5 of the World’s Greatest Model Railways

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Discover some of the longest model railways in the world.

1. Wunderland ‘“ Hamburg ‘“ Germany

winderland-model-rail

This model railway took 500,000 working hours and is stretched over 4km² with plans to increase this to 6km² in 2014. The model rail track runs for 9km at a cost of 7.3 million Euros.

http://www.miniatur-wunderland.com

2. Loxx Model railway

loxx-model-train

loxx-model-railway

Named Loxx after the German word Loks meaning locomotives. This model railway took over 200,000 labour hours to create and has 4.15km of track.

Check out the Loxx railway in action with this video:

http://www.loxx-berlin.com/en/home.html

3. Gainsborough Model Railway

gainsboroug-model-railway-hilljpg

gainsborough-station

This is described as one of the largest model railways in ‘O’ gauge and it depicts the East Coast Main Line from London King Cross (UK) to Leeds Central. The rail track runs for 0.8km (1/2 mile) and requires at least 10 operators for it to run successfully.

http://www.gainsmodelrailway.ik.com/

4. Toggenburg Model Railway

This is Europe’s largest type ‘O’ model railway and is situated in the town of Lichtensteig in Switzerland.
Toggenburg model railway boasts 1.2km of track on an area of 500m squared.

http://www.modeltraintoggenburg.ch/

5. Northlandz Model Railway

Northlandz is the world’s largest miniature railway and took 25 years of dedication which is clear from looking at the photos. It has 8 miles of track and what is even more impressive is that it has over 4,000 buildings and 1/2 million trees!

http://www.northlandz.com/

6. Sierra Pacific lines by Pasadena Model Railroad Club

The Sierra Pacific lines has 30,000ft of hand laid steel track and is the largest ‘HO’ model railway in the world. This model railway was started in 1940 and from end to end it takes a train one hour to complete the route.

http://www.pmrrc.org

How to Get Started Building Model Train Layouts

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The ride home from obtaining your first model train layout and accessories is an amazingly slow journey if you’re itching to get home and start running model trains. Fortunately, there are enough train enthusiasts that obtaining the things you need to build a model train layout is not difficult. But the steps of how to get started building model train layouts actually begin before you start setting up.

You need anything from a clear tabletop to an entire room for creating your model train layout. For little N-scale or Z-scale models, a generous tabletop is enough for a fairly elaborate layout. For larger models, like O-scale and G-scale, more room will be necessary. The place you choose for your model train layout needs to be dry, fairly clean, and have adequate electricity. And you need to choose a location where people won’t trip over electrical cords.

If you want to be practical about it, you should set up your scenery first and then add the tracks and trains. This way you’re less likely knock trains and tracks askew when adding mountains, buildings, or other features. Realistically, however, most model rail enthusiasts are more interested in getting those tracks put down and actually running the trains on them.

If you are not sure what kind of layout to create, there are dozens of websites with suggestions and instructions on exactly how to replicate a certain layout. If you plan to create a model railway layout as a replica of an actual rail line, you might start with photos from Google Earth. Joining a train enthusiast web forum will hook you up with other model railway builders, most of whom will be happy to share their expertise and tips with you. One of the greatest rewards for all your hard work building model train layouts will be sharing it with others who are just as excited about it as you are.

Model Railway Track

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Track pieces for model railways are designated by their ‘gauge’ which is the distance between the rails. For example, the popular HO scale train has track that is 5/8’ or 16.5 mm wide, and the scale of the rolling stock is 1:87.1.

When you plan a model railway track layout, you need to be familiar with ‘loading gauge.’ All it means is the space required on top of and on either side of the track so that the train doesn’t knock over anything. You can test this simply by adding your largest cars to the track and noting their outside dimensions, particularly as they go around curves.

If you have a model train with a pantograph on top, you need to account for the height of the pantograph when it is fully extended. (A pantograph is a metal device on top of a train that collects electricity from overhead lines. They are used on electric trams and electric trains.) You also need to account for any loads that your cars will be carrying. Do they stick out to the sides or above?

As for track layouts, much will depend on what locomotives you want to use and how fast you want the train to go. Generally speaking, the faster you want your train to go, the larger the turning radius you need on curves. Otherwise centrifugal force will cause it to derail. If you want to run locomotives that aren’t pulling cars, you need to adjust the turning radii depending on how powerful that locomotive is. If it is powerful enough to go really fast when it’s by itself, it will also require a larger turning radius to keep from derailing.

