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Modelling inspirations for railway bridges

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I decided to build a 00 gauge / 4mm scale bridge loosely based on the plate girder bridge carrying a road over railway lines :D ;


Lots & lots of Wills SS57 web plates were going to be needed as part of the main componants, as well as various widths of Evergreen 0.5mm thick styrene strip, & various profiles of plastruct that will play their vital role through various stages of construction.


I've been planning & working on this for a couple of days now, mainly thinking & experimenting the best possible result for both ease of construction & best realism, which is why I've held off posting up till now.


The 1st task was to cut the plates from sprues & remove those unsightly round casting machine marks on older castings of Wills SS57 web plates, I'm using what I think is known as a rifeling file to do this.



I then cut the height of some plates in half, about 16 plates were cut making 16 of this type of mid lower plate per side of bridge.

The plates that are cut in half are all for the lower main load bearing plate girder assembly, each half would be filed equal to each other at 11mm so a scale height of approimately 2ft 8" for lower girders.

The total length of this bridge will be 44.5cm length span , so thats approximately 110 ft long, so it will need a couple of middle supports, I'll be making these at a later stage.



The end most girders were sawn in half in a similar way, I needed to cut 4 full end plates to make 16 , You'll notice I've marked the orientation of them for the purpose of the next stage.


To be continued...,

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Next stage;


Using 0.5mm thick Evergreen strip, I decided the widest 0.5mm at 6.3mm would not be wide enough for what I wanted to achieve, so I joined 2 of 0.5mm x 4.0mm side by side to make 8.0mm.

I used E.M.A. PlasticWeld applied with a fine nylon brush to fuse them together.


I then got my Chopper out & chopped the 8mm wide strips to 11mm , I estimated I would need 30 of these in total, cut a few more in case the join of strip broke during next photo stage.

Then I cut 24 of the same 11mm lenth using 0.5mm x 4.0mm not joined.


I cut each piece of 8.0mm x 0.5mm at an angle, I could'nt do this with chopper, so used craft knife cutting top centre joining to corner.


Noting orientation of the rivet details regarding the angle cut strips, dipping the edge of plate into a fine line of Revell Contacta liquid poly, I then assembled the angled 0.5mm x 8.0mm (angle cut) & the 0.5mm x 4.0mm to half cut plates in alternate amounts, I did the same with the smaller "endmost" plates.

(Make sure the both edges of each plate is perfectly flat , if its not, then gently file it level, or in-between plate "stiffeners" may set at an angle leaning to one side & so spoil appearance of the model)


& then assembled them into fixed groups as shown here, note the plate spacing regarding those angled plates, I had to be carefull as to make sure I got the alternate spacing pattern correct.

TIP: notice that I'm using a piece of straight wood as a guide to levelness, any slight uneveness of the opposite (sawcut side) can be filed flat at a later stage of assembly when a rear support will brace a long section of plates together, as its very fragile as seen here.


All the lower loadbearing girders were assembled, 2 separate main assemblies for both sides




I purposely made a few assembled plates spare for "experimental purposes of construction" ,so heres a small "tester" of what it'll start to look like using proposed componants for the build & using other items as "prop-ups" to give me an idea how to proceed further with regard to how the finished artical will start to look, the painting of this will greatly enhance the appearance as well, as at the moment it still looks very plasticky.

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Onto the next stage - Paraphet,

I already knew exactly what I wanted to achieve regarding the design, but some thought needs to be devoted on how best to achieve the way something that "is'nt flat" fits together, I want maximum results in all aspects, - achieving realism, & best method of build, & consideration of the possible need to modify, repair, or replace a certain part without the need to disturb anything else around it.


My initial "spare" test assembly piece (seen last photo in a previous progress post above) I decided had potential design faults regarding my above comment & my initial thoughts to include a large profile of plastruct "L" profile (known as AFS8) , but I'll not go into detail now except to say the "L" is only a perfect 90 degree angle on the outside, & so componants fixed to the inside ot the "L" would give an unwanted slant in this case.



