Vistas from the new Bone Valley

Check out the December 2020 issue of Model Railroader magazine to see the latest version of my small Bone Valley layout. Here are a few images of scenes that didn’t fit into the article. An article explaining how I produced the background lightning effect was supposed to appear in the magazine before the layout article, but that didn’t happen. So I don’t know when that article will ever appear.

Bonnie Wye
Valrico Jct.

Railroad Freight Car Builder Marks/Logos

Here are some railroad freight car builder marks/logos I’ve made over the years in vector art form. The logos are usually hard to see and read in photos and as decals. These marks are particularly useful for making decals for some Seaboard Air Line SAL, Atlantic Coast Line ACL, and Seaboard Coast Line SCL cars.
Bethlehem Steel Johnstown Plant
Pullman Standard Car Manufacturing Company Bessemer Alabama
ACF American Car and Foundry Co. Huntington Plant
Greenville Steel Car Company Greenville Pennsylvania

New Extra Detailed HO Scale Back to the Future 3D Print Model with Functional Doors and Interior Detail

This model is a better more detailed alternative to the HO Back to the Future DeLorean models I’ve had up for sale on Shapeways for a number of years… which are limited by Shapeways’ design specs for sellable models… the sellable design specs require extra bulk and sturdiness. The old models are still fine and with some decent craftsmanship can make for nice sturdy DeLorean models. But if you want more detail this is the model for you. This new model is too detailed and therefore too delicate to sell on Shapeways. Nonetheless, you can still have Shapeways print it for you using the “print anyway” option at checkout on Shapeways by purchasing the files and uploading them to Shapeways yourself. Alternatively, if you have a resin 3D printer you can print the files out using that. There are two sets of files; one set of separate part files for home resin 3D printing and the other sprued files for uploading to Shapeways. The files are sold at CG Trader. Alternatively, you can buy the files directly from me by contacting me through Shapeways. Here is the file Purchase Link.

Sketchup for Backdrops

I have an article in the Model Railroader Magazine November 2019 issue titled Sketchup for Backdrops. If you’d like me to do for you what I describe in the article, I’m available for hire to make 3-D designed backdrop structures. It’s a bit easier and therefore less time consuming than making a printable 3-D model.

Back to the Future DeLorean DMC Time Machine Models List and Reviews

Smallest to largest. If buying from Amazon please use one of my links to get to Amazon. Delorean models

1:160 N scale 3D Printed BTTF DeLorean

N scale is quite small. So I’m not surprised that DeLoreans aren’t made commercially in this scale. But I went ahead and made a 3D printed kit version available on Shapeways.

1:100 Jada Hollywood Rides Nano BTTF DeLorean

Odd scale considering just a little larger and they could have done HO scale. Inexpensive. Solid metal diecast.

1:87 HO scale NPE Showcars or 3D Printed BTTF DeLorean

A commercially available HO scale DeLorean time machine has been hard to come by. When making a mass produced cheap miniature toy, manufacturers could throw US model railroaders a nice bone by making the models in 1:87 scale or even 1:160. You may be able to find an HO 1/87 NPE Showcars # 88022 DeLorean. But it is just a DeLorean, not a time machine. Anyway, I made an HO scale DeLorean available 3D printed through Shapeways. Since Shapeways has yet to offer a clear material to make windows, the model requires printed decals for windows. Cars in HO scale are still quite small, so decal windows are not much of an issue. Shapeways has design requirements that make certain fine and thin details unprintable due to fragility. But where the model lacks detail it makes up for in sturdiness. The model has HO scale train wheels that are as accurate to the prototype as I could get while also being functional and sturdy enough to be printed. If HO scale DeLoreans continue to be rare, I’ll update the model as printing technology and availability improves. With a little sanding, painting, decal work and modeling craftsmanship, these can be made to look good.

1:87 HO scale 3D Print Your Own

If you want a highly detailed DeLorean and have your own resin printer or access to one. I made printable files that are up for sale. Read all about it here

S scale 1:64 Hot Wheels BTTF DeLorean

For anyone wanting to make a model railroad centered on Back to the Future, S scale 1:64 is a good bet. That’s because Hot Wheels made a bunch of low-cost Back to the Future DeLorean time machine models and they seem to keep putting them out from time to time.

1:50 Scale Hot Wheels Diecast BTTF DeLorean

Nice for something near O scale 1:48.

1:43 Scale Hot Wheels Cult Classics Diecast BTTF DeLorean

At 1:43 scale models start to get big enough to have some decent detail. These models are near UK O scale.

1:43 Scale Vitesse Diecast BTTF DeLorean

1:43 Sunstar Back to The Future Part DeLorean

1:32 Jada Hollywood Rides: Back to the Future II

1:25 Polar Lights Back to The Future Model Kit

This is a plastic build-it-yourself model kit similar to Back to The Future DeLorean kits that have been around for thirty years.

1:25 (I think) Japanese DeLorean Time Machine Kaiyodo RevoltechGood external detail. Made of plastic. Wheels change to hover mode. Doors open. Fine for the right price, which would be less than $50 US.

