Budget Model Railroading

by Ron Polimeni

Ron’s “Corkys Diner” is a former Bachmann trolley with a bottle cap sign.

I recently completed a model of a diner for which I wanted to have a round sign on a pole. My problem was, how to make a round sign without attempting to cut it from sheet styrene. I figured I could possibly hack out a roughly circular shape from styrene and then file it into a disc but that didn’t really seem practical nor did a sliver of PVC pipe which would then have to be filled in. 

On my daily walk I happened to look down as I came up to Capon Bridge’s big green bridge and there were several bottle caps laying in the gravel. Miller Light bottle caps to be precise. And they were undamaged by a bottle opener. Twist-offs perhaps. A light went on and I picked them up. Back at my model bench a check of the scale rule proved them to be approx. 8′ in diameter in 1/87th. Good enough. 

As the pics show, the knurled apron of the cap can be sawn off in a vise. It is necessary though to put a spacer within the cap in order not to pinch the saw blade. The cap must be rotated as one cuts through it so as not to cut into the spacer.

When two bottle caps have been so prepared, a notch for the pole is filed in the lip and they can then be joined back to back using a wood or styrene filler piece. The seam between the halves can be covered with a strip of styrene or filled with putty or both. For lettering I used dry transfers, as I don’t as yet have the capability of making my own decals. Learning to print decals will be yet another project. Never a shortage of things to learn and/or do in this hobby.

The diner was bashed from an old Bachmann trolley. A skirt was made from styrene board and batten sheet. The steps are wood bits with commercial railings. The doors are Tichy castings. Caboose stove pipes, bits of wire, Microscale Industries Kristal Klear windows and a kitchen shed from the scrap box complete the structure. Paint and finish was done by my pal Dotti.

SMD NMRA March 8 Meeting Reminder

Alex Polimeni, superintendent (2017-2020), NMRA South Mountain Division. (Tom Fedor)


Just letting you know, once again, that we’re meeting this Sunday, March 8th at Jay Beckham’s home in Berkeley Springs, WV. Doors open at 2PM for the layout tour, with the business meeting and a clinic about laser cutting to follow. I’m told there’s more to see on the layout since the last time the Division has visited, so make sure not to miss it! Please email me at southmountaindiv@gmail.com if you need directions.

Keep in mind, this will be our last meeting before April’s Mini-Con.  You will also find an impeccably prepared post of our February meeting minutes HERE.

In other news, May’s election meeting is fast approaching! You can review our bylaws referencing nominations and elections by clicking HERE, and in particular, I’d like to draw attention to this point:

In addition, any three members may nominate someone via a written notice to the Nominating Committee, with the permission of the nominee. Such nominations must be submitted to the Nominating Committee at least thirty days ahead of the election.”

So, if there’s someone you’d really like to give a little “push” into the Super’s chair, well, you have the means to do so! Heaven knows, it’s how I got the job. Our nominating chair this year is Ron Polimeni, who can be reached at ronpolimeni@gmail.com .

I’d also like to take a moment to recognize Wheel Report editor Tom Fedor for another great year of our little Division publication, and to thank you guys for the contributions which make it possible, too.

Hope to see you all this Sunday,

Alex Polimeni, Superintendent

SMD Draft Meeting Minutes – February 9, 2020

Minutes submitted by Clerk Harvey Heyser

Division members met at the Cumberland Valley Model Railroad Club (CVMRR) in Chambersburg, PA.  19 or so were present.  After viewing the Club’s layout and displays, Superintendent Alex Polimeni called the business meeting to order.

20.2-1 Paymaster’s Report:  Paymaster Ray Price (not present) submitted a report that the Division has $4115.08 in its bank account, the same as in November, 2019.  Purchase of the $150 Mainline Hobbies gift certificate for the Mini-Con raffle prize will happen soon.

20.2-2 Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes):  Clerk Harvey Heyser summarized the draft minutes for the January meeting (previously distributed by e-mail).  It was noted that Ron Polimeni will chair the Nominating Committee with Bob Law’s participation and Tom Fedor’s assistance with communication.  Brian Greenawalt made the following motion (second by Tom Fedor):

Motion:  That the draft Minutes for the January 2020 meeting be approved as revised.  The motion passed unanimously.

Old Business:

19.9-7 2020 Mini-Con will be April 18, 2020:  Chair Pete Clarke will contact Brian Wolfe of Mainline Hobbies for final coordination.  Chair Clarke reported the following:

a. Informal Clinics:  1 slot remains to be filled.  Back-ups (in case of no-shows) would be helpful to plug holes the day of the Mini-Con.  Contact Pete Clarke.

f. NMRA/SMD promotion at the Mini-Con:  It was suggested that the Division raffle off Rail Pass memberships.  Further discussion pointed out the need to gauge a recipient’s actual interest and suggested a need for current members to sponsor Rail Pass recipients.  Another suggestion was to reimburse recipients for the cost of a Rail Pass at the end of 9 months (if they felt that NMRA membership was not what they hoped it would be).  The discussion also touched on the cost of full NMRA membership and noted the fact that the hobby itself can be quite expensive.  CVMRR Club dues are $20 per month.

The promotional pamphlet was discussed as separate new business below.

19.10-6 White Elephant Table:  Although not discussed at length, it was observed that the Philadelphia Division had great success disposing of HO rolling stock (with Kadees and weathering) for a bargain price of $5 at the recent Timonium show – “passing the hobby forward.”

20.1-8 Spring Wheel Report deadline:  February 15, 2020.

New Business:

20.2-3 Host Cumberland Valley Model Railroad Club welcomed everyone to the Club.  The SMD expressed thanks for hosting the meeting.

20.2-4 SMD promotional pamphlet (tri-fold) giving specific information about Division activities:  Bob Johnson presented a draft copy of the pamphlet for discussion.  (A copy of the draft will be kept with the meeting Minutes.)  Discussion pointed out that the National NMRA policy limits visitors to two (2) meetings before requiring membership and that the URL’s listed were too long.  Bob will make corrections.  In addition to distributing them at the Mini-Con, members recommended flyers be placed at Mainline Hobbies and HobbyTown USA Frederick.

Printing costs and printers were discussed.  CVMRR Club recommended their printer OSI.  Bob will follow up.  Dave Thalman made the following motion (second by Ken Mazer):

Motion:  That the expenditure of up to $150 be authorized for the printing of SMD promotional pamphlets (tri-fold).  The motion passed unanimously.

20.2-5 Steve Green, a long-time SMD member, has contacted the Division to assure everyone that he is still involved in the hobby (despite not being able to attend meetings) and is recovering from a car accident last October.

20.2-6 The Waynesboro MRRC open house scheduled for Monday 2-10-20 will feature a presentation from Scale Trains.

Adjournment:  The Superintendent accepted a motion to adjourn.  The next meeting is scheduled for March 8, 2020.  Members will be notified of the location by email [Jay Beckham’s in Berkeley Springs, WV].