Special Effects and Other Ideas for Advanced Model Railroading

Advanced Model Railroading - Special effects, lighting, automationAdvanced Model Railroading - Special effects, lighting, automation. You know - the Fun Stuff!


One of the more exciting things about model railroading is that it allows for so much creativity. There are so many things you can do and so many different ways to do them. And there is always room for a new idea, a new slant on things. New technology allows for new ways of doing things that were never even thought of in the past.

Building a model railroad is a great way to explore and help create new ideas, because there is such variety and so many different facets of the hobby that you can never get tired of it. There’s always something new to add to your layout to make it better.

Once you get your trains going reasonably well without derailments, and after you’ve applied all the scenery you can think of applying for the moment, and after you’ve had fun inviting friends over to see your creation and after hosting a few operating sessions, you may be asking yourself…Ok, what’s next?...


Next Steps in Building Your Model Railroad - 
                           Beyond the Basics

Get ready to hear the "Wow"s, the "Ooh"s and "Ahh"s as you start adding these more advanced details and projects on your train layout!

Again, none of these things are difficult to do.  They take some time and a little extra energy to do them.  Just do one project at a time.  Take your time with it, enjoy the process of doing it  - and the satisfaction of having accomplished something really cool, when you're done!


Add a sound system

Coupling and uncoupling

Add more lighting effects

Add operating crossing gates

Computerize your layout for optimum control

Create fire and smoke effects

Add more animation

Use mirrors and illusions to enhance your scenery

Create automated train and track operation

Install automated railroad signals for your layout

Install a train cam

Photograph your layout

Make detailed lighted interiors for buildings

Lighting effects for locos, cars and cabooses

Drive-In Theater 

Add more scenery details

Start your own model train web site or blog

Become a Master Model Railroader

Write articles for model train magazines

Write an e-book about model trains

Have fun with operating sessions

Add or upgrade your staging yard

Start a new layout

Start a model railroad club

Add Wall Decor to your train room


Be careful what you ask for, right?

You could probably add a few more items to this list, and I’ll probably add more to it as well later. The idea is not to be overwhelmed by the tasks ahead, because these are all optional – icing on the cake so to speak. I listed these things to help exemplify the breadth and depth of the hobby and to stimulate ideas for you to think about.

Art and science of model railroading

Neither you nor I will ever likely “finish” our model railroading adventures. We may hold off on it for a while due to time and space constraints or other temporary priorities, but we will always want to come back to it. There is always more to do, another avenue to explore, another track rail to nail down, something new to learn. The art and science of it are magnetic and constantly drawing us back to it. It’s an exciting learning process and a great way to explore and develop our own personal creativity.

And besides that, it’s fun!



Blue Ridge & Southern Model Railroad at NightBlue Ridge & Southern at Night



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