Sourcing Model Train Supplies
Model Railroad Hobby Shops
And Online Retailers
Although it is always good to
support local railroad hobby shops, the online stores will always have a wide range on model train
stuff whether it's locomotives and rolling stock, track, or scenery supplies. Prices are often very
sharp as the online shops don't necessarily have the same overheads as physical shops eg. rent
However, the online and mail order
dealers do charge for shipping and they often add a margin to the cost. So, unless you are ordering
multiple items, or buying a high priced product you need to take this into account when comparing
prices with your local railroad supply shop.
The other thing to realise is that
many of the online stores (like this website) are operated as small Ma and Pa businesses just like
a local store, so they are not big national or international companies like the well-known brand
names. They are just small operators trying to make a buck selling model trains and
To assist you in locating online
train and scenery suppliers I have included a list of a few at the end of this article. The list is
far from complete as there are hundreds of dealers, suppliers, manufacturers, and online retailers
you could potentially get your model train stuff from. For this reason we are not recommending
particular brands or stockists as most modelers will have their own opinion of who they like to
deal with based on their own requirements and experience.
Also online model train stores
typically specialise in particular brands eg. Bachmann, Marklin, Hornby; particular scales eg. HO
scale, N scale, OO gauge; or specific product types eg. scenic supplies, rolling stock, backdrops
etc. Anyway, enough about the stockists, now let's look at some of the most popular railroading
products and their uses.
Using Hydrocal On Model Railroads
Hydrocal is basically a type of
white gypsum cement and can be used to create terrain landscapes. Hydrocal is
stronger than Plaster of Paris and wears extremely well. It has a compressive
strength of 5,000 PSI which is ideal for a layout terrain
Hydrocal is easy to use for
soaking paper towels when laying down as base material over your screen mesh or
paper/cardboard strip forms. Pictured is Lightweight
Hydrocal Casting Plaster from Woodland Scenics.
The product is also a good
substitute for Plaster of Paris when you are molding rock faces or outcroppings. With a thicker
mixture it can be used as fill material anywhere there is a small gap on the layout terrain that
needs covering or filling.
Adding Base Covers Using Latex Paint and Insulated
With the topography (hills) of
your railroad layout suitably positioned and your track laid in place, latex paint can become your
next best friend. It is easily mixed and thinned with water and the latex should cover every area
of ground cover that is seen. Your valleys and hills are going to be made from insulation foam
board or plaster, neither of which is available in convenient ground colors. You will need to cover
up that yukky pink, blue, or white, by using colors such as brown, tan, yellow, and green. Nothing
will ruin the realism more than seeing a streak of bright white plaster sticking through a
magnificent stand of trees.
Select your paint colors to
simulate the ground appropriate to the location and season you are modeling. If you are replicating
a desert scene, a light tan cover makes much more sense than would green. Since you are likely to
cover the paint with some other material, the color shades don’t have to be a perfect match; they
just need to blend in together realistically. In real life, ground cover occurs in patches and in
random places, so the base cover is a way to link the patches together.
Adding Ground Cover To Make the Scene
Groundcover is essential if you
are to give your layout a look of realism. Groundcover is the
type of material used as vegetation or earth in large areas around a layout.
With careful design, the groundcover can be used to convey the
illusion of a larger area.
You'll find a selection of scenic
materials suitable for the purpose at you local model railroad hobby shop, or you can buy online
from retailers who stock products from companies like Woodland Scenics. The other option is to make
your own from common garden plants that you thoroughly dry and blend into a fine
Deciding which plants to use as
ground cover is as simple as wandering outside and looking underfoot. Unpaved areas might include
bare earth, grass, vines, weeds, bushes, small shrubs and maybe flowering plants of several
Here is a list of some of the
online retailers of train supplies. For obvious reasons it is not possible to list the thousands of
railroading retailers worldwide. This is just a sample: Factory Direct Trains, Model Train Stuff, Rail
Serve, The Caboose, Internet Trains, George's Trains, New Modellers Shop, Allied Model Trains,
Canadian Express Line, Model Railways Direct, Advantage Hobby, Walthers, Ebay, Model Train
Warehouse, Blue Ridge Hobbies, American Model Railroads, The Branchline Goods Yard, RailKing,
Rick's Trains, Scenery Unlimited, Britannia Models, East Somerset Models, Hattons, LD Discounts,
ModelMaster, Modern Models, Stationmaster, Windmill Junction, Cherry Creek Hobbies, Dave's
Trains, Discount Hobby Warehouse, eHobbies, EuroRail Models, Hobby City, HobbyLinc.