Anyway, on to the paraphet construction...,

I got out my Chopper again :D & set it to cut strips equal to the height of a plate girder which is 24mm, I firstly made a sample cut & marked this sample with a fine-nib pink marker pen, reason for this is to check your cuts every so often to ensure the length guide clamp of the chopper has'nt moved, as a bit frustrating to find out that you've cut some at 26mm intead of 24mm :x



My bits & pieces of different components sorted for assembly, I needed a tidy box to store & separate each of the different components that would be used &/or left over for another project.

The assorter box seen here is ideal , I bought a few of these from those cheap 'n' cheerfull pound shops, the small springs, washers, & pop rivets that they originally held were stored elsewhere, as I may find a use for them sometime in the future. :D



Using a clear straight edge I lined up 6 strips at a time to be marked & when I had done this I marked each strip vertically with a fine nib pink marker, then diagonally at black lines as shown.



It was prooving very difficult & time consuming cutting with scapal/knife blade, so I used these small snippers, the handles are spring loaded which made it easier.

I still had to finish off some with a small file, as each one had to be exactly the same.



Here they are, 38 of them needed in total, these & 24 more (of size 3.2mm x 0.5mm) will be sandwiched alternatively in-between the paraphet girder plates.

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Then onto assembling these to make up the pararaphet;


First of all I cut backing supports for the "load-bearing" girders,; I used Evergreen "tile" as its fairly thick & sturdy & the tiles give guidence for accuracy needed as for fixing a mounting piece to the rear at a later stage.



I made a pool-line of Revell contacta on a suitable flat surface that would'nt be melted by the Revell liquid poly, as I relized the cutting mat surface I was using was more prone to melting, unlike my other cutting mat where the liquid poly has hardly any effect of melting.


I checked to see if each plate side had a perfect right-angled edge (if not I used a large flat file to correct) , & dipped my plate edge as to join another.

Then I started to assemble plates in alternate order as some of the plates had the fin shaped dividing strips (as seen in bottom photo)



While I waited for the joined plate assemblies to dry , I set my Chopper to cut lots of 0.5mm x 4.0mm at 10mm long , these would be placed so will end up horizontally in-between the finned dividing strips of matched paraphet & load bearing girders as seen in phot below., care was needed to keep them at rightangles.

At this point,the Top (paraphet) & bottom (load bearing) girders were not fixed with Revell liquid poly, I'm using suitably sized items of plastruct as "prop up's" to hold the paraphet assembly up & so aligned to lower girder assembly.



The next stage will be to build the other 2 paraphet girders as shown & then proceed with the "joining" of top & bottom girder assemblies, I had to spend sometime thinking the best way to do this, as these will need to be attached to a "roadway" of 9mm thick plywood, I also needed to consider how this would be attatched (or detached if needed) for modification, repair etc underside with small discreet screws.

The correct height of inner-side paraphet was also of importance, this would need to be a 4mm scale height of around 4ft 6" minimum.



I now needed to join the paraphet girders onto their load bearing girders, as they had a slight cantilever, I used a sort of custom made jig to do this, basically a 4mm x 4mm square styrene strip was fixed to plates binding piece the binding piece being 4mm higher. The idea was so I could work on the inner rear face without risk of damaging when I needed to work rearside.



With the 4 main girder assemblies now done, I offered them up to a convienient part of my layout to see how they looked, I'll need to add further detailing in due course, I just wanted to see how it was starting to look.



I added indication of a little rust corrosion with area's of jagged rusting metal.



Now assembled, I decided how I would attach the girder assemblies to the "road" (9mm thick plywood). The method of fixation; solid styrene 4.8mm x 4.8mm & 6.3mm x 6.3mm square profiles fused together, then allow a few hours to fully bond to side girder assembly's, drill a 2.5mm pilot hole & use small self tapping screws discreetly underside of plywood road;.








Now assembled, I decided how I would attach the girder assemblies to the "road" (9mm thick plywood). The method of fixation; solid styrene 6.3mm x 6.3mm square profiles fused together, both using small self tapping screws discreetly underside.


