Welcome to the Triangle's best educational destination for old-fashioned family fun and field trips featuring hay rides, train rides, gem mining, a petting barn, a historical pumpkin farm, antique farm equipment, and a country store.
Use these FREE RESOURCES With Our Compliments:
Scale Calculators, Downloadable Train Room Signs, a Sample Model
Railroad Building ,and a Free Catalog to Keep Alongside Your Layout…
- Farm definition, a tract of land, usually with a house, barn, silo, etc., on which crops and often livestock are raised for livelihood.
- Another word for farm. Find more ways to say farm, along with related words, antonyms and example phrases at Thesaurus.com, the world's most trusted free thesaurus.
See the full range of model railroad building plans and keep up to date with what’s new.
FREE MODEL RAILROADER CALCULATORS
Use the Scale Conversion Calculator, Scale To Scale Converter, Track Grade Calculator, Helix Design Calculator,
and Scale Speed Calculator.
17 FREE TRAIN ROOM SIGNS TO DOWNLOAD & SHARE WITH FRIENDS
These fun signs can be downloaded and printed on your home computer, and even be laminated if you
choose. They will be a great talking point in your train room next to your layout. Free to download and
FREE SAMPLE PLAN
Download a plan to try out for yourself. Constructing realistic replicate model structures is a lot of fun, and
we know you will be impressed with what you construct.
FREE MODEL RAILROADING ARTICLES
This information is designed to assist hobbyists with planning, maintaining, and operating their layouts.
To get started you just need some basic tools:
- A cutting mat of some kind
- Steel ruler
- A small right-angled square
- Craft knife (replace the blade regularly as a sharp blade gives a cleaner cut)
- Glue stick (perfect for adhering paper to card)
- Clear all purpose glue (solvent free)
- Super glue or CA (perfect for the little fiddly bits)
- A pencil
- Felt tip pens (for touching up the edges and corners)
- Fine sand paper (for smoothing any rough edges)
- Artist’s matt spray
- Damp cloth (To wipe the glue off your fingers)
How to Build Model Railroad Scenery – The Basics
By Guest Contributor Frank Richardson
Farm & Rural Free Model Railway Resources Llc
This article will tell you all the basics that you need to know in order to start building model railroad scenery. Following are the basic steps that you need to take in order to start building your railroad:
1. The first thing you need to start with is the passion for building railroads. For this you need to fuel the fire by visiting train shows, model train shops, and friends who share your enthusiasm of designing railroad sceneries. These days there are so many resources to help the hobbist get started in model railroading.
2. Look into different gauges, brands, scales, and styles of model trains. Calculate the amount that you are willing to spend on this new found hobby. Sift through railroad magazines and websites. This will help you picture the overall look that you want to give to your railroad layout and scenery.
3. Choose the space in your house where to want to set up your railroad. Measure the space so that you can select a suitable scale to fit the space. The most common train scales are HO (USA) and OO (UK) so there are usually lots of resources and supplies available for these train scales. The next most common scale is N scale which is quite a bit smaller than HO scale or OO gauge trains. Not everyone wants to build a big railroad with lots of track filling an entire room. Also not everyone has the space or can afford a really large layout. Before you finally decide which scale you’re opting for, have a good look around the net and see what other hobbists have achieved with the various train scales.
4. Plan the railroad. This will help you in designing the scenery, backdrop, and buildings that you want to add in your design. Sketch it all out so that you can always refer back to it to measure your progress. Always keep room for future additions to your railway. My recommendation is to start off in a small way and gradually expand your layout (in modulars) over time, always allowing in advance the space to expand. It makes no sense to just keep adding onto the train track and scenery without the end result in mind.
You can look on internet and train magazines for ideas of different railroads. Select a theme around which you will build your layout.
