Sunday, 25 October 2015

Adding Railway Station signs

Adding a railway station sign to your platform is the easiest way to present a visual time and place for the setting of your model railroad, and giving your station an identity of its own is a relatively easy project.

The prototype for my main station name-board came from Lowanna Station on the Dorrigo branch line.

When modelling the New South Wales Railways scene in Australia, you quickly discover that many medium sized country railway stations had one large station name-board on the platform that would face arriving trains. Later when road coaches replaced train services on some branch lines, many were either turned around to face the car park, or re-located in front of the bus zone. Most of these signs were painted black on white, others white on black, while some were even repainted white on blue. After photographing Lowanna Station on the former Dorrigo branch line, I chose to model a more common black lettering on white background station sign.

Model Train Buildings offer custom-made laser-cut wooden station sign kits, such as the one I ordered for Philden.

Model Train Buildings make a range of laser-cut wood kits of various sized NSW and Victorian prototype station buildings, and they also offer custom-made laser-cut station sign kits. After a quick email to Stuart at MTB, my custom-made PHILDEN station sign kit arrived the next week.

I started by painted the engraved area black....

The station sign kit was pretty straight forward to put together, the only real difficulty I experienced was in painting it prior to assembly. Although the engraved letters are the clearly defined and easy to paint black, the raised flat surface of the station sign needed to be painted white. Sounds easy, but the white paint kept bleeding into my recessed black letters.

....and finished by painting the flat surface of the sign white.

Eventually I got there after several coats of black paint to hide up the white paint, and white paint to hide up the black paint. I then painted the raised frame portion of the sign black, and set it aside to dry overnight. The majority of NSW railway stations only had one sign of this size standing facing the platform, and the rear of the sign would be plain black or white. However, as I've built the backdrop on my book shelf layout to be reversible, I bought two of these station sign kits to glue them back-to-back. That way the sign name will always be visible no matter what side of the layout I have placed on display. After painting the sign posts black and touching up any glue marks from joining the station signs back-to-back with the same black paint, I put the station name board aside and moved onto the station signs that will hang from the light posts.

Next I designed my own platform signs that would be mounted on my lamp posts using Adobe Photo Shop Elements 8.

As a young kid, I remember catching a train to Sydney every school holidays from tiny Point Clare Station near Gosford, NSW. The station signs that hung from the light posts were of the name placed over a traditional black circle outline. I also wanted to add some similar station signs to the light posts that would line Philden's platform, so I decided to make these myself using the same method I outlined in my post Building a Highway Sign. I then printed these out so that the circle section of the sign was 11 mm tall, while the name section of my sign was only 5 mm tall.

After printing out my lamp post signs on my home printer, I covered them in book covering and rubbed away any air bubbles.

As I did when making my highway road sign, I covered the printed station signs with some self-adhesive book wrap to protect the ink on the finished sign from ever bleeding if it were ever to be splashed with a drop of water, glue or paint.

I then cut the station sign using a very sharp fine tipped hobby knife.

I cut 6 station signs, enough to complete 3 lamp posts with signs mounted on both sides. The trick is to make sure you use a very sharp fine tipped hobby knife. I always do a project like this using a brand new blade.

The finished station sign glued to a cheap lamp post I bought from eBay.

Finally I glued the signs one at a time to the lamp posts I am adding to my station platform. Once the glue had dried, I then turned the lamp posts over and repeated the process again so that I had a sign visible on each side. Although not my first choice in lights for my platform, I had already bought 20 of these lamp posts from a Chinese manufacturer on eBay. All up, the total cost for making these lamp posts was less than 25 cents each! So for now they will do nicely.

A photo I had of Eungai Station made an excellent candidate for my photo-shop project.

Finally, I moved onto the Countrylink station sign that would define the era that I model. During the early to mid 1990's, stations that became part of Countrylink's passenger train network were re-badged with modern Countrylink signage. Signs like the one I photographed at Eungai are still found today in 2015.

Once more I photo-shopped a station sign on my computer.

Once more I turned to Adobe Photo Shop Elements 8 to erase the name Eungai and replace it with Philden. The font Vani was an almost perfect match. I printed these out at a height of 15 mm, and repeated the same steps that I did for the light post signs.

My Countrylink sign also required round sky-blue sign posts to mount it to. Blue Mist was a good match.
Finally, I painted some long-stemmed aerosol can nozzles a blue mist colour, and trimmed these to a height of 28 mm. Allowing 3 mm to sit inside the tiny holes I drilled on my station platform, they then stand 25 mm tall with the raised centrepiece bringing the sign to a height of 30 mm tall. Before I decide the exact location to add my newly made signs to my railway station platform however, I have to skip ahead to my next project, which is adding some galvanised steel handrails and an easy access ramp to my station platform. But as usual, that's a story for another day.


  1. Hey Phillip

    What material did you use for the main component of the CountryLink sign?


    1. The signs were printed out on Reflex brand copy paper, glued to a piece of cardboard (you can even use an empty Weet-Bix box), and then covered with some clear PVC vinyl book covering. I then cut the signs to the edge of the printed area using a sharp hobby knife, preferably one with a new blade. It was cheap-as-chips to make, but looks a million bucks on my station! You could also try using the paint sample cards from your local Bunnings if you want something with a ready painted back.


Thanks for taking the time to visit Philden. I hope you'll book a return ticket soon. Cheers, Phil