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By Justin On March 21, 2013 · Add Comment The chances are, your first steps into the wonderful world of Railway Modelling will be via a train set.
Train sets themselves are a fantastic introduction to building a model railway layout for several reasons. Makeshift layouts can be easily assembled on a suitable table, such as a ping-pong table or a large sheet of ply laid on top of the dining table. Building a permanent layout is without doubt the most attractive proposition for most serious railway modellers, but it’s not just a case of setting up a board where it can stay permanently and getting stuck in. Prototype or Fiction – Modelling a real-life scene in miniature is one of the most challenging and rewarding things a railway modeller can attempt. Consider Starting Small – One of the biggest risks for beginners is trying to go too big too quick. Track Plan – Getting your track plan sorted before you begin to build your layout is very important. Whilst that little lot may seem a bit much to take in, being prepared before you open your wallet and splash the cash, or begin creating what you envisage to be the Model Railway of your dreams, can and almost certainly will result in you getting much more enjoyment from the hobby than just diving in with no idea of which way you’re heading. Next time I’ll delve further into layout murky world of track plans with a look at some useful online resources, software and other tools to make your life easier. Until then, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to post them in the form below and I’ll do my best to answer them!
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Over the years I bought G, On30, HO, HOn3, HOe, N, Nn3 and Z kits and rolling stock but never, not once, in the intervening 36 years did I manage to build a layout to completion. In 2000 my wife and I retired to Fort Bragg on the northern California coast (about 190 miles north of San Francisco). Just click on the thumbnail photo on left to see all six photos in the slide show of the stages of construction. Thomas the Tank Engine and his friend Emily will be at the Model Railroad layout (behind the Skunk Depot) from Thanksgiving till Christmas. Traditionally these were nothing more than just a simple oval of track, a small locomotive (diesel or steam) and a selection of small coaches or wagons, depending on the set you chose. First it gets you used to working with all the components, understanding how to connect everything up, how the track fits together and indeed get used to controlling the trains and getting a feel for the practicalities of the hobby.
As a child yourself, or with your own children or grandchildren, this can be great fun, but 9 times out of 10 it ends in frustration due to trains not running well on such surfaces, or being left wanting more! Temporary layouts, as a stepping stone from playing with a train set on the floor, are a great next step.

A little planning and research before you rush out and buy umpteen sheets of ply will stand you in good stead for the long-run.
It can indeed be a real labour of love and you’re going to need to learn some pretty advanced modelling skills if you wish to achieve a true-to-life accurate representation of a real location. Whilst it’s almost impossible to get it right every time, a little advanced planning goes a long way. We regularly tackle a wide range of railway modelling topics, from baseboard construction to landscaping, track laying to wiring. Neither the service provider nor the domain owner maintain any relationship with the advertisers. Nowadays, manufacturers like Bachmann and Hornby are starting to push the boundaries of their sets, and the now often come with at least one Point (or switch for our US readers), a larger oval of track and if you opt for a DCC set you may even get two locos & two sets of wagons and coaches to run on the double oval supplied with the set. They also offer a tremendous cost saving over buying the individual components separately, so offer great value for money.
The trains will run much more smoothly on a hard, stable surface than they will on the floor, but again, building scenery, landscaping and adding other features will be next to impossible due to the layouts temporary nature. The choices are pretty wide ranging so it’s good to get a fix on which era takes your fancy the most.
For that reason, most beginners and even experienced modellers choose to create a fictitious layout or two before attempting to model a real life prototype. Familiarise yourself with the track sections available from the various manufacturers so you can get an idea of what can be done and what can’t.
A track plan can be as simple as a rough sketch on some scrap paper, up to a fully detailed 3d virtual model created with a model railway simulator package on a computer. If you'd like us to cover a particular topic, just drop us a line and let us know through the contact us page. In case of trademark issues please contact the domain owner directly (contact information can be found in whois).
The main offices of the company I was auditing were across the road from one of Switzerland's largest model railway stores. The CWR Skunk train (as it is affectionately known) boasts a working steam engine and runs thirty odd miles through hills and verdant redwood forest to Willits.
From experience, packing away buildings, platforms, vehicles and other features into boxes at the end of the day is a time-consuming job which will inevitably result in things looking a bit tatty and worn in a very short space of time. No matter how small a space you have, and how limited the area you have available is, there is always room for a layout of some kind. DCC or Digital Command Control however opens up a whole new world for controlling a layout.
For fun, I bought a Z scale Marklin model railway – the track and engine that you see running here.

Last year we decided to run the Ice Cream Stand in the local botanical garden and this accountant became a scooper (of little renown). So finding a more permanent solution is essential if your journey into Railway Modelling is to be a long & happy one.
You don’t have to build a huge sprawling layout in the centre of a room for it to look good. With a couple of handy gadgets you can automate the operation of  an end to end layout so trains will continuously run back and forth along the length of the layout with minimal intervention from you. Taking into account how you may be able to extend the layout using modules when you create your track plan is certainly worthwhile, then your layout can grow steadily over the years, with the occasional visit back to the older modules to update the scenery and add finer details as your modelling skills improve.
DCC brings railway modelling right up to date and gives us more control over our layouts components than ever before. Where will your bridges be located, how about sidings to store rolling stock, where is the station going to be, what about tunnels, points, crossovers.
So if possible, choosing to position a larger layout in the centre of a room is one of the best decisions you could ever make when it comes to building your railway! I was allotted one of the rooms (26 feet by 19 feet) at the back of the garage as my train room.
Saving up for higher quality, more detailed locomotives and rolling stock, and buying better quality track will more often than not result in a much more pleasant and fruitful career in railway modelling than if you cut corners on everything. Using even entry level DCC controllers gives you the ability to control points remotely, run multiple locos on the same piece of track (double headed trains etc), turn coach interior lighting on and off remotely, add realistic sound to locomotives that changes as the loco speeds up & slows down, operate horns and whistles… The list goes on! Therein my ill-assorted collection of model trains was deposited and slowly taken from their boxes. Look for railway related books in the Transport section of your local library if you’re modelling a by-gone era. Again though, it’s possible to start small and build up your DCC equipment over time to keep the costs down. These often have photographs of goods yards, sidings, large mainline stations that you can draw inspiration from. You can view the entire railway network in any country right here on your computer, and even use it to create a true to scale track plan!

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