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Customizing Model Trains

Give your models personality and character and improve operations with extra details, weathering, and more.
  1. Details and Weathering (26)
  2. Kitbash & Scratchbuild (29)
  3. Open Loads (16)

Customizing a Caboose - Conrail 21267
Customizing a caboose - modeling Conrail 21267 from a Walthers model.

Adding Graffiti to Model Trains
Three simple methods for adding graffiti to model trains

Customizing Model Trains: A Case Study
Customizing model trains for better operation and appearance creates unique models. This article introduces the various techniques that are easy to learn.

Replacing Model Train Wheels
Instructions for replacing wheels on model trains.


Couplers are an integral part of any model railroad. They are the links that make locomotives and cars into trains. There are many different styles of coupler available. Some are very realistic, some purely functional. Whatever you choose, good couplers are essential for reliable and enjoyable operations.

Model Trains Toolbox - Model Building

No toolbox would be complete without a set of jewlers screwdrivers or a hobby knife. But when it comes to building models, there are dozens of cool tools that can help you handle the smallest details.

Changing Road Numbers
Increase your fleet or model a specific car without painting the entire car by changing the road number.

Applying Decals
Apply Decals to model trains.

Rolling Stock Customizing and Kitbashing Projects
Links to rolling stock customizing and kitbashing projects for model trains.

Fixing a Wobbly Train Car
How to correct a wobbly model train car.

EMAX 92206 - Improving an Inexpensive Model Kit
Improving an inexpensive model train kit with weathering - starting with an Athearn covered hopper.

Adding Weight to Train Cars
Adding weight to model train cars to improve performance.

An Easy Load for Model Flatcars
Make an old flatcar the star of your roster for just a few dollars an a few hours' work.

Improving Operations for Long Model Train Cars
Having problems with your longer models? Check out these tips to improve their operations.

Detailing Empty Gondolas and Flatcars
The most common residual lading in gondolas and flatcars is the blocking and packaging materials left behind from a previous load. Some cars are permanently equipped with special racks or tie-downs. Others must have special blocking installed for each load. Cars are supposed to be cleaned out when loads are emptied, but this doesn t always happen. Lumber, steel bands, plastic sheets, chain and r…

Open Loads - Modeling Empties
Even an empty car is rarely completely empty. Lingering chunks of coal or stone and discarded blocking and bracing often litter the bottoms and decks of open cars. Modeling this debris not only adds interest to an otherwise empty car it helps to suggest that the model is in fact in service and not fresh out of the box.

Adding Loads to Open Freight Cars
Every model railroad has freight cars that can show off their loads. Modelers often call these open loads . Open loads can be as simple as a pile of coal to detailed models of machinery and everything in between. There are lots of commercial products available in every scale to recreate loads, or you can make many of them yourself.

Open Loads for Heavy Duty Flatcars
Some loads require special handling. These are as much a challenge to operate as they are to model.

Open Loads for Flatcars
If you re looking for a showcase for your modeling skills, a flatcar can be the perfect stage. Like gondolas, flatcars come in many variations and carry an array of loads. From lumber to heavy construction equipment, flatcar loads come in all shapes and sizes.

Weathering Models with Chalk
Techniques for aging models with powdered chalks.

Modeling Open Loads - Gondolas
Gondolas endure some of the most demanding jobs in railroading. They can be used for everything from high-value steel coils to scrap railroad ties. Generally, these cars take a lot of abuse and will show more weathering than other cars in the train. There are many commercially-made loads available, or you can produce your own. If you plan to load and unload the car regularly, it may be easier to…

Making Open Loads for Hopper Cars
Make your own or improve manufactured coal and other loads for model hopper and other cars.

Detailing Walthers' Depressed Center Flatcar
Add wire brake lines to Walthers' HO scale Depressed Center Flatcar

Stripping Paint from Model Trains
Sometimes to get the model you want, you have to start by removing the paint from an existing one. Stripping a model is not as challenging as it may seem.

Painting Model Trains with an Airbrush
An airbrush is an essential tool for modeling. Learn the basics to getting good results.

Master Airbrush Paint Booth Reviewed
Review of the Master Airbrush paint booth.

Painting Model Trains
Tips and techniques for painting model trains.

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