You may not give much thought to the gauge of track for your layout, but simply buy track made for the scale, such as HO. That is fine. However, there are narrow gauge purists who set up narrow gauge tracks to mimic some of the narrow gauges that were used in the early days of railroads. It’s just more proof that with model railways, the possibilities are endless!

Model Railway Track Plans

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Model railway track plans range from the tiniest Z-scale tabletop trains to backyard trains that you can actually ride on. The hobby of creating track plans for model railways is as attractive to adults as it is for children. Track plans can consist of a simple loop (popular underneath Christmas trees in North America) or extremely elaborate routes with spurs, switches, curves and straight areas.


There are numerous scales of model trains, so you should take the size and scale of the train into account when making your model railway track plans. One popular scale developed in the 1950s in the UK is ‘O gauge,’ with 32 mm tracks and wheels. This scale was perhaps the most popular one of the 1960s and 1970s. While O scale trains started out being mostly indoor trains, the scale eventually became popular for outdoor garden railways as well.

The most popular scale model railroad in the world is ‘HO scale,’ with the HO standing for ‘Half O’ because it is half the size of O scale railroads. There is a huge selection of kits, parts, locomotives and accessories for HO scale trains. One reason this scale is so popular is that it is one of the most affordable. O scale model trains tend to be proportionally more expensive.

Part of the fun of model railway track plans is that you can gradually add to them over the years: cars, locomotives, scenery such as trees, even papier maché mountains with tunnels are reasonably-sized projects for HO scale model trains. Another advantage of using such a popular scale layout is that you’ll have an easier time purchasing secondhand accessories, and if you join a model railway club, you will probably meet plenty of enthusiasts who also have HO scale trains.

Making model railway track plans is an activity that school-aged children, their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents can all enjoy.

Model Railway Layouts

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Before you start to build any model railway you need to decide on what model railway layout you are going to use.

I am going to offer a number of resources that will help you to design and build the perfect model railway layout.

First things first you need to beg, steal or buy a copy of “Model Railroad Bridges & Trestles: A Guide to Designing and Building Bridges for Your Layout (Model Railroad Handbook, No 33)” as this book will teach you how to plan your layout from start to finish with clear diagrams and descriptions.

If your budget stretches, I would also look at getting a copy of “Railway Modelling: The complete guide”, which is a hardback book that will offer help and advice for all aspects of model railway building.

Starting out there are three main railway layouts to choose from:

1. Oval model railway layout:

This is your basic layout that most people start with when they buy a model train starter kit.

Benefits:

  • Cheap and easy to set up
  • Trains can run continuously without a change of direction

Disadvantages

  • Not very realistic (how many oval railway layouts do you see in real life?)
  • Train can look like its chasing its own tail

2. Covered Oval Model Railway Layout

This is the most popular railway layout used and is very similar to the oval layout but this time a part of the track is covered.

Benefits:

  • Looks more realistic than oval

Disadvantages:

  • Can cost a lot more as more scenery is required

3. Straight model railway Layout

This railway layout is used to set a scene and is just a straight length of track that ends at both sides of the baseboard.

Benefits:

  • Very realistic
  • Does not use much space

Disadvantages:

  • Requires skills to change train direction
  • More difficult to manage

You need to choose a model railway layout that fits your needs. If this is your first layout – keep it small, you can alway add extra track later!

Image thanks goes to: www.newrailwaymodellers.co.uk

Saving Money On Model Trains – Summary

It doesn‟t have to cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to start building your model railroad. By making your own scenery, shopping around and choosing the right type of train for your space you can save a lot of money. The great thing about model railroading is that you can always add to it. No matter if you purchase a full kit or the individual pieces, do your homework before you buy. If you buy online, check out the dealer before you purchase from them to ensure you are getting a good deal from a good dealer. If you purchase from a store make sure that you know their return policy should you get it home and realize it wasn‟t what you thought it was or it‟s broken. Taking the extra time can save you a lot of hassle in the end. Even if your budget to start is small you can still have a great railroad if you just spend the time to make it your own.

