Measuring Railroad Model Components with Calipers

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So much of building an impressive and realistic railroad model is about being precise with your measurements. When converting life-sized objects down to scale, it’s highly important to ensure you take accurate readings so you can make the right cuts and have everything fit together properly. To do so, you need a tool that allows you to precisely measure a range of dimensions on your railroad model to the millimeter, and there’s no better tool for the job than a caliper. In this lesson, we teach you about all the unique benefits of calipers and show you the best way to utilize a caliper when building your next railroad model.

Using a caliper to measure railroad model parts

The way we measure has come a long way in recent decades. First, we eyeballed it, then measurements were taken with a ruler, and then the dial caliper was invented and we could be much more precise. But eventually that wasn’t quite precise enough, so we created the digital caliper, which is accurate down to the very last millimeter and perfect for measuring on a railroad model. To help you figure out the best way to use your precise measuring device on your railroad model layout, NMRA Master Modeler Gerry Leone walks you through a quick demonstration of all the things you can do with a digital caliper.

The first thing you’ll notice when you pull out your caliper to get a read on your railroad model parts is there’s a lot going on in terms of ways to measure. Gerry teaches you how to use the various aspects of your caliper to read height, width and diameter, as well as a little trick for scoring styrene with the caliper’s pointed edge. With Gerry’s expert tips for using your digital or dial caliper, you’ll have no trouble getting precise measurements for all the parts on your railroad model layout!