Want to Build an Empire?
Try a Model Railroad!

Railtown, USA on the Blue Ridge and Southern Model RailroadRailtown, USA on the Blue Ridge and Southern Model Railroad

"Wow!" "Amazing!" "Awesome!"

These are always the words that come to mind when I see a model railroad. Always exciting to view, and even more so, to watch them operate - Trains carrying coal, logs, containers, tanks, going in and out of tunnels, weaving through the landscape - trees, mountains, bridges, rivers and waterfalls - interacting with people, industries, activities - while listening to the sounds of mighty locomotives carrying their long and heavy loads through cities and towns - stopping for pickups and deliveries - entering and leaving train yards.  The possibilities are endless! 

Building Your Model Railroad (BYMRR) is a comprehensive, informational website all about how to build a model railroad. Everything you need to know is right here. It was developed because of a desire to share years of experience in this hobby with other model railroaders who share the same interests and goals. Some of us are train collectors, who have cases full of model locomotives and rolling stock we have collected over the years and often go to collectors conventions to buy and sell items. Others have a passion to create a model railroad for display in our homes or in our clubs. This site is primarily dedicated to those individuals who engage in the creative construction of a model railroad in any setting. If you wish to develop a small diorama or a large, sprawling layout, BYMRR will show you how to do it in an easy-to-read, step by step format. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced model railroader, you can be sure of finding something in these hundreds of pages that will interest and inspire you. 

Whether You're Building a Small Railroad Empire ...

Building a Model Railroad Empire

Or a Much Larger One ...

Or a Much Larger Model Railroad Empire

Everything you need is right here!

Read on to explore this engaging, multifaceted, artistic hobby that will open a new world to you, your family, and friends. Just click on any of the pictures below to get started...

How To Get Started ...

Benchwork ...

How to Build Your Terrain ...

Laying Tracks ...

Wiring and Command Control ...

Scenery - Ground Cover, Vegetation, Trees, Rocks ...

Structures, Buildings, Bridges...

Tunnels ...

Details - Figures, Signs, Decals ...

Yards and Operations ...

Special Effects - Lights, Sounds, Signals ...

Automation ...

Railroads are about America. They tell us about the history of our country, about how we grew and thrived and about how all of us were brought together from New York to California and Alaska.

If you get as excited about railroads as I am, you are already a model railroader at heart. So you might as well go ahead and build one. It's not hard to do.  You just need to know the right techniques.  This website will show you how to do it - for free. Everything you need to know is right here - from designing, planning, laying track, building scenery and structures, wiring and operating trains and lots of special effects that make it even more fun and exciting than you ever thought possible. 

The educational opportunities of building your own layout abound. It will help you become a master at carpentry - using multiple hand and power tools -  electronics, mechanical and architectural techniques, and will enhance your creativity to no end. You may not be able to draw or paint a picture, but you will be able to create a very realistic 3 dimensional scenic diorama of fantastic landscapes and cityscapes that will be the admiration of the best of artists.

It's easy to get started.  Just follow the Navigation Bar on the left, beginning with "Getting Started". If you are already an accomplished model railroader, you may want to skip to the "Special Effects" section right away. There's something here for all levels of model railroading. 

If you enjoy the site and find it useful, let me know. I'm always happy to hear from you. If you think of something you want me to add to the site or if you have a tip that other model railroaders can use, please send it in and I will add it to the Blog page. I'm always looking for new photos, too.  If you have some model railroad, or even rail-fanning, photos that you would like to show on this site, please send them in by email to [email protected].

Thank you for visiting! Tell all your friends so we can build a great community of model railroaders, all sharing photos and information that will help us become better and better - in lots of ways.

Happy Railroading!

Enjoy life - Build an Empire!