Discount Train Links

Saving Money On Model Trains – Used Items

If you are interested in second hand items you want to be sure to check for a few things. As with all online purchases, purchases on EBay are subject to a picture and description. You can‟t hold the item in your hand and inspect it to ensure it‟s as good of quality as you‟d like it to be.

A good rule of thumb is purchasing only items that have a good description and several pictures. Close-up type pictures are best, but honestly some dealers just don‟t think of it, it doesn‟t automatically mean they are trying to hide something. You do want to deal with a dealer that will take multiple pictures from multiple angles. This will give you a full picture of your possible purchase.

Be sure to study these photos with extreme care. If you need better photos don‟t hesitate to contact the seller to see if more photos can be provided. There are some things you need to look at prior to making the purchase and additional photos might be the only way to tell. It‟s very important that you look the photos over for rust. Also check the collector roller and assembly. You need to see how warn it is in order to tell how much it‟s been used. If the seller is claiming the engine is 50 or more years old and has a shiny new collector roller that just means it‟s been replaced. You should look to see if there are any obvious repairs and if they look to be in good condition.

Check the wiring and electronics if possible. What you don‟t want to see on the engine is cracked wires, sloppy connections such as poor soldering, and disconnected wires. This means that the engine wasn‟t cared for properly. Make sure that the headlight socket is also well connected. If you can get a look at them, check the brush motors to ensure they are in good shape. Yes eventually all wiring goes bad, what you don‟t want to pay for is an engine that supposedly works but hasn‟t been taken care of. You might find repairs to the wiring during your inspection but that‟s okay as long as the repairs are good repairs.

You will also want to check the wheels. If you are looking for an engine that hasn‟t been run the wheels are where to check. Wear on these are an indication of usage. Even if you don‟t care if the engine has been run a lot you still need to check for rust, chips, and cracks. You can make a determination on how the engine has been cared for if you see chips and cracks. Check the axels to ensure they are not bent as well.

A few other things to check for before purchasing a used train are: is the engine dirty or just discolored? Dirty engines doesn‟t necessary mean that it hasn‟t been taken care of but sometimes it‟s hard to tell dirt from discoloration in a photo. If you‟re in doubt contact the seller to verify. You also need to know if the engine is a working engine or not. This is not a bad thing either. Many people buy non-working trains and fix them up themselves, it‟s part of the charm. That being said you don‟t want to do business with a seller that claims to have a working engine that actually doesn‟t work.

Also look for any burred or missing screws. Burred screws shows lack of care. Burred or missing screws generally mean someone that didn‟t really know what they were doing took the train apart. This is not a good thing.

Saving Money On Model Trains – Ebay Guide To Bidding And Winning

Probably the easiest way to get the trains you want of the internet is on EBay. This popular auction site has tremendous amounts of trains in just about every scale imaginable. You will be able to obtain many of these trains without paying an arm and a leg as well. If you don’t want to mess with the auctioning process, several of them come with a Buy Now price that will allow you to pay a set price for the item, stopping all auction process.

Not just trains

You won’t find just trains here either; you can find everything you need to build your own railway. Scenery, track, power supplies you can get it all here. Often these items are new or only gently used so you know that you are getting a good quality product from the sellers.

When you shop on EBay it’s important to do your homework. Check out the sellers that you are considering purchasing your items from. You want to make sure they have good feedback so that you can be sure that you are getting the best for your money. This will also help to ensure that if you purchase one of their products you are only doing business with people who are guaranteed to send you your item in a timely manner.

Also it’s best to keep business dealings on EBay. While it might seem more convenient to talk through an instant messenger or e-mail, should you have a problem EBay can’t take those records into account while settling the dispute. Be sure that you pay the person in a secure manner such as PayPal. Also if you don’t really want the item or are unsure don’t bid, you could be keeping someone who really wants it from winning at a fair price or worse with merchandise you really don’t want.

Bidding

When it comes to bidding on EBay it can be a little intimidating, especially if you’re new at it. Doing your homework before placing your first bid can make the difference in not just winning the bid, but not paying too much for the item you’re bidding on. If you’ve never bid on an auction before you don’t want to just rush in there and bid on the first item you like. It might be a good idea to find something you are sort of interested in but not so interested that you’d be upset if someone else won it. Don’t bid on it, save the bid to your favorites so that you can see how the bidding goes. You can watch the back and forth without risking any money on it. This should help you get a feel for how an auction will run.

