Scratchbuilding from Model Railroad Building Plans

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Scratch-built model railroad structures make for an impressive alternative to the commercial kits that you can purchase at hobby shops and craft stores. When you create buildings and scene elements from the ground up, you guarantee both that your scene ends up looking exactly as you want it and that no one else will have anything similar. Dimensions, aesthetic and placement are entirely up to you.

With commercial model railroad building plans, you can convert any type of structure from one scale to another, i.e. from HO scale to On, as we’re going to show you in this step-by-step lesson on scratchbuilding. Follow along as we take a prototype drawing from model railroad building plans and turn it into a scratchbuilt, three-dimensional structure.

How to create structures from model railroad building plans

To demonstrate the proper methods for turning model railroad building plans into an O scale building, modeler George Sebastian-Coleman selects a building from a commercial book of HO scale model railroad building plans. He teaches you the correct technique for converting and transferring a set of dimensions by utilizing a pencil and a straight-edge. By the end of the planning process, you’ll have taken an HO scale prototype from model railroad building plans and scaled it down to O dimensions, which can then be used to create a styrene version.

After laying out the template and cutting each individual styrene piece according to your model railroad building plans, George shows you the best way to combine the components using liquid cement. You’ll learn how to correctly and efficiently add decorative elements to your structures, including dormers, bricks and columns. While George’s structure may be a bit more difficult than the typical first-time construction from model railroad building plans, he stresses the fact that the techniques remain the same regardless of the structure you choose. Follow along with his step-by-step process and you’ll be able to use model railroad building plans to scratchbuild any kind of structure for your next layout!