Looking for the easiest, quickest, way to start building model railways and operating your trains? Pre-made modular model railway baseboards are the ideal solution.
Unlike traditional open-top or large flat baseboards, pre-made modular baseboards are a great option if you desire a small layout, a quick-start way to get into model railways, or a portable layout.
What are they?
Pre-made modular baseboards are typically compact small boards that are precision made and supplied in various modules of different shapes and sizes that can be then secured together to create the layout format you want.
First used for exhibition layouts, the modules come in sizes that can easily stored and moved; typically small enough to fit into a car.
The boards have appropriate support underneath for stability and space for wiring and can be placed on a workbench, tabletop or even decorating table when you want to work on layout or operate your trains.
What are modular baseboards made from?
Many model railways are made from a variety of wood, often what the builder has lying around, but usually plywood. Pre-made modular baseboards are also made of either plywood or MDF. The ones I use, are laser cut for precision with the panels and parts held together with clips and the same glue used for polystyrene. Where multiple boards are connected to form a long run, metal brackets are also used for added strength.
How much do they cost?
The cost for the whole layout and fiddle yard will depend on how big you want it to be and how many modules are needed. Individual modules start from around £10 increasing to £30, £40, and £50 depending on specification, features, and size.
For a typical end-to-end branch-line style OO gauage layout of around 5ft long, you could use two long run units and have the basis of a layout baseboard for around £80. While that’s more expensive than buying sheets of plywood from a DIY store, this will be quicker to put together and require fewer tools and wood cutting.
Where to get modular baseboards
A number of businesses in the UK make and sell premium modular baseboards, including Scale Model Scenery, Grainge & Hodder, White RoseModel Works. Personally, I now use the modular boards from Scale Model Scenery and recommend their range.
> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.
Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of modelrailwayengineer.com. He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.