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Model Railway Tunnels

(Article written by Metheringham and saslord)



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Introduction

Trains cannot usually go up steep gradients, this meant that when the navies were building the railways they either had to go around hills following the contours or they had to dig cuttings so the railway would stay relatively flat as it went over high ground. When the ground became to steep or high for a cutting to be dug successfully tunnels were built.

Model Railway Viaduct and Model Railway Tunnel Diagram


On model railways tunnels are often used to hide things which may make a layout look unrealistic. You will have probably noticed that allot of layouts have tunnels to hide steep curves in the track which are unrealistic. Tunnels are often used as a divide between the layout and the fiddle yard.
Even as a feature on their own they can bring needed depth and scenic interest to your layout at a very low cost. 
 

Things to Consider

  • In real life tunnels were/are expensive to build so often a cutting is carried on as long as possible before a tunnel is build.

  • The old steam trains used to give off allot of steam and smoke so ventilation shafts were sometimes built in the tunnels to take the smoke out into the air, also for the same reasons tunnels were quite high compared to the trains going through them, again to let the smoke out into the air.

Tunnel Mouths
 

Where a railway (or road for that matter) enters a tunnel there is a structure holding back the soil and rock, this is the tunnel mouth.

If you want a tunnel on your model railway it is a good idea to first decide how you are going to obtain a tunnel mouth. You could decide to build one from scratch, build a kit or buy a ready to use one.

If you are going down the route of making your own from scratch here is a template sheet which you can download, print off and cut out for use for a double track tunnel mouth in either OO or N gauge. Find it here (Adobe PDF - 6Kb).

For the kit way of doing it there is Scalescenes and Metcalfe to name just a couple of brands which you can buy a kit of some tunnel mouths.

Ready to use tunnel mouths are available from Peco and Hornby, again to name a couple.

 


Real Train Tunnels

47386 in BR Blue Livery
From railwaypictures.co.uk
 


OO Gauge Tunnels
("Described below is how I made my railway tunnel" saslord)

 

Introduction: From the very start of may layout plan I had wanted a tunnel on my layout. The corner chosen to have the tunnel built over it was picked because it had the sharpest bend which looked too sharp for the main line express trains.

 

I did have the problem of having three tracks going in (merging into two tracks) and two coming out. This meant that I could not buy standard tunnel ends and thus would have to build my own.

 

After deciding on the position of my tunnel ends, I made some tunnel template (card template would be best) to test the loading gauge of my longest and highest trains (highest being a class 90 with a pantograph up) on all the lines.

 

The tunnel templates where then transferred onto some 5mm ply board where I drew out a tunnel shape. Using my jigsaw I then cut out two tunnel shaped ends and sanded them to take out any imperfections in the cut. They were then positioned on the layout to test that the loading gauge was still good.

 

To cover the tunnel I decided to use more 5mm ply board. I first put the sheet of ply board over the ends and then marked where the entrances were. I then took the ply board off and roughly drew up some lines to indicate the shape I wanted. I then cut out the shape with my jigsaw.

 

The roof of the tunnel was connected to the entrances by using some 2 X 1 (cm) to make the join. The 2 X 1 (cm) was first screwed to the top of the tunnel entrances which then created a platform to support and fix (screw) the top piece of ply board to. an additional piece of 2 X 1 wood was screwed to the far corner of the tunnel to support the back.

 

The covering: To fill in the sides of the tunnel I decided to use some leftover wire mesh and papier-mâché. The wire was cut and moulded to shape, and then fixed to the top of the tunnel using some screws (see picture below). Glue was added to make sure the wire did not break free.

 

Model Railway Tunnel Picture - New Railway Modellers

 

The wire mesh was mainly there to act as support for the papier-mâché.

 

Model Railway Tunnel Picture - New Railway Modellers

 

The paper-mache: Paper-mache is a simple and cheap way of creating topographic (hill) scenery. Paper-mache is simply made by layering strips of newspaper, which have been soaked in a mixture of PVA glue and water, over each other. By building up layers of overlapping strips (best to alternate the direction of the layers) you can build up a strong mass of paper and glue, which becomes ridged when dry. The wire I used will give mine added strength.

 

Model Railway Tunnel Picture - New Railway Modellers - paper-mache Model Railway Tunnel Picture - New Railway Modellers - paper-mache Model Railway Tunnel Picture - New Railway Modellers - paper-mache

 

Model Railway Tunnel Picture - New Railway Modellers - paper-mache Model Railway Tunnel Picture - New Railway Modellers - paper-mache Model Railway Tunnel Picture - New Railway Modellers - paper-mache

 

The story will continue shortly.........

 


N Gauge Tunnels


On my layout I have decided to use a tunnel to disguise the steep corners and disguise that my layouts track is in a loop.

For my tunnel portholes I have gone down the route of buying some ready made, which I can place on my layout ready and later paint to add realism. The particular tunnels I have used are peco double track N gauge tunnel portals.


 N Gauge Model Railway Tunnel Picture - New Railway Modellers
 

Usually on a layout you can see about the first four inches into a tunnel so for this reason I chose to make the first 5 inches of the tunnel with a tube. I quickly realised that a toilet tube cut down it's length with around 7mm cut off was the perfect size to fit onto the tunnel mouth - and as a bonus it was already curved.


N Gauge Model Railway Tunnel Picture - New Railway Modellers
 

After reading a comment on the forum about making tunnels dark came my next idea, to make some brick paper faded to black. You can download this here (JPG Image - 47Kb). I trimmed the brick paper down to size and stuck it to the inside of the tunnel with a glue stick. I glued the toilet roll with brick paper onto my tunnel mouth using super glue.

The next step was to place it on my layout. I carefully positioned it and tested it with some carriages to make sure that none would scrape on the side of the tunnels inside. All was okay so I proceeded and stuck it down with a hot glue gun, but I guess almost any glue would do.


N Gauge Model Railway Tunnel Picture - New Railway Modellers


The tunnel is now ready for some hard landscaping - which is covered on this site here - I look forward to doing this at a later date.

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