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How to Scratch Build a Trackside Loading Ramp for your Model Railroad

Updated on December 2, 2012

Basics of Scratch Building

I decided to call these Hubs "The Basic's" because we talk about wood. These article come with instructions on how to Download Model Train Plans. We also discuss techniques to keep your project on schedule and within budget. Sometimes I will comment on products that may have a high cost, however whenever possible we will point out home recipes and strategies to bring the cost down. We also address another issue in the hobby, Time. Do you have or do you need more. It is not always necessary to go all out with your efforts. We show ways to make projects easier and less time consuming.

Download these free model train plans

Wood Railroad Loading Ramp Plans
Wood Railroad Loading Ramp Plans | Source

How to Build a loading ramp

Loading ramps like so many other improvements have disappeared for the most part these days. Once a common sight in towns big and small all along the railroad. It must be noted that variations on these plans will vary with every company along the tracks.

We use two sets of plans for this Hub, they can be printed out, cut up and used together. In fact I encourage that. The reason for the variations between companies is rooted in the "what's available" train of thought. By following your project plan you can always stay in region and era keeping the materials available at the time, on the bench.

Download free model train plans

Trackside Loading Ramp Plans
Trackside Loading Ramp Plans | Source

Scratch Building Tools

My opinion is that what you put on your bench will take you farther to get where you want. There will always be the next big thing but if it works already, is it cheaper, usually not. Just stick to the basics and when it becomes necessary we will share the secrets.

Our Hub on stocking your tool bench is a must read it actually should come before we start building in earnest. For this project we would have to suggest

  • a good chopper (your choice of blade)
  • A brass brush, to weather grain the wood
  • Ink and Alcohol or our Vinegar and steel wool mix
  • WeldBond Glue

Baxter's retaining wall and ramp

Some Common Access Ramp Uses

Model Railroad Trackside Structures

Making a ramp doesn't have to be an architectural wonder. In fact it can be very basic and still come off top notch. Less is more, never try to overdue it by going all out all the time. If the situation calls for it, go low-tech.

A land ramp is one where we use a wood retaining wall to hold in the earth ramp. Included here is a plan describing this ramp style. Follow the inside edge of wood with scenic material and make track marks using colour on the ground. At this size it is not necessary to make visible track markings.

Mt Albert Scale Lumber Stripwood

The wood we purchased from Mt. Albert Scale Lumber was stained with our vinegar stain. Place out overnight to allow to discolour Once toned grey, brush all the wood using the brass bristle brush. Brush just enough to break the surface, we can weather more later.

Using a scale ruler follow the plans and build only what you need. Whenever possible make adjustments to quicken the process. Remember the devil is in the details and in model railroading, go all out with what you can see. Think of your RR as an old wild west movie set. Behind that row of businesses on main street is bare unpainted wood.


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    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      That looks like a great way to start on wood.