10 Model Railroad Scenery Tips
For Planning Building A Layout

One of the biggest hobbies around the world is model railroading. No matter what size or gauge or scale, be it the popular HO scale, OO gauge, or smaller N scale, you will no doubt enjoy model railroads.

Trains are iconic to the history of the United States and especially in the 1950’s through the late 1960’s model railroading was over the top in popularity.

There are some basic model railroad scenery tips that will help you to create the most realistic and impressive model train layout. Follow these tips and your trains will not derail, stop or chug erratically. Here are just a few:

model railroad scenery tips

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1. If you are a first timer keep it simple. Don’t make your first train layout too complicated with multilayered scenery, tunnels, waterfalls, trees, structures, animals and people. Scale it down a little and decide on just 2 or 3 simple scenery items such as a small hill, a bridge or railroad trusses and a building or maybe two. That would be the very most I would try the first time out. I would also recommend you buy your structures the first time out. You will be busy enough with the scenery.

2. Find a plan for the layout of your tracks and draw that plan onto your base with a pencil. Now take corkboard and lay it where your tracks are going. Nail it down on the outer edges. Do not lay your track at this point.

3. Test your track design before you make it permanent. Layout your tracks along the corkboard and try it out. Make sure your train never derails, glitches, or stops. If it all works, remove the track from the base.

4. Keep all your scenery time and place specific. Decide before you begin what scene you are depicting. If you are doing the California Gold Rush of the 1940’s don’t put a car from the 1950’s in the scene or a modern bulldozer. Make sure everything in your scene is consistent.

5. Whatever the scale or gauge of your trains are, that is the scale that all your scenery needs to be. Do not vary or deviate from scale. This is an absolute must. If you choose to use some structures or trees that are a different scale your layout will not be at all realistic. It will be disjointed as well.

6. Make sure your scenery and your structures are weathered if your time era is anything other than today. Even the trees and landscape for a 1930’s scene need to look like it looked in 1930. Use the internet and the library and be sure your scenery is weathered.

7. Use dark paint or chalk on the space between your train tracks. This area of the ground in real life gets very dirty almost black from the heat, soot, and oil from the train. Put a few small pinhead sized darks pebbles on there as well.

8. Add lights or curtains or even people to the interior of your structures to make your layout more realistic.

9. Being faithful to your scene, time era and place, add animals to the scenery. Just a dog or a cat can make a big difference along with a few people. Don’t overdo it with either the animals or the humans, but don’t leave them add. They will add realism and emotion to your layout.

10. Once you have all your scenery made and painted, but before you attach the structures and trees, bushes etc., attach your track. Attach the track on the corkboard you laid earlier. First put glue on the corkboard and press your track onto it. Wait for it to dry and your track to be firmly attached before adding any other elements.

Following these easy model railroad scenery tips will lead you to produce a great track layout whether it is your first time or your hundredth.

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