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Dec 18, 2009

Posted by in Hobbies | 5 Comments

HO Train Set – Making a free homemade miniature town for train set

Illuminated Miniature Homemade townI have gotten alot of flack for getting interested in making a miniature town for my train that runs around my Christmas tree.  Many people at work look at me funny when I tell them about it but what are you going to do.

It hit me this Christmas season that I wanted a little miniture town for under my tree to compliment the HO train set that I had.  There are many options for purchase but I found them too expensive.  I began by Googling around to see what people were doing and how they were doing it.  Believe it or not I couldn't find anyone easily that was posting ideas for town plans, examples, etc.  The best I came information I came across was a group of videos on by Kevin Blakeney (  This was great overall information in a quick video format, however, when it came to the buildings he really just pushed for purchasing models and as for the platform he offered foam board.

So here is what I did.  I found a great little gem of a site at Family Garden Trains.  They offered tons of information and of course sell a ton of trains, accessories, etc.  Although you can get lost in the site, I found they offered free textures and images for doing a simple town (  Once I found that I had the textures I just needed a plan.  in my case it was easy.  My plan was dictated around the fact that my train track is round.Illuminated Miniature Homemade town 

In a nut shell, a simple plan for a quarter of a track is simply a small train station on the outside of the track, a bridge connecting the station to the town on theinside part of the track, about four buildings emulating a street and a wall seperating the train tracks from the town.  Here is a quick bullet of how and what I did.

  1. Cut a piece of thin sheet plywood to fit about four links of track.
  2. I got a tube of brown caulk and roughly knifed the brown caulk on the wood where the trak would be placed to emulate the gravelly area a track is laid on.
  3. a took a can of black spray paint and loosly sprayed over the brown caulk to add depth to the ground.
  4. I attached the track to the caulked ground while still wet to hold it in place making sure to not get anything on track itself.
  5. I then took a can of "Great Stuff" spray foam and created the land areas around the track.
    - A note about liquid foam.  Use the insulation and not major gap filler.  You dont want the foam to go crazy and expand out of control.  The foam is able to be carved once dry.  Apply the foam by keeping the tip of the foam nozzle in the foam and moving in lines.  If the foam is applied by dropping it on you will get more tubed application which might be nice for snow banks but is weird looking for land masses.
  6. While the foam was curing I build my buildings.
  7. I printed out the building textures and land textures from the site above.  They did require that I set my printer to print the textures at 60% – 65% of the size.  Play with printing sizes before settling.Miniature homemade town
  8. I glued the textures to thin cardboard and cut out buildings with the xacto knife.  For added interest, I cut out windows and taped wax paper on the inside to allow for a light ot be placed in the building.
  9. I used the knives to carve the land masses.
  10. I glued the stone printouts where I needed them on the carved foam land.
    -Note, you do not need all the land textures to connect if you are going to place snow.  When you add the snow you can cover up the foam land and just show the textere areas as you wish.
  11. Drill holes from the underneath for where buildings will be and where you want to poke lights up into the buildings.
  12. Score the textured foam area where you want to place the buildings and then push then imto the land.
  13. Take white caulk and white acrylic paint to add snow to the scene.

This worked great for a fun project that didn't cost much at all.  A note about the textures offered from the link above.  Mostly you will find fronts of buildings.  They promote that you can just make a flat setting with just the fronts.  I chose to make full dimensional buildings.  I simply printed four of the same texture to make the additional sides of the building.  In some cases I used photoshop to modify the additional sides.  Really, you only see the front so worrying about the sides being different ended up not being worth the effort.

  1. Greetings. I was out looking on Yahoo for info, and I came across your page. I just wanted to tell you that I’m going to link to your website from my woodworking cube in a cube page. Thanks again for the good read!

  2. Kevin Blakeney says:


    Your end product looks great. Glad my videos got you started and glad to see you didn’t stop there! Fantastic work!

  3. At what point in my adult life should I stop making sound effects when I grab things off my shelves?


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