Bob’s scratch built railroad bridge

“My name is Bobby and wanted to share my first scratch built bridges. Two are Howe through truss bridges. I have always been interested in scratch building so I gave it a shot. They are almost done so let me know what you think. Thanks.


“These photos show hornby locomotives with crew figures in the cabs.

The 1st photo is the hornby pug, it has a crew of one.

The others are of a 101 clas tank, and a jinty.

The crew figures were supplied unpainted black.

I painted the figures using water colour paint. I used water colour because if you make a mistake it is easy to fix up the mistake.


“Use thrown-away charcoal filter elements (like body shop respirators use) stripped open for REAL looking coal in coal hoppers.

It is light weight, and an exact match for coal. It is a might large for N scale. but looks great for HO and larger scales.


“Ground charcoal makes great scale coal…………keep breaking it till it’s the right size….then use the dust mixed with white sprit to age the rolling stock..

Dry cleaning hangers(plain) can be cut to make telegraph polls (solder cross bars) fence posts etc.


That’s all I have for today peeps.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you surprise yourself and get started, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

56 Responses to Bob’s scratch built railroad bridge

  1. a r murrell says:

    I think your bridges are very professional and really
    visually pleasing—brilliant!

  2. Jim says:

    Those bridges are great!! But how about telling us how you built them. Materials, etc.

  3. Looks nice, thank you for sharing, keep up the good work, Ken

  4. Tom says:

    Awesome bridges Bob great detail
    thanks all for the tips everyone

    keep em comin Al

    best regards,


  5. Francis says:

    Nice work Bobby…..where did you find the plans or are you just working from a picture?

  6. Neil says:

    Superb bridges, very impressed. If I supply the measurements any chance of making one for me ?


  7. chris says:

    Great looking bridges, any details on how you constructed them, materials etc?

  8. builder Kim says:

    Hi Bobby.Those are nice bridges you done.Can you show what material’s and how you made them please.

  9. Roy F says:

    These bridges look better than the professionally made one I’ve just bought. Well done but as Jim says please tell how?

  10. Willie Kerr (Glasgow) says:

    Bob, your bridges are really good.

    As previous reply could you let us know how to build them.


  11. LÉO says:

    Yes, the bridge are great, I hope to make some in the near future(near well).

    I save the activated charcoal in the water filter, it is also of nice gauge o and HO.

    Regards to all


  12. Lanning says:

    The bridges look very real! Nice job. Lanning

  13. Bedros Anserian says:

    Nice detailed work Bob, will expose natural effects.


  14. Dan LeVesque says:


  15. Cord says:

    Superb bridges, Bobby, especially for a first attempt! Can’t see how you could improve on them, actually. I am impressed – and a little jealous!

  16. Bobby says:

    I will be more then happy to explain how I built these bridges and the materials used to make them. I will send another email in with updated pics soon. Also I am gong to make a single track one and will take pics along the way. Thanks for all the nice things said about the bridges. Just makes me want to do more.

  17. Mark Allen says:

    Nice job GREAT first efforts, imagine what u r capable of!

  18. StJohn says:

    excellent building work…!! the bridges look realistic…!! I’ve been investigating some bridges to build from scratch myself. when I do I will post them….

  19. Herman says:

    Great job on the bridges Bobby –
    I hate tp be a parrot but also would be really appreciative if you could share any info on the materials etc that was used ot make such a superb construction

  20. Bobby says:

    Neil, send me whar you have as far as demensions and we can figure something out.

  21. paul Otway says:

    In case any one is wondering, the wall beside SDJR 24 is there to stop any trains falling off the layout on tt the concrete floor below. You know how much a new Hornby or Bachmann loco costs.

    It is a piece of wood with brick paper stuck on it, to look like a brick wall.

  22. A first class job on the bridge Bobby, and nice to see painted crew on the footplate Paul..well done both

  23. Ross says:

    What excellent bridges! Well done Bob!Thanks for sharing your videas. Cheers Rossco

  24. Ray Appenzeller says:

    Nice bridges and detailing! I am assuming that you used wood strips to make the bridge. Any list of materials and dimensions? Thanks for sharing! Regards, Ray Appenzeller

  25. anto says:

    like ur bridges bob what did u use to make them keep up the good work

  26. Toni Olivar says:

    Nice work. Great Idea, just what I had in mind to do for my ‘N’ scale layout. Could someone tell me the proper distance of track spacing for a double track bridge, from center of one track to the center of the other track, and from track center to inside wall?

    I have a box of Forster Economy Craft Sticks, (Popsicle sticks), I plan to use for its construction. I figure to cut them to properly scaled planks and beams, if I can before assembly.

  27. Anthony Morris says:

    With making these bridges so well. you can give up your day job. Good Work

  28. Bobby says:

    Toni, please don’t use popsicle sticks. These bridges are double track brdges for nscale. Use bass wood not balsa. The top chords, bottom chords, stringers, and side braces are made with 1/16 x 1/8 thick wood. The small braces are 1/16 x 1/16. They are 10 1/2 ” long, 3″ wide, and 2 1/2″ high. The tension rods are .025 piano wire. I will be making a single track one and will tack pics every step of the way. Will post on facebook so you will able to follow along.