5. The next step is to build a platform (also known as benchwork or a baseboard). You can choose plywood to build your platform because it is easier to drill and cut. Make sure that you build a sturdy platform that does not sway or bend. It also needs to be strong enough to support an incredible weight. It’s not just the weight of the trains and track, but also the weight of the scenery, structures, and even the weight of people when they lean on it. You will be amazed just how heavy a completed layout can become.
6. Start designing the scenery and backdrop as per the sketch that you have made for your layout. Place the mountains, rivers, and valleys. There are many landscaping kits available in the market that you can purchase to get help in scenery construction. Take as much time as you look like to make your scenery look as real as possible.
7. Layout the tracks before you attach them to the base of your layout. You can either glue or pin your tracks. Clip the tracks together before you secure them with glue or pins. If you are using glue then make sure that you let it set for a night. Don’t be tempted to operate your trains until the tracks are firmly in place.
8. Once your track is in place and you have laid out the basic scenery structures like mountains and valleys, it is time to add the details. Add train stations, buildings, billboards, bridges, tunnels, people, and cars. You have the choice of making these structures from scratch or using the ones already made from the kits.
Always remember that you are trying to portray a community, farm, or countryside. So make sure that whatever you place in the layout has a reason for being placed. Avoid doing anything that does not look a part of the theme that you are trying to depict
9. You can add trees, grass, shrubs and bushes, roads, and seasonal effects to give your layout a more realistic look.
The most important thing to consider, before you start following the given steps, is to thoroughly research the theme that you want capture in your railway. You need to make sure that everything from the trains, to tracks, to stations, to buildings, roads, people, and advertisements should be according to the era that you plan to depict in your railroad. This will not only give your railroad a realistic feel but it will also breathe life in your overall layout. Now that you know all about how to build model railroad scenery you can start designing and experimenting with different railroads and designs. You can get track plans in books and from the internet.
There is no shortage of ideas on the internet and in model train magazines. One recommended resource is Robert Andersons Online Model Train Club which is well worth joining if you are serious about the hobby. Never stop learning otherwise life could become rather boring.
The point to always remember is the reason why you are involved with this hobby. If you are like most others, it is to enjoy yourself first and foremost. The fact that you learn so many new skills along the way, and make new friends, is an added bonus. You can also use visiting a model train show as your excuse to take a vacation or visit a town or city you have never been to before. In fact some modelers spend more time traveling the country and the world attending train shows than they do at home or at their own railroad layout. And, good on them, if that’s how they like to enjoy this short time we have on this planet.
There are free plans for paper model buildings available on the internet, but be warned, when there is no charge the quality of these paper and cardstock plans can be very poor which will make your model railroad buildings look fake. However, be assured, the 160+ paper model plans advertised for sale on this website are of the highest quality. And, to judge for yourself, you will see a link (above) for a paper model buildings free download. This free download plan of a General Store can be constructed in HO scale, N scale or in OO gauge and assembled using paper, cardstock, or corflute. The quality of the above free model railroad building plan is excellent.
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Garden Trains are big, weather-resistant model trains that you can run outside. Once you install the track, you leave it out all year 'round, (though most people bring the trains in overnight). You can surround your railroad with real ponds and plants that not only make your trains look 'at home,' but beautify your yard all year long as well.
Since many new Garden Trains became available in the 1980s, the hobby called Garden Railroading has been attracting both 'indoor' model railroaders and families that never owned an 'indoor train.' All have found that a Garden Railroad is a family enterprise, with everyone finding something to enjoy and something to contribute. That's why, when we started 'Family Garden Trains'™ in 1996, we put the word 'Family' into the title and kept it there.
We at Family Garden Trains™ are Garden Railroaders who want to help our hobby grow, and we think that the best way to do that is to give anyone interested the information that they need the most to get started. That is why we publish that information on our web site in the form of free, original articles. Each article is written or edited by a professional writer with the beginning garden railroader in mind. To help you as much as possible:
- We provide clear explanations, step-by-step instructions, and lists of resources you can consult when you need more detail about a particular subject than we can provide.
