Subway Dreams

Custom Model Railroad Station Backdrops

Low Cost, Easy to Use, Fun to Make

Model Railroad Station Backdrops


We currently offer custom made Station backdrops for Model Railroad layouts.  Basically you can provide us with the pictures you would like to see, or tell us what you are looking for and we will start working on it and send you pictures to be sure we are getting it right.

If you need city, town, country, industrial or scenic backgrounds, we do have art work to complete them for you. 


There are several different ways you can have a custom backdrop made.

Basic backdrop of Middleton Station in NJ.

click on picture for a larger view 

This is how a  basic custom backdrop would look. All you need to do is supply us with the name of the station you are looking for.  We will do the research for the details, and if we cannot find the details needed, we will contact you to discuss other options.

 As you can see this station has a ticket office.  It has all the details that the original station has.  The station has some wrought iron animal silhouettes place at various points on the wrought iron fencing, also it has billboards, lights, and fencing,  just like the real station. These little details are what make our backdrops the best made ones around.  The price and cost is unbeatable for the work and services performed. The average cost of a basic station is $50.00 - $70.00, depending on the complexity of the station.  Usually it takes approximately 7 - 10 days to complete and ship one.

Please contact us for details and estimates

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Advanced Backdrop of Middleton Station in NJ using Our Photos.

click on picture for a larger view

This is how the advanced style backdrop would look and the following photo.  This style of backdrop can have many different things done to it. The example above uses trees as an additional background.  Not everyone has a background on there wall or some other kind of scenery, so this gives it a boost to look even more realistic if you don't have anything behind the station.  This is made using our own photos, made specifically for all of our backdrops.  We have many different kinds available to use. 

Please contact us for details and estimates

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Advanced Backdrop of Middleton Station in NJ Using Our Photos and Yours.

click on picture for a larger view

This backdrop is using our tree line photo as the background, and your photo of the back of the houses behind the station, that you sent us, is being used as a filler. so now your backdrop even looks more life like than ever!  Of course we do not have to have a photo from you to achieve this, we have our own as well, but it gives you an option that if you have a picture you would like to see in your backdrop, just send it to us via email. (you can send a picture of your house, favorite pub, fire station, really anything  that would make your station even more personalized.) 


Please contact us for details and estimates

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Below is a slide show of just some different types of backdrops that can be used in conjunction with a passenger station, freight terminal, or other industrial type depot.


Industrial Acid Plant Backdrop.
Industrial Waterway Backdrop.
Canyon Walls Backdrop.
Industrial Town Backdrop.
Kansas City Skyline Backdrop.
Lower Manhattan Backdrop.
Main Street Disney Backdrop.

Assembly Instructions

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People use them in many different ways. We intended our backdrops to be mounted on a flat and stiff surface.  The most common item mounting materials used are Foam Boards.  They are readily available in hobby shops, office supply store and craft stores. While this is the easiest of ways to do it, there are many different way in which they are used. The following are example of how our customer have used them:

  • Mounted to Balsa Wood - What's great about balsa wood, is when using a "Grade A" sheet, you can bend them through different processes (check the internet for bending balsa wood).  Stations are not always straight, they are on curves and if you have a station placed on a curve, this would probably be the best and easiest way to do it. If you go this route, please bend the balsa wood first before Applying the graphics to it.
  • Mounted to Wood - If your station is on a straight section, then you can use wood to mount them on. If you have wood laying around, you can use it, instead of going out to buy anything else to use.
  • Mounted to Cardboard - People have done it.  We do not recommend it, because cardboard tend to loose it's stiffness during humid conditions and will start to bend. Use it if you are doing a temporary layout, in order to save money, otherwise don't use cardboard.
  • Mounted to Plexiglas - People sometimes use Plexiglas as a backing around their layouts.  If this is your case and you need a station at a particular section, you can mount them the the Plexiglas.
  • Mounted to Bass Wood - This is an excellent choice.  It is stronger than Balsa Wood, but requires a little more effort to work with than balsa wood. you can bend Bass Wood as well (check the internet for bending Bass Wood).

I am sure there are many other materials out there that they can be mounted to, just be sure that they will be suitable for you use.

