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Solar-powered garden railroad building

By Bill Barnwell | January 12, 2022

A modified garden path light becomes a lighted switch tower kitbash

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Close up of model tower

A solar-powered garden railroad building is a fairly easy project for most do-it-yourselfers. But one day while shopping at a home-improvement store, I stumbled on to a solar pathway light similar in shape to an HO scale model I liked. I thought the size would work well in my garden railroad as a structure.

A solar garden light
The author found this solar light at a big-box store for around $30 for a set of two. One of the lights became a solar-powered garden railroad building — a switch tower. Photo by Bill Barnwell
Components of a solar garden light
The author disassembled the solar light, showing its components. Photo by Bill Barnwell

I added a little Evergreen styrene siding sheet for the walls, sealed the cracks, and added windows using more styrene.

Close up of modified light post
A few drill holes, scraping with a hacksaw blade, and paint make the pole look like a piece of wood. Photo by Bill Barnwell

I detailed the post to look like a large tree trunk post by adding knotholes using a small drill bit, and then scraping the length of it with a hacksaw blade to look like rough bark.

After painting, I added a bottom styrene plate and glued chicken grit on top of it to form a “foundation.” I also added a Plastruct styrene ladder. Even painted red and lettered it like my old Atlas one.

Close up of model tower
The solar-powered garden railroad building in place on the author’s railroad. Photo by Bill Barnwell

This was a fun and easy build. It looks great, and I can move it around the layout by by pulling the post and tower out of the ground and sticking it in another location.

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