Model railroad buildings and structures breathe life into your layout. These buildings are where your model railroad people live, work, play, and pray. Choosing the right model train buildings for your train table is crucial to the realism of your layout. Careful assembly, painting, and weathering of your models will also help to add additional detail, and realism to your railway layout.
Atlas, Bachmann, Design Preservation Models (DPM), Walthers, Piko, and other model train manufacturers; produce high quality kit models of the various prototype buildings you may be looking for. Some makers cater to specific scales and gauges, but most tend to diversify with the most popular model train scales, and offer O Gauge, HO Scale, N Scale, and Z Scale; among others.
Wooden or Plastic Building Kits
There are many buildings and structures out there to choose from. You can buy wooden model railroad buildings, and plastic or styrene structures too. Which type you ultimately choose will largely depend on your modeling skills and patience level.
If you enjoy models that are a bit more challenging, then wood model train building kits might interest you. Most beginner train hobbyists however, usually opt for unassembled plastic model building kits.
And, if assembling model kits really isn’t your thing, there are plenty of ready-built-structures to choose from. Some pre-assembled model kits are already painted and weathered when you buy them. These are a great choice if you’re in a bit of a hurry to get your layout built.
Planning a Realistic Train Table
When you’re busy buying models, selecting locomotives and train sets, building benchwork, and laying track, it’s very easy to get caught up in the moment and overlook important details. One way that I try to avoid this is to stay focused on realism. I find it helpful to think of basic human activities.
I try to keep in mind what real people do in their everyday lives. Where they go, what they do, what services and industries are needed to fulfill their daily lives. Keeping these things in mind when I’m searching for the right buildings to add to my layout helps me to stay on track.
On more than one occasion, it has helped me to realize that I’ve overlooked buying a school, church, grocery store, hospital, police station, or some other model train building. What about adding a cemetery or mortuary to your railway layout? Just a thought.
So, aside from the standard layout books and track planning software, I try to keep my brains rooted in the concept of basic “human” activities and life stages. I find it helpful when planning my own model railroad layout. It may also help “You” to construct a more realistic city or town scene for your miniature railway.
Types of Model Railroad Buildings and Structures
As indicated in the Model Railroader book “Beginners Guide to N Scale Model Railroading,” there are three types of model railroad structures. These main categories are:
This category of model railway buildings and structures includes items that the railroad owns, and includes items such as: signals and crossings, bridges and trestles, roundhouse, enginehouse, tunnel portals, turntables and more.
These items can either be owned by the railroad or the customer. Trackside structures are items like: freight and passenger stations, loading platforms, and various industries that have a railroad siding.
This is the "everything else" category. All of the model railroad buildings like: theaters, gas stations, homes, churches, hospitals, and other private or publicly owned structures that you would see in the average town or city in America and other parts of the world.
Placing a variety of model railroad buildings and structures from each of these groups is necessary in order to build a truly realistic miniature railroad. Some of the structures and buildings you may want to consider including on your train table layout are: