Like the prototype, we spend most of our time trying to keep our trains on the track and in one piece. But accidents do happen. And on the prototype, the damages caused by even a small derailment can be much more severe than anything we'll ever have to handle.
There is more to modeling a derailment than just piling up the freight cars.
©2013 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.
This scene on a modular layout certainly isn't the first model derailment scene I've seen but it is one of the best. Why? Attention to detail and avoidance of "extreme" weathering.
Several cars are found on their sides, laying in typical angles to the rails as often seen in these accidents. The cars themselves show some moderate and typical damage. Broken and bent ends, damage to the sides, doors open, loads spilled, trucks and couplers missing. There is also damage to the surrounding terrain and the mainline shows fresh ballast and ties past the scene.
It looks like the crew is well underway in the cleanup. The modern tractors, which have replaced the classic railroad wreck cranes, are very well modeled and shown hard at work along with a carefully placed and decorated workers.
It's proof that you don't need to overdo it to sell the scene - just pay attention to the small details within it and everything comes together. Even better, it was the only derailment seen on that layout!