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Milepost 24
CPR Galt Subdivision

Structures on Your Layout

Buildings are an important part of any model railroad. They help to establish the time period that you are trying to recreate, while providing a history of how the community developed. They also give your modelling efforts a sense of purpose by providing industries that your railway can service.

Walk through the old part of town. Instead of looking at the store windows, examine the rooflines of the buildings across the street. Most people never see the fancy facades and ornate architecture that grace the front of these older buildings. These same details can add interest to your railway and establish its time frame.

Thanks to companies like D.P.M. (Design Preservation Models), Bachmann, City Classics and the Walther’s Cornerstone series of models, you can recreate much of the flavor of older towns. Some manufacturers even make ready built models for those who wish to establish their scenes more quickly.

Companies like Rix, Pikestuff and Walther’s Cornerstone manufacture more modern day structures that can be used exclusively to create a modern era layout, or blended with some of the older structures to give a sense of history to the towns and cities on your railway.

Details can be added to your buildings that indicate past owners or activities that occurred in the town. These details include faded signs and movie posters. Other signs add interest too. Blair Line has a lovely line of wooden billboards that can be placed on a vacant lot or on the roof of a low building.

Buildings also give a sense of scale to the railway. They range from signal shanties standing by the railway tracks to massive factories that dwarf the trains. You may believe that you don’t have room for massive buildings, but you can just create the impression of large industries by using only part of a building or a backdrop structure such as the ones offered by Walthers Cornerstone.

A building flat one or two inches thick made with only one face of the building can create this impression. Another option is to cut the building on the diagonal and use only two sides of it. After all that’s the most you see of a structure at any time.

For maximum results, you can use the leftover sides of the building kit to lengthen one wall into a very, very big factory or warehouse. Creating a modern warehouse with several “tenants” can offer more interesting operations, as each company would have its own loading door and would require different types of freight cars to deliver products. Since some cars would be in the middle of unloading, they would have to be re-spotted after switching out spots on the spur track to deliver the goods to other companies in the same warehouse. More work for your crew means more operating fun.

Using these techniques along with some simple weathering and lighting features, you can create a highly realistic background for your model railway and its operations.As well as stocking a large inventory of structures, the Credit Valley Railway Company carries a large selection of “How To” books and reference books on specific railroad related topics. These include books on layout design, prototype operations, how to build and detail structures and many other topics related to creating realistic looking model railroads.

Our staff has had many years of model railway experience, and is always willing to provide you with specific information, advice and answers to any of your questions! You can also email your questions to us via Our Contact Page.