Tag Archives: model railroad layout


See shining eyes

Oversee the worlds…

while trains run by

Taking straights and curves;

Daddy, can we buy

Just a little train…?

Yes, child, we’ll try

Santa may bring one then!



Small change–of little account–

Compared to larger amounts…

I thought I’d pay

For an easier day

But that’s not how it’s turned out!

If I want it–have to start it myself–

And do it for my mental health…

My “suitcase” connectors

Evade their detectors,

Must tear the room apart by myself!

Been tempted to use a clothes hanger,

Of metal like I did when younger…

My soldering iron

Works more like  I’m desiring,

My long history as scrounger.

He’ll get to me when he can,

Helping out as a hired hand…

Could he wire

Turntables as required

And would that be pay on demand?

I went this route to disperse

Concern that my shaking’s worse…

Have to wait my turn–

(This I haven’t learned?)–

Meanwhile I’ll try. till he’s confirmed.

–Jonathan Caswell

(Image via GOOGLE)


He emailed a wiring guy,

Thirty per hour ain’t high…

But when broke

Swim different strokes,

And effort yourself supply!

Maneuvering extruded foam

With track on it all alone…

All-in-all he’s glad

It wasn’t too bad,

Another prop came along.

Clearing his table of junk,

Meant a certain “spelunk”…

Places to put

Stuff that’s good,

The circular file got the junk!

Couldn’t find his “suitcase connectors”,

Instead of a soldering specter…

His iron’s too cool

To properly do,

work to pass the inspectors!

But first he’ll poke holes

Feeder wires to go below..

Not unsightly

When done rightly,

Like properly tailored clothes.

A power bus underneath–

A rod or wire to reach…

To reach all track

Sending current back,

A positive and negative each!

Some turnouts power-routing,

If working, eliminate shouting…

One engine stands still

So another will

Be running without both pouting.


–Jonathan Caswell


With some mild trepidation,

He emailed for information…

Thus inspired

To his layout be wired,

By someone who has that vocation.

His new soldering iron should,

Do better but it’s not as good,

The one tossed out

Had hotter clout,

That aluminum tip isn’t good!

He made the initial contact,

He’s hoping he hears back…

Seems too much for him

Wiring neat as a pin,

Would they help him onto the right track?

–Jonathan Caswell



(on his N scale  model train layout)

Determined to start building,

He spiked down the mirrored yard…

It needed measures precisely

Just sticking to it–not hard!

Unhooked another rail section,

It had to be re=aligned…

He’ll have to spike or glue it down–

The home engineers won’t mind.

He’s found a place for the grist mill,

With turning waterwheel…

It may seem a little hokey

But it has that tourist appeal.

The team track at Whitinsville Machine Works

Doesn’t seem very long…

Three-to-four cars is the most it’ll take

but we’ll have to get along!

–Jonathan Caswell



For years, other’s expectations

Colored my operations…

Electrical blocks

Of track (lots),

For two-train considerations.

Problem is–I

Don’t know many other guys…

Only one “club”*

Accepted me, bub,

Since then, how the years do fly!

How many trains can I RUN

The answer is just ONE!:

With a couple of places

As engine storage spaces,

I’ve over-built–that’s what I’ve done.

In staging, I can keep two or three,

Trains to appear frequently…

The chances of TWO

OPERATORS are few–

There’s room for only me!

For one big block the need is,

With lots of electrical feeders…

Keep It Simple for Success**

Prevents the mess,

I’ve gotten into other years.

I’m thinking of a place of yesteryear,

Where two New England railroads both appear…

The Boston and Maine

And the New Haven, the same,

Find interchange and switching dear.

Industrial railroads exist

Where private companies find it best…

Better profit when alone,

They their railroad own–

When profits drop, they get it off their chest.

Something like that is what I mean,

Or some very similar scheme…

A tourist line, too,

Helps the revenue

With industries that match my kind of dream.

–Jonathan Caswell

* only one “club”…the guys at the Tioga Transportation Museum…back in the early-to-mid 1980’s

** K.I.S.S. (one possible use of this nemonic)




He started with such great plans,

To build it satisfying demands…

For switching with meaning,

His interests gleaning

To build one attractive to fans.

Somewhere along the way,

His railroad found enough delay…

Not anticipated

It got complicated,

Procrastination held sway.

Once meant until he retires,

One hopes that he won’t expire…

Before the thing runs

Will he get off his buns,

To more than pink foam* track base admire?


–Jonathan Caswell

* Many lightweight model train layouts use pink or blue extruded foam as part of the base and/or rough scenic forms to cut weight…as compared to using wooden two-by-fours, screen and plaster.





We mini-model railroaders grieve for Carl Arendt,

In the case of mini-trains he was a knight-errant…

His blog exists*

With a few new twists,

In his shadow our loss is apparent!


–Jonathan Caswell

*MICRO/SMALL LAYOUTS FOR MODEL RAILROADS…at http://carendt.com/ or http://carendt.us/ being continued posthumously by a couple of his colleagues, and can be subscribed to!





It is a common thing

To wrap oneself in pride…

Missing a message presented,

By casting common sense aside!

A railroad modeller I admire

Had shown just what to do…

I would have caught what transpired,

If I had read things through.

Feeders and jumpers mean little

To the general public’s mind…

But for model trains it means a lot,

How could I be so blind?

A simple result:  his DCC,

While mine is DC cab…

I thought using jumpers between tracks

As he did, wouldn’t be bad.

I re-read the article again and again

And finally occurred to me…

I needed FEEDERS to power MY track,

No wonder my power was weak.

So David, if you are list’ning,

I tried to do the right thing…

I have to rework my own mistakes

And remember to READ EVERYTHING!


–Jonathan Caswell

PLEASE NOTE:  For anyone who wishes an excellent article on wiring model train layouts–assuming you read everything carefully—see a part of David Popp’s “Step by Step” Series, MODEL RAILROADER MAGAZINE, especially in the June, 2005 issue, pp. 36-40.   He uses Digital Command Control to power his layout, and makes that clear that that wiring is different than for Direct Current cab control.  More info. available at www.modelrailroader.com.