When the 4 girders are fixed in place, all relavant pencil markings will be made for the topside road & pavements & other area's of underside detail & the construction for girders resting on abutments & centre supports, bearing in mind with my design the bottom-most level of girders is 12mm lower the bottom-most of plywood road, but I had to design it that way for 2 reasons , #1> The provision of attachment & detachment of side girder assemblies, so the "underside brackets" must be robust & strong enough to cope, & #2> The paraphet height innermost on footpath needed to look just right with regards 4mm scale people.

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The bridge I've modelled is based on the real bridge haveing lengths of what looks like 3"x 4" timber as a cover piece on the paraphets... The timber has weathered & aged, so a rather greyish colour,


So , applying my modellers licence as to represent this, I opted for what will equate to being slightly overscale by using cut lengths of 2.0mm x 3.2mm, but IMO it still looks fairly good , (see photo below) I lightly sanded the strips , then painted the strips using Humbrol acrylic mat medium grey, I allowed the paint to "touch dry" then applied dabbing of brown weathering powder & rubbed this in as to give a hint of brown to the "grey timber" painted plastruct strips.


I also gave a thought to how the road would look, theres enough width for 3x trafic lanes & genourous footpaths either side


The time had come to paint those outer girders as I added the bottom-most splice plates, I decided to have the rivet detail facing upwards , as the lack of rivets would'nt be seen underside. I used Halfords plastic primer red oxide, I'm unsure about the colour that'll go on top, I'd really like those shapely girders to stand out, so 2 colours may be an option, or medium grey satin might look better with a sprinkling of wethering powder as to give a hint of slight rusting in some area's.


Theres a "strapper" piece of 10mm thick pine going across the middle width underside, this will serve 2 purposes, ;- it'll help the plywood stay rigid & flat, & its level with lower girders, & positioned where the centre-bridge vertical support girders will appear to be holding up the middle underside.

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Next was the central supports which were in this case uprights of girder beams, heres how I did this;


2x BFS10 back-to-back , cut at 52mm for height , & had angled plates top,bottom & middle fitted for the cross braceings.

I then marked on my "foundation" of 8mm x 18mm pinewood where each of the upright girders would "plug in" .

I decided on 5 uprights rather than 6 ..., but of course I can modify this to suit whatever bridge width or base height is needed.


In order to make the "X" cross braceings assembly accurate, the pre-marked line spacings of my cutting mat was ideal, note my additional pen lines to the mat for making X accurate.


Rather than glue the assemblies to the pinewood base, I inserted a suitable thickness of styrene in between the joined BFS10 "I" girders, leaving 7mm protruding which would plug in to the small holes drilled in pine for placement, they would'nt need to be a very tight fit, but certainly not a loose fit..., the idea being if one of those upright assemblies became damaged, needed painting, a new longer base needed for a wider bridge, etc, I can just unplug those upright assemblies from the base without affecting anything else.


The centre support base itself would be descreetly screwed down to the main baseboard, countersink screws are easy enough to hide & paint/discuise so not seen.

(I dont use glue very often unless I'm sure it wont need to come apart, as glue is a more permanant join, so causing removal for whatever reason difficult & damaging)






Testing the height clearance from the roof of loco to the underside girder, this would need to be no less than 5mm & no more than 7mm in this case.

Now that the centre supports were done I would have to make both abutments the same height.


The girders are purely a cosmetic feature, as its the 9mm thick plywood "base of road" that will be screwed down to abutments, yes, screw, not glue ! :lol: , If you used glue you cannot remove the bridge without making a mess with ripping layer ply's of plywood / grains of softwood & risk damaging all that hard work besides.



I was'nt happy with the colour of red oxide, so I removed the 4 side girder assemblies & gave a coat of matt grey


I build as much as possible "modular", the 6mm thick plywood on the RH side of this photo would be a modular item for on of the bridge abutments, outside of the white chalked area would be "near to ground" and fixed to main baseboard top using either small screws or M4 bolts & wingnuts, the 6mm raised height of the "ground" can "blend in" height differance to main baseboard using brown or grey decorators caulk/frame sealant or another ajoining module of 6mm plywood, (rather like a large jigsaw piece), its a little more work & cost of materials involved making everything modular, but IMO it pays off in the long term for allsorts of reasons :D

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More on central bridge supports, now completed.