Greg Warth




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   * BYMRR was last updated on May 9, 2024. *

Table of Contents:

Search Page
Search page to find anything on or off this site about model railroading.
Your Model Railroading Tips and Comments
Share your own model railroading tips and comments to help other model railroaders improve.
Thank You!
Thanks to all my visitors who have made this site a great success!
Advertise your model railroad products on this site. Learn more on this page.
Create A Website: Getting Started
If you would like to know more about how to create a website for profit like the one you're looking at now, this page will help you get started.
About the Author
A brief biography of the author
Model Railroading Questions and Answers
Answers to questions about model railroading submitted by our readers
Social Media for Model Railroading
This page allows you to interact with other model railroaders through social media.
The Basics of Model Railroading: Getting Started
The basics of model railroading, including descriptions of model train scales, types of model train displays, and how to get started in the "World's Greatest Hobby".
Model Train Scales
Description of the most popular model train scales. Helps in deciding which scale to use for your layout.
Model Railroad Layout Design
Model railroad layout design: establishing a theme and purpose for your railroad
Model Train Displays
Model train displays: various ways of showing off and operating your trains
Trolley Layout
Building a trolley layout is another facet of this wonderful hobby that can provide loads of enjoyment for the young and old alike. Here's how to get started.
N Scale Train Layouts: Third Most Popular Model Trains
N scale train layouts are very popular because you can create a much bigger layout (empire) in a smaller space. Based on manufacturer, N scale model trains scale ranges from 1:148 to 1:60.
Model Railroad Layout: Overview
Overview of how to build a model railroad layout - step by step.
Essential Considerations in Designing a Custom Model Railroad
Things to consider when designing a custom model railroad
The NMRA ( National Model Railroad Association) establishes standards for model railroading.
Railroad History
Railroad history is an important part of model railroading that helps inspire us to do what we do. It also provides a reference for us whether we freelance or model the prototype.
Model Trains and Railroads: Resources and References
Where to find more information about model trains and model railroad supplies, the best resources and references.
Train Layout Design Elements
How to use train layout design elements (LDE's) to develop your own model railroad trackplan
Build Organized Railroad With Model Railway Layout Planning Software
Using the model railway layout planning software you can develop your basic plan and design until you have the capability of going ahead with physically building the layout.
Create Your Own Model Train Track Design Layouts and Plans
Follow guidelines and basic considerations before planning a train track design. Use layout design elements as shown here in planning basic track design.
Model Railroad Yard
This page contains all the ins and outs about building a basic model railroad yard for your train layout.
Model Railroad Benchwork
Ideas for building model railroad benchwork
Model Railroad Backdrop
How to make a model railroad backdrop.
Model Railroad Lighting
Various aspects of model railroad lighting, including overhead lighting, sunset lighting, illuminating buildings, street lamps, etc.
Model Railroad Track
How to lay model railroad track
Tips on Model Railroad Tracks
Tips on types of model railroad track to use, layout design, and how to lay the track
Model Railway Track Wiring – Building Your Model Rail Road
Wire your railway track with the latest technologies of model railway track wiring suggested by Building your model railroad for a safe and secure connection.
Layout Command Control
First there was DC-Analog. Then there was DCC. And now there's LCC, which may be the future of layout command control.
Basic Electronics
A brief tutorial on basic electronics that every model railroader should know.
Common Electrical Switches Used in Model Railroading
A description and comparison of some of the more common electrical switches used in model railroad wiring.
Layout Wiring Management
How do you manage all that layout wiring for your model railroad? Here's how I did it for the Blue Ridge and Southern.
Model Railroad Wiring Tips
Tips and techniques for model railroad wiring – gauges, making connections, buses, terminal strips, etc.
Soldering Tips
Soldering tips for model train track rail joints, adding feeder wires to tracks and soldering wires together.
Wiring a Solenoid Switch Machine
How to wire a solenoid switch (turnout) machine using a momentary SPDT toggle switch.
All About Turnouts
Everything you need to know about model railroad track turnouts for your layout.
Turnout Control
Automatic turnout control using Reed switches is a great way to control turnouts and prevent derailments.
Wiring Railroad Signals
Wiring railroad signals is a somewhat mysterious aspect of model railroading. A simple wiring method is described here for manual operation. References provided for automatic operation.