1:24 Aoshima DeLorean Back to The Future Building Kit

Like the Polar Lights kit but slightly bigger, this is a plastic build-it-yourself with Testors glue model kit similar to Back to The Future DeLorean kits that have been around for thirty years.

1:24 Welly Die-cast BTTF DeLorean

The Welly DeLorean models are nice for the money. The only downsides are that the paint color on the metal body could look more like stainless steel and the models don’t have glass in the side windows. But they can be dismantled and upgraded without too much effort. If this model didn’t have wires molded onto the body I’d love it as a starting point for a super-detailing project. Instead I just like it not love it.

Best deal of all the models, get all three Welly DeLoreans here:

1:24 Jada Hollywood Rides: Back to the Future II Time Machine w/Light

Kid Logic 1:20 Floating BTTF II DeLorean

This is a nice model. It lights up and floats. And the flux bands have an accurate mesh. The model is somewhat expensive and has been available intermittently in runs. It’s best to get the model directly since the price tends to be better. For anyone who wants a ready to display model without any extra work, this is a nice model.

1:18 Sun Star Die-cast BTTF DeLorean

This is a nice model for the price and comes in different variations. It’d be a nice starting point for a super-detailing project if it wasn’t for the side cables molded on to the metal body. The model would look really good using real wire for the side cables. The flux bars could be better but they rarely are on models due to the fine mesh on the prototype.

1:18 Hot Wheels Die-cast BTTF DeLorean

This model comes in two main levels of detail (Heritage CMC98, Elite BCJ97) and even a lighted version. The price reflects the level of detail. The heritage model lacks a lot of detail but could make a good starting point for a super-detailing project, especially since it has side cables separate from the body. The flux bands on these models are okay, the Elite edition flux bands are better than Heritage. One stand-out thing I find cool is that the model’s seats are squishy due to being made of a rubber material. And I also like that the wires overall are separate instead of molded on details.

1:15 Diamond Select  Back to the Future DeLorean

This model is nice and big with some sound/lighting effects and comes in different variations. The body is plastic making it lightweight. And for a toy it is nice. As a scale model it is lacking. The button for the sound is the part the lightning hook attached to in BTTF1. It would be a good starting point for a super-detailing project but it has two main issues: molded on side cables, the flux bands are translucent and fit into a groove in the body. This would be best suited for making a detailed RC model of the DeLorean. Other than that, if you want light and or sound and or size without costing too much this is adequate.

1:8 Eaglemoss Metal Subscription Kit BTTF DeLorean

This is a highly detailed assemble-it-yourself subscription service model where you are sent parts and instructions monthly for three years. I have been tempted to buy this but I held off to be safe. After seeing others build this model, for the price of around $1600 US for me it is just not good enough as of July 2019. Plus, waiting three years to complete the model is annoying. If you want the model to be really good, you have to buy independently made mod kits on top of the already expensive subscription price. And the mod kits add up too. But the thing that bothers me the most about the model is that the flux band mesh holes are just too big. If the model was refined, all the mods were included, and I could get all the parts at once I’d probably bite the bullet and buy the model. The problem with charging more for a big highly detailed model is that it becomes reasonable for a customer to expect a lot.

1:8 3D-Print-It-Yourself BTTF DeLorean

With this one you buy the 3D file and instructions and print it yourself. It’s compatible with Eaglemoss mods.  This model is only limited by one’s 3D printing capability and craftsmanship. The price for the files is reasonable considering to hire a person to make the files for you would cost thousands.

1:6 Hot Toys Back to the Future DeLorean

This is a very nice model and for the original price it was worth it. It is only available second-hand now and the prices can be high. The body is plastic, which keeps its weight down. The lighting effects could be fancier such as with the flux capacitor, flux bands (which need electroluminescent el wire or tape to look good), and the status indicator display (SID) (a.k.a. Spectrum Analyzer Display or xmas tree or Christmas tree). But as a pre-built, large model, it is worth it at the right price.

If buying from Amazon please use one of my links to get to Amazon.

Delorean models

N Scale U36B Solutions

I have two parts available on Shapeways for turning Atlas U23B models into reasonable facsimiles of a U36B or U33B. The first solution requires cutting off part of the U23B radiator and fitting a whole new flared radiator over the cut section.

The second solution simply requires gluing flared radiator wings onto the sides of the U23B radiator.

I use method two for my own models just because it is very easy and can easily be applied to a factory painted model. I paint the flared radiator wings the proper color. And I attach the flared radiator wings with Elmer’s white glue so I can wet them and remove them if I ever desire to do so.

If you aren’t satisfied with the second solution due to the existing U23B radiator, which is too narrow and doesn’t extend to the flared section, I provide a choice of two vector images (white background and gray) that can be printed as a decal or on paper to represent the radiator screen and to cover the existing U23B radiator. To use the radiator graphics, scrape the grab iron on the top of the existing radiator off with a razor blade. Print the screens (ideally using a laser printer), glue the screens down with Elmer’s glue if using paper. You could print the graphic with the white background on colored paper. Or you could use the dirty gray screen graphic.

Get the parts at Shapeways here and here. As always, with parts in the Frosted Detail materials, don’t skip the step of using a soak in Bestine (or Doc Edington’s brand) to properly clean the parts of support wax.

