Model train signs

Roger has been in touch with a ‘how to’ on making your own model train signs.

“Hello Al

Dave asked about the signs on my little garage – and the interior detail.

Those who have seem my previous posts have probably noticed that I like to spend virtually nothing on modelling so that I can bankrupt myself buying locos and rolling stock. What follows is cost free.


There are some out there who would like to sell us these. Yet all we have to do is search the web for them. Try googling the following: –



On the left of the screen, click IMAGES. Pages of little reproductions will appear.

Print off a page or two. Put them on the scanner and shrink or enlarge – depending on your scale and intended use. In OO/HO reduce by 50-75% according to taste – for display on buildings, that is.

For advertising hoardings (and there are those who would sell us these too) increase size a little on the scanner and cut them out. Make the hoardings from pieces of plastic food packaging (see photo). This material will bend, crease and hold the fold. So you can bend to form a base. I stuck the posters on them with ordinary UHU general purpose glue.

After something specific? Google it and bring up IMAGES.

You’ll notice when you glue that (depending on the paper you print with and the type of glue) they fade a little. Fantastic. In fact I like to distress mine further by wiping over a little dilute matt black with a bit of sponge.

The Shell Tankers (see photo) were bought for a few pounds each – new. I think they were cheap because, though red and yellow, they were not signed. The Shell emblem was found on a site called SWEET AND NOSTALGIC! There are plenty of trucks and vans available in OO unsigned – pretty cheaply – so you can personalise them with a little internet investigation.


I guess these are important when you have large open doors on a building – garages, petrol stations, fire stations, bus stations and factory doors. I reckon these look more interesting with the doors open. This is my approach.

– Paint the interior matt black. Viewed from a standard distance – or even close up – this will make the contents stand out.

– Make up shelf units with strips of our old friend – food packaging (see photo). Glue with superglue. Add tiny objects to the shelves. These can be modelled in plasticine and dipped in glue to harden. Or little chips of plastic – tiny offcuts do equally well (see photo).

– Never chuck away used ballpoints. Take them to bits and keep the pieces. I used some in the demo-photo. The interior ink tube is perfect for lots of things – loads, piping – also the metal writing section – and particularly the plug to the outer tube.

– The shelf items are very small and will be inside the building so vague shapes will suffice. Paint in suitable colours to represent stacks of cans, oil containers, batteries, exhausts – whatever is suitable. Invest in tinlets of silver and gold paint. You’ll get good use out of them for this and for all sorts of things in the future.

– Attach to an interior wall. Easier to do this before you assemble the walls of the kit.

– Add some signs and posters. Mounted inside, detail will not be seen – so content is relatively unimportant unless they’re hung near the door.

– The use of mini-cams, mounted on trucks, travelling the line make work on interiors well worth while. Folks will marvel at your attention to detail – when in fact you have spent very little time and not a penny on it!

– If you light your buildings this could look amazing – all the detail picked out. Shadows too.

– The oil can is simply a tiny blob of plasticine – little piece of wire pushed through – curled for the handle – smeared in glue to harden – painted red.

Hope this is of interest, Dave.

Best wishes.


Model train signs

Model train signs

Model train signs

Model train signs

Model train signs

A big thanks to Roger for sharing how he makes his model train signs.

That’s all for today, folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if you want to get going on your very own layout.



PS Seen the latest ebay cheat sheet yet?

7 Responses to Model train signs

  1. Rich B. says:

    This idea is priceless, signs match with scale perfectly. Such things were plentiful even through 1950’s. Would look great also on box cars, cabooses, trucks and busses. Who needs Graffiti? 🚞

    Regards, Rich

  2. Jim AZ says:

    Nice. Neat stuff and great info. Thanks for sharing.

    Jim AZ

  3. John says:

    Wonderful, precise, valuable and fully explained material – a mind expanding “How-to”! This one goes into the archives. Thank you for taking the time to fully explain your technique!

    Smilin’ Jack, Naples FL

  4. george zaky says:

    A Smilin’ Jack Ditto from this camp.
    Big Al
    Nothing but clever, really smart in addition to artistic and talented people contribute here & you package the deal.
    There is simply nothing more worthwhile than messing around with trains.

  5. John Hauser says:

    Adding signs to a layout makes them more realistic and enjoyable, great job!
    This hobby expands one’s horizons in many directions, and promoted a level of creativity that is amazing.
    John Hauser LINY

  6. Marklin ed. says:

    Great Roger this email is areal keeper for the future. Thanks for the information. Those signs look so real and help make your layout look finish.
    Upstate New York USA

  7. Dave Marlin says:

    And that she’d is still a great building with the external and interior detail.
    Thanks for the tips, I’ll put the 11 year old grandson right on it …

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