- We keep our content 'fresh' by adding new content and updating older articles as new products or techniques become available.
- We encourage two-way communication, through a Contact Page for your questions, a Newsletter signup, a Discussion Forum Page, and a Facebook Page.
Also, if you poke around a little, you'll also see that we have incorporated reader feedback directly into dozens of our articles, and we'll be glad to include your suggestions, additions, and corrections as well.
Raised Platform Railroad Articles, ReduxLongtime readers know that after some sixteen years of trying to keep a traditionally-installed retaining-wall-and-dirt railroad in running condition, we moved and decided that the railroad at the new house had to be as low-maintenance as possible.
Day seventeensugars legacy stables cave creek. The story of our new railroad, starts with many plans, false starts, and new plans, but by the time we had the first 'proof of concept' installed, we felt we were definitely on the right track. It is told in our our New Boston and Donnels Creek blog starting with our article 'Planning the New New Boston and Donnels Creek Railway, Part 1.'
Just yesterday, we had links to all of those articles on this page. And you can still see them if you follow the links above. But now we've put together a short, easy-to-follow article that describes the basic precepts we used in building our new railroad.
'Building a Raised Platform Railroad' is our new 'flagship' article, based on 40 years' experience and observation in the hobby. It describes an approach to building an outdoor railroad that will require almost no maintenance and last without major refurbishment for as long as you plan to live in your home - New February, 2020
If you want to see how the simple principles in that article have been applied to our new railroad, you can download our four-page PDF 'Building the NEW NEw Boston and Donnels Creek.'
If you ever built a back deck, you used materials and methods selected to keep the structure solid as long as you live in your house (hopefully longer). To me the infrastructure for a garden railroad should be the same.
Personally, I believe that low-maintenance raised railroads are the future of the hobby, because they allow garden railroaders to run trains more often and for years longer without major repairs than most traditional approaches.
NGRC Nashville - If you would like to hear more of our ideas and conclusions regarding low-maintenance, reliable, cost-effective garden railroads, be sure and stop by our clinics at the 2020 National Garden Railway Convention in Nashville.Information about Garden Railroading
Free: Garden Railroading Primer Articles - Everything you need to know to get started, including many planning and construction articles to give you more ideas for getting a railroad in your back yard this year. The following list shows the general breakdown of our articles, as well as a few recent or especially helpful articles. Clicking on the list will either take you that portion of our Primer page or to a table of contents for that topic particular (if available).
- Introduction to Garden Railroading - Help getting a handle on the worlds' fastest-growing model railroading hobby, including:
- Go Outside and Run Your trains - A very short list of things you need to know to get started. - Updated April, 2008
- Building a Garden Railroad on a Budget - Get into garden railroading without breaking the bank.