Relay Switch
Relay switch - What does it do and how do you wire it?
Model Railroad Control Panel
How to make a model railroad control panel with remote turnout switches, accessory switches, turntable controls, etc. for your model railroad layout.
DCC Decoder Installation
DCC decoder installation is relatively easy these days with many locomotives being sold as DCC ready. Here are a few tips for installation.
Get tips for building scenery for model railroads
Building scenery for model railroads is one of the most enjoyable aspects of model railroading. Get tips and techniques from us and build fantastic environment for your trains.
Model Train Scenery: Terrain
Model train scenery_terrain: How to create land forms, terrain, mountains and valleys – various model railroad scenery tips.
Lift-Out Model Scenery
How to make a removable lift-out section of model scenery for your train layout to access hidden tracks.
Ground Cover 1: Ground Goop
Ground Cover 1: Using a layer of "ground goop" on the surface of the model railroad scenery base is a great way to add texture and color before adding the turf, etc. Here's how to make it.
Model Scenery Ground Cover
The best methods for applying ground cover to your model train scenery.
Making Rocks
Making rocks for model train scenery is an art form all to itself and easy to do following this guide.
Painting Rocks
Tips on painting rocks and coloring the foundation for model train scenery.
Model Trees
Favorite ways to model trees for your model railroad layout.
Model Railroad Tunnels
How to create model railroad tunnels for your layout.
Retaining Walls for Your Train Layout
How to make retaining walls for your model railroad layout
Model Railroad Ballast
Tips and techniques on how to apply model railroad ballast to your model train track.
Building Model Scenery Roads
How to build model scenery roads for your train layout.
Model Railroad Water
Favorite ways of making model railroad water and creating water scenes for your train layout or diorama.
Model Railroad Waterfalls and Rapids
Favorite ways to create realistic water effects including rapids and waterfalls on a model railroad.
Modeling a Winter Scene
How to create a complete winter scene for your model railroad, including methods of making snow, ice and icicles.
Model Railroad Scenery Details
The addition of multiple details to your model railroad scenery will greatly enhance the interest and dimension of your layout and its theme.
Model Railroad Buildings
All about model railroad buildings – planning for them, kits, kitbashing, scratchbuilding, materials required, lighting your structures, interior details, how to install them onto your layout.
Model Train Bridges
A description of various types of model train bridges that could be used on your model railroad layout.
Scratchbuilding Your Model Railroad Structures
Scratchbuilding Tips for creating your own model railroad buildings
Laser Cutting Service
Design your own structure and then use a laser cutting service to create the parts according to their specifications. Here's how it works.
Painting Models
Various tips for painting models, especially model buildings for a very realistic appearance on your model railroad layout.
Weathering Your Model Trains and Structures
Basic weathering techniques for model trains and model railroad buildings.
Model Trains
Information and resources to help you in choosing appropriate model trains, including different types of locomotives and rail cars, for your model railroad layout.
Maintenance of Way (MOW) Railroad Equipment
MOW, or maintenance of way, equipment is an important part of any prototypical railroad, and can be incorporated into any model railroad layout to enhance realism and operations.
Model Railroad Operation: A New Adventure!
How to conduct sessions for model railroad operation.
Advanced Model Railroading: Special Effects and New Ideas
How to create special effects for model railroading and other new ideas - Sound / lighting effects, animation, signals, mirrors, fire / smoke, automation. etc.
Model Railroad Decals
How to find and use model railroad decals for a more realistic train layout.
Lighting Effects for Your Model Railroad
Special lighting effects for your model railroad - signs, billboards, street lamps, emergency vehicles, neon signs, theatre marquees, fiber optics, etc.
Model Railroad Crossing Gates
How to model operating railroad crossing gates and lighted crossbucks, including bell sounds, all occurring automatically as your train approaches.
Railroad Signals
How to set up a system of railroad signals on your model railroad layout.
Traffic Signals for Your Model Railroad Layout
How to install traffic signals on your model railroad layout.
Sound Effects for Model Railroads
All about sound effects for model railroads, including various sound systems available, and tips on creating your own railroad sound system.
Model Train Couplers
All about model train couplers – different types of couplers and uncouplers, and installation tips.
Modeling Fake Fire and Smoke Effects
How to create simulated or fake fire effects, arc welding and smoke effects for your model railroad. Using electronics to enhance your train layout.