I added base using Wills English bond to overlay the area of 6mm thick pine stripwood, concrete topping is Wills paving slabs rear face up.


Using Revel #85 matt orange i carefully applied rusting stains, I used tip of very fine brush to apply slighty stirred (so not thickly applied) thin as was easy to apply gravital runs of paint down, I then tried the other method of drybrushing, not a bad result I think, I'm only a novice.

Maybe I've gone a little OTT with moss stained concrete base.



Notice those countersunk holes, they're for tiny 4g x 1" screws as to fix to baseboard, tiny screw heads will be hardly noticed, but could discuise more with paint leaving just the pozi/phillips/slot head clear. It would unwise to permanantly glue this down for reasons I'm always banging on about :lol: .



I made the assembly to come apart as seen here, the odd girder fits in centre placement as seen above, I try & make everything possible in managable parts, so if something gets damaged or there is a clearance height issue I can double up or remove that mossy concrete base for instance..., in fact I reckon I've gone OTT with green wash, but I used acrylic paint so it'll be easy to remove some of that green.


Both girder assemblies rest adequetly & equal on the support plates.



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Here's a sneak preview of the end result, Some of you will have already seen this on another forum I'm a member of, & this bridge featured as part as another members layout.












There's more to follow on my building of this bridge soon.

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Thankyou for the compliments chaps, very much appreciated.


On to the far side of this rail bridge & as seen in the last photo of my previous post, a brick arch bridge using the basis of Wills English bond brickwork

I decided an alternative appearance of the brickcourse of arch so modidifying...,



Seen in photo are 3 Wills cards, topmost is original Wills arch, bottom LH side is a sheet of English bond , & bottom RH side is my cut out version from the Wills brick sheet as seen on LH side.



I used a couple of 1.5mm x 1.5mm square rod strip (Evergreen #153) , I cut them for approximate size of arch span.

I made 1mm spaced razor saw grooves for representing mortar, I did this easier by fusing just the endmosts of them stacked flat together on my cutting mat so they would'nt move so much.

I also marked each of the end-mosts (red pen) as to determine they were correct way up for "mortar gouging" with razorsaw & later rounding off the top edges by using a flat file for a "layered effect" of brick ring lining.



Still not fused together at this stage, I loaded all 4 brick ring courses into my purpose built curving jigs. I will leave these for a few hours ... in the mean time I can cut the backing sheet needed...


to give this result below;

- the above method of individual layers of brick arch fitted in place ;


Perfectly flush, I trimmed to fit each of the 4 brick arch ring layers to arch & inserted into cut out recess of Wills brick sheet one at a time.

I used a backing piece of 40 thou thickness slaters styrene sheet & cut the open area arch mouth out after the arch rings had set nice & firm.




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Currently working on a Wills kit, the pillarsters & capstones are all the same with this kit, its a standard moulding cast from sprue supplied with similar Wills kits.

here's how they basically look when assembled.


But if possible, I like to model something slightly different , the pillarster design seen in photo below for example, notice the tidy looking recess in brickwork.



Photos below illustrate what & how I did this with a Wills brick paraphet sprue & a Ratio 2mm flagstone moulding for capstone, the pre scribed detail of flagstone made easy guide to cutting with blade & metal ruler..;



Wills brick paraphet,


the measurements decided & then cut up,


A real cut 'n' Shut job !!






Cut up Ratio flagstones seen here ready for making a pyramid formation for pillarster capstone.


Here, (photo's below) some brickwork around this area needs finishing off, & those slopeing slabs on wing wall will need re-positioning, slabs are only lightly held in place with a tiny spot of UHU adhesive.

The capstone layers will need fileing down to make smooth angled 4D pyramid.




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Thanks Marc, Yes I've always had a fasination / obsession for railway bridges & modelling the various designs & the variations of underside detailing to, as seen in my forthcoming posts to this thread.


Here's a couple of photo's of another stage of modelling work adjoined;


the rear-most wall is stone block made from a soft foam. In case it was ever decided to re-model or replace this foam, it'll be just butted up to brick arch & tacked to backing support, the butt joining stone to brick made more inconspicuous with the inclusion of that brick buttress.


