N scale model train scenery

The talented Bill has been back in touch, with his N scale model train scenery.

You all know how much I like an update – and Bill never disappoints.

(His last post is here if you want to get up to speed.)

“Good Day to you Al,

Every morning I continue to check my personal email first thing to see the great posts submitted by fellow modelers that you share with us.

I have not missed a single day since discovering your site now almost three years back.

I took some vacation recently and I spent a good portion of the time in the garage.

Most time has been spent on the N Scale layout doing more scenery including adding in roads and details.

One quick tip to share is to use craft pins for posts in N Scale. I cut the tops off and leave about a one inch long pin.

About half of that I’ll paint white or rust with enamel paint.

Let it dry overnight then use a slightly thicker pin to crest a pilot hole to insert the painted pin. They are perfect for use in n scale.

I also spent time working on my HO Scale switching layout and finally finished the fuel depot and got rid of the pink foam board from that area of the layout.

I’ve attached a couple of photos. One shows the fuel depot now and the other my n scale.

I’ve also attached a video showing the new scale and scenery and road construction and the other work on the HO scale layout.

I’ve not been traveling for work so I’ve had plenty of time to spend working on the trains after work and on the weekends.

Cheers and be safe!

Bill in Virginia”

N scale model train scenery

N scale model train scenery

N scale model train scenery

And now onto Geoff:

“Hi Al,

Here are inexpensive resources I like to use.

I am near Toronto, and model North American Railways. So I am passing on a few tips I have used for N Scale model train scenery.

One cheap and cheerful resource for ballasting, that is better kitty litter, is using Brita Water Filters for ballast. When the filter is finished its cycle, allow to dry for a few days to let the water drain out. The contents are a black and a greyish white colour, and is very fine and ideal for N Scale in its many appelations.

The second is my choice of paint for buildings, freight cars, and painting the track. I like to use ‘plastic compatible’ brown coloured automotive primer paint. When applied, it looks awful, then dries very thin. On buildings it will hold water based craft paints, and a water-ink wash for weathering buldings.

N scale track is so disproportionally tall, that I am in the habit and practice of paining track. My choice is to ballast first, and then paint the track. To paint track, let dry and clean the top with a left over piece of cork roadbedding. It wipes off easily, and if in the switch/point blades is cleaned with a Q-tip. A black water-ink wash then makes the whole thing appear more interesting, once scenery is applied the appearance is interesting. I can send photos of examples if need be.

A third tip is using WAHL hairclipper oil applied to the top of the tracks for sustained and clear electrical contact. Use a left over piece of cork to clean…

Like any new technique, experiment on scrap first.

Hope these are helpful




as a follow-up to spray painting the ties brown, IF you take a drinking straw and using a sharp knife,
slice the straw length wise (put a slit in the straw) this will slide over the rail and give some protection while spraying the ties.



“Hi Al.

I see a few people are interested in telephone or power poles.

Maybe i can lend a hand on showing how and sort of kit you need. Really simple to do once you cut and set up, most slow and tedius work is the tiny pins you use on the cross members to hold the tiny insulators.

Start with a quarter diameter dowel you find in hardware stores.i cut mine 6 inches because i put 1 inch in my styrofoam base.on the dowel measure from one end, half inch and drill a tiny hole careful.

Take a popsicle stick and cut it into 3 lenght wise strips. Take the best cut piece and measure 2 inches in lenght and cut.

Now find the centre and careful drill a hole. Your going to notch the pole you drilled to fit that cross beam.

Now take a black or white plastic with a metal core electricle twist tie and strip it. Those are going to be cut long anough to carefuly pin it to the side of that popsicle stick in picture instant glue them on. Leave a space but barely when you add the 3 insulators on each pin, they come in diffrent colors.

Where you drilled the post the first time move down to the desired spot you want to plant your scrap radio compasitor acting as a trasformer.leave the pins on the compasitor when cut out of radio.look in radio for a cooper wound resister as seen in picture.now move down to desired spot for transformer and mark spot.

Now take some more thin metal scrap from radio and cut a tiny metal bracket on post. Sorry for picture. That metal bracket will hold your transformer.instant glue trasnformer to braket and instant glue bracket to notch post.the metal silver wire you see in photo is thin flexable weilding wire to make tiny fuse brakckets you see in other photo.

