Ben makes a trestle bridge for his HO scale layout

“Hello Al,

Hope all is well with you!

To begin, I wanted to let you know that I purchased your “Beginners Guide to Model Railroading” not long ago and I have found it to be a wonderful resource. It is well written, filled with practical tips, links to other resources, and a great value for the price. Thanks for creating it. I’ll be referring to it often!

I’m writing to give an update on the building of the 3rd line on my HO scale layout. Specifically, the curved wooden trestle bridge I made from scratch.

Initially, I planned to buy a trestle kit, but finding one that met the specs of my layout was extremely difficult.

After a lot of searching I did find two curved trestle bridge kits that would work for me, but they were both listed as “out of stock” with no indication of when – if ever – they would be back in stock. So, I decided to build my own! Building anything from scratch – much less a 36-inch curved wooden bridge – is a first for me and I had doubts that I could pull it off.

I don’t have the steadiest of hands and I’ve always joked about being all thumbs when it comes to anything with small parts. But with some planning, practice and patience I completed the project.

For any of your readers who are thinking “I could never do that”, I say “Trust me folks, If I can do it, anyone can!” It was actually a lot of fun and I learned a lot in the process.

I enjoyed the project so much I’ve started building a smaller “dry gulch” bridge for another area of the layout.

I have attached a few pictures that show some of the steps I took while making the bridge. I also created a 15 minute “how-to” video that documents the project from start to finish for anyone who is thinking of doing a bridge scratch build for the first time. Thanks again for all you do on your site. I really enjoy reading the posts from other modelers. With every story I learn something new! Stay safe and well!

Ben from Chicago.”

trestle bridge

trestle bridge

trestle bridge

trestle bridge

trestle bridge

trestle bridge

trestle bridge

trestle bridge

A huge thank you to Ben – what a video!

Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

If you want to see Ben’s last post, it’s here.

That’s all for today folks. Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day get off your armchair and start your very own masterpiece, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here. Have a look and see what you can save.

26 Responses to Ben makes a trestle bridge for his HO scale layout

  1. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Nice job

  2. James Marek says:

    Wow, awesome bridge, Ben! Your video presentation was also excellent and very easy for my ears to understand…a welcome change from some other videos posted here. Wonderful work all around!

  3. Peter Bayley-Bligh says:

    Brilliant work Al.

  4. Peter Waring says:

    A nicely detailed description of how to build a trestle bridge. Very informative and useful for other general structure when modelling. Many thanks for your time and effort making this video. Regards, Peter..

  5. Brian Rockey says:

    Wow Ben – that is incredible attention to detail – looks fabulous!
    Well done!
    Brian, Wokingham, UK

  6. Jeff Jundt says:

    Fantastic bridge work Ben and great video as well. Doing a video of that quality is more difficult than that bridge I think! Great job. End results are great.

  7. Robert Brady says:

    Patience here was definitely a virtue, Great job Ben
    The Critic

  8. NJ Mark says:

    I wish I had the time and talent! Beautiful, simply beautiful. Cheers! NJ Mark

  9. Bob says:

    Ben, good work, good detail. Haven’t watched the video yet, but I think you will be the reason I re-start building mine. Thanx for the share. Keep up your good work.

  10. Ted Rothstein says:

    Ben. Super work!

  11. Impressive. Very fine work. A wonderful attitude combined with patience and good old stick-to-it a terrific combination. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Terry Fleet, Old Hampshire says:

    Great work, full of character.
    However there is a BUT, on a curved trestle I believe there would be diagonal stringers from the inside of one trestle to the outside of the next to ease the diagonal stresses caused by the motion of the train, possibly added from steel rod later as the locos and train loads grew and you are running heavy stock.

  13. John schmehl says:

    Very nice work, looks great!

  14. Mike says:

    Great how-to! Nice job Ben.

  15. Jim Marek says:

    This was the BEST instruction video ever posted on this site. Thank you Ben for the excellent and highly informative video. I will be checking out your other videos soon.

  16. Franco428 says:

    Ben’s video gave me the confidence to start my own bridge project. The significant part of the video is taking your time to do it right the first time. However, you may need to experiment with techniques before you begin. Once you have developed your own style of construction, you only have to start your build. Getting past the starting point makes everything worthwhile and better than you could have imagined. Thank you for the video!

  17. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Great job.

  18. Terry Miller says:

    Excellent how-to video and explanation–my only question is: Wouldn’t it have been faster/easier to stain all the wood PRIOR to cutting and fitting the pieces and then go back later and touch up the paint job?

    Terry/Idaho USA

  19. WillBill says:

    Very nice but the bridges I have seen have no ballast.

  20. don kadunc says:

    Very good. I used similar techniques in modifying Cornerstone trestle deck girder bridge kits. They are plastic not wood but weathered well. Wood trestle kits available were too expensive. I showed four trestles in a prior post. They were a 2″ dump in a coal yard, a 3″ with a fishing boat ramp, a 4″ curved over a stream, and an 8″ over a river. Your approach could be used to make them from wood at a much lower cost then the wood kits. One of my trestles is curved and I did not know about the extra bracing. I’ll tell my engineer to lean into the curve. A great presentation.

  21. Tom Provo says:

    you make it look so easy

  22. Will in NM says:

    Ben, Nice looking trestle and a great video of how to build it. Your use of 1/4 inch plywood as the track support makes the whole structure much sturdier than the open deck design that comes in most trestle kits. I don’t know how prototypical ballasting the trestle desk is, but it looks good and only purists would complain. The only thing I wondered about in the video was since the trestle piles are angled slightly from the vertical why was it not necessary to angle the base and tops of the posts for a flush fit to the horizontal members? Oh, and thank you for including the basswood source info in your video.

  23. Alabama Mike says:

    Hey Ben, the trestle is fantastic and so real looking. Also, your video on how to build it was just great. The template you made was a great idea and I know it saved you a lot of time and headaches. Look forward to more.

  24. John from Naples FL says:

    Great video! Terry Fleet covered my only critique. Your presentation was clear, concise and to the point. Really a fine presentation!
    Thank you.

  25. Fantastic job with the trestle Bridge , a lot has gone in to making this …top marks …Dangerous dave

  26. Ben Olson says:

    Hey Everyone, thanks for all your comments, I really appreciate them! To respond to a few questions and comments:
    To WillBill, Will NM, Terry Fleet and John From Naples FL: You are correct, on my next bridge I’ll need to pay closer attention to the bracing and no ballast for added realism. Good points made by all, thank you for the feedback, it’s helpful!
    To Terry Miller: In hindsight, I believe you have a good point – it would have saved some time, and perhaps made it easier, had I stained all the parts prior to assembly, and then just done some touch ups. When I do my next bridge I think I’ll do that, Thanks for the observation!

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