Decals: Where to find them. “North American Edition”

Good decals can greatly enhance a model. They can take an ordinary model and make it interesting, and they can put the final jewel on a great model. This will be the first in a series of articles on decals. We plan to cover where to find decals, how to apply the various decal types, and even how to make your own. This first segment will cover where can you get decals for North American railroad models. Since I live in the United States and model US railroads, most of my decal experience in from there, so that’s where I’ll start. I hope to cover more international sources in the future, so if you, our readers, have any recommended suppliers I would love to hear about them.

If it’s decals from a LEGO set that you need you can always turn to Bricklink. But official LEGO decals are limited when building trains based on real life prototypes. When you need decals for a Union Pacific boxcar, or a New York Central diesel locomotive, where do you turn? Fortunately the scale model railroad hobby has numerous decal suppliers to fill our needs. But not all decals are made the same and not all decal suppliers cover the same subjects. This article is intended to be an overview of the more common sources of model RR decals in North America and what they offer.

Decals from the Maryland & Pennsylvania RR Historical Society help make my model of Ma&Pa caboose 2005 a stand out build.

Continue reading Decals: Where to find them. “North American Edition”

Getting to work on the Lewiston Branch

Don’t mind the mess on the floor.

I’m making slow and steady progress on the layout.  I want to get the basic terrain, track, and ballast down so I can start operating the layout as quickly as possible.  After that I can worry about landscaping, buildings, and other details.  This will help me stay motivated to completion, because what’s the point of having the trains if we can’t play with them?


Examples of basic MILS rails modules used by NELTC


I participate in a club that uses the Modular Integrated Landscaping System (MILS) for rapidly assembling layouts at shows.  In addition to making layouts a snap [1], the modules also provide some depth to the terrain and provide ways to hide wiring.  We have some general guidelines for incorporating rails into the modules, similar to the PennLUG baseplate standard, though differing in that we always want half a baseplate between the viewing edge and mainline. 


I’m diverging slightly from the standard ballast profile of the club guidelines because looking at historical photos of the yard, the tracks ran at ground level.  Yet, I need to maintain the same rail height for club layout compatibility. That means the ground level ends up being twice as high as the MILS standard and each of these modules ends up consuming twice as many bricks.  I can already see the payoff with the canal that runs through the yard and the extra brick of height gives the right feeling of depth. 

[1]       see what I did there?