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Storing model train layouts

Storing model train layouts
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Follow these rules when storing your model railway locos

Whether O-gauge has stolen your heart or you’re into tiny Z-gauge layouts, there will come a time when you need to store some of your rolling stock. Judicious use of storage will let you buy whatever model engines take your fancy without jamming your railway solid with locos. Bringing rolling stock out of storage will also keep your hobby fresh and interesting.

But what are the main rules to follow when putting model railways into storage?

Almost every railway modeller will have an opinion on how best to store locomotives, and you’ll get plenty of ideas and recommendations down at your local railway club or at a model railway exhibition.

What is the best wrapping for model rolling stock?

There are some wrapping materials for model engines that you should definitely avoid. Newspaper can transfer ink to your locos, and may over time damage the finish. Bubble wrap has also been known to mark model train paintwork. Rags and dusters can transfer detergent residue to your rolling stock, and may leave lint and fibres tangled in moving parts.

Acid-free tissue paper , however, is a good material to wrap model trains in. You could also use foam inserts to keep your locos, wagons and vehicles safe in storage.

What boxes are best for a model train?

A really simple solution to storing model trains safely is to use the boxes they came in. Try to keep hold of these boxes, and also the cardboard, foam or polystyrene inserts. This gives you secure, readymade packaging for your precious locos. Many boxes will also have information and specs about the model, which you may find useful in future.

Another option is to line shallow drawers or boxes with foam and cut custom slots for your locomotives. Boxes are most useful if you plan to take your layout to exhibitions. You can find a supplier of custom-made model railway storage in the UK Model Shop Directory.

Do model railways need climate-controlled storage?

Many railway modellers run their layouts in cellars, attics and sheds which are definitely lacking in climate control. But when a model train layout is in frequent use the owner will constantly be checking and correcting the damage caused by extremes of temperature and humidity.

If you will be leaving your railway layout unattended for a long period, it may be worth opting for a climate-controlled storage unit. Storage units are also more secure against theft. To find out how much it will be to rent a storage unit for your model railway, see our guide on costing up self-storage.

Keep good records about your stored model railway

Above we mentioned that you can use the original boxes to help with record keeping. But also, you’ll want to keep separate records, whether handwritten or on a spreadsheet. This will help you to avoid making duplicate purchases at model railway shows. It can also be useful when you come to insure your model railway. When you insure a stored model railway with Store and Insure, it’s important to remember that you’ll be insuring it for the replacement value. If you’re interested in how much it costs to insure a model railway kept in a storage unit, get a quick quote right now – it may be less than you think!

Model rolling stock can be expensive to replace, and when you take into account the sentimental value, particularly with engines that you have built and painted yourself, it’s easy to see why so many modellers want the very best for their railways.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash


Question and Answer


Are items in a shed or outbuilding covered by my home insurance?

If you plan to move domestic items into a shed or outbuilding, check with your contents insurer to make sure they are covered by your home insurance policy. For maximum peace of mind, why not use a storage unit, rather than a draughty, damp, insecure shed?