Sunday, November 24, 2013

Signs, Signs, Everywhere the Signs

Railroads and railroaders have a tendency to name everything, and with good reason. It's important to be able to report exactly where a train is at anytime, and named references that are understood by everyone allow this to happen quickly and efficiently. It's also helpful in providing instructions to crews such as which track in the yard to spot a cut of cars or the location where two trains are to meet.

When I first drew up my track plan many years ago, I named the various streams in addition to all of the towns and stations. I recently found one of the stream names laying on the HN Cabin panel at North Pierce where it had been placed when I removed it to re-do the scenery in this area. It is a piece of .060 styrene that  had been painted the same green color as the fascia and then lettered using Letraset dry transfers. A quick coat of flat finish sealed the lettering. This is the same lettering method that I used for all of the panels on the layout. It's time consuming to say the least, and dry transfer lettering is becoming difficult to find.

As I was getting ready to remount the stream sign, it occurred to me that I could print these up in Word by matching the font and the background color as closely as possible to the few signs that were already finished. Once printed, I could get them laminated at Staples, cut them out, and glue them to the fascia. It would take a fraction of the time that the previous signs took to complete and would hopefully look just as good.

So here are the results. First up is the sign for the tunnel at Logan, WV and the Logan town sign.

The stream at Big Chimney and the tunnel to the east needed names, so signs were made for these as well.

Signs were also needed for Big Chimney along with the creek under the trestle leading to the Sand Fork Branch.

Of course, now that all of these are finished and attached to the fascia, I'm beginning to wonder if a different background color might look better. Perhaps a black background with a thin white border around the lettering would look better and help distinguish the place names from the panels. Thankfully, making those changes only requires  few minutes on the computer and a trip to Staples. 


  1. Very nice touch on the layout. I like the color on the label. I think it blends right in with the fascia.

  2. The labels look very nice but perhaps blend in too much, although that is aesthetic decision. It might be interesting to see something with black lettering/or background to see if a greater contrast enhances the layout experience or draws the eye too much from the aisle. Just thought you might want a contrary view. I do think the current letters might increase in font size a little regardless of color and background.

    This will no doubt greatly facilitate future op sessions as it often easy to get lost on a layout unless you operate very regularly.

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving.


    Gerard Fitzgerald
    Charlottesville, Virginia

  3. Shannon- thanks for the kind comments.

    Gerry- I'm going to try some different looks with the signs. James McNabb has some great looking fascia signs on his IAIS layout that's featured in his article in the December edition of Model Railroad Hobbyist. He used white letters on a black background and while his fascia is a different color than mine, the overall effect looks really nice.

    Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving.


  4. I recently completed signs on my fascia. although I am sure I will add some more over time. As I model multiple RRs, I made my signs the colors of the RR and used a similar font. Action Red with white letters for Canadian Pacific, Harvest Gold with Pine Green letters for Maine Central, etc. I used do-it-yourself laminating sheets - did not realize Staples can do laminating for you. Realize I should probably post an update on that. You can see one of the Boston & Maine signs in this post: