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|Written by Paul D. Race for Family Garden Trains(tm) and Garden Train Store (tm)|
This page is mostly a buyers' guide that reviews and provides links to sturdy, weather-resistant structures and accessories that you can use to bring realism, interest, and charm to any garden railroad or train garden. If you don't know what Garden Railroading is, our article "Go Outside and Run Your Trains," on the Family Garden Trains Primer page will give you an idea.
Structures You Can Build - If you want to investigate building your own structures (now or in the future), the Garden Railroad Structure Primer articles include many helpful articles about creating buildings from scratch, from kits, and from unconventional (and inexpensive) materials. To go to an index of those articles, click on the picture to the right.
Structures You Can Buy - The rest of this page lists buildings that were created specifically for garden railroads. They are weather-resistant, sturdy, and designed to look good with most garden trains. Many of them can be set out on your railroad as soon as you level out a spot for them. (I like to bury 2"x8"x16" landscaping blocks to give them a solid , level foundation and to keep plants from growing up through them.)
At this moment, most or all of the structures on this page at any given time are made by AristoCraft. There are several other providers of structures; however these structures offer the advantage of requiring little or no assembly, as well as the advantage of being available most of the time from a range of sources.
In addition several of the AristoCraft buildings that have been kits for years are now available only as pre-built structures. This is a big timesaver, really, but the best part is that they still cost less money than similar kits from other countries.
The products for which I've identified more than one vendor are listed near the top of the page. A list of products that only TrainDiscounts is providing to our readers is toward the bottom of this page. Remember that, as with all TrainDiscount products, you need to add each structure to your shopping cart to see your final discount.
A Note about "Buyer's Guides" We post these descriptions to help you make informed decisions and to learn what is available, even if the suppliers we usually recommend have a short supply. In some cases, we will allow a description to remain on line, even without a supplier link, if we have reason to believe that the product will become available again later. If you want a particular product, but we have no supplier button or the supplier's page says they are sold out, let us know, and we'll try to help you find one elsewhere. We apologize if this causes you any inconvenience or confusion.
For more detailed information about why model trains and related products seem to "come and go" and why I have stopped listing prices for products, please see my article "About Pricing and Availability."
Note about Suppliers: While we try to help you get the products you want by recommending suppliers with a good record of customer service, all transactions between you and the supplier you chose to provide your trains or other purchases are governed by the published policies on the supplier's web site. So please print off any order confirmation screens and save copies of invoices, etc., so you can contact the appropriate supplier should any problems occur. (They almost never do, but you want to be on the safe side.)
The buildings below are affordable, sturdy, and attractive. They come ready to set out on your garden railroad. Each of them can easily be detailed further as time allows.
|AristoCraft Built-Up Passenger Station - This station is one of the best values in Large Scale. It represents thousands of small country stations that once served communities all over North America. I repainted mine in a more conservative color scheme, but I have seen at least one real Ohio train station that was the same yellow. This station is about 1:24; it is proportioned to fit well with any large scale train set. Althought it may not have exactly the same level of detail as some of the expensive kits, it is extremely sturdy, and the fact that it comes on its own platform (unlike most kit stations) makes it easy to add accessories such as benches and streetlights to give it more character. So, if your Large Scale train needs a reason to get from point A to point B, you know what to do.|
My 7200 station, painted red and white and caught in an early snowfall.
|AristoCraft Pre-Built Freight Depot - Although this structure was designed to handle freight near the Built-Up Passenger Station above, there's no reason you can't use it as another general-purpose station somewhere else on your railroad, at least until you get around to building something fancier. Like the Built-Up Passenger Station above, this building offers excellent value. It is also sturdy, and the platform gives you many detailing options.|
|AristoCraft Pre-Built Farmhouse - Another cost-effective prebuilt structure is this farmhouse, designed and finished like many in the Heartland. Again, the detail may not be as great as on some expensive kits, but this building has a very nice paint job and is very sturdy. You can always go back later and add details such as glazing, curtains, and a dog asleep on the porch. Note: For years, hobbyists who liked the look of this building have been buying more than one and making them look different by repainting them in different colors and adding different details, like flags, or weathervanes. Interestingly, many builders in the "Heartland" would build three or four nearly identical houses in a row to save cost, so having a few of these, even close to each other, is a good way to build a neighborhood. The best part is that AristoCraft recognized that, and this house is now available prepainted in several other colors! Please check the list below for details.|
|AristoCraft Prebuilt Church - This weatherproof structure adds heartland charm to your towns without taking up too much space.|
|Water Tower - Give your thirsty steamers a drink, and set the period of your railroad at the same time. I'm told that this will actually hold and dispense liquids, although I haven't tried it.|
|AristoCraft Pre-Built Crossing Shanty - Keep your busy railroad crossing safe with this set that includes a crossing guard, a shanty for the guard to take shelter in, and two "crossbuck" Railroad Crossing signs to warn motorists. To purchase, or to check on price and availability, please click on the button.|
