In the Backshop with Don Railton

In late March, Barry and I covered the 2015 Finescale Model Railroader Expo in Scranton PA in a two-part report for TrainMasters TV. (Follow the links below to watch those reports.)

The Expo featured a contest room, where dozens of incredible models were on display. We were impressed by the quality of almost every exhibits – in fact, we joked that we would have to go home and burn our structures, because we weren’t worthy. But one in particular stood out for me:

Don Railton's fanatastic bait shop diorama

The subject was a 1:24 scale model of a bait shop – the kind one might find on the end of a pier anywhere along the Atlantic coast. The exhibit – a large model of a small structure – seemed to have everything in just the right amount. It nicely balanced the structure-builder’s love of detail and character with realism. The shop looked worn, but not condemned. There was evidence of activity and clutter, without crossing the line into caricature.

The more I studied the models on display, the more I came back to that bait shop as an example of the kind of structure modeler I hope to become as my skills progress in this hobby.

So it was wonderful meet the builder – Don Railton of New York State. And it was a thrill to learn that yes, he would be happy to join us in the TrainMasters TV studio to discuss the techniques and materials he uses to create award-winning structures and dioramas.

Don Railton in-studio at TrainMasters TV on the Backshop Clinic set

Don and I met up at Barry’s studio in early June and recorded three segments for upcoming episodes of The Backshop Clinic.

Don covered many things – including the way he uses graph paper to help plan and build his structures, how he creates brick walls by carving and painting foam insulation board, and how he distresses, paints, and stains various materials to achieve realistic results.

More of Don Railton's work

We spent a terrific day in the studio, and by the end of the day my brain was full of things I want to try. I’ll admit it’s difficult to take in everything when one is in front of the camera, but I’m looking forward to watching these episodes of The Backshop Clinic as they go to air so I can take notes and – hopefully – build better structures.

Thanks for visiting the TrainMasters TV studio, Don. Come again soon!

Trevor Marshall

For more on this story:

2015 Finescale Model Railroader Expo report – Part 1

2015 Finescale Model Railroader Expo report – Part 2

Check out all segments of The Backshop Clinic on TrainMasters TV!

Got an idea for a future Backshop Clinic? Is there a part of the hobby that you would like to see covered in the Backshop? Let us know via the comments section to this post. There’s no guarantee we can shoot every idea presented – the clinics depend on who is able and willing to give them – but we can at least explore the ideas. Thanks in advance!


I was catching up on Blog posts and caught the June 19 comments with regard to Don Railton's segments in The Backshop Clinic.  He is an outstanding modeler and shows just how high the bar can be!  In the same vein and as a suggestion, I would like to see a segment or maybe a series of segments on the design and construction of a contest quality diorama such as his.  I know Trevor touched on the subject of scenery in his module series but I was left wanting to see in more detail the materials and techniques to achieve the results of a master such as Don.


tpmarshall's picture

Hi Charles:

Thanks for writing. We really enjoyed having Don in the studio and Don seemed keen to come back to do more segments with us, so there's a good chance we can cover more of his amazing diorama-creating techqniues on TrainMasters TV. We'll certainly discuss this with him and see where it goes...


- Trevor


Having met Don at conventions, it was nice to see how he does things.  It was nice to have Trevore visiting with Don as so many commentators try to do all the talking.   Very nice videos.  Thanks for sharing.