Drive-In Theater

Your Personal Online Train Store and Hobby Shop

How To build an actual working drive-in theater for your model railroad...

Talk about special effects, this one is really special!  Geoffrey Plumb, an avid model railroader in California, sent me an email recently about how he made an actual working drive-in theater for his layout.  This really got my attention because I'm always looking for new ways to enhance realism in model railroading through automation and animation.  If you modeling in the era of the 1950's and 60's, this would be a great way to get some "Ooh"s and Ahh"s out of your visitors. 

Although Geoff made this for his N-scale layout, I think it could be adapted to larger scales through some magnification of the screen.  

Geoff is a master of creating small N scale layouts containing a lot of scenery and operation in a small space.  He has built 3 N scale layouts so far, 3' x 4', 4' x 4' and 3' x6'. The 4'x4' is the one containing the drive-in theater.  "Collectively", he says, "they come under the name of Sage County and are served by the AE&SC RR (loosely based on the PRR).  As I am primarily a steam enthusiast going back to the 1950's and early 1960's growing up in London, England, all three layouts are from the 'transition period in the United States', and there is nothing past 1959."  He never received a train set from his parents, so he made up for it by making 3 layouts after he moved to the US.

The scene was created with a Blair Lines LLC kit at the entrance. The screen was incorporated from a "doll's house" video, which he purchased from a Dolls/Train store in Northern California.  He then attached it to his small $22 DVD player that he got from Amazon.  He likes to run John Wayne (Fort Apache) movies and others from that era.

All he needed after that was to make the parking lot and put in a few scale-model cars. He scratchbuilt a few small buildings to serve as the snack bar, restroom area and ticket booth and then put a fence around it all.  It is very well-detailed with small rocks defining grassy areas, decals, people, speaker posts and a few well-placed trees. The last picture shows how the scene is placed on his layout.

It's amazing what you can do with old memories and little imagination.  

hey come nder the name of Sage County and are served by the A E & S C RR (loosely based on  

Drive-In Theater in a model railroad layoutDrive-In Theater in Geoff Plumb's Sage County model railroad layout
A classic 1950's movie is playing at the Starlight Drive-In while a customer orders an evening snack.A classic 1950's movie is playing at the Starlight Drive-In while a customer orders an evening snack. Note the cars are all from that era as well.
Doll's house video incorporated into the scenery for Geoff's layout.Doll's house video incorporated into the scenery for Geoff's layout.
Wider view of Geoff's 4x4' model railroad layout showing how the Drive-In is placed.Wider view of Geoff's 4x4' model railroad layout showing how the Drive-In is placed.

You might also like these pages:

  • Model Railroad Decals

    How to find and use model railroad decals for a more realistic train 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.

  • 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.

Back to Home Page



Contact Me | Blog | Photos | References | Supplies | GiftShop | Sitemap | Search | Comment  | Privacy Statement  | Disclosures

Train Logo for Building Your Model Railroad
BYMRR (Building Your Model Railroad) logo

Tracks Newsletter: Sign Up Here!


New Logo for Building Your Model Railroad
Follow BYMRR
Follow Us on Facebook
and Instagram

Link to Building Your Model Railroad Hobby Central Train Station Store

(Disclosures)

√ = ad or sponsored link


What's New on BYMRR.com?

Recent Articles

  1. Model Railroader Crossroads

    Oct 17, 21 06:41 PM

    This page is dedicated to the Model Railroader Crossroads community for the purpose of sharing information about model railroading.

    Read More

  2. Railroad Networks of the World

    Oct 14, 21 07:00 AM

    Railroad Networks of the World If you are looking for a prototypical railroad upon which to base your layout design, you may want to consider using a combination of two resources. The first is to loca…

    Read More

  3. How to Make Water with Toilet Paper

    Oct 12, 21 08:57 AM

    Read More