Structures are important on a model railroad. Items such as town buildings, shops, apartments add realism. Industrial buildings provide a purpose for the railroad. They also provide support for the geographical area modeled and the time frame set for the model.


There are the following ways to create buildings.

  • Kits: constructing a commercial product and assembling it as described in the manner proscribed. Walthers Cornerstone is an example of this.
  • Kit-bash: the method where parts from different kits are used to create something new. This can range from simply replacing or moving buildings from one kit to another to more involved replacing or adding parts from one kit to another kit.
  • Scratch: scratch-building is where buildings are built from some type of raw material, either from a design on paper, or from the modeler’s imagination, or from an example in the prototype.
  • Prints: ANother relatively new construction method, with the increase in available high-quality color printers, is the print method. This is where the outside surface of the building is used to model the building and the modeler builds a card paper or plastic shell on which to glue to the printout. This has the advantage that the image can be scaled for different scales, such as HO, N, G-scale, etc.
  • 3-D printing: Buildings and part can also be created using 3D printers which are likewise becoming more prevalent. For large structures, this method may be timeconsuming, but I think 3D printers are more useful for creating unique small parts, particularly for the smaller scales.

There are several manufacturers that sell N-scale structures. The two main ones are Walthers and Woodland Scenics. Many of the WOodland Scenics structures have built-in lighting using their Just Plug Lighting System. This system can also be used to light scratch buildings and buildings from other manufacturers. I’d like to try scratch built buildings but of course being cheaper to build means they take longer to build.

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