No matter how successful a locomotive or freight car design, eventually time and work take their toll. When these machines finally reach the end of the line, it is usually here in the bone yard.
These facilities do a lot more than just cut old trains up for scrap. Many are used for parts or even rebuilt and put back into service. For modelers, they are a fascinating industry where equipment from any era and railroad can be seen and the detailing possibilities are endless.
Whether you decide to build a yard like this on your layout or not, the techniques used here can be put to good use anywhere. From making realistic scenery, to recycling old models, to adding signs of age and wear to your trains and buildings – these techniques work just as well outside the scrapyard fence (we’ll show you how to make that too!)
So grab some old cars and get ready to play the part of Mother Nature as we model a railroad bone yard.
Modeling the Yard
- Prototype Background. Like any modeling project, it’s easier to create a realistic model when you follow the prototype. Since these facilities are often closed to the public (with good reason!) we’ll get you started here.
- Creating the Scenery. We’ll create a realistic yard in just a few easy hours. Here you’ll learn tips you can use anywhere like:
- Modeling Streets and Sidewalks (including paving over railroad tracks.)
- Blending Accessories and Track into Scenery
- Creating Realistic Groundcover
- Converting Cars to Buildings. Learn how to make old model rail cars into sheds, offices and more – adaptive reuse at its finest. We’ll also show an easy way to create realistic corrugated metal siding for walls and roofs.
- Model Chain Link Fences. Learn how to scratchbuild your own fences – realistic and affordable – for any industrial scene.
It just wouldn’t look right if everything in the bone yard had glossy fresh paint. See how you can add these effects in varying degrees to all of your equipment – even the stuff that won’t see the scrapper for years. You can use any or all of these techniques in combination to create the unique models you desire.
- Cutting Shells. For this project, we had to start with some surgery on our models. Learn how you can make the cuts for your scene, a unique gondola load, or the start of a kitbashing project.
- Fading and Changing Lettering. This one simple trick will let you give your factory painted equipment the look of faded lettering, or remove that lettering all together to change numbers or more.
- Weathering Washes. An easy way to simulate general grime.
- Weathering Chalks. Perfect for learning – if you don’t like the results just wash them off!
- Creating Rust. Oil paints and a sponge are all you’ll need to make rust so real you’ll want a booster on your tetnis shot.
Add a Gondola
- Bulging Sides. Create the look of damaged, bowed-out and bulging side panels with no mess.
- Painting. Easy steps to painting a freight car, including adding a repainted patch for new reporting marks and road numbers.
- Lettering. Decaling basics make lettering a model simple.
- Weathering. Combine the steps we’ve shown above to create a unique look.
- Loading. Create a unique scrap load to fill the car and complete the story.