New product manual updates coming soon!
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I purchase your model kits?
Please see Store Locator for a list of authorized sellers.
Also see, Become a Seller/Reseller.
Can I purchase a fully assembled model from you?
Yes, at email@example.com
What are GCS Models made of?
Most of our models are precision cut from PVC plastic. Some of the larger models and displays are made from Canadian Birch, Hemlock and Poplar.
Support cables are made of steel, carbon steel or brass.
Are your designs based on real bridges and can they really support trains in the real world?
GCS models are custom suspension designs based on cable-stayed bridges, new and old, found around the world. The prototypes from which our designs are generally derived, are based on UHPC (ultra high performance concrete) fabrication technology; they are all rated at 40 tons per axial.
We set-out to design models that are easy-to-build, sturdy enough to last perhaps generations - yet beautiful and realistic looking. Cable stayed suspension bridges are sometimes thought of as being modern in design, but the concept goes back hundreds of years. GCS produces models that have a slightly classical look so they could be used in different depicted eras.
Can I polish suspension wires after they have been installed?
Yes. Polish using Scotchbrite or very fine sandpaper.
Can support wires be painted?
Yes, lightly sand or polish wires first. Paint with enamel and/or seal with polyurethane spray.
Can I weatherize or seal my model?
Yes. After painting, you can spray the entire model with satin polyurethane spray.
Does the center of a twin-tower span need to be physically joined?
No. By anchoring the outer ends of the deck, the span is designed to be fully supported at its center without actually being connected together. But you still may want to lightly glue them together so the two deck segments stay perfectly aligned.
Note: One of the many unique features of cable stayed suspension is that a single tower segment performs well alone.
Can you custom build a model for me?
Are your N-Scale models compatible Kato track?
Yes. Most are compatible with Kato double and single track.
What colors are you using on your models in your product photography?
We use light gray, dark gray, light blue, lake blue, moss green, spruce green, red oxide, black and other colors. All colors are flat.
Note: Wood stove spay paint or auto primer spay paint can work well as it is usually ultra-flat.
We will update this and add info regarding paint brands.
If I choose to light my model, does the color I choose impact the look?
Yes it does. We have found that light gray works well when lighting the bridge. The lighter the color, the more light will reflect off the bridge surfaces making it seem brighter and the color of the light source will be more accurately projected. Actually, flat white is best for lighting and looks quite good even when not lite, though we don't see many in this color. Having said that, darker colors can sometimes help the model blend into its surroundings thus, looking more natural.
I've noticed that the top of the arches or sides of the tower sometimes paint different than other surfaces. Can I use a filler to seal the edges of the tower or arch before painting?
Yes, though it is generally not necessary. Most of our models are made from PVC plastic. The edges of the PVC are slightly porous so you may find that sealing the edges allows the paint to absorb and dry more evenly. Depending on the paint you are using i.e., thicker, darker paint - you may need to seal before painting.
Note: It is best to paint multiple coats very thin at some distance - let dry a few hours between coats. This allows the paint to be absorbed more evenly on the edges.
Elmers white filler works well for sealing the edges. Place a liberal amount of filler on a section of foil and add a very small amount of water then mix. This thins the filler so it can be applied more evenly to the edges of the PVC.
You can also paint the edges first using a brush, then lightly sand.
What color should I paint the road surface?
Grey or dark grey. We found that Valspar - English Tea Party looks great for pavement.
How do I paint roadway center lines and side lines on the bridge deck?
After painting the road surface: Using a pencil, lightly draw a line down the middle of the deck. For a single line: using high quality masking tape, place tape on both sides of the line (.5 to 1.5mm apart depending on scale). Mask-off the rest of the deck. Lightly spray the center line. Satin Yellow works well. You can then mask-off the center line paint the white side lines with the same process.
Lighting your model with battery power
See Schematic - coming soon
Can I use your lighting kits for other purposes?
Yes. Use them for any 12-18 Volt DC application such as: collision avoidance, architectural, bridge deck illumination, lighted automobiles, structure interior/exterior, street lights and more. Lighting kits include simple schematics and installation instructions that demystify this revolutionary technology.