- Garden Railroad Planning Articles - Help planning the physical, operational, and aesthetic aspects of your garden railroad, including:
- Which Comes First, the Garden or the Train? - Why landscaping and infrastructure should be considered early on - July, 2019
- Which Scale Should I Model? - An explanation of your best options, depending on the kind of railroad you want to model. Updated February, 2019
- Tackle Those Grades With Ease Pete Eggink's article on calculating and planning grades - April, 2010
- Garden Railroad Construction Articles - Cost-effective and easy-to-use techniques for building your own garden railroad, including:
- Introduction to Garden Railroad Construction - An overview of the various recommended construction methods, with guidelines to help you decide which method is best for you
- Building a Raised Platform Railroad - This is our new 'flagship' article, based on 40 years' experience and observation in the hobby. It describes an approach to building an outdoor railroad that will require almost no maintenance and last without major refurbishment for as long as you plan to live in your home - New February, 2020
- Building a Temporary Outdoor Railroad- Whether you're practicing for the 'big one,' starting a railroad on a rental property, or setting up a display for a party, Christmas display, or street fair - this article shows you how about three hours in the back yard with about $60 worth of lumber can give you a little railroad you can use for years and move whenever you want - New, December, 2012
- Garden Railroad Plant Articles - Articles about planning, planting, and cultivating the 'garden' part of your garden railroad
- Landscaping Tips for Garden Railroaders - Ponds, retaining walls, and more, including:
- Landscaping Design Tips for Garden Railroaders - Color, balance, proportion, and location of shade trees are just some of the factors that go into making a garden railroad a great garden as well. New July, 2010
- Paver Choices - Guide to the most common materials for making sidewalks and patios, with links to 'how-to' articles. New October, 2013
- Pool2Patio - Dry-Setting a Patio With Antique Bricks - Why waste that great pad of compressed sand left over when the above-ground swimming pool came down? A really big patio made from used bricks is more fun than more lawn any day. New October, 2013
- <>< font=' /> Installation and Lighting<> - Powering your trains, lighting your buildings, and more, including:
- DC Power Demystified - Describes the kinds of DC power used by model trains and the technologies that provide that power. Also provides an overview of 'analog controllers' for track-powered trains. New January, 2011
- Almost-Free Building Lighting- Use inexpensive supplies and discarded Christmas lights to create building lighting that is all but free. But don't wait until after Christmas to pick up the crucial part - 12v replacement bulbs for Christmas light strands. New December, 2012
- Low-Voltage LED Garden Lighting - Using LED fixtures that have been 'wired' to work in 12-volt systems - more light, less power, a few drawbacks.
- Garden Railroad Structures - Articles about creating and improving buildings and bridges for your garden railroad. New articles include:
- Detail Painting Storefronts - Colorado Model Structures' new Market Street line of inexpensive 2- and 3-story city buildings was the inspiration for an article to help even beginners help city structures look their best. New, August, 2013
- Prepping a CMS Plastic House for Year-Round Service - A step-by-step introduction to 'best practices' of prepping a plastic model structure for appearance and durability. New, September, 2013
- Trashbashing 101 - Updated for 2013 - About twelve years after our first Trashbashing article was published, things have changed enough to justify updating the article. Can you still convert busted-up or discarded toy buildings into attractive, inexpensive, weather-resistant scale buildings, with about as much work as it takes to properly prep the average kit? Yes. But the source materials are getting harder to find, and inexpensive alternatives are becoming available. We have added more photos and tips, but we also discuss when it makes more sense to choose an alternative approach. Updated, May, 2013
- Trashbashing a Fisher Price Cape Cod ('Play Family' House)After eight straight years outside, a building that I converted from a toy to a useful farmhouse over a decade ago needed some refurbishment. While it was in pieces, I took photos so I could explain how anyone who comes across one of these cheap can have a nice scale structure for a few dollars and a little elbowgrease. New, October, 2013
- Trashbashing Step-By-Step - This followup to our original 'Trashbashing 101' article has many photos and illustrated tips on using masking tape to get a clean, professional paint job with no skill required but patience. New, October, 2012
- Inexpensive Structures and Building Materials - Save real money by thinking 'outside of the store-bought-kit box' when you plan, create, or acquire your structures. New, January, 2013
- Temporary Building Fronts from Recycled Plastic Signs - If you have access to a color laser printer, you can print inexpensive, attractive building fronts that you can use to jump-start your railroad or to leave out in bad weather or unattended public displays. - Updated, January, 2013 with new tips and graphics.
- O Gauge Outside - Using O gauge trains and accessories outside.
- Garden Railroad Maintenance Articles - A new but growing section on how to keep your garden railroad operating properly, including:
- Real-World Trains and Operations - An introduction to railroads in general and the kinds of operations you can consider modeling in your back yard, including:
- Thirty-Inch Railroading - The trains that 'did more with less,' and went boldly where no one else has gone before or since. New, April, 2008
- The Little River Railroad - A standard-gauge logging railroad that used incredible compromises and combinations of equipment. Includes many unique modeling possibilities.