Contact us if you need help

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There are a couple of ways to do this (see cutting your backdrop), we recommend having the following:

  • A clear and clean work area (make sure that you have a cutting mat something down to protect cutting area on your table top so you won't cut or scratch your table top).
  • A good pair of sharp scissors (if you are really good with a scissor and can make real good straight cuts, you won't need the razor knife, ruler and clamps).
  • A self-sealing cutting mat.
  • An X-acto knife or razor knife.
  • A metal ruler (18" or longer, used together with the razor knife to make straight cuts).
  • A pair of clamps (used to hold ruler and paper in place while making straight cuts).
  • A can of repositionable adhesive spray (we use 3M brand "Repositionable 75 Spray Adhesive, if using another brand, make sure it says repositionable and won't bleed. Repositionable because in case you do not have it line up properly, you mover it around)
  • Mounting material as mentioned earlier. (foam board, balsa wood, etc.)

It is best that you practice cutting on scrap paper, before actually cutting out the backdrop.

Contact us if you need help

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There are 2 ways of doing this, we prefer the first way:

Using the tools mentioned in the previous section:
  • First make sure your area is clean and clear.
  • Have all your tools laid out
  • Place your self-sealing cutting mat in front of you, near the edge of the table.
  • Place the first page you are going to cut in on top of the mat.
  • Next place the metal ruler on the page and line it up on the edge you are going to cut.
  • Take the clamps and place one at each end of the ruler.  You are using the claps to hold the ruler and paper down at the same time.  As you tighten the clamps, make sure the ruler is still at the edge of the backdrop where you are going to cut along.  Adjust the ruler as needed before finally tightening the clamps
  • Before actually cutting the backdrop, I suggest practice using the X-acto knife and make cuts using the setup mentioned above, just to get the hang of it, especially if you haven't done this before.
  • So now just take your X-acto knife and make a cut straight along side the ruler, on the side you need to cut of course, from one end to the other, pressing firmly, with enough pressure to cut through the paper.  Excessive pressure could cause you to slip and slide away from where the cut should be.
  • Now just repeat this again for the other side to be cut of the backdrop. Do this for all the sides of the sheets and keep them in order or with a pencil lightly mark each the back of each sheet, 1 ,2, 3, etc.
  • The second way to do this. (not recommended)
    • Have good sharp scissor that can cut index paper.
    • Just cut along the edge that has to be cut.
    • do this for all of the sides.
  • Surprise! a third way.
    • If you should happen to have one of those large paper cutters, by all means that will do it!
  • We feel not everyone has a very steady hand that could cut a 12" straight line.  You may be able to do the short side OK, but the long side, as many times as I have tried, I have failed better than 60% of the time.

    Contact us if you need help

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    In this section you will learn how we mount the backdrop to the surface you have chosen. When using spray adhesives, make sure your work area is covered with a drop cloth or something equivalent to it.  If you're not careful with the spray, it will get on the surface of what you are using and could ruin it. So lets start:

    • Make sure your work area is clear and clean.
    • Make sure you cut and trim your foam board first (or what you are using). You should already have cut out your backdrop by this time. Do a dry run first. take all the pieces and line them up on your surface to make sure everything is OK and cut right.
    • Start by taking the first backdrop sheet and turn it over, make sure it is clean. You do not have to soak the paper with the adhesive, use it sparingly.  Go lightly on the ends. when you press it down and smooth it out, you do not want to much glue on the end, otherwise it will spread out from underneath.
    • once you are happy with its position, start with the next one.  Again try it without the adhesive first, then use the ahesive. Once it is down, DO NOT press it down until you are satisfied on its position and the line up. Once you are satisfied, smooth it out by rubbing it with a cloth, going in the opposite direction of the first sheet.  You do not want any excess to go on the first sheet.
    • Just repeat until you are all finished.
    • Now you are done with the hardest part.

    Now when placing the backdrop were you want it, you will need a base to hold up the backdrop, unless you are mounting it on the wall.  One way is to use a 1" x 1" strip of wood, cut to the length of the whole backdrop and mount the bottom of the backdrop to it and now it will stand.  Another way is to make small wooden right triangles about 4" tall x 2½" wide and ¼" thick.  This is a good way, especially if you made your backdrop on a curve.

    Contact us if you need help

    Useful Information and Tips for Working with Different Paper Projects

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    A good pair of sharp scissors is one of the most important tools you will need.