An overall veiw of how it all fits into place, the partial remains of a disused platform (this & surrounding area needs to be finished), but this feature will just be lightly tacked with only small spots of PVA & held in place with small screws underside.


seen here in its assembled mode...


I thought long & hard about the inclusion of wing wall here, all depends on the surroundings , but a wing wall I thought was best suited rather than other options, as its near baseboard edge & well suited for photograpic shots beyond showing rest of modelled area.

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Underside of arch


Basically, I decided to make the roof of arch from 4mm scale plastikard red brick.

Using a styrene 3.2mm x 3.2mm profile, slitting this with razor saw as for easier bending the curve as to match inner arch , 1mm was left underside as for mounting the plastikard arch that would be cut to size for an exact fit.


Those inner walls will need re-enforcing , as the "springback" curve of roof arch will push them out wider , so as you can see I've braced those walls to maintain the width.

Allow the styrene brace to set fully. Also when fitting brace, make sure both sidewalls are leveled on a flat surface.

The brace can be removed easily when roof arch is fitted on & it has fully set.


Notice by the grid squares on cutting mat that the inner walls are slightly skewed, the skew angle of walls matches the meeting arch inner walls (the arch bridge are 2 modular items, each arch & its inner walls & roof meeting neer exact, the 1 half is seen above)

As for the skew, this can be tricky to get the correct angle & for both sides to fit 1st attempt,

Using the rear of arch as basis I layed a suitably just oversize piece of plastikard brick over & marked with a felt tipped pen the angle skew of wall, I then trimmed angle to match on 1 side, putting "X" to "X" markings so I would know which way around the arch fitted to that side.....things such as this can get a little confusing, so always mark up positions & orientation for fitment as you progress stage by stage.


I then rolled the plastikard as to form curve, I started with something gentle as to start curve off, as kinks, creases & bends need to be avoided whilst forming arch curve , after wrapping around spice jar I then used a 20mm thick wooden dowell to increase curve, rolled up, put on marigolds or (other rubber gloves) immerse in hot water (not boiling water) for a minuit , then immerse in cold water OR wrap around broomstick handle & secure with 2 elastic bands for a few hours.... spot the mistake I've made here ?? (the above photo)



I offered the plastikard brick arch roof lining into position ready for welding into place using Revell Contacta & M.E.K. liquid.

Using my Revell Contacta I welded in 1mm round styrene rods to both sides as to cover the edge of arch & seal it to the 4mm x 1mm strips used as wall limit retainers for arch lining as described in previous post.


The arch lining profile cut to exact size on 2nd attempt , the 1st attempt was 2mm short of meeting other wall, so I re-made using the 2mm short arch lining as a template & adding the 2mm needed..., I'm really so fussy about getting things to look as perfect as possible, even if a fault is'nt that obvious or fully visible :lol: !


Here I am welding the plasticard roof arch into place applying M.E.K.


A clearer photo of the curved 3.2mm x 3.2mm styrene strip that supports the plastikard arch lining profile.




Arch retaining onto side walls method on the other arch module was a little different, but just as effective.


Underside inside view of both brick arches sprayed up with Railmatch 1403..,


Inside roof & both walls spayed up using Railmatch enamel 1403 roof dirt , its a darkish grey that gives fair representation of dark grey enginners blue brick , the outer brickwork having a washover & wipe off using Revell acylic 75 stone grey matt, this gives grey mortar colour & tints the bricks to a lighter grey shade, so I re-applied Railmatch 1403 carefully drybrushing over most area's.

A matt green acrylic was then drybrushed onto some area's to create the effect of moss growth & staining, but this moss application can hardly be seen in photo's here..., but I suppose it's sometimes not that obviously noticable on real brickwork, but often more-so on lighter grey stone or concrete, for lintels, bedstones etc, so I may decide to have another go at "mossing up" some area's using wethering powders instead as to possibly enhance more.

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Some more great shots there!

I particularly like the look of the brick arch,

being beyond the end of the girder section

You don't see that modelled too often

Your own brick arches are looking a treat too


Looking nice & grubby too!

