4 Quick and Easy Model Railroading Tips to Add Reality to Your Train Layout

Eleanor Hanson

Creating realistic effects on a model railroad layout can add considerable reality and really bring a scene to life. The best part is; building structures, creating scenery and applying weathering techniques are some of the most fun activities of a layout (apart from operating the trains). Here are 4 quick model railroad tips to try:

1. Add weeds and shrubbery alongside track

To model weeds, hay, straw, and grass get some “binder twine” from a farmer/horse owner. The twine is a natural (unlike the new plastic stuff) material and takes paint/stain well. The binders twine also weathers naturally. Hang some outside for a year and it will look like fall weeds. You could let it lay on the ground and it will turn a grayish color over time. The twine can be cut in very short lengths and used as some ground cover.

2. Making roads for a model train layout

The Model Train Help PDF book describes several ingenious ways to make roads. However, if you are working on a tight budget then here is an inexpensive idea for you. It is not as effective as some of the other methods, but it is cheap. Buy some non-skid tape (2 or 6 inch wide) which can be used for a black top road. You then use some white car detail tape for the white line down the center of the road. Result quick, inexpensive roads for your model railroad layout.

3. Add pavement effects

Here is a simple way to age paved streets on your model railroad layout. Use a fine point pen to create cracks. Simply drive around your neighborhood or areas similar to where you are modeling and see how the pavements are aging. Word of caution though, your model railroad layout needs to look authentic, so do not go crack crazy.

4. Passenger car windows

Many model train passenger cars that are being retailed do not have interiors. As a result when you look inside them they look like a toy train. One simple solution is to buy some commercial window tinting film from hobby, hardware or car accessory store. A small strip of the tinting film can be attached to the inside of the clear plastic that makes up the windows of most passenger cars. The tinting film can look like polarized glass which is very difficult to look through.

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