N Scale Flex Track Comparison Guide

track1Here is a breakdown of the main N scale flex track options available as well as some other options. I personally most often use Micro-Engineering code 55, not because it is perfect but because it has the most features I want relative to what is available. Recently, I’ve started using Central Valley Model Works (CVMW) N Code 55 Curvable Mainline Ties with Micro-Engineering code 55 rail when appropriate. CVMW ties are pretty much the best bet available currently for nice looking N scale track. I’d probably use Peco code 55 if the tie spacing was prototypical for the United States. Atlas code 55 is nice but the spikes cause issues with some of my older locomotives. The ideal track for me would be code 40 Peco style track (where the rail is actually code 80 but half of it is embedded in the ties and thus very sturdy) with prototypical US tie spacing, prototypical tie width, and small spikes. Kato Unitrack is also nice track just not very prototypical. I like to use Kato Unitrack for hidden track when appropriate and practical. If Kato made code 55 Unitrack with prototypical US tie spacing and spikes plus also left the ballast off the roadbed allowing users to paint the track and apply their own ballast I’d likely use a lot more Unitrack than I do. At the very least, I’d use more Unitrack if Kato made some little Unitrack code 80 to code 55 flextrack transition tracks. Those would be easier and more reliable than fabricating transition tracks out of Peco code 55 track (see below).

If buying products on Amazon please use one of my links, like this one that shows what N scale track Amazon has: n scale track

Micro-Engineering code 55


  • Long 36”
  • Small spikes
  • Prototypical US tie spacing and tie width (close enough anyway)


  • Somewhat hard to bend into smooth curves
  • Plastic flashing is somewhat common
  • Somewhat fragile

Atlas code 55


  • Easy to bend into smooth curves
  • Prototypical US tie spacing and tie width


  • Short 30”
  • Spikes are too big and interfere with wheel flanges on older equipment. But not really an issue if you just have newer equipment made in the last decade or so.

Atlas code 80


  • Cheapest
  • Easiest to find
  • Easy to bend into smooth curves


  • Not prototypical US tie spacing or spikes
  • Short 30”

Peco code 55


  • Long 36”
  • Uses code 80 rail embedded in the ties…making it sturdy


  • Not prototypical US tie spacing or spikes

Peco code 55 track can be used to make transition tracks from code 55 to code 80. All that is required is a file.

Peco flex track code 55 80 transition N scale flex track 55 80

Central Valley Model Works (CVMW) N Code 55 Curvable Mainline Ties.


  • Unlimited length
  • Ties can be painted and ballasted before the rails are applied making variation in tie color easier to achieve (especially if a masking template is constructed) and the rail can easily be painted a slightly different color than the ties
  • Long stretches of Micro Engineering code 55 rail can be soldered together before being applied to the ties
  • No glue required to attach the rail


  • The ties vary a bit in length which is true to a lot of prototype track (especially older track) but not necessarily true in all cases
  • You still have to buy Micro Engineering code 55 rail

Kato Unitrack


  • Reliable
  • Reconfigurable


  • The rail is code 80
  • Not prototypical US tie spacing or spikes
  • The ballast is part of the track which can be a pro or a con, but it is a con if prototype accuracy is the objective.

Kato N Unitrack vs. Micro-engineering code 55 Flex

3D Printed Track?

Finally, I just wanted to mention that I played around with 3D printing some code 40 track. I did this because there is some track I wanted to put on my layout to make it true to the prototype, but I didn’t need it to be functional. So, at about 10 cents a foot, this 3D N scale code 40 track does the trick just fine, especially since it allows me to make custom track such as very long turnouts in code 40 rail that aren’t commercially available. As technology gets better, dead rail battery powered locomotives on cheap 3D printed track may be a viable solution for some applications.

Code 40 N Dummy Track 3D Printed in PLA

If buying products on Amazon please use one of my links, like this one that shows what N scale track Amazon has: n scale track

Originally posted 1/10/16. Updated 3/19/18.

Postcards from Bone Valley: Great Model Railroads 2017

Note that you can see the acrylic glass reflecting the camera in this picture, giving a sense of what the layout is like live in person

Note that you can see the acrylic glass reflecting the camera in this picture, giving a sense of what the layout is like live in person.

I got to see a copy of Great Model Railroads 2017…since my small N scale Bone Valley layout is featured on page 52. Unfortunately, my layout only got four pages in the issue. That resulted in a trimmed up article and a measly three layout photos included in the article (two of which are redundant). So, I’m posting some stuff that wasn’t shown in the article here. There were also a few errors to the article added by the editor. One thing is that it said Atlas is releasing the U36B in N scale; I have not heard anything about that, only HO. As you can see from this layout plan that I made when I wrote the article back in the beginning of 2015 (which at the time I didn’t intend to be in Great Model Railroads), there were a whole lot more pictures (A thru L) that could have been included than just three. Anyway, as the maker and owner of my layout, the photo-scarce article doesn’t quite do it justice. But this is just step one in what is to be a bigger layout, so there will be more in the future.

n-layout 4x7 Bone Valley