Operating Part Four – Model Railway Tips and Tricks

Everyone who owns a layout has particular technique that they think work well, here are my model railway tips and tricks. To all my goods stock I have added extra weight. They run readily enough as bought, but UK r-t-r stock as excellent as it is, I find far too light. It needs more ‘heft’. For this I add ¼ oz or 7 gm weights. These I can get readily from a hobby shop in Montana.

I have also fitted #18, 19 and 20 Kadee couplings to all my stock. This is particularly advantageous when shunting. However, I have removed the trip pin because I do not use magnets for uncoupling because experience has taught me they were never where I needed them, and they don’t always work. So what I use is a shunting pole. These I make from a length of brass tube, in one end I insert a tapestry needle and the other a bright coloured push pin.

Model railway tips and tricks: Shunting pole on shelf below Sheepcroft  Yard

2970 Shunting pole on shelf below Sheepcroft Yard.


  1. Hello John,
    How wonderful to see more of your layout and including some video too! Could you elaborate a little more on your Kadee (- less dropper) shunting pole please? How do you get two wagons apart using this pole?
    Many thanks for such continued inspiration and kind regards,

    • Hello Dudley,

      Glad to hear from you and that you have enjoyed the website. In this new format it is so much improved-thanks to my son-Christopher- who was also responsible for the videos= that do help bring Hintock to life. Thank you for your appreciative and kind comments.

      Using the shunting pole is an acquired knack and a gentle two handed operation; with one hand the wagon is held, with the other the point of the pole is inserted vertically between the two couplings and they will (should) spring apart. Sometimes a bit of wiggling is required but on most occasions it works. As I said it’s something of a knack. One soon gets the hang of it.

      Kind regards,


  2. Ahh, the secret finally revealed! One hand holds the wagon! In all seriousness, our OO wagons are so light – even with weight on the underside– that just inserting the pole usually results in derailing both wagons. I was being “too pure” and wondering why the pole system worked USA HO rolling stock but not my Kadee equipped OO wagons. The joke is on me.

    • George,

      Glad to see your comment and to know you found this website; no secret really, but there is a “trick” in everything and that is it. The operation too is a knack that requires delicacy and a deft hand. I think it’s that rather than the weight of individual wagons, but UK r-t-r stock is inordinately light and weighting it, I think, aids better running. I rather over do it maybe but I do get good trouble free running and that is what I seek.

      You refer to American stock: I do also model in HO with my UP Providence River Branch (its been featured in both UK and USA magazines) and I agree that American stock has so much more heft. And even there I add additional weight and beyond what is recommended.

      No joke at all, put to down to experience.



  3. Dave Everest says

    Hello John

    My name is Dave Everest and live way down under in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Today I bought the January 2018 edition of Railway Modeller (we get it later down here), and have thoroughly enjoyed your article on Port Bredy. I also particularly enjoyed your hints on your website about adding weight to UK rolling stock.

    After building two layouts set in the U.S. (HO and N scales) I’m returning to OO scale UK trains and starting on a layout 18′ x 2’6″. I say “returning” as OO scale UK trains was what I started with in the hobby 45 years ago and really appreciate the quality of later UK models now available in OO scale.

    Just one question: to add the weights, are they disguised a load in the freight cars or do you adhere them underneath? I’d appreciate any further details of how you add the weights.

    Many thanks for your response and I will use your article as one of my references in designing and building my new OO layout.


    • Hello Dave,

      Thank you for getting in touch and telling me how you enjoyed the January RM article on Port Bredy and that it has proved a source of inspiration for you. I wish you well with any new build. I’m very happy with the result and since the article was published several alterations have been made that I think improve it further. In time they will get on to the website.

      Weighting does improve running considerably both for wagons and coaching stock and where my aim is to get it as low down on the chassis as is practical. Often however it’s not possible because of the brake fittings and the like. Then it has to go in the body of a wagon and can be hidden by a load. Those on the underside are not usually visible. All the stock is so free running the weight is not normally a significant factor in loco pulling power.

      For the weight itself I use a variety of objects; those used to balance car wheels come in various weights and can be picked up around tyre fitting shops, fishing weights too can be used or custom made from some hobby shops. These for HO come in NMRA recommended units of 7gm or 1/4 oz and those I get come with adhesive backs to enable ready fitting. American HO is modelled extensively in OZ and I’m sure you could locate a source-and probably in Brisbane.

      I don’t concern myself overmuch with recommended weights per vehicle I just want them to sit solidly and run purposefully.

      I hope this helps and if you have any other questions I shall be please to respond.

      All good wishes,


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