Model railroad school project

If you missed Glyn’s stunning layout yesterday, it’s here: Marklin HO layout

I mention it because I always enjoy reading the post commments, and there was one, from Ed, on Glyn’s post that stuck a chord.

Here it is again to save you searching for it:

“The artistic talent and creativity displayed on this site never ceases to amaze me. For all the talented people on this site (much more talented than me), I’d like to offer a small suggestion, which in effect, is a challenge:

We need to share ideas on how we expose others, especially children, to the wonderful aspects of modeling. As a kid, I became fascinated with modeling (mostly aircraft, but trains as well) back in the 60s. This came about because I was influenced by older, experienced, talented modelers.

As a teacher (Science-8th grade) I had my students building models for over 25 years. Then, in my last 5 or 6 years of teaching, I had a shelf railroad (DCC) in my classroom. I was able to utilize it for active demonstrations & labs within various aspects of my science curriculum. Also, as a reward for getting through a lesson, the students would love it when I would “run the trains” for the last few minutes of class.

For students who were interested, we would meet during free time; I would teach them construction techniques, soldering, basic electricity, etc. When I run into students who are now adults, they always refer back to the model building as their favorite part of my class; some tell me how they now build models with their own children as well.


I think most of us stumbled into this hobby with the help of the old man so it’s always good to see it in other places.

And as luck would have it, Garron has been in touch with his model railroad school project:

“I’ve been following your blog for a while now, and I am inspired by all of the tips and techniques.

I am the science chair at a middle school, and I recently was awarded an educational grant from a coal company for my idea to build an HO scale model train layout.

We built the entire 8’x4′ layout in my storage room. It took many class periods to complete. The majority was done by 13 year olds. I only offered my help with laying the track, electrical components, final details, and trouble shooting.

The CSX specific train dumps coal using the old Virginian TYCO hoppers that we will paint later and affix CSX decals.

We cut square holes into the layout base for coal to pass through grates into a peanut butter jar, and we are currently in the process of using a coin machine motor to build a gravity loader for the next fair. With this lesson, I taught not only concepts of coal, but I focused on scale, electrical circuits, and topography.

I wanted to introduce students to the hobby of model railroading that I recently became interested in myself.

Anyway, we finished most of it up in time for the CEDAR coal fair, and took home 2nd place.

Granted, I nor my students are hobbyists. Our techniques are probably crude and rudimentary compared with others on the site.



model railroad making mountains school project

model railroad making mountains school project

school model railroad

school model railroad

school model railroad freight

school model railroad loco

school model railroad construction site

Please do leave a comment on this below – would love to hear your thoughts.

And now on to Fred.

You’ll remember him from his stunning posts – here’s his last one: LED lights model trains.

led lights model train

He sent this to me yesterday and it made me smile from ear to ear, so I thought I’d post it:

“Al –

Understanding that my main interest in modeling has been the scenery rather than the trains, I nevertheless cannot help but marvel at the railroad ingenuity of these people in Cambodia, and thought that this relaxed ‘coach class’ might be a good scratch build subject for one of the guys in N or HO scale.

What an absolute hoot!


Doesn’t it look fun?

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you jump out of your armchair and poke boredom in the eye, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

17 Responses to Model railroad school project

  1. orion says:

    When I was in the Navy (Vietnam era) home port was in Subic Bay … in the Philippines, and it was fun watching the resourcefulness when you have nothing, you make do … motorcycle taxis, etc. Cambodia train rides, brought back those memories for me.

  2. Andrew Cockton says:

    Pity we cannot do that i England, we might arrive on time and beat the strikes

  3. David Howarth says:

    Like the overtaking lane on the railway ..LOL

  4. Ellis James English says:

    well if that woman can clean fish as good as she can operate a ride along,….

  5. Brian Rockey says:

    One just hopes they’re going to get off when the Express comes through!!!
    Best to all!
    Brian, Wokingham, UK

  6. Greg Marples says:

    I picked up the modeling bug from my older brothers who did cars, rockets, chemistry sets and inherited some boxes of Lionel O gauge equipment from an older relative. My middle brother was fascinated with those old trains, and still is! This would have been in the 1960’s. I fell for N gauge soon after, and after my later training in art I eventually, with his encouragement, began my own N layout and collection. I think a lot of it is the predisposition to work with your hands, which was given to us by our parents who made everything they possibly could for themselves. From the house we lived in to the home grown food we ate, it was all done by our own hands. My mother’s never seemed to stop. Even when sitting she’s be knitting or picking walnuts or something. And they were both pharmacists, they didn’t have to do all this extra work with their hands. They wanted to!

  7. Stephen Hill says:

    Ed , Garron , kudos to you . Too cool that you are exposing those young folks to the hobby , you never know what chords get struck . You both take teaching to a new and genuine level . Your students will rise above aaa result of having had your input in their lives . Good men , thank you .

  8. Stephen Hill says:

    Ed and Garron what amazing teachers you are , your students are fortunate to have your classes . Too cool what you’re doing there .

  9. Glyn Jones says:

    Wow – that’s ingenious improvisation (if not a tad risky:)!

  10. Rob McCrain says:

    That was a fascinating glimpse of how other people use their ingenuity and imagination. I loved seeing that. Rob McCrain

  11. Whocares says:


  12. JC Nelson says:

    Kudos to you both. Book knowledge is one thing but combining it with practical hands on experience is the best way form them to learn. Plus, in doing it that way I feel you create a better bond with your students and give them a better sense of value. Some of them may not have a Dad at home to teach them some of this. Great job!

  13. Robert Gevert says:

    Now I would really love to do that!!! Cambodia here I come!!!

  14. Tom Pickett says:

    Robert Gevert,
    There are two places in Oregon that you can do peddle cars on abandoned rail lines.
    Port of Tillamook bay
    And another place in north east oregon, I think around the city of Joseph.

  15. 2bears says:

    Cracked me up, the lady in the video. Couldn’t help but to label her as the “HELPER ENGINE” in that one scene !

  16. TJK says:

    Ed…….you must be one heck of a teacher!
    I think that those who have chosen the path to instruct and teach are so very creative to capture the development of children’s skills weighs heavy.
    Great job. TJK

  17. Steve Ruple says:

    I’m a few days late reading this article and I found this email AWESOME!!!!!! I wish we could do this in the U.S. Looks like a lot of fun and your right it does make you smile ear to ear !!!!!!

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