|AristoCraft Pre-Built Victorian Station - This station represents many passenger stations that were first built in the mid-to-late 1800s. You may have seen these on garden railroads, since AristoCraft has made this station available in kit form for decades. That said, they were not as easy to put together as they could be - I should know because I have one. So rather than frustrate customers, Aristo is now having these painted and assembled so you can get them new in the box and set them out on your railroad the same day. And the cost is actually lower than many similar station kits from other manufacturers. To purchase, or to check on price and availability, please click on the button.||
|AristoCraft Waiting Platform - This structure can be used as an extension to the Victorian Station above or by itself as an additional stopping place. To purchase, or to check on price and availability, please click on the button.||
|AristoCraft Pre-Built Covered Bridge - This bridge represents thousands of bridges that were built a century and a half ago - the covers protected the bridges' structure and roadbed from the elements, which is one reason so many of them lasted as long as they did. This bridge is solid and weatherproof enough to give your trains a generation of safe passage over your rivers. Also, it is long enough that if you want to park a streetcar or some such inside to keep it out of the "elements" between running sessions, you can certainly do son. Like the Victorian Station above, AristoCraft has made this station available in kit form for decades, but it's actually become more popular since they offered it "pre-built." And the cost is still lower than many similar kits from other manufacturers. To purchase, or to check on price and availability, please click on a "check stock" button.|
|Watch Tower with Operating Light and Smoke - Keep an eye on your crowded terminals and busy crossings with this watch tower. Another way to make your railroad much more interesting in a very small space.|
|AristoCraft Pre-Built Tract House - This building represents many houses built between WWI and WWII in neighborhoods all over the United States and Canada. Many were built by "developers," but many were also built by and folks who bought "Arts and Crafts" plans and learned building and finish carpentry techniques as they worked. Today many city neighborhoods still feature blocks of similar structures. Details such as a clothesline out back, a dog asleep on the stairs, or a television antenna attached to the chimney will let you customize this structure for nearly any place and time in the last century.||
|AristoCraft Pre-Built Gingerbread House - This building represents many houses built between 1860 and 1930 in neighborhoods all over the United States and Canada. Most of them are still standing today, so this will look like it belongs on any garden railroad, especially if you add a few details to "personalize" it. Like the tract house above, this is sturdy and weather-resistant. It is also a fairly new product, so only a few vendors have it now, but that will change as more carry the product.||
|Signal Bridge with Lights - This structure adds a lot of interest in a very small space. It's based on scaffolding that puts signal lights where they can be seen a long way off to protect trains and workers.|
|Foam Tunnel Portal - Lightweight, easily carved to fit tight places. Use to "dress up" your tunnel entrance; comes one to a package.|
|Double Track Tunnel Portal|
|12 pc. Trestle extension set - Use to make the trestle above a little longer, for over and under crossings. Or use by itself to add visual interest to any place where the railroad must cross a "dip" in the landscape.|
|Foam Wings (Retaining Wall) For Portals|
|Foam Piers (Trestle Legs) Pair (2)|
|Farm House White with Green Trim|
|Farm House Tan with White Trim|
|Farm House Blue with White Trim|
|Farm House Yellow with White Trim|
|Cemetery Set I|
|Cemetery Set II|
|What About Other Products? Many other fine products are available from companies like Piko and POLA. Unfortunately, we can't link directly to anyone's product catalog for those products at this point. That said, the costs for Piko and POLA products tend to be comparable or a little higher to those of the products shown on this page, and most of them do need to be glued together. Also, unlike most of the AristoCraft products listed on this page, most Piko and POLA products are not prepainted - rather colors are molded into the plastic, which often means that they will not hold up to the sun as well as painted products. I have several Piko and POLA products on my railroad, but they've all been painted because I've seen what happens to them when you count on the molded-in color. In fact, some of those products are featured in my article Painting Plastic Structures. And, of course, many garden railroaders lay a building kit or two aside to work on in the winter.
Trainz.com's Large Scale Structure Page -
Trainz.com's Large Scale Structure Page -As far as I can determine, Trainz.com doesn't keep more than a handful of Large Scale structures in stock at any given time. But they buy stock from stores that are closing, as well as large private collections and estates, so they often have products that no one else has. Nearly every day you see something disappear from their list and something get added, so it's good to check back frequently, especially if you're looking for something nobody else has.
What if Money is a BIG Issue?" If you like a relative challenge and you have a very tight budget, click on the button below to bookmark this page, then take a look at the Colorado Model Structures. The fellow who makes these has a full-time machine shop and makes these building kits in his "spare" time for the sheer love of the hobby. The kits definitely need painted, and they generally need a tad more filing than the POLA and Piko kits, but the finished kits are rugged and attractive, and they are very affordable.
ConclusionThe products on this page will help you get your railroad, cities, and towns setup quickly. In the meantime. let me know if you want a specific product that is not listed here and I will try to locate it for you.
Best of luck,
Note: Family Garden Trains(tm), Garden Train Store(tm), and Big Christmas Trains(tm) are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications (www.btcomm.com). All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are
Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Paul D. Race.
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