Scale Model Industrial Silo
to Make for HO, N, S, Z, or N
How industrial and
will add interest and activity to
It is not uncommon to see several tall silos side
by side in a model railroad scene, or against the backdrop. They not only add interest to a
rail yard or farm, but they also provide a reason for trains to operate in that area, whether
its transporting dry grain from a farm to a port or factory, or moving cement, or maybe
transporting woodchips from a sawmill.
The plans for these model railroad silos can be
downloaded as PDF files, and can be saved on your computer hard drive, or USB memory stick
ready for printing at any time. Multiple print-outs of the same silo design is permitted
(without paying for additional downloads) - the only stipulation is the download and
printouts much be exclusively for your own personal non-commercial use. Otherwise it's a
serious breach of copyright. The PDFs can then be printed out on a home printer to the size
you require (see chart below for guide).
Full instructions are included with assembly
diagrams. Basically you glue the printed plans onto card (alternative materials are suggested
too) and join the parts together. It is reasonably easy and fun to do. The assembled silos
look amazingly life-like when built. Obviously the construction materials are not included,
but they are inexpensive and easy to get (if you haven't already got them lying around the
house). All buyers get a free construction tips manual to keep. Delivery of the PDFs is by
download direct to your computer and is almost immediate depending on your internet
What are silos used for?
A tall silo structure can be likened to a
vertical warehouse and is utilized for bulk storage of a variety of wet and dry materials
ranging from: free-flowing sand, grain, pellets, soy, silage (fermented feed), coal, resin
pellets, industrial plastic powders, carbon black, cement powder, recycled plastic flakes,
lime, limestone, aggregates, minerals, fly ash, salt, woodchips, and sawdust, corn mash,
potato starch, to various other food products. Tower silos are common as well as bag silos
and bunker silos.
The bulk silos featured in these plans are for
scaling to HO scale, OO gauge, N scale, Z scale, and S scale for use on model railroads. If
they were full-sized real life structures the dimensions would be approximately as follows:
Plan B530 - 82 foot (25 m) tall x 16 foot (5 M) wide, Plan B531 - height 72 ft (22 m) x 16 ft
(5 m) width, Plan B532 - 62 ft (19 m) high x 32 ft (10 m) wide. These silo dimensions are
From a model railroading perspective the
possibilities for including farm or industrial silos on a layout are numerous. They provide a
model railroader with a reason to include an industry, warehouses, a shipping port, and run a
variety of car types including tank cars and hoppers. As an example; a layout could have a
sand mining company that distributes fracking sand by rail to glassmakers as well as oil and
How tall are silos and what are they made
Steel and concrete silos are the most common
these days, but in days gone by, wooden silos were commonly used for agriculture. The problem
with wood is the shorter lifespan (rotting timber), potential for insect infestation (less
well sealed), bird contamination, and fire (combustible). Stainless steel silos are used for
oils, fertilizer and chemicals. For safety reasons they are pressure tested, have back welded
interior seams, and have leak proof fittings and valves.
Most silos on farms and at industries alongside
railroads are at least 40 foot in height, with many towering to 60 foot, 80 foot, 100 foot,
and in some cases even higher. In earlier times when silo towers were not as high, farmers
were able to use sloped conveyors for filling.
These days, the tower height is typically higher
so vertical elevator systems are used. One big advantage of height is that they take up less
ground space which can be expensive to lease at ports and in industrial zones. A model
railroader gets the same advantage, because being vertical; silos require less of the
valuable layout real estate. In real life silo towers will have a diameter ranging from 30
foot to 300 foot.
Storage capacity varies with many silos having a
liquid capacity of up to 80,000 gallons, 8 million gallons, and even 25 million gallons or
Grain elevators, which are basically concrete or
timber silos, are used for grain storage. The grain is collected from surrounding farms and
towns and stored for protection inside the grain elevator until it is transported by truck,
train (or in some instances by barge) to a port for shipping, or to a factory for
Silos containing cement powder, grain and
woodchips can usually unload directly into lorries, railroad hoppers, and conveyors using
augers (corkscrew machinery) or air slides.
Depending what is being stored a silo generally
needs to be:
1. In good structural condition, and sufficiently
reinforced to store the required load.
2. It will require a roof.
3. Be supported on a concrete floor, usually
above the surrounding soil height, although concrete silos are often partially below ground
level with floors raised above the outside earth.
4. The walls and doors will be fairly moisture
tight and air tight.
5. If being used for grain storage it will have
an aeration system to condition the dry grain.
6. It will have a fill-system to prevent grain
7. It will have an unloading system to extract
grain, sand, concrete (or whatever) from the center bottom point.
As a follow on to point #4; low oxygen silos are
used to protect fermented products from decaying or developing mold. Many products require
dry bulk silos to prevent
damage to whatever is stored. They are only exposed to the atmosphere when initially being
loaded; the tower is then sealed including the un-loader chute to prevent air getting
In summary; silos structures for bulk materials
storage are the perfect prop to include as part of the scenery in a model railroad yard or
near by an industry, port or farming scene on a layout. This is because storage structures like this are
used for a variety of purposes ranging from storing silage (fermented feed) to liquids,
pellets, and powders like cement or pulverised fuel ash. They look spectacular and very much
at home in a model rail scene.