- Little River Railroad Northern Division A unique locomotive that is fully restored and running in south-central Michigan.
- Rail Cars and Busses on the Little River Railroad - with more modeling ideas for your own empire.
- Introduction to Mallets - Anatole Mallet's designs allowed a locomotive to use steam twice. Learn about these steamboat-sized centipedes to your railroad.
- Articulated Locomotives of the USA - Pete Eggink gives us an overview of Articulated locomotives, which had hinged frames to allow very long locomotives to go around curves.
- Reference Information and Things to Think About - Miscellaneous topics that are important to most garden railroaders.
- Other Articles about Garden Railroading and Large Scale, including:
- Basic Weathering with Powders - a 'primer' for someone who wants their equipment to look more realistically 'grungy' but who is nervous about getting started. - May, 2010
- Inexpensive Benchwarmers - Some ideas for putting passengers in your coaches while leaving money in your pocket. December, 2010
- Idiot-Friendly Digital Cameras for Photographing Trains (and other things) - with new examples and tips, and new 'best buys' to consider if you still haven't taken the digital plunge yet. Updated, December, 2012!
- Garden Railroading with Toy Trains - Our first report on 'Shoe-String Railroading.' Whether you're pinching pennies or just want to try something different, these tiny investments can provide big fun inside and out. Recent additions include:
- Lionel's 'G Gauge' Toy Tains - Review and many photographs of the new toys Lionel is selling as 'G gauge' trains. They have play value for kids and several nice features. Updated, November, 2019
- Evan Morse's Shoestring Railroading TipsJune 2009
Garden Train Buyer's Guides - Descriptions of the products you will find most useful when you are starting out, with links to multiple suppliers when available.
- Letters to the Editor Section - Answers to questions about garden trains.
- Garden Railroad Photo Gallery - beginning to sort out some of the better photos we've featured on this site in the past.
- My garden railroad, the New Boston and Donnels Creek - with many photos and links. including:
- New Boston Marketplace - We're not exactly 'downsizing,' but we are selling off some stuff we bought for one project or another and never used. New, January, 2013
- Christmas Train Day Report: Our Fifth Christmas-Themed Open Railroad - On November 10, 2012, our garden railroad, the New Boston and Donnels Creek was open to the public, in conjunction with the NMRA show in Dayton a week earlier. We had several trains running, including three trains the kids could run, lots of Christmas lights, Christmas music, outdoor movies, popcorn-machine popcorn and other treats, and lots and lots of helpers visitors. A good time was had by all.
- Special Features
- Trees and Trains - The Holden Express - a Photo-Journal from Family Garden Trains(tm) A detailed record of our visit to a unique professional garden railroad in Kirtland, Ohio (near Cleveland) in mid-July, 2007. Lots and lots of photos you can click on for a bigger view. This railroad closed September 23, but the photos are still online, because they are seriously inspiring.
- Into the Woods: A Garden Railroad in a Public Forest Jim and Evelyn Metcalf built a garden railroad that anybody can access. It's also on the GeoCache list, and works just great with an inexpensive train and plastic track.
- Blog-Like Articles - An attempt to keep in touch with timely, informal remarks, including:
What's In a Name - Again - Domain name squatters, content pirates, and other obstacles that we hit head-on years ago, but resulted in issues we're still sorting out today. Hopefully our warnings can help you avoid similar problems when when you name a business or start a web pages. Includes real-world examples from the history of Family Garden Trains and affiliated sites.New July, 2013
It Makes a City - Another Great Buy from Colorado Model Structures! - CMS has always featured garden buildings that offered great value. This spring, they have issued enough new kits to give you an entire city's worth of buildings for the cost of a single building from many other companies. If that sounds hard to believe, please check out Colorado Model Structure's new lines, some of which are being displayed for the first time at the Cincinnati convention in June. New May, 2013:
Preparing for a Once-In-A-Decade Open Railroad - Check out an early 'sneak peak' at some of the many things we are doing to get ready for the June, 2013 convention-related open railroads.New April, 2013: The 'sequel' to this article is now located here.
