Collecting model trains is really one of the purest forms of joy, and can lead to hundreds of hours of entertainment, so long as you look after them! So we’re going to be taking a look at how to store your model trains correctly.
Enthusiasts are likely to invest a lot of time, effort, and money into constructing something special as model railroaders. If you’re anything like us, you’ve undoubtedly spent years assembling a collection of buildings, scenery, and of course, rolling stock to meet your specific layout needs.
And if you’ve been in the game long enough, you’ll know that sometimes plans might change, you might want a new layout, or maybe some scenic items end up looking outdated. And, of course, we frequently wind up with more model trains than can fit on any single layout!
So what do you do when you’ve got more trains than you know what to do with? Well, having a safe place to store your model trains is a good place to start.
Although some collectors are lucky enough to have enough room to include a large station where they can store and swap out their whole rolling stock collection, most of us will want some external model train storage for safekeeping.
But storing involves a lot of space and materials. In addition, you cannot have any of your precious pieces having a smudge or dent, so you need to handle this with delicateness.
Tips on how To store your model trains
The easiest way to store them is to store them in some sort of box, preferably even the one they came in!
Make sure you pick a dry and dark location away from fluorescent lighting and direct sunlight. You can add a packet or two of silica gel in the box to keep humidity and moisture low, preventing the mustiness and rusting of metal parts.
To avoid paint getting rubbed off you need to make sure that they’re stored firmly and securely, and aren’t at risk of rolling around into the side of the box or into other model trains!
Do not use newspaper to wrap the train:
Newspapers may seem like a convenient option, but recycled newsprint can leave dark smudges or marks on the train’s body. So, do not use newspapers as wraps.
Do not use plastic wrap on your model trains:
It really depends on the type of plastic you’re going to use and just how precise you are with wrapping it up, but it’s probably a no again. If it is stretched tightly against the train body, certain plastics like bubble wrap produces circular markings on the model. Also, if the plastic bag is pressed too tightly against a tinplate or plastic item, it might peel off old decals as they come off, so just be careful that your decals are securely in place before wrapping them.
Do not use old clothes to wrap your model train:
Residual soap, detergents, and fabric colors can attach to the tinplate or plastic and carry color and details with them when they are removed. In the worst-case scenario, they can cause minor rusting and abrasions, making surfaces feel rough.
If you do want to use a cloth as the initial wrap, it’s recommended that you remove colors and leftover chemicals by running it through hot water a couple of times using two or three rinses in a regular washing machine.
Wrap each flatcar load separately:
A tie-tap or elastic band should not be used to secure cargo on a flatcar. Elastic and rubber bands will break down with time and cling to the load’s surface. Instead, keep vehicle loads upside down if feasible to relieve the weight on their tires.
Other sorts of loads can be mounted using dry wood blocks that raise the burden above the flatcar’s surface. This is an excellent way to show the loads on a shelf as well!
Use tissue paper to wrap sheet metal and plastic items:
You can and should definitely use two or three sheets of acid-free tissue paper to help store your model train.
Cover the part securely in the first tissue and then, for a second or third tissue, fold it in layers for a thick coat, that will help stop any impact force on your models.
In addition, to help you identify a stored object, you can place a note or mark it on the outside. And to keep the humidity down, you can set one or two silica gel bags nearby.
Avoid woods that give off acidic vapor:
Types of acidic wood like this might keep the moths away, but it can be dangerous to model trains over a long period of time.
Over time you might notice that acidic vapour or other moisture will condensate on your train, and can potentially ruin your paint job or any decals you have. Left long enough, it might even cause some rust!
Cover staples in boxes:
While the parts are in a box, any metal they contact will scratch and rust them. For example, staples in boxes or storage boxes may damage inadequately wrapped objects.
So, you need to be very careful. To avoid scratches, cover nails using heavy-duty tape or make a lining on the cardboard box with plastic foam that is dense.
Keep humidity at 50-60 percent:
Before storing, it’s advised you test the humidity of the place where the trains are going to be stored. You’re ideally aiming for about 50-60% humidity.
Also, maintain a consistent, moderate temperature in that region of 55-72 degrees Fahrenheit or 12-22 degrees Celsius.
It’s also not a good idea to have low humidity because moisture and condensation can form, ruining your models
Also, keeping things in an uninsulated attic during the summer might be just as terrible for your trains as storing them in a damp basement. Drying out items can cause paint to disintegrate and decals to fracture. You also need to be aware that plastics can distort or melt at high heat too!
Use polyethylene bags with care:
If you are a bit careful, you can use polythene bags to store the parts. These are useful, but they can retain moisture and cause rust on metal models. Bags can also leak chemicals that harm any plastic objects that are stored within.
So what are our recommendations for how to store your model trains correctly?
When it comes to storing your trains, there are several factors to consider. However, if you have a good system in place, an appropriate storage area, and a means to keep track of what you’ve kept, maintaining your collection will be simple!
Establishing good storage practices early on can save you a lot of headaches in the long run.
Peter has been building model trains for longer than he can remember. An avid fan of HO and O scale this blog is a creative outlet to allow him to dive further into other scales and aspects of the model train community and hobby.