How To Build a Model Railroad Model railroad fascia fixtures to improve your layout

Model railroad fascia fixtures to improve your layout

By Steven Otte | August 3, 2023

These model railroad fascia fixtures can make life easier for your operators

Email Newsletter

Get the newest photos, videos, stories, and more from brands. Sign-up for email today!

Thanks to these model railroad fascia fixtures, your layout’s fascia can do more than give the edge of your layout a finished look. That stretch of tempered hardboard, medium density fiberboard, plywood, or linoleum can also serve a practical purpose. Consider adding some of these model railroad fascia fixtures to make life easier for your operators.

A model railroad throttle rests in a plastic holder on a layout fascia
Perhaps the most useful fascia fixture is the throttle pocket. Whether they’re uncoupling cars, lining turnouts, or just taking a breather, operators need a place to put down the throttle now and then. Digitrax, New Rail Models, Train Control Systems, and others make them.


A small, tilted shelf and a card box with three slots are seen attached to a tempered hardboard layout fascia
Car cards and waybills are a popular way to manage car movements on a model railroad. Fascia-mounted boxes corresponding to spur tracks hold cards that show what cars are spotted there and where they’re going. A tilted shelf offers operators a place to sort their train’s waybills. See our May 2009 issue to find out how we added these model railroad fascia fixtures to our Beer Line project layout.


Two stacked photos show a small paperwork shelf folded flat against the fascia and folded up for use
If your operators have a lot of car cards and waybills to sort or need to fill out paperwork, a fold-away shelf like this could come in handy. Pivoting brackets hold the hinged work surface flat and steady when needed. How to build this fixture was also explained in our May 2009 issue.


A dark green sign reading WINTER HILL on a green background
Place names let your operators know where on the system their train is. This is useful not only to operators who need to stop at specific stations, but also to visitors who would simply like to know what area you’re modeling.


A schematic track diagram with labeled tracks mounted above a waybill box
A few steps above place names on the fascia is a track schematic that shows and labels tracks on a section of the layout. These diagrams not only identify spurs and car spots for trains doing local switching, but also help an engineer make sense of a possibly confusing tangle of track. This diagram is on our Winston-Salem Southbound project layout.


Two toggle switches on a green background, flanked by green wooden bumpers
If your operators are expected to line their own turnouts as they switch your layout, it makes sense to mount the turnout controls on the fascia where operators can get at them. These are RailCrew controllers by Rapido Trains. The green wooden blocks prevent the switches from being accidentally bumped.


A schematic track diagram with lighted pushbuttons on the track
Combine the previous two entries and you get this: the operating track schematic. Lighted push buttons let an operator line a route through the hidden staging yard on our N scale Canadian Canyons layout.


A red pushbutton is mounted beneath two red LEDs labeled MR&T and T&N
Any other controls that an operator would need to use should likewise be mounted on the fascia. This push button controls whether the interchange track at Bay Junction on our Milwaukee, Racine & Troy house layout is controlled by the MR&T’s DCC system or the Troy & Northern (now Wisconsin & Southern) branch line.


A fascia-mounted sign holder displays a copy of a Model Railroader article
Other fascia-displayed items can entertain, inform, and amuse your layout’s visitors. This placard on the MR&T displays the first pages of a Model Railroader article about the scene directly above. Railroad heralds, railroadiana, vintage advertisements, or train-themed artwork are other possibilities.


Three images show a black plastic drink holder on a layout’s fascia folded flat, opened, and holding a drink
The “Fascianomics” folding drink and tool holder gives thirsty operators somewhere to set their beverages other than your scenery. When not in use, it folds out of the way so it won’t obstruct operators’ movement. It’s available from Wm. K. Walthers and other hobby outlets. Similar devices marketed for boats and RVs can be found online.


A dirt road descends through rocky scenery that extends down into the fascia
Finally, why should your layout’s scenery stop at the fascia? Extending below-the surface scenery down the fascia lets observers know that a scenic feature, like this gravel pit, is bigger than just what’s modeled on the tabletop. Check out our February 2013 issue to see how we modeled this scene on the HO scale Milwaukee, Racine & Troy. Similar ideas include windows to underground scenes like coal mines or subway tunnels.

One thought on “Model railroad fascia fixtures to improve your layout

  1. I fasten facia by using drywall screws with grommets. The grommet holds the facia board securely. Then to give it a more finished look I use a hand paper hole punch to make dots that cover the screw head then paint the grommet to match the facia and the screws/grommets/dots practically disappear.

You must login to submit a comment