Model railroad details

Henry has been in touch with some thoughts on model railroad details:

“Hello Alastair

Have you ever thought about what makes a layout stand out from the crowd?

To me there are two things, a layout that runs reliably that includes locomotives not stalling, no derailments and turnouts and signal systems that work.

To achieve this, planning is necessary before we even start building a layout. Care in laying the track, testing and more testing. Also setting minimum standards, like all metal wheels, all couplers at the correct height and so the list goes on.

The second thing that comes to mind is detail.

A little detail makes a HUGE difference. I include some photos of small detail scenes, some which are hidden inside buildings, but surprises a curious visitor who peers inside the building expecting to see empty spaces, and then discovers interior detail!

It does not have to cost much either, many of my detail scenes is created simply by how and where the figures are placed to tell a story.

Another area where a little detail makes a big difference is with roads. All roads show signs of wear and tear and their repairs.

When it comes to parking lots, why not add a handicapped parking bay? Or parking meters? Look to the real world for inspiration.

I include some photos of little detail scenes on my layout.



model railroad details engineering factory

model train bar scene

model train bar people

model railroad details bbq

model railroad details restaurant

model railroad details car park

model railroad details housing

model train mechanic

model train parking lot

model railroad parking meters

model railroad details passengers

model railroad bar pool players

model train roads

model train tracks

A big thanks to Henry – I couldn’t agree with him more when it comes to model railroad details.

Some well placed figures on a layout bring it to life and give lots of seperate independant scenes.

Take Bill’s switching layout post for example – did you spot the moonshiners? They had me smiling from ear to ear.

And just to really hammer a point home on model railroad details, here’s Brian’s latest – two kit builds for his layout, but look at the detail he’s added.

“Hi Al,

two projects that I have been working on.

The Foss Launch Co is now 99% complete. Only lights and figures to be added until it is bedded onto the layout.

A reminder about the Launch Co that is is a waterfront building and is showing lots of wear and tear on it. Ageing – (Done on purpose)

Here it is on the wharf at the waterfront. (A few people mentioned way back that they saw this wharf at the back of the layout and wondered if it was ever going to be used) This is the one below.

HO scale wharf

Adding the details to it on by workbench.

adding detail to model

All the bollards were cast by me in resin as I will need a lot of them along my vast waterfront

model from resin cast

model from resin cast

Some of the detail inside.

model railroad detail to HO scale wharf

adding model railroad detail to HO scale wharf

All the signage on this kit are dry transfers supplied in the kit.

signage for waterfront model railroad detail

Here is the second kit – a Fine Scale Miniatures Water Tank and Tool shed. A plus/minus 40 year old kit. Built straight from the plans (very unusual for me not to kit bash it)

water tank tool shed HO scale wharf

added the scribed siding around the tank.

weathing waterfront model

Not an easy task to add shingles to a cone shaped roof. Peaked roof is easy.

adding roof tiles to model

Touching up the ‘individual’ planks on the shed

weathering planks on model

Getting the right colour on the roof shingles.

HO scale wharf roof

This is the most time consuming part of any kit – painting and weathering the details on the HO scale wharf.

weathering HO scale wharf

Making sure that all the details look good in place before gluing them in down.

adding details model train waterfront

adding details model train waterfront

Overhead view showing the interior detail in place.

interior of model train tool shed

All the details have been weathered.

HO scale wharf weathering

HO scale wharf weathering

weathering model train waterfront

Brian – the HOn3 guy in Knysna RSA”

A big thanks to Brian and Henry for sharing their model railroad details.

By they way, you can see Brian’s last post, his workshop build, here.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you decide to buy a ticket for the fun bus, the Beginner’s Guide is here. Come and join the fun.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

10 Responses to Model railroad details

  1. David Howarth says:

    As Henry says ..its the detail that brings it to life ….

  2. Jim Richards says:

    Just a little information on Handicap parking. In 1955 in Delaware it became law and for the rest of the US in 1960 it was part of the civil right act.
    So those of us that model prior to those dates,sorry no handicap parking. PS I use my placard in Arizona.

  3. Dennis P Fine says:

    The devil is in the details. Your additions really bring out a scene, down to the rubber on the driveway. Nice touch.

  4. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Henry. Your correct adding in the additional bits of detail and having operating signals makes a huge difference. Love the car up on the jack and the internal details of the workshop. I don’t know if your buildings etc are finally positioned but they just look as if they have been dropped on to the ground as do the fences etc. in reality, which is what we are trying to achieve most would have grass build up at their bases or at least would not look all exactly the same in their ground fixings. The buildings would be the same with some transition between the ground and the building. It again would add a lot to the layout. Having said this week done and thanks for the submission and topic

  5. George Zaky says:

    Clever and well done details.
    I just look at your work and gasp. The opened windows are mind boggling- How did you do that?
    All the “Stuff” around the place, as Henry said- DETAILS- adds to the scene. Where do you get that or do you cast them.
    Big AL
    I have an awfully hard time creating sidewalks to streets then blending them to other parts of the layout. Could one of you masters help out an old Codger and show us the way? There has to be an elevation relationship between track, grade, street, and land and I just cant do it right.
    BTW thanks for what you do
    George from LI,NY

  6. Erick says:

    Wow that great? I hope mine turns out that good.

  7. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Henry and Brian……great job on the detail… takes time but we’ll worth it.

    Al…. That’s what I love about this site……all the ideas and actually inspiration you get from the other modelers and their work. Keep it going.

  8. TJK says:

    I think the comment about Henry’s fences not having grass build up at the base of the fence is hysterical……seriously? Nice job Henry.
    It’s an exhibition…not a competition… wagering please.


    Excellent excellent excellent article. Awesomely helpful.

  10. Jim AZ says:

    Nice. Details, special scenes and people truly make an outstanding layout.

    Jim AZ

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