How to Store Model Trains-Tips for the Beginner

Model trains have been cherished for generations and continue to be a common passion for many around the globe. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned modeler, it is important to know how to store your model trains. They are an expensive investment and should be stored properly so they remain in top shape.

So, how do you store model trains? Model trains should be stored in their original boxes for safekeeping. Some of the most common types of packaging and styrofoam, tissue paper, and plastic.

Still want to know more about how to store model trains? We will go over box storage, the importance of a climate controlled environment, and more!

Storing Your Model Trains

There are a few things to take into account when storing your model trains. Taking the proper precautions prevents any potential damage to your collection. Some of the most important things to remember when storing your model trains include:

Storing in Original Boxes

Each locomotive, piece of rolling stock, or structure is packed in its own individual box that is specifically made for that item. This makes it easy to store each item and prevents causing any damage.

Take this Scaletrains box in this video by Dan Cortopassi, for example; it includes the standard plastic packaging with soft plastic on the top and bottom to protect the model. This prevents any damage from occurring and makes it extremely easy to remove and place back into the packaging.

Styrofoam Packaging

Styrofoam packaging has become less mainstream in recent years; however, it is still a great way to store your models. Many locomotives and rolling stock manufactured from the 2000s and before will likely have this type of packaging. This type of packaging makes it a bit tedious to remove the train from the packaging; however, it is a great way to store model trains, as the material keeps the model from moving around.

Climate Controlled Space

It is critical to store your model trains in a climate-controlled environment. Too much heat could cause delicate parts on the model to melt, while on the other hand, an environment that is too cold could cause issues with operation. It is also important to ensure there is not too much moisture in the air, as it could cause the models to become corroded. It could also damage the original packaging, which could not only damage the model, but it could also diminish its overall monetary value.

model train price

What If I Don’t Have The Original Box?

If, by chance, you do not have the original box to your model trains, it’s best to store them by wrapping them in acid-free tissue paper. This prevents any potential damage being done to the model. It is often very common for many to use newspaper, however, this is not recommended, as the ink cab rub off and create unsightly marks on your model, which might be difficult to remove.

Short-Term Storage

Very few of us model railroaders have the capacity to place all of our locomotives and rolling stock on the layout at once. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you find a short-term storage solution for your collection. If you plan on changing your consists often, it can be difficult to constantly move your locomotives in and out of their boxes.

For short-term storage, many modelers use a drawer or a box to store their trains. However, to prevent any damage to your trains, you should always use foam padding to protect your model.

wire a model railroad
David B. Photo

You should store your locomotives and rolling stock on their sides to prevent any rolling, and each row should have a layer of foam padding separating them. If you have a favorite consist that you like to run, you can even store the entire consist in one box or drawer for easy access.

The best types of containers to use are either cardboard or wooden containers that are free of any objects that could cause damage. Sometimes, if you are particularly proud of your model, you can even store your trains in a case. This prevents any dust or other particles from damaging your models, and provides a nice display for all to see.

Final Thoughts

As a model railroader myself, I know how cherished my model train collection is, and I would be upset if anything happened to them during either long or short-term storage. Therefore, it is important to properly store your model trains to prevent any type of damage to your collection.

By following these tips, you can properly store your model trains, and ensure that they are kept safe, providing you with peace of mind.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I protect my model trains from dust?

You can use storage containers with tight-fitting lids, display cases with glass covers, or plastic wraps to shield your model trains from dust when they are not in use.

Is it necessary to disassemble my model trains for storage?

This depends on what type of model train you are storing. Is it a kit? A fully assembled and detailed model? Disassembling model trains for storage depends on personal preference and the complexity of the model.

Should I lubricate my model trains before storage?

Yes, placing a light coating of the proper lubricant can protect all the intricate moving parts, and prevent any deterioration. However, it is important not to use too much lubricant, as it could cause issues and attract dust.

How often should I check on my stored model trains?

When it comes to checking on your model trains, it is important to check on them every once in a while, especially if you plan on storing them long-term. It is important to keep an eye on any type of damage or dust buildup.

Can I stack model train storage containers on top of each other?

You can certainly stack storage containers, however, it is best to keep the heavier ones on the top to avoid any damage to those on the lower level.  It is important to ensure that the containers are designed to be stacked as well, as many are meant to be stacked for long-term storage.










Lifelong Rail Enthusiast and Owner of Worldwide Rails

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