For those bridges that cover wide expanses, it’s important to the integrity of the railroad and the safety of your trains that you reinforce your structure to guarantee that it is sturdy enough to endure repeated use. Model railroad bridges are similar to the real things in that they must be first built solidly and then inspected regularly. To build sturdy model railroad bridges, hobby brands such as Model Engineering Works sell extensive kits as well as individually packaged parts to allow you to adjust the structure of your bridge according to the specific needs of your unique scene.
Though they may require a decent amount of time to put together, these kits take the stress out of building attractive and solid model railroad bridges from scratch. But as stated, they do need to be reinforced in order to withstand the repeated crossings of locomotives. To help you add necessary rigidity and strength to your longer model railroad bridges, modeler Tony Koester teaches you a few expert tips that are discrete, adaptable and inexpensive.
Adding strength to model railroad bridges
The first step in making your model railroad bridges sturdier and more durable is to give them a framework that can withstand repeated use without succumbing to wear and tear. For this, Tony shows you how to insert long aluminum channeling into the “steel” girders that span your bridge. This tough, rigid material can be purchased at a number of commercial locations for cheap and cut according to the length you need. Tony demonstrates the best way to adhere short pieces of girder to the exterior of the channel and fit the entire structure into a base for your model railroad bridges, then teaches you the best way to adjust kit braces to accommodate the distance from the bridge to the ground so they’re as sturdy as possible.
As a bonus while the girders bond to the channeling, Tony shows you an expert technique for using Real Rust to make the bridge’s steel frame appear oxidized and weathered. Real bridges endure quite a beating on a daily basis, so your model railroad bridges should look like they’ve done the same!