Kits are also used on RC drones, helicopters, planes and cars.
How long can I expect your LEDs to last?
Simply put, "a very long time". At full brightness they should operate for 50K to 75K hours. That's about ten years powered 24 hours a day. However, you are likely going to dim them, in which case they could last 100K hours or even longer.
Note: Always use a fuse and resistor(s) in front of your LED circuits.
What is the difference between a series circuit and a parallel circuit?
The simple answer: When you daisy-chain LEDs together, it's a series circuit. It's efficient, in that it lights each LED at 100% brightness provided the combined voltage used by your LEDs don't exceed the output voltage of the power supply; in which case the LEDs will not light and no dimming will occur. The wiring is also very simple. The draw back is that when an LED burns out, or if there is bad solder joint - the circuit is broken. Still, it is the best method to light projects using LEDs as they rarely burn out, and trouble shooting the circuit is relatively easy.
GCS lighting kits use the series circuit almost exclusively.
The parallel circuit allows you to connect all positive leads together and all negative leads together. If a circuit connected to an LED is broke or if an LED burns out, the others continue to light. The drawback is that the combined LEDs pull-down the voltage resulting in brightness drop. This might be a good thing if you want your lighting to be a lower brightness but you might find that connecting our lighting controller is a better solution.
Note: Remember, always place a resistor in front of all LED circuits.
What type of soldering iron should I use when working with your LED kits?
Use an iron with a small tip and lower temperatures. You can find great deals online if you don't already have one. As a hobbyist, you will find it very handy as lighting is becoming very popular because of how easy it is to work with these days - and we are here to help you too.
Note: Our lighting kits also include shrink tubing that protects solder joints. You can shrink the tubing using the iron but it can sometimes give you trouble because the iron is usually too hot. A great solution is to find a soldering station with a small heat gun. these work great and are very affordable.
We like the Zeny 862D+. It lets you control the temperature of both iron and heat gun - keep temps as low as possible because heat is the enemy of all LEDs.
Note: Never use hot glue on or around LEDs.
Can I damage LEDs by connecting them with reversed polarity?
No, but you must always use a resistor(s). If polarity is reversed they just won't light. Simply said, power flows into the LED thru the Common or "positive" leg, and out thru the neutral ground "negative" leg. The common side always flows into the anode or "long leg" of the LED. Power flows out of the LED thru the short leg, and it is referred to as the Cathode.
Note: A Bridge Rectifier will enable you to power an LED regardless of polarity. Useful when drawing power from rails where polarity could be switched. We will be writing a Help note on Bridge Rectifiers soon.
Dose it matter where the resistor is place regarding polarity?
No. The resistor can be placed on either side of the circuit. For consistency, we always place them on the Positive side. Also, you should not connect circuits together when resistors are not all on either the positive or negative side.
How can I make a (standard thru-hole) LED project a less focused beam - or more of a "flood-like" look?
Simply sand off the lens which is the top rounded portion of LED. We suggest you do this for the top red collision avoidance lights for example. For under-deck lighting we prefer painting the very top sanded part of the LED black so as not to project light that is too concentrated onto the ground under the bridge.
How can I stop light from showing at the back of the LED?
Light escaping from the back of the LED (where the legs protrude) is usually very undesirable. We suggest you paint the LED black, accept for the part of the LED that is visible. You can also dip the entire LED in black enamel and after it's dried simply sand or scrape away the black paint where you want light to escape.
Should I test my LEDs periodically as I work thru the lighting project?
This is highly recommended (with at least one resistor). If you make a bad (cold) solder joint, you want to know at that moment so it can be resolved easily rather than having to trouble shoot the circuit later. You can also test each LED before installing.
Can I use hot glue to secure LEDs to models or other surfaces?
No. Hot glue cools far too slowly and will easily damage LEDs. You may notice some LEDs are dimmer than others (or fail completely), and this is often a result of using hot glue. We recommend using super glue.