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Some Suggestions for your toolbox

One of the often overlooked parts of getting started in the hobby are the bits and bobs that are used for the various tasks you will perform, whether it is cleaning track, putting together a kit or repairing parts that have dropped away.

Here we suggest a few useful tools that most modellers will find useful in their starting kit, though we readily admit that everyone is different and what we recommend others may baulk at.

  1. CA SUPERGLUE– a good all round Cyanoacrylate (CA) super glue is one of the most useful items in your box. Many people recommend cheap 2 dollar shop superglues (the ones in the little tubes) or hardware shop ones like ‘Tarzan Grip’ and find them adequate. However these glues can often be far too stringy, slow setting or lack the ‘gap filling’ ability of CA. ‘Roket’ brand CA superglue comes in several different varieties and is perfect for the regular kinds of tasks you might perform as a modeller- putting together kits, re-gluing handrails in onto a loco or fixing a part. There are also Card and foam glues available.
  2. MODELLERS KNIFE– one of the tools that you cant do without. A good quality ‘medium’ hobby knife is readily available and thoroughly useful for the delicate and careful cutting need whether your cutting styrene or parts off of a plastic sprue. Avoid the temptation to use a supermarket Stanley knife- while these are adequate for some tasks they are often too big or don’t cut as precisely.
  3. STEEL RULE: A steel ruler will greatly aid your modelling efforts. Aside from being much more durable than plastic ones, these can be acquired with scale measurements for HO/O/N scales so as to help you convert your sizes.
  4. LONG NOSE PLIERS: Very useful if you plan to do any soldering (they act as a heat sink) and of course are good for getting parts in and out of awkward spots, picking up or holding things such as track nails.
  5. SCREWDRIVERS/MINI SCREWDRIVER SET: The screws on models are often very small so a good set of mini screwdrivers (especially if they are magnetic) will come in handy.
  6. TRACK RUBBER: A must have. One of the most common faults on model railway layouts is buildup of dust or dirt, one of these will help get your track clean at the start of a running session. We can also suggest ‘Track Magic’ fluid which is excellent for cleaning not only the track but also the wheels/pickups of your rolling stock and any electrical connections.
  7. SIMPLE POWER TESTER: This can take the form of a small bulb with two wires attached which will allow you to see exactly whether or not your track/electrics has power flowing through it. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of wiring and helps solves layout power issues faster.
  8. BALLAST SPREADER: These little box like devices are loaded up with ballast and then pushed along the track grooves spreading ballast along the way, in a much neater fashion then trying to do it with a spoon. It tidies up much easier as well and you can get the hang of it quite quickly. Will make the task of ballasting your first layout much less daunting.
  9. SELF HEALING CUTTING MAT: Protect your workbench and give yourself a good surface to work on. Many cutting mats also have grids on them which helps you glue or cut straighter. A glass tile is also a good work surface.
  10. MICRO PIN DRILL: For making the smallest of holes in your models.
  11. NAIL FILES/METAL FILES:  The cheap emery boards are excellent for filing plastic and some other materials and are cheap enough you don’t have to worry about using them. Metal files are a must- as these come in a variety of shapes (round for making round holes, with corners for making 90 degree angle corners) they will make many jobs much easier.


There are further obvious tools that you can have such as tweezers, rasps, soldering irons and Dremel multitools to name a few. Why not tell us some of your tools that you find indispensable?


Next in our series we will take a look at Adelaide’s’ model railway clubs- should you join one and what is out there?