The Dustball Express

Building an N-scale model railroad under your bed

Most people who build model railroads are lucky enough to live in places that have lots and lots of space. A few of us are crazy enough to live in Manhattan shoebox apartments and have to improvise if we want to build anything more than the simplest circle of track. I started with that circle of track, but it got dull after a while so the rails grew and grew and the space under my bed got more and more crowded. Thankfully, it eventually got less dusty too.

I have to confess that I'm really quite new to model railroading. I'm not spending my days in railyards looking for authentic buildings to model in balsa, nor do I worry too much about prototypes. The trains I'm most familiar with are Amtrak's Northeast Corridor routes and Conrail's line through southern New York - the old Erie line through Binghamton and Corning, where I'm from originally. I had a great couple of hours in a rail yard in Burlington, VT a few years ago. I end up putting together freights that are as mixed up as Conrail and buildings that look like the industrial decay I've passed through on Amtrak. There is no real prototype for what I'm doing, and that's fine with me, though it's not really orthodox modeling.

Most of what these pages will cover are techniques suited to working in small spaces. If you've got the luxury to build a serious layout with benchwork, by all means, do that instead. You'll be a lot happier, and your back will probably hurt less. If all you've got left in your apartment is a bit of space under the bed or hidden away someplace else, I hope these pages will help you build something reasonable.

Once you've finished building, if you ever finish building, you'll have a whole new world under the bed. Beats monsters and dustballs any day!

Copyright 1996 by Simon St.Laurent. All rights reserved. You may print this document for yourself or others at no charge, but commercial distribution without permission is prohibited.

448 West 25th Street #3
New York, NY 10001