Making my first exhibition layout

It was just another email.

I get a lot of emails. Some are the flotsam and jetsam of the Internet: spam, junk mail, phishing attacks but most are from readers of this blog, asking questions, seeking advice, saying hello.

This email was of the latter sort.

It was from a Paul – full name not disclosed at his request – and started in the usual fashion but then he asked a question that has started a whole new project for me.

Paul enquired if where he could see my layouts and if I ever showed them at model railway shows.

I’ve never thought about actually exhibiting one of my layouts at a show before. The thought hadn’t dawned on me but now Paul mentioned it I thought why not.

So I’ve decided that, assuming model railway shows return after Covid, I’ll talk to a few exhibition organisers and show one.

But obviously to do this I need a layout that can be taken to shows.

As all my current layouts are fixed and not suitable so from a simple email I have a new project, making my first exhibition layout.

Chosing a baseboard

And for this I needed a baseboard.

As the layout will be moved around a lot, going to and from shows, it obviously needs to be portable and lightweight. It also needs to be strong enough to survive movement. And it needs to be self contained and presentable.

The answer to these is a modular baseboard and these baseboards by Scale Model Scenery tick all the above boxes.

I went for the BB017 board which at 1102mm by 221mm (approx 3.6ft x .7ft) by gives enough room for the track plan I have in mind and being made of 4mm MDF is sturdy enough to handle the upheaval of being moved a lot.

It was out of stock when I first tried but I entered my email as directed and a few days later received a message advising that it was in stock and could be ordered which I promptly did.

One arrival, it’s flatpack  but assemble is straight forward with the different pieces clipping using the laser cut precision tabs. I had mine put together and glued with PVA in approx 20 minutes.

How section of Scale Model Scenery baseboards join together

The pieces of the modular baseboard clip together, all that’s needed is some wood glue.

This particular pack, BB017, is made by connecting two end sections (see above0 to create the oblong shape and back board with supplied bolts securely holding the two halves together.

modular baseboard

The two halves of the modular baseboard, these are connected to create one long board. The lower picture shows the underside of the board and the space for wiring.

Alternatively, they could be combined with other packs to make just about any baseboard outline, L shape, square etc.

Once assembled the board is indeed lightweight and sturdy and will sit comfortable on a trestle table

Modular baseboards

The baseboard assembled, strong, lightweight and easy to assemble.

The next stage is to fix the track down according to the track plan and theme I’ve picked. The MDF board used is more than strong enough to take track pins and there’s sufficient space below the board and whatever surface it’s resting on to accommodate track wiring and I’ll cover this next time.

Modular baseboards available from Scale Model Scenery.


This post is part of a series on the construction of a lifelike model railway for exhibitions. To read other posts in the series covering its development, track work, scenery and model building making, see building an exhibition model railway.

Full disclosure: I spend days, weeks perhaps months testing modelling and model train products for the reviews on ModelRailwayEngineer and have used hundreds of tools, accessories and materials over many, many, years. For this review, no money or gifts were exchanged and I bought the product at the normal advertised price and without the supplier knowing it would be reviewed here. The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here


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