    • Dull scissors can rip the paper, make uneven cuts, and they can be hard to control when precision cutting is key. You can also invest in scissor sharpeners.
    • Having a few different scissors for different tasks can also be helpful. Use one pair for cutting thin paper, one pair for hacking and cutting thicker paper and cardboard.
    • A pair of needle-nose scissors for cutting small details.
    • For cutting out tiny, delicate cone shapes, you might try a good pair of fingernail clippers. They can quickly cut out the tiny center wedges. The blades typically have a slight curve to them which is not too noticeable.

    Contact us if you have any questions

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    A favored tool for cutting small details and cutting holes is a craft knife (X-acto is a popular brand). It is simply a tiny, VERY sharp blade that comes to a point and has a long, thin handle.

    • In a good knife, the blades are replaceable, and many sizes andshapes are available.
    • These blades are very dangerous; one wrong slip, and they can cut you quickly and deeply. This is the voice of experience.
    • A craft knife can be your best friend, but it can't live up to its full potential without its partner, a cutting mat.
    • Don't use the plastic/acrylic cutting mats that you find in the fabric department of a craft store; use a mat that has a rubbery look and feel. They help keep paper from sliding, and are far cheaper. I recommend a self-sealing cutting mat. Cuts that you make in the mat "seal" themselves, so that your blade doesn't accidentally slide into an existing groove, suddenly shifting your cutting direction and possibly ruining your project.

    Contact us if you have any questions

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    Many people have, unfortunately, discovered that rubber cement loses its adhesiveness over time. This means your paper model will eventually fall apart. The glue fumes are also a factor. Every person has their own glue preference. Spray Adhesive is typically good - it's strong and permanent. Some people like to use double-sided tape, and some like to use tacky glues. Hermafix allows you to reposition pieces without tearing the paper.

    • Always dry fit (no glue) pieces before you glue them. It helps to know exactly where and how pieces will fit together so you don't run into any surprises.
    • It's typically better to use less glue than you need; more glue can usually be added with a toothpick or a folded piece of paper (used as a spatula). Using too much glue can be messy.
    • Spreading glue with your fingers is okay, but be extra careful with all of the extra glue that will be on your hands. Otherwise, you can use a toothpick or a spatula-shaped coffee stir stick (no shortage of these at McDonald's).

    Contact us if you have any questions

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    • Take your time; paper backdrop models are supposed to be fun and enjoyable.
    • You'll also get a better-looking backdrop that you can be proud of.
    • Keep your hands clean. Sweat, oil, glue, and other miscellaneous liquids can be absorbed by the paper, causing eventual discoloration, erosion, or a poorly constructed model.
    • Make sure your surfaces are always free of debris. 
    • Don't write or make marks on the printed side, you cannot erase it without ruining the backdrop.

    Contact us if you have any questions

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    • Cut pieces as you need them. Having multiple pieces can be confusing, and you can make mistakes. Additionally, it will allow the just-glued pieces to set.
    • For intricate pieces, cut the center areas out first. This will leave the outer areas as a gripping area, and reduce the chances of ripping the piece.
    • Also consider how you cut; cutting tugs on the paper, so you don't want to tug against a delicate area.
    • Study the backdrop carefully. If you're not sure where to cut, don't; look at the backdrop until you are reasonably sure.

    Contact us if you have any questions

    Feedback from our Customers at eBay

    "Excellent Item! Great Honest Service."

    Johnny I

    "Backdrop better than pictured, very knowledgeable and helpful"


    "Great Concept, well worth it!"


    "Terrific graphic background--impressive and great value"

    – pisaman

    "Love It! Great model, I have been looking for one so long, perfect on my layout."


    "OUTSTANDING! A must buy for all subway modelers!"

    – Walterwol

    "Take it from a retired NYCT Subway Worker - EXTREMELY DETAILED!"

    – exec3549

    "Commendable craftmanship, top quality product."

    – marathonmeister

    "Excellent work. Design was made to my specifications.

    – handatorres


    – patricej1616

    "Very nice item, and accurate--I know this station well. Thank you

    – ebjensen

    "I thought I was getting off the #7 at Shea, oops...Citifield. Great Stuff

    – javespe