Saturday, September 3, 2011

Unusual Non-Model Railroad Items For Your Layout

An old printer cartridge makes a unique load.

What's the most unusual or creative non-model railroad item you have used for your hobby?

For me it would be whiskers. One day--back when I still had black facial hair--I dumped out the contents of my electric razor and thought they sure looked like scale-size cinders. I collected subsequent emptyings and placed the contents trackside. They looked OK, even if the supply was a little limited. (With my gray hair today, this doesn't work as well.)

Then there was the time I tried dryer lint to make thick grass. I sprinkled on ground foam, thinking it might look half decent. Wrong! Too bad, though, since dryer lint comes in an almost limitless supply.
A less strange, but still unusual non-model railroad item is in the photo above--and old printer cartridge. In this case, it's really old; I think it comes from an old dot matrix printer. (Remember those?) I'm slowly adding bits and pieces to make it look more like a realistic load--a transformer, perhaps.
Other non-model railroad items I have tried include kitty litter for rip rap; tops off spray paint bans and other containers for roof vents and stacks; old-style artificial Christmas trees for fir trees; and straws for pipe loads.
A friend used the insider container of a Kinder Egg, the children's chocolate egg with a toy surprise inside, to make a unique large compressor-type load. Americans who want to try this will have to smuggle their Kinder Eggs in from Canada, though; they are illegal in the U.S.

When I posed this question about non-model railroad items on the Atlas HO forum, things people said they used included fake eyelashes for splash strips on trailers; Scotch tape rollers for tanks; and Grape Nuts cereal flakes spray painted black, silver and gray for a scrap metal load. (Just make sure you don't have mice!)

What are the most creative or unusual non-model railroad items you have employed?

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