  29. burt says:

    great job looks professional

  30. Mark noble says:

    Hello alistare does anybody ever post how to pictures on how to buid
    A curved tunnel please

  31. THOMAS says:


  32. D.B. Lewis says:

    I can hardly wait fot the bridge HowTos.

  33. Terry Westcott says:

    Your bridges look really great. Next time if you could send materials used, how you built them, how they are finished, and even the scale would be great. I built a small five bent trestle and hope to build two or three Howe truss bridges but will use dowels instead of finished scale lumber (for a logging layout).

  34. John Reynolds says:

    Bobby, Your bridges are awesome!!!! Amazing!!!! Beautiful! They show craftsmanship of the highest order! In a word; WOW!
    Did I see that those two bridges are “N-Scale”? Beyond Impressive!
    I was expecting probably S Gauge if not O Scale based on the quality of the workmanship.
    As to the use of “Craft Sticks” or “Popsicle Sticks”, A better source is “Coffee Stirring Sticks” (cheaper and more of them). That said; I would not find them suitable for anything in N Scale and very little in HO. They are a little large for S Scale but are plenty fine for O Scale and larger. In O scale they work out to being somewhere close to 2 x 12 lumber (maybe even closer to 4 x 12 lumber).
    Beyond the bridges, the cab crew in the locomotives are excellent work also.

  35. Rod Mackay says:

    Great bridgework, well done.

    Lovely to see someone crewing their engines, the railway is the greatest team game ever invented by man and full of characters, find room for all the guys you can – signalmen, porters, trackmen, footplatemen, guards, shunters and many more, they’re what makes the railway tick. I find for footplatemen in particular that people who are NOT meant to be doing that often look most convincing. Many standard plastic ones are shovelling like fury, or thrusting the regulator right up to the roof as though on a Royal Scot mounting Shap bank, a bit OTT. I have locos crewed by a bowler and a foundryman; a farmer and a ploughman, and so on. Look at any picture of an engine crew and they’re usually hanging over a sidesheet fiddling with the injector feed, or hanging onto the beading and watching for signals, or just slouched in a corner catching forty winks – try it, you’ll find they have more charisma than the standard guys, just paint their overalls or trousers in assorted shades of faded blue.


  36. Robert Whitmore says:

    note: Charcoal is great to use, but the tracks and locos do pick up the dust and caused damage/shorts/etc. So, take care.

  37. dan o wiseman says:

    very good bridge building for sure , like it, does an one have helix ho scale they want to get rid of , I am in the market for one, please leave a coment , I know emails are not passed arround some astair will pas on any interested parties , thanks dan o

  38. Kevin says:

    Most excellent work. You never know what you are capable of till you pick up a tool and start

  39. Bill Fassett says:

    The bridges and locos look great! For US readers, please be aware that you will be violating environmental protection laws if you tear open USED filters … presumably they have absorbed toxins. If you want to use this type of filter, find some unused ones at a cheap price.

  40. Daniel Brown says:

    Very well done on the bridges. Very reminiscent of what Lionel sold for their sets. You would not know that they are not commercial constructs. May I suggest laying a couple pieces of scrap track to show size and scale in the photos. The same technique can be used for the other scales once they work out the dimensions for their scale.

  41. Robert Mize says:

    WOW they are out of this world. Maybe you should take orders from some of the readers. I would giadly buy one ar more.

  42. Rich B. says:

    Indeed, more attention with 4 photos than a dozen with U-tube to boot lol. Do like the bridges also with the spaced planking. Appears to be constructed as the actual would be. Would like more ideas for those inner safety flanges or rails that are always used on tracks crossing precarious areas.


  43. Fred of the Wilbury Line says:

    Nice bridge Bob…..
    Love the pug ….I’ve had a kit for an age still not made it up !


  44. David Hannan says:

    The bridges look very good!

    Good tip regarding painting figures!
    Dirty Dave

  45. Antony says:

    Splendid bridges. Love the detail especially the vertical tie wires. Very well done.

  46. Brad says:

    Excellent bridges!! Also for coal anyone with some types aquarium filters has an ongoing supply,When you change the filers just use the old stuff

  47. steve walkley says:

    great job on the bridges.

  48. Wayne Parlee says:

    Great job , Did you base it on a known bridge?

  49. Lester Larrew says:

    Good to see some one else who loves to build bridges. I have scratch built at least a dozen for me and various clubs to which I belonged. To Neil and/or anyone else, Sen me this dimensions and scale and we will see what can be done.

  50. Wm althaus says:

    Absolutely beautiful models, both the bridges and the engines. Great modeling guys!

  51. Dave says:

    Very nice bridges. I have built many buildings, trees, and a trestle from scratch so I can appreciate your work. Never tried a truss bridge however. Maybe some day I will send in some pics of my N scale layout.

  52. Norm says:

    I just finished building a double track Walthers kit for a 150 foot truss bridge. It was very well documented and I had a good time putting it together. I painted it Moss Green and plan to leave it unweathered with a painting crew on ladders painting over the last bit of rust. Great job on the bridge!!

  53. Steve Ruple says:

    Awesome job on the scratch built bridges Bobby!!!!!!!!!!

  54. Great bridges! — you are a craftsman for sure!

  55. James says:

    Looks good !

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