To make fuse take sewing needle carefuly wind cooper wire you salvaged to tiny coiles as seen in photo.you will have to trim them as you go.you will see in photo a piece of food tin.cut into tiny tiny strips and use a finger to even out.those will act as cross beam member supports and also bracket for fuse as seen in photo.after happy with how it is install cross beam with insulators in top notched post and use a sewing pin as a bolt and white glue it. Trim extra after dry.

Diffrent countries have diffrent designed post and telephone poles. If you look on the net you can get many photos of power poles and telephone poles.mine are canadian poles and are close to being correct.

Now in canada we have our maine power wires and telephone wires and cable high speed hanging attached a few feet from the bottom of our transformers.the insulators hold our ground wires.but in my case im going to use my poles to hook up real power at low voltage for home lights and street lights.the trasnformers are for the look or realisume.hope this helps and if any
questions leave a message on the site and i will answer.

Have fun.


A huge thanks to Bill for sharing his pics and videos on his N scale model train scenery – can’t wait to see the next update too.

Over the years there has been hundreds of posts on scenery – here’s just a few of them

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget, the Beginner’s Guide is here if you want to get going on your own layout.



PS The very latest ebay cheat sheet is here. Still updated daily.

13 Responses to N scale model train scenery

  1. Why build in HO and N?

  2. Very nicely done, it looks great. Thank you for the tutorial also.

  3. James Marek says:

    I have been a subscriber of this site for about 2 years. Your videos are the beat and most informative I have seen on this site. Thank you for sharing your methods and explaining clearly how you do each segment on the scenery. Looking forward to your next release.

  4. Terry Miller says:

    Very nice and informative. Wouldn’t it be great to connect the two layouts so an HO train goes around and into a tunnel. On the N scale layout an identical train is hidden inside the tunnel and comes out when the HO train has disappeared. Would certainly keep visitors wondering what happened.

  5. Ted Rothstein says:

    Fine looking lay out and explanation

  6. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Great work…. I love your videos working with your trains.

  7. Hello Bil,
    Fantastic layout yor N and HO i follow dem note so al yor video’s and a download de how to all.
    HC Treintje Belgium Herman.

  8. Robert Johnson says:

    Video nicely done and what a beautiful layout! — enjoyed it very much!

  9. Very nice work…
    The two layouts in two scales? I get it!
    I am planning my retirement and plan to build two layouts in two scales… This has been on my mind for a while now. I model HO standard gauge and O scale narrow gauge!
    Love Terry Miller’s idea with the identical trains…
    How come I see a Tardis as a tunnel portal on both the HO scale and the N scale layouts to complete the illusion!

  10. Bill in Virginia says:

    Hi all Bill in Virginia. First thank you for the kind comments. Like you all o love our hobby and have a blast modeling. Had a question about why both N and HO. For me it’s using the space I have effectively. My HO is a switching layout but I did want to just let trains run so I can rail fan when I want. I built the N scale layout so I could do just that. With how I have it set it takes about 5 minutes to do a complete run before going over the same track again.

    I must say I really love the idea of having a train go j to a mountain and a different scale version of the same train comes out the other side. If I ever move and have a larger place than half the garage I’m in I will try to do just that. Until then I have s Tuskegee been picking up some equipment do I can run close to the same trains on both layouts. On the HO I can make up a train and run it to staging and on the N scale run close to the same train there as though it’s off scene from the HO layout. It’s fun to do that as I can operate one layout for a while and shift to the other

  11. Harley Schlinger says:

    Thanks for all the wonderful train layouts it makes my day to see all the Beautiful layouts that all you guys have created, Question how do you keep the layout clean? Many years ago when my children were young I built a 16ft X 3ft HO slot car racing track I had glass doors on the front that I razed up like a garage doors but there was always the dust problem and you had to wipe the track down every time you used it and regular cleaning of the rails, and the pit area where the hauler and other cars set began to all look like a Barn Find from all the Dust that collected over time, I can’t keep my coffee table from collecting Dust and the rest of the house needs a good dusting every so often.

  12. What a great idea for making asphalt roads. Rolling it out just like the real thing. Ideas like this is what makes this blog so valuable.

  13. Richard H Chapple Sr says:

    Always a pleasure to read and watch what Bill has to offer us. Anxiously watching how his On30 layout is coming along.

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