A Quick Guide to Building a Bridge for Your Model Railroad

A Quick Guide to Building a Bridge for Your Model Railroad

As you start experimenting with building your own train layouts, you’ll probably want to add a bridge at some point. Bridges are incredibly versatile. Not only can trains pass over and under them, but you can use them as decorations in your landscape. Follow our quick guide to building a bridge for your model railroad.

Getting Ideas

If this is your first time building a model bridge, we recommend looking up some pictures of real bridges in the style and era you want to build. Remember that bridges intended to carry train tracks look very different from highways for cars and pedestrian walkways. A photo or two will help you focus on the right look.

Gathering Materials

You can build a model bridge with just about anything. However, you will want different materials depending on the type of bridge you’re building. Here’s a quick look at the materials you’ll need for the three major bridge types:

  • Wood: wooden stirring sticks, dowel rods, balsa wood
  • Stone or Concrete: one inch thick XPS insulation foam
  • Metal: plastic scraps, cardboard

In addition to the basic materials, you’ll need glue that adheres well to your medium, paint, and various brushes. It also helps to have spray-on primer and a clear coat to apply at the end.

Gluing Tips

You can use many types of glue to make a bridge. Keep in mind that hot glue tends to show, and it leaves little wisps of glue behind. Other types of wet glue tend to expand as they dry, so it’s a good idea to have some weights or clamps on hand to use while the glue is drying.

Designing Your Bridge

Keep a few things in mind as you determine the look and size of your bridge. First of all, make sure your train has enough room if it will travel over or under the bridge. Measure the train at the tallest and widest parts, and don’t forget to include the height of the tracks and roadbeds.

Before gluing your bridge in place, use a level to make sure it sits completely flat. This is especially important if your train will be running over the bridge. If your track cannot sit flat, your train may lose contact with the rails and stop running when it goes over the bridge.

While everyone has their favorite method, this quick guide to building a bridge for your model railroad should get you started. Don’t forget to check out Midwest Model Railroad’s amazing collection of HO rolling stock to include in your next model layout. Contact us today if you need help finding exactly what you’re looking for!

21st Dec 2022 Steven Atwell

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