model buildings



The Raw Materials For
Building Model Railroad Structures

model railroad structures

Structures come in all shapes, sizes, and construction techniques. There are completely assembled plastic buildings, plastic kits, laser-cut wooden kits, cardboard kits and even brass kit structures available. Kit bashing and scratch building of structures is almost a separate hobby in itself. Most hobby and railroading shops will have a supply of styrene shapes in all sizes and a selection of brass tubing, wire and different kinds of wood sheets and strips for building and modifying models.

Claws, Teeth, and Clamps

Tools for structure modeling are simple. An X-acto knife, a small zip saw and some corner clamps are about all you need to build any structure. Adhesives and work space round out the tool list, although there are a number of nice-to-have tools such as the NWSL Chopper. You’ll also want to include a scale ruler to help with measurements. Using a scale ruler is a lot easier than measuring and trying to convert to millimeters of fractions of an inch in your head!

More Than a Miniature City

Don’t forget that the railroad itself will need a suite of structures. Storage sheds, depots, maintenance shops, roundhouses, yards, sanding towers, fuel and water structures are all required just to help the trains move from place to place.

Old Man Weather(ing)

Let’s look a little more at realism in structures. If you drive around your town or county, you can see many examples of structures that have been in place for decades. Most owners will paint them and do maintenance periodically, but there are plenty around that show signs of weathering. It’s pretty common to find a structure that has been neglected and has peeling paint, broken windows, sagging roof, or porch and stairs about to fall off. These are things that you don’t really see when you drive by unless you are looking for them, but they are really at the heart of making your layout appear realistic. Weathering techniques are incredibly easy to do and will be covered in some detail at a later time, but keep in mind how much structure and scene disorder, chaos and disrepair can add to the drama!

Plan the Work, Work the Plan

And finally, even if you don’t intend to make photography a hobby, an inexpensive point and shoot digital camera or smart phone is one of the most useful tools you can acquire. It will help you document existing prototype structures and machinery that you can model and provide you with a permanent inventory of all the elements of a real-life scene that you may wish to duplicate in miniature. Take a LOT of pictures from all angles, and don’t leave out the surrounding trees, grass, street details, etc!

One final word of advice: Have fun! Your model might not be an exact duplicate of the real thing, but it will certainly demonstrate your style and technique to anyone who views it.

 Scenery Techniques

Constructing Buildings

Series 1     Series 2


model railroad engine shed

Locomotive Maintenance Shop

model shop

Model of Old Store

bus shelter model

Passenger Shelters

grain barn silo model

Barn + Silo

Restaurant model building

Big Building

Factory Model Building

Warehouse/Workshop Building

model railway depot

Inward/Outward Goods


model railroad shops 

Model Shops For Background
More Info

walls tunnel portals bridges road rail scale models