Train Brain: Computerizing Your Layout
Using the Train Brain modules from CTI Electronics to achieve state-of-the-art computerized train, signal, turnout and lighting control.
Animated Train Layout Effects
Includes a discussion of ready-made animated train layout effects and various types of animation parts that you can use to create your own animated effects.
Drive-In Theater
How to build an actual working drive-in theater for your model railroad layout.
Visual Illusions and Mirror Tricks for Your Model Railroad
Tips on how to use illusions to enhance your model railroad layout.
Model Railroad Wiring for Automated Train Operation
Automated electronics are very useful in advanced model railroad wiring applications - automatic train stops, train delay, slowdown or reversing operations.
Train Camera for Your Model Trains
Using a Train Camera System to enhance your model railroad layout - a way to view your train layout from a different perspective.
Model Railroad Photos: Tutorial
All about how to take great model railroad photos – the best tools and techniques.
3D Printing
3D printing is a great way to create unique 3D models or parts for your miniature model railroad in any scale.
Using Servos on Your Train Layout
How to use servos for automation on your train layout
Train Photos
Gallery of prototypical and/or model train photos and model railroad layout photos
Model Railroad Showcase
This is a chance for you to showcase YOUR model railroad with a whole webpage on the internet dedicated to your layout, diorama, structure-building, kitbashing or other projects.
My Train Layout
My train layout represents an example of what you can do with the modeling techniques described on this site.
Shop Model Railroad Supplies & Tools to Maintain and Repair Layouts
Here’s your one-stop-shop for your model train stuff, train sets, railroad models and more from Building-Your-Model-Railroad to build your layout and keep your trains running smoothly.
BYMRR Hobby Center
This is our online general hobby store owned by BYMRR - starting with trains and expanding to other hobbies over time.
The Track Stop
Track Stop: an online store for train and railroad-related items, railroadiana, books, DVD's, videos, art, software, etc.
Model Railroad Books
How did I learn so much about model railroading? From other hobbyists, of course, and from BOOKS. Here's a list of some of my favorites.
Model Railroad DVDs
Lots of great model railroad DVDs and Blue-Rays for watching your favorite train videos.
Train Art: The Art of Model Railroading
Train Art: photos, paintings and posters to inspire you as you build your empire.
Model Railroad Classifieds
Have model railroad items to sell? List them here on Model Railroad Classifieds!
Model Railroading Product Reviews
This page, Model Railroading Product Reviews, serves as a conduit for visitors to explore the pros and cons of tools and other products commonly used by model railroaders and other hobbyists.
Store Policies
Store policies for Building Your Model Railroad Train Store
Shipping and Returns
Store policies related to shipping and returns
Store Privacy Policy
Store Policy relating to customer privacy.
Terms and Conditions
Store policy relating to terms and conditions
This page is to inform visitors that many of the links on this site connect to other sites where related and helpful items or services can be purchased, which may result in a small commision paid to the author of the site.
Model Railroading Tips / Newsletter
Sign up for our newsletter! - Tracks
Tracks January - February 2022
Tracks is a model railroading newsletter full of tips and techniques to help you learn more about America's favorite hobby.
Tracks: March-April 2022
A model railroad newsletter published by Building Your Model Railroad containing lots of tips, tricks and short articles related to model railroading.
Tracks: December 2022
Tracks is a free model railroad newsletter containing lots of tips, tricks and techniques to help you in building your model railroad.
Tracks: January 2023
2023 New Year's Edition of Tracks, a favorite newsletter for beginners and experts.
Tracks: February 2023
Model railroading newsletter with lots of tips and tricks to improve your skills and help you enjoy the hobby.
Tracks March 2023
The official newsletter of Building Your Model Railroad with tips, tricks, videos and how-to information that you can apply to your own railroad modeling.
Tracks - April 2023
Here is the April edition of Tracks, containing lots of information, tips and tricks for model railroaders of all ages and all gauges.
Building Your Model Railroad Blog
New or updated pages, additions, pictures, comments, article reviews and new techniques relating to building model railroads.
Troubleshooting Your Model Railroad
Troubleshooting your model railroad is just as much a part of model railroading as building the train layout. There will always be something that needs fixing.
Model Railroading as a Community Service
Improving the world, one community at a time.
Tracks - May 2023
Model railroading newsletter with lots of tips and tricks to improve your skills and help you enjoy the hobby.
Tracks June 2023
Model railroading newsletter with lots of tips and tricks to improve your skills and help you enjoy the hobby.

