Model train scratch building – Brian’s

Brian’s been in touch with more of his model train scratch building:

“Hi Al

I get asked on a regular basis how do I assemble my structures.

Here is how I produce my kits (or scratch built models) with the accessories that I use.

I only use Cyanoacrylate (super glue) on the metal models. Plastic glue on plastic models and Alcolin quick dry wood glue for the wooden structures.

I clean up all the castings (note: this one has not had all the flash removed and is used as a demo model for this article).

I wash them in vinegar (or pool acid) and then in warm soapy water. Let them air dry and avoid touching them with fingers. (Oil on skin etc) This affects the super glue and will not glue the parts together.

I use Rite-Clamps (magnetic and available online from Micro-Mark) in the USA. They are the best thing since sliced bread. Very powerful magnets in them. Easy to use.

I also use the good old elastic band method to hold the whole building together sometimes when there is not enough space inside the structure for the inner clamps as seen above.

Photo of the Rite-Clamp and instructions.

The set comes with supports to hold the items for glueing as seen below.

Assembled building which has been sprayed with a base coat of grey primer. Roof painted red by hand.

Self explanatory photo with a finished building alongside.

Another example of using two sets of Rite-Clamps on a wooden scratch built engine house. If building a lot of buildings I would suggest buying two sets of Rite-Clamps giving you four to be able to assemble the whole structure as shown below to get the feel of it before glueing it together. (The blue color is before removing the protective plastic covering as it eventually wears off after extended use)

I hope that this is helpful in constructing future model railroad structures, be them made of metal, plastic or wood!!!

Kind regards


CEO of the HOn3 Cascade Creek Lumber company.”

model train scratch building

model train scratch building

clamps for model train building

clamps for model train building

model train scratch building

clamps for model train building

clamps for model train building

model train scratch building

model train scratch building

And here’s Brian’s top shelf train running (sorry it’s portrait not landscape):

Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

A huge thanks to Brian, for sharing his model train scratch building tips.He is also one of the Hall of Fame members.

Some of his buildings really are stunning. And of course, as a Fame member, he’s had a good shufty through the Beginner’s Guide too.

That’s all this time folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

19 Responses to Model train scratch building – Brian’s

  1. NJ Mark says:

    Those magnetic clamps are awesome! Thanks a million for the info. Cheers! NJ Mark

  2. Who still builds metal structures?

  3. Roger says:

    Hi Brian, just read your blog with interest. The magnetic clamps seem a brill way of doing kits etc.
    I went onto the Micro-mark (USA) web site but alas the clamps came up negative.
    Shame really could have done with a pair or two of those.
    Kind regards,

  4. Brian Messenger says:

    I have a lot of the metal structures on my layout made by Woodland Scenics company and still have quite a few more still to build. I use them as they fit my era as well as area on my layout because of their size. One can construct a nice sized town using these small structures in a relatively small area. They also make industrial structures which I also have on my layout. Brian – RSA

  5. Gilbert Jessop says:

    I think using the clamps with a piece of metal on the inside of styrene buildings will work as well. It will hold the buildings square while the glue sets etc. I will certainly try them if i could find them
    . Dont know if they are available here in South Africa



  6. Brian Messenger says:

    Roger, on the Micro-Mark website, click on hand tools then clamps and they come up first in the top left hand corner at the online price of $22,99 per set. Called Rite-Clamps.

  7. Keith Miller says:

    The magnetic clamp system seems pretty useful. They come as a pair (inside & outside), but best I could find is about £30 to UK addresses. Search: Rite-Way Magnetic Clamping System
    However when I checked just now there were 0 left!
    But little magnets are cheap – shouldn’t be beyond railway modellers to lash up something out of plastic or even balsa…

  8. Perrry says:

    The magnetic clamp are still listed in there catalog.

    Look under “mini hand tools” then under “clamps” and you will find them.

  9. Kevin McArdle says:

    The clamps are available on EBay, and I purchased mine from Proses on EBay. They are a great thing to have while building structures. Good luck

  10. Rob says:

    You can find them in UK shops and in magazine adverts. About £30 depending on how many clamps in the pack.

    Or you can make your own with a piece of thin iron angle and dismantle some of those magnetic catches for DIY cupboard doors.

  11. Keith says:

    Great advice and just love the clamps. So simple.

  12. Paul Wienold says:

    Great idea! I’ve been using small aluminum angle cut into 3/4 inch lengths held in place w/light spring clamps. Holds workstock square as well.
    PAUL in California

  13. Tom Lawton says:

    Proses PR-SS-01 are the uk stock names for these clamps, and you can find them on Hattons, as well as elsewhere.
    Useful things, but also consider using magnets to clip things together (as if by clothes pegs) but further away from the edges.
    Strong magnets are available cheaply from eBay, for this and many other purposes.

  14. Carl Halgren says:

    I recently saw an ad for magnetic clamps – they were adjustable and looked ideal for the halves of a roof, etc.

    Carl in Kansas

  15. Thomas Murphy says:

    Good idea Brian.

  16. Ian Mc Donald says:

    thanks for the video and and the clamps idea I will chase some up.

  17. Brian Messenger says:

    Hi all,
    Unfortunately Micro Mark as well as Walthers (both in the USA) no longer have the right-clamps as they have been discontinued.
    However, we do have a gentleman here in a small town, George, RSA who manufactures them as required.
    If anyone requires more information – let me know via email and I will pass on to him. (Alastair will give you my email address hopefully)
    I have a total of 8 sets which I use all the time.
    Brian – the HOn3 guy in Knysna RSA.

  18. Will in NM says:

    Great How-To photos and text Brian. Also, very nice video of your HOn3 log train. That run along the edge of the shelf though was a bit scary. I was afraid that any glitch in the trackwork might send that train crashing to the floor. Hope you have lots of padding underneath that area.

    Also, the Bachmann Proses 39009 Magnetic Snap & Glue Set is very similar to the Right-Way clamping system and it includes 4 sets of corner clamps for around $40. It’s available on Amazon today at $32.30 with free Prime shipping. Reynaud’s in the US apparently imports the Right-Way Clamp System, but shows no current stock or price info.

  19. Erick says:

    Nice workmanship and detail.

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