Structures Building Tips
for Model Railroads

Structures bring a model railroad to life. They are more than a part of the scenery. Buildings become destinations for freight and passenger trains. They provide a purpose.

The links below will take you to a number of pages that address different techniques and tips from my experience building wood, plastic and metal kits as well as "kit bashing"  and scratchbuilding.

Structures are not only buildings. Structures include bridges, trestles, and even wayside signal installations. 

Structures may be as simple as a wooden fence or telephone pole to a complicated lighted building with automation. For example, Brad Lebeck has built a terrific operating coal mine using a well known kit as a starting point. You can see it in operation on our  Nottawasaga Model Railway travelling, modular club layout.

If you are new to the hobby of model railroading I recommend you start with a simple plastic kit because they are the most common kits available. Learn to use liquid cement for plastic such as Plastruct Plastic Weld, Ambroid or Tenax. This type of glue melts the plastic, commonly styrene, and the trick is to learn how to control small amounts of the glue so that it doesn't run and destroy the face of the structure you're building. Get yourself a "Touch n' Flow applicator. The applicator is designed for precise control of liquid solvent plastic cements that work by capillary action, that is, the glue creeps into a joint. This applicator is especially good when building Micro Engineering steel trestles and for making wall joints.  (There is another similar applicator for C/A glue).  

These are the kinds of subjects covered on the various pages that relate to structures.

A good starting point for plastic kit building in HO or N scale is to buy one of the simpler kits from a company such as Design Preservations.

If you want to try your hand at wooden kits, Campbell Scale Models are still among the best because the instructions are so well done.

Many of the more recent kits of structures are made by manufacturers using precision laser cutting tools. Often many of the parts, like window shades, are stick-on. These kits can be fun to build.

There are also paper buildings from companies such as Clever. These can be downloaded from the internet. Inexpensive and can look really good. I cover building paper structures on another page.

Of course, you can always buy Woodland Scenics "Built-ups" where all the work has been done for you, including the painting. Populate your towns with those if you must but don't be shy about trying to build something that no one else has on their layout. 

It's also a great way to relax and pass a few hours at your workbench being creative.



Go to wood kit building overview.

Follow along as I build Campbell Scale Models King's Cannery craftsman-type wood and corrugated aluminum kit.

More tips about building wood structures like Campbell Scale Model's Montgomery Feed & Seed.

Review of the barrel factory laser building kit by Full Steam Ahead.

Assembling a cardstock building from a 3DK kit.

Making DPM building flats into a factory to disguise a pillar.

Lots of ideas in my Train Photos Gallery.

Need to make some trees?

Methods for shaping terrain.

Methods for modeling roads and streets.

Tips and examples of backdrops.

Catch attention with mini-scenes.

Return from "structures" to my Home Page.


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