What to do with old and broken trains?

At some stage or another you may find yourself in possession of a broken model train. Now rather than throwing it out if it is beyond repair, you can still incorporate it into your layout as part of the scenery.

Builder Kim sent in an email and pics on a project he was doing with a train of his that was beyond repair and it looks like it’s turning out very nicely.

“Hi Dan.

This is my first attempt to rust out an abandoned steam locomotive. I cut the front off at the hinges to leave a rusted part way open to show the steam boiler tubes inside. It will be abandoned in a forgotten rail line in a swamp or forested area. The track will be set in mud and mostly buried. And the loco will be at a terrible lean. There will be swamp like bog’s around it and dead trees. I have been working on a moonshine still that will be next to the train, using the lean as cover with hobos or moonshiners working.

I tried to save the locomotive to working condition but most of the brass and plastic gears inside are destroyed by fine sand and such, so not worth the time or money to try to get it working. So I will use it as scenery. I thought of cutting it into sections to make believe it was breaking apart at the seams from its own weight, but haven’t decided on that. It isn’t done yet and I have more to add; rusted wheels and add some chalk to add a little red to the paint, then seal it. I will add rust drips and such as well, before scattering parts and junk around it. I’m also going to sink an old steam crane in the bog and rust it out as well, like its been there for many years. Maybe an old T ford and other equipment in the bog. I will send an update when I get further with it and send it in to you. If by any reason you want the train back the way it was, just put it under hot water and everything will come off. The base coat can be rubbed off or thinned out with a tissue. The base coat is used so the chalk can stick to something other than a smooth surface of the loco.

Builder Kim”

ho scale 004 (1)

ho scale 009

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Dan Morgan

Dan Morgan fell in love with model trains at the age of six when he visited an NMRA Convention in Seattle with his father. Forty two years later, his passion remains just as strong. After achieving a successful career in architecture, Dan’s particular interest is within layouts and buildings. With a wealth of knowledge on the subject, Dan loves nothing more than sharing this with others and is delighted in the forum of members who are brought together over the hobby they have in common. Dan lives with his wife Helen in Washington. As a professional painter, Helen has learnt through Dan about Model Trains and they now enjoy working on projects together. The only member of the family who isn’t allowed to join in is their over-enthusiastic Labrador called William who has been strictly banned from the workshop! You can find Dan on Google here!

Leave A Reply (1 comment so far)


  1. Gary
    2 years ago

    Great article. Will certainly try out some of your tips on some of my older engines (that have seen better days).