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How to Build a
Model Railroad:

Over 200 pages of information, tips and techniques on this site!


Getting Started

Model Railroad Layout Overview: Step-By-Step

Model Railroad Terms


Model Train Scales

Narrow Gauge

Model Train Displays

Model Trains - Equipment

Building a Model Train Layout with Your Children


Garden Trains

Resources and References

Model Train Supplies

Railroad Gifts!

Model Railroad Stories

Model Railroad Club: How to Get Started

Beginner's Guide to Model Cars.


Model Railroad Layout Design

Train Layout Design Elements for Track Planning

Using Google Earth to Discover Prototype Track Plans

Model Railroad Software

Model Railroad Track Plans

Grades and Clearances

Model Railroad Yard

Building the Layout

Model Railroad Benchwork

Model Railroad Backdrop

Model Railroad Track

Model Train Track Codes

Train Derailments

Wiring and Lighting

Model Railroad Wiring

Model Railroad Lighting

All About Turnouts

Model Railroad Wiring Tips

Soldering Tips

Train Control Panel

Common Electrical Switches Used in Model Railroad Wiring

Wiring a Remote Turnout Solenoid Switch

Automatic turnout control

DCC Decoder Installation

Managing Layout Wiring

Basic Electronics


Model Train Scenery

Model Train Scenery: Terrain

Model Railroad Scenery Details

Model Railroad Tunnels

Painting Rocks

Making Rocks

Building Model Scenery Roads

Model Scenery Ground Cover

Model Trees

Model Railroad Water

Model Railroad Waterfalls and Rapids

Model Train Bridges

Lift-Out Model Scenery

Model Railroad Ballast

Modeling a Winter Scene

Winter Diorama - Step-By-Step

Retaining Walls

Buildings and Structures

Model Railroad Buildings

Weathering Your Model Trains and Structures


Painting Models

Model Buildings from Scratch

Laser Cutting for ScratchBuilding Projects


Train Photos / Gallery

Model Railroad Photos: Tutorial

O. Winston Link

Special Effects

Advanced Model Railroading: Special Effects and New Ideas

Sound Effects for Model Railroads

Model Train Couplers

Lighting Effects for Your Model Railroad

Railroad Signals for Your Model Railroad Layout

Traffic Signals for Your Model Railroad Layout

Model Railroad Crossing Gates

Computerizing Your Layout

Modeling Fake Fire and Smoke Effects

Animated Train Layout Effects

Model Railroad Wiring for Automated Train Operation

Visual Illusions and Mirror Tricks for Your Model Railroad

A Train Camera for Your Model Railroad

Starting a New Layout


Model Railroad Operation

Article Reviews

"Superelevating Flextrack"


Model Railroad Showcase


NYC Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show

The Chesapeake Bay and Western Model Railroad

The Seaboard Railroad Station Museum

A computerized, digitized model railroad layout

The Big Meadow Railroad

Building My Empire - A visitor's startup

The Blue Ridge and Southern:

The Blue Ridge and Southern Railroad

Model Railroad Concept for the BR&S

Train Room and Lighting


Model Train Benchwork for the Blue Ridge and Southern

Railroad History

Railroad History

The Virginian Railway

The Norfolk and Western Railroad

The Pennsylvania Railroad

The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway

Railroads in Wartime

Small Projects: Step-by-Step

Creating a Small 2'x4 'N Scale Layout

Winter Diorama

Sharing Information and Stories

Model Railroading Blog

Share Your Model Railroading Tips and Comments

Model Railroad Stories

Protecting Your Model Railroad