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Thanks again Marc,

More underside inclusion;


I wanted to replicate something like this underside detailing....,


...heres the result above,


this is how I did it, below,


Plastruct "I" girders BFS8 & BFS12 were used as they fit into each other nicely. The smaller profile BFS8 being the cross bracing girders & assembled as shown below;


Each of the BFS12 longditudal girders were positioned in such a way that they'de rest upon central supporting vertical girders, some BFS8 cross girders were plastic welded into position. I used UHU to glue the BFS12 to the plywood.




Nearest to the 4 main outer removable girders I cut some plasticard sheet for support of cross girders, these wont be fixed to 4 outermost girders, notice how the plasticard sheet fits around main outer girder fixing blocks.



Humbrol matt 66 was used "smear & wipe" to mortar red brickwork , I deliberately used 7mm=ft slaters brick plastikard as it makes the feature of bricks & mortaring more obvious.


I rolled & wrapped enough brickwork for both outermost girders jack arched brick infils


Using a 20mm thick dowel & secured with elastic band for 20 minuits.

Meanwhile, I sprayed underside with halfords plastic primer, then gave a spray of Railmatch 1403 as seen below.


I then cut jack arch infills to 24mm this then curves in to fit 22mm space inbetween each cross girder.


Sliding them in...


Once the jack arches were all in place I re-fitted the 4 main outerside plate girders.


My camera is positioned level on bench, this photo clearly shows the underside of that bridge, so photo would'nt look quite right without those underside girders added :D ,




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Thankyou for all for the compliments, as they're really most encouraging. :-) ...(smily's & other reply features for my replies not an option for some reason ? )



Here's one book I have that I highly recomend, Bridges for Modellers by L.V.Wood .

It has diagrams & drawings with dimentions, photo's of both underbridges, overbridges & intersection bridges, both brick & girder, all variations of girders; box, beam, lattice, plate etc, with the modeller in mind.

Its such a pity that this book is now out of print, although it can be found 2nd hand on ebay, Amazon, etc.



Two bridges here crossing over the A38 northbound near castle vale/minworth, personally if modelling this scene in 00 I would use the N gauge PN13 from Knightwing for smaller bridge, & I'd use the Wills SS57 plates for the other bridge.


Notice the differance in depth/height of the load bearing girders of both these bridges, strangely, the bridge furthest away looks huge in comparison, both cross over a similar distance i.e; a canal & one side of dual carriageway



A close-up photo of the far-most plate girder bridge carrying railway over the fazeley canal near minworth.

The overhanging cantilever here must be at least 4ft wide, those load bearing girders are also very deep.


I've noticed there is so much variation that can be modelled to the underside of a bridge, it can consist of jack arches,either cross girder or longditudal, also the arch itself is'nt always a brick infill- sometimes it will be steel.


The thin steel bars threaded inbetween arches are tiebars for re-enforcement.



Below, underside jack arches made of steel;




Adding realism to the Wills SS57 ;



Strips of 0.5mm x 4.8 mm placed between each of web plates as to "beef up" the appearance & make more prominant, as just joining each plate does'nt look realitic.




A Peco LK17 bridge I modified to make it shorter , Cut 'n' shut style. Plastruct cross girders are inserted




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Here's one book I have that I highly recomend, Bridges for Modellers by L.V.Wood .

It has diagrams & drawings with dimentions, photo's of both underbridges, overbridges & intersection bridges, both brick & girder, all variations of girders; box, beam, lattice, plate etc, with the modeller in mind.

Its such a pity that this book is now out of print, although it can be found 2nd hand on ebay, Amazon, etc.



I throughly agree - quite the best modelling book on bridges, and I can vouch for its accuracy - Les spent his most of his lunchtimes for months in the LMR bridge office scratching away on his drawing board copying drawings retrieved from the plan room microfilms. Quite a nostalgic read for me as well as it is a bit of a rouges' gallery of problem structures that came into the Maintenance Section. Other books that I would recommend (but which are harder to find) are Turton's Railway Bridge Design and Railway Bridge Maintenance, which also have much for the modeller in them.

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