If you are anything like most beginner HO model train enthusiasts are, you are excited to begin your first layout and will want get it operational as soon as possible, so that you can enjoy all of the interesting aspects that your new model railroading hobby has to offer.
However, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the costs of name-brand scenery supplies, and may be wondering how you are going to afford everything you need in order to make your railroad look great.
Well, there’s no need to worry. By considering the following proven techniques, you can create a great-looking model train layout with hardly any trouble. Also, your overall costs will be much lower than the costs of using name-brand scenery supplies would be.
How To Make Your HO Model Train Layout
1. Use dark colored ballast on your model train track.
A way to make your model train layout look outstanding is to use dark colored ballast on your track. Because in real life the middle of a track is exposed to a lot of oil, grease, and grime that drops onto it from passing trains, it is best to use dark ballast in the middle of your track too, to simulate this effect. After this, you may want to add lightly colored ballast, for a realistic effect, to the outside of your track bed.
You can make your own darkly colored ballast by finding tiny rocks in your yard, or along the street of your neighborhood. These rocks are already sometimes dark from the grease and grime that has fallen onto them from passing cars.
If the rocks you find are not darkly colored, you can easily darken them with a little bit of used copier toner. To do this, place the rocks into a sealed container with a bit of the used copier toner. Then, shake the sealed container until all of the toner has covered the rocks, and Voila you will have your own dark colored ballast that is perfect for any track.
2. Use the internet and your computer to make paper signs.
Rather than paying for signs for your HO model train layout, you can create your own unique signs from papers that are appropriate for your layout. One way to do this is to search the internet for vintage advertisements, and then use your computer’s desktop publishing program to print scale copies of these advertisements onto paper. You can then glue your paper signs onto pieces of balsa wood that you will then place in just the right spot on your layout.
3. Use people in your urban layout.
Anywhere you have an urban area on your layout, use plenty of figurines. Since tons of people in real life are found in urban areas, you can’t go wrong by putting scale models of people in your layout’s cities and towns. This will add to the realism of your layout and help it to have a life-like feel once it is completed.
Using Simulated Neon Signs For A Unique Look
One thing that will really help to make any 1950s style layout look more realistic is to use simulated neon signs. A great-looking simulated neon sign that will fit any 1940’s to 1960’s HO model train layout set is the Reddy Kilowatt Animated Sign from Historic Rail.
This sign features pre-wired working lights that bring this one-of-a-kind sign to life, and helps to give a life-like feel to any layout that uses a mid-20th Century setting.
Remember, by using the techniques mentioned above, you can really give your layout a realistic appearance that is sure to make it one of the best looking layouts ever made. These techniques will also save money that you may otherwise have spent on scenery supplies, which means that you will have more money to spend on your HO model train and rolling stock.