- Economics of Garden Railroad Buildings - A recent experience selling some used buildings and building kits reminded me that most 'name brand' large scale building kits cost too much. Way too much. I'm reminded of why I spend so much time trying to keep the hobby affordable for folks with average incomes. New January, 2013:
- How do I Sell My Train Collection? - I often get contacted by people who've found, inherited, or grown tired of a train 'collection' and need help figuring out what to do with it. Click here for the best advice I've heard (and some I've given) on the subject. New September, 2012
- Put the Garden in 'Garden Railroading' - Nancy Norris' 'Miniature Garden Guidebook' - GR plant specialist Nancy Norris has released the only complete book dedicated to the garden part of 'garden railroading' ever published. Click here to see an original review. New August, 2012
- Building Buildings - Jack Verducci's Building Structures for Your Garden Railway - Kalmbach has published another collection of Jack Verducci's most popular articles, this time focusing on Jacks tips for building, installing, and maintaining garden railroad structures. Though it's not a step-by-step 'how-to' instruction manual, it's guaranteed to give you some great ideas. New July, 2012
- Free Large Scale Signs and Graphicsfor use on your own railroads. Includes brick paper and other texture sheets, business signs, pre-scaled, printable building fronts, and curtains and shades for dressing up your buildings.
- Finding a Garden Railroad ClubInformation to help you find likeminded folks in your area.
- How (and Why) to Write 'How To' Hobby Articles - Our 'business site,' Breakthrough Communications™, has posted a series of articles to help you give back to your favorite hobbies by sharing what you've learned.
Other Resources- The following club links will help you learn what other people in southwest Ohio are doing with trains outside.
- Garden Train Store - An extensive buyer's guide that provides pictures and descriptions of the products you are mostly likely to find useful when you are beginning and expanding your railroad. Links to multiple suppliers are included when available.
- Best Choices for Beginning Garden Railroaders - A one-page buyer's guide designed to save you time and money by helping you locate the most useful (and generally the most affordable) products for when you're first starting out.
- Garden Trains for Kids - What do you buy someone who's not ready for big expensive models but wants something of his or her own to run? Several solid, weather-resistant trains with superior play value are suggested. New, August, 2013
- Starter Set Buyer's Guide - A description and catalog of several quality train sets that you can use to start your Garden Railroad.
- Big Christmas Trains™ - Free projects, ideas, and buyers' guides for Christmas trains, towns, and other displays.
- www.HalloweenTrains.com - A whole new page devoted to spooky railroad collectible fun. Start your collection now.
- Trains and Villages for Every Season - Describes On30 (indoor) display trains for St. Patricks' Day, July 4, and more!
- Big Trains Store™ - On30 is a fast-growing hobby that can use resources from O gauge railroads, collectible villages, and even from Large Scale - In fact many Garden Railroaders have On30 trains they run inside during cold weather. The Big Trains Store™ buyers' guide describes On30 and O gauge model trains for building indoor railroads.
- Classic Train Songs - An index to a small but growing library of popular songs about trains.New format and features, 2010!
- Train Movies and Railroad Videos - Several of our readers have been shopping for movies about trains, feature movies that feature trains, and so on. This page is new, but growing. April, 2010
- The Miami Valley Garden Railway Society (Greater Dayton Area, Ohio) New format and features, January, 2008,
- Big-Trains List - The original garden railroading mailing list. New link, February, 2008,
- Carillon Park Rail and Steam Society.
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Note: Family Garden Trains™, Garden Train Store™, Big Christmas Trains™, Big Indoor Trains™, Big Train Store™ and Trains-N-Towns™ are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications™ (www.btcomm.com). All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 by Paul D. Race.Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically forbidden.
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