Model train platform materials – Steve’s

Steve’s been in touch with some good advice on model train platform materials:

“Dear Al

Thanks for putting the few photos of my layout up for viewing my hope is it provides some inspiration at basic level. Here is the first set I sent to you in case you forgot as the second lot caught your eye clearly!

I know this is basic stuff this is deliberate as it shows realistic views from the eye are achievable. This lot took a few afternoons of patience in the holiday period! There is nothing expensive here apart from the engines of course!

Tip! – If you use foam or similar track underlay which many do, this of course raises the track height ( again this pure amateur level stuff!) then the standard platform height is too low either in card kit or resin model forms ( which are shown in my photos earlier).

The easy solution is you can buy thin balsa strips, ( my model shop supplies a kit of various lengths and thickness in a pack). They easily cut into shape for any length, use them as a packer under the edges of the platforms, glued to the base then glue the platform to the balsa runner.

Its about 1/8″ thick and works very well is solid and easy to do. This improves the look and creates a realistic platform height when viewed from the engine or a coach running by the platform.

The balsa runners are covered when you apply the scatter on the side of the foam underlay to blend in, the slight increase in height at the platform end where it slopes to the ground is also covered when you put in place the timber sleeper walkway to cross the tracks as it used to be to get from one platform to the other side of the track.



model train platform materials

model train platform materials

model train platform materials width=

model train platform materials

model train platform materials

model railway platform

model railway platform

“Hello Al,

I’ve been getting so many ideas from your website, and contributed nothing. I’m sending in these pictures on fence building, It is time consuming but there is no way to affordably purchase this much fence to fit your needs.

My wife sews, so I had the fabric cutting board, and roller cutter at my disposal. It makes the job easer, but not mandatory, a sharp scissors works fine.

Materials list
Wax paper, styrene rods (eBay), PRO CA glue, household vinyl screening material, Painters tape (Thickness to your scale), strait edge 36″, sharp scissors, silver spray paint, and clear coat semi-gloss spray paint.

I’ve sent the included pictures to place the idea across. Measurements are critical, the screen is to be cut on a 45 degree angle to give the spikes on top of the fence. These are not finished yet, I’m placing barbed wire on the top, I’ll send the completed pictures complete with gates in the follow up installed on my rail.


HO scale fence

HO scale fence

HO scale fence

HO scale fence

And lastly, thanks for all the comments on this. I’ve been getting quite a few like this now:


I collected my train set for over 30 years knowing someday I would get it out and start putting it together for my hobby. Well I started a couple years back and found out how much model railroading has changed. I am working in the HO scale. Well I got on the internet and started to search for answers to several problems I was experiencing, thus I came upon your web site and it offered endless suggestions and advice. When you went to a pay site I had no hesitation to get onboard. The input from the readers is invaluable and your ebay short cuts has more then paid off for me! It would be a true honor to meet you in person and shake your hand to thank you for all you have done to help me foe fill a live long dream. Thank you and hopefully you have many more years of great advice!


So, if you’re like Evor, and scratching your head at all the changes, have a read of this and make your own mind up.

And lastly, the latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

Thanks also to Steve for sharing his Model train platform materials ‘how to’ too.

Please do keep ’em coming.



21 Responses to Model train platform materials – Steve’s

  1. Alan Holdsworth says:

    Hi Al, I’ve been reading Your newsletters for some years now, & get a great deal of info & enjoyment from them. Your contributors post some fantastic layouts & tips. But I’ve yet to see anyone using Fleischmann Piccolo N Guage track, why is this? Keep up the very good work.
    Alan. (UK)

  2. Ron Schultz says:

    all I could say O M G what some one won’t think of next . an up side down train set. If I were a drinking man and saw this I would think I was in Australia. But all I can say is great idea and it came to be .

  3. incredible….
    upside down train
    keep it runnin fellas

  4. George Ross says:


  5. Rod Mackay says:

    Steve, you say if you use underlay the platforms are too low, hmmm, sure about that? Real platforms, particularly older ones, are often well below the level even of the step-boards below the coach doors, a lot of model platforms are actually too high, only very recently have they tried to build platforms on a level with the coach floors, and then often just in brief humps to facilitate boarding wheelchairs. Trust me, I was having to help an elderly passenger up into a coach only last week and it was quite a job. From the model point of view, also, the higher the platform is, the shorter/narrower it seems to look.

  6. Bonny McDaniel aka Grannytoot says:

    Fabulous fence, John. Really nice.

  7. paul Otway says:

    nice layout

  8. Robert Bouskill says:

    weird movie with upside down trains. of course Buckminster Fuller correctly argued that we do not go upstairs or downstairs. Relative to earth we either are going instairs (down) or outstairs (opposite. Fuller played it very smartly.

  9. Steve says:

    Hi Rod, I agree with your constructive comments the balsa strip may be slightly high however without it the platform is far too low and does not look right. I messed around with this for some time until I was satisfied having looked at many photos from the period 1960,s. However for 100% accuracy I agree with you. I am now crating a nine track terminus and to my eye using the three foot rule to the eye it looks right with a one eighth balsa packer works. I will send photos when I have got something to show for my work haha thanks for the advice.

  10. Peter Leeke says:

    I loved the response to the question “…why?”
    “I like jazz!”
    Says it all really.

  11. John Sage says:

    Does anyone know how to use the Atlas track planning software? I cannot find a tutorial anywhere.

  12. Gordon says:

    Love the tunnel with all the plant growth on the edge. Needs a bit of “unsightly” graffeti on it for realism. Every rail bridge, tunnel or infrastructure I see has graffiti. A good effort though. Top marks

  13. Rod Mackay says:

    This is the station I had in mind, when you’re trying to get someone heavy in a wheelchair up a ramp into the carriage you need your three Weetabix.


  14. Knud Rosenloev says:

    To the person who wrote at 2:33 pm after a tutorial to Atlas track planning software try this link:
    In the bottom there is some helpful links.
    Best regards

  15. Kenton says:

    Good idea!

  16. tracy penman says:

    There was a tyco train set from the 1970 that used a 90 degree turn track piece to run a train up the wall. Half of the track lay flat on the ground or table then it went up the wall for the other half. Still, a great ideal. Just think, you could lay around in bed all day and run trains too~fun!

  17. tracy penman says:

    It was called turbo train.

  18. Ian Mc Donald says:

    great ideas again everyone helps me out .novel idea with the train up side down i have enough trouble right side up. well done.

  19. steve masters says:

    Another little tip!
    During my efforts to attempt something approaching realistic, I discovered the plastic frets or frames from plastic extrusion packs when thin and straight make great down pipes. They actually have tiny nibs from where you have cut the actual product from which look like the holding brackets for the downpipe using the three foot rule! For much closer views use the actual pipe and guttering from the kits, but keep the frets!.

  20. Bedros Anserian says:

    Just Amazing.

  21. skip says:

    that looks great my wife would like me to do that so that I wouldn’t take up any room. I’v been doing modeling for 20 years and don’t have any thing to show for it. we always moved when we would get settled in.