reefers there are cast on latters the same color of the "wood." instead of filling that off and putting on a more realistic latters, just take a black sharpie and color just the latter (not the "wood" behind it) black and it looks so more realistic. do the same to the hinges, if they are also the same color of the "wood", and that makes it look amazing

    On almost all of the cars slightly weather them. that gives you a well running fleet of freight cars for a fraction of the price!
  4. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

  5. Art Decko

    Art Decko Member

    And a down side of forums is that spam filters are required.
  6. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    If something is available outside of the hobby shop, it is probably cheaper outside of the hobby shop.

    For staining strip wood, consider using miniwax or equivalent stains from a hardware store.
  7. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    I use minwax on everything.. I also have Min wax clear shellac Very much cheaper at home supply stores.
  8. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

    I make a lot of my structures out of the cardboard form cereal boxes. It is pretty easy to mock up a building with the cardboard and hot glue, put a coat of paint on it and you are ready to go. You can add on more details by using more than one layer of cardboard to do columns or doors. You can also add details to the walls with a fine pen. They aren't super detailed but they are pretty good for the cost and time it takes to make.
  9. When I purchased my styrene for scratch building I ordered from a plastics company on-line and got a sheet that 3.5'x 7' or so that cost $10-15 a sheet. This will last me a long time and it's the same as Evergreen or Plastruct sheets. I still buy the strips from Evergreen or Plastruct but not sheets of styrene.
  10. Lepercan

    Lepercan Member

    If you, or a friend, keeps cats the plastic jugs that litter comes in make wonderful modeling plastic.
  11. Sawdust

    Sawdust Member

    :wave:RailbuilderDHD I do a lot of scratchbuilding myself, could you let me know the plastics Co. that you get your styrene from online?This sounds like a fantastic deal. Thanks
  12. Here are some details from my order, also the 015 sheet of styrene was larger then these but the same cost as the 020 sheet. The shipping wasn't cheap but I figured it's still cheaper then buying the sheets at the LHS.

    020 $8
    030 $13
    040 $16
    060 $20


    E& T Plastics Mfg
    Guerda Denison
    824 East Gate Drive Suite E
    Mt Laurel, NJ 08054
    Phone 856-787-0900 /Fax 856-787-9114
  13. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    I use plastic signage that comes in various thicknesses for most of my work. While cheap enough new, most can be had at your average retailer for the asking.


    I buy most of my tools at large craft outlets like Hobby Lobby and Moore's for half the price of my LHS. This 3 step ring plier does the same work as the Kadee variant...


    I always look under the tables at train shows, the bonanza of spare parts and kit bashing opportunities for 50 cents a box can't be beat.
  14. I've used signs for styrene as well before but I found the paint on the fore sale signs would come off when i was gluing it. Not a big problem but one I got tired of when building a model. I still use signs for building molds and such.

    I agree with Shaygetz about the tools from art/craft shores as well. I go to Micheals all the time and they also have a coupon about every week for 40% of an item.

  15. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Check out a discount tool supplier such as Harbor Freight for many tools suitable for model building. I have found small drill bits, pin vise, magnifiers, soldering irons, clamps, and more for much less than hobby tool suppliers.

    And I second the use of recycled materials. You can do wonders with a cereal or frozen pizza box, an x-acto knife, some white glue, and a little creativity. You can build some pretty convincing structures for less than 5 bucks.
  16. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I would have my doubts on the pizza box...if I hadn't seen what a fine job you've done scratch building an HOn3 boxcar with it!
  17. Sawdust

    Sawdust Member

    Thanks Railbuilder DHD for the styrene info. I get a lot of poster board free as well from sign Co's & good deals for damaged corner sheets at craft stores. Most of my buildings main structure is with poster board. Regardless of the finish roofing I have been using cardboard as well on top of the structures to give them a smooth surface with small overhangs. I did learn that some of the cardboard with high graphics will cause yellow glue to bead up & not tack as well as the white side. Ocassionally I check my wife's hair,skin,& whatever products for bottle caps or nozzles. These items can produce some good roof top details such as vents,stacks etc. I have also used the black bevel typed faucet seals bevel side up mounted on sprue pieces for vent stacks.Putty the hole up so water dosen't come in. :mrgreen: I am new on this forum & as soon as I can I will post pics. Keep this thread going modelers.
  18. seanm

    seanm Member

    All those clear blister pack things that everything comes in these days has a lot of possibilities. I have used them for window glazing, but also for fulcrums on my switch motors, sculpting tools for plaster and lots of other things I can't think of at the moment.
  19. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    A handlaid turnout costs about $5 in materials and 30 minutes to an hour of my time... versus $20-$30 for an ME or Peco equivalent.

    OTOH, handlaid tangent track costs more than decent flex track... go figure.
  20. dougget

    dougget New Member

    I really like this thread. While I enjoy working on my model train, I don't want to spend a fortune.
    My LHS usually has a stock of "vintage" items. I think they frequent estate sales and auctions to stock up on used items. Hard to beat a used box car for $3. I also went to a train show in the fall and picked up a few gems.

    I have a couple ideas, nothing earth shattering, but good and cheap.
    1 - Hardware store sand for ballast. There's another thread talking about this, but it fits here too. 50# bag for less than $5.00.
    2 - Fish tank gravel for rocks. Perfect for the banks of water features. There are some wild colors, but there is usually a natural color selection as well. I just bought a bag at Walmart for $3.33.
    3 - I was thinking about using toilet paper tubes for farm silos. I've experimented with a couple, but the spiral seam always makes it look... well, like a toilet paper tube.

    Keep this thread rolling, I'm sure there are plenty of great cheap ideas.


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