David Holl’s Tips for Creating a Realistic Railroad

Subscription Options

Model Railroad Academy Membership with automatic renewal

Please select from the available subscriptions above

  • Choose Your Membership Plan
  • All-Access Video Pass
  • New Videos Every Week
  • View on Computer or Mobile

Select your membership plan and get our best model railroad videos with 24/7 access to tips and ideas from our master modelers, automatic renewal and our ‘cancel anytime’ policy.


Learn More

In building a layout, every modeler wants to reach the point where they can say they’re happy with the results. For master modeler David Holl, that confidence comes from two particular things: 1) Visitors can look at your railroad and know exactly where it is set, and 2) They leave with at least one scene that will always stand out in their mind.

David believes that every railroad should have signature elements that set it apart from the rest. For some, that might be highly detailed and historically accurate buildings. Others might focus their attention on weathering. In building his HO layout of Penn Valley Railroad, David wanted to model reality, which means he chose to build out the scenery before handlaying track. He explains how this dedication to ultra-refined landscape work and a realistic helper service allowed him to create a mountainous railroad unlike any other.

Also in this lesson, David introduces some quick tricks to simplify the way you model downtown scenery, including using a photocopier and foam board to create building fronts. His advice: if you can’t see a wall, don’t bother modeling it. See what else David has to offer to help you create a railroad you’ll be proud of!

Tags: Allen Keller, David Holl, Penn Valley Railroad, Premium Videos




    Get our best tips and techniques
    delivered to your inbox every week.


    Don't miss out on special offers
    from us and our trusted partners.