Another good way to research the bidding process is to find one that is recently closed. Here you can review the back and forth bidding and see how the auction went without having to constantly come back to it.

Before you can make your first bid on EBay, there is a term you need to understand. This term is called the reserve price. This is probably one of the most important terms you need to know prior to making a bid. The reserve price is a price that sellers can use to void the bid if their ideal price isn’t met. This is an optional price the seller does not have to set it, and those that do not have a reserve price will usually have a NR on their item description somewhere. It’s an abbreviation for no reserve, and not all of them let you know there is no reserve.

The rub is a reserve price is secret, it’s not revealed at the beginning of the auction. An opening bid does not mean there is a reserve price and the opening bid requirement is not the reserve price. If you have been following some auctions you might have noticed after a few bids the phrases “Reserve not met” or “Reserve met” have appeared at the top of the item listing. This is an indication that there is a reserve on the auction, but the amount is never shown.

There are also a wide variety of abbreviations used to describe items on EBay. The list is extensive and can be found at the following link: http://pages.ebay.com/help/account/acronyms.html.

It probably would benefit you to make yourself at least somewhat familiar with the commonly used acronyms before you make your first bid.

After you’ve watched a few auctions, or at least enough to be comfortable with the process, it’s time to try your hand at one yourself. You have poked around EBay and you’ve found the train you’d like to bid on. Now for the difficult part, you have to make a bid. You will notice on most bids there is an opening bid, or a minimum amount most sellers will accept. Since you’ve got your eye on that train, you’ve probably done your homework to determine how much the train is actually worth; the whole point is to get it at a bargain right? You’ve read the description and have determined that the train is in good condition. You’ve looked up the seller and read all the feedback and have found that the person is a reputable seller. You also know how much you can or are willing to spend on this item. It’s important to have a budget in mind before you start bidding.

For the sake of example let’s say the opening bid is $10. You know the going rate for the train is $100. It’s best to start on the lower end, close to the opening bid. If there is a reserve and your maximum bid does not meet it you will see the “Reserve not met” notice once the bid is placed. You might want to place another bid with a higher maximum or you can choose to wait and see what the next person does before trying to at least meet the reserve price. If your maximum bid is out bid you can bid again. If your bid is the winner you will receive an e-mail from stating you won and instructions on payment and receipt of your new train.

Sniping

Now that the basics of bidding on EBay have been explained there are some techniques people have suggested to ensure that you win the bid. It’s called sniping. It is not recommended for the beginner but after you’ve gotten used to the bidding process it might help you ensure the big win.

Sniping is when you put in a winning bid in the last few seconds of the auction. You usually have been following the auction for several days and have an idea of where the bidding is going. You need to log on a few minutes before the end of the bid to monitor the activity. You’ll have to refresh often to ensure that you see the most recent highest bid. With a minute or less left on the bid is when you need to make your move. Place a bid just higher than the highest bid. Doing this with only a few seconds left in the auction will get you your train.

There are lots of softwares out there that can help you time your sniping just right if you are interested in going this route. Or you can simply open two browsers to the site and place them side by side on your screen. Keep updating one so you can have the most accurate and use the other to place your bid at the right moment.

Discount Train Links (Ebay)

Lionel Trains

American Flyer Trains

Bachmann Trains

L.G.B. Trains

HO Scale Buildings

Brass Trains

Marklin Trains

Athearn Trains

Saving Money On Model Trains – Electronics

The electronics can be a little trickier. You will need some electronic components to run you railway. For those that are handy with tools you might consider rigging the electrical circuits of your railway yourself. There are lots of books on the subject. You will still have to purchase things like a power pack and wiring but wiring it up yourself can save you money. Instead of purchasing entire kits you can do the work for less than it would normally cost. That being said, if you are not comfortable working with electric components, it’s best not to do it yourself.

For those who are uncomfortable working with the electric components or simply don’t have the time. Hobby stores are the place to head. You can speak to someone there that is very knowledgeable on the subject. They can steer you to the cheapest, most effective model of power pack they have and ensure you get the type you need for your engine. If you are doing more than just powering your engine, like say lighting your entire town, then they can help you find the pack or packs that are best for that as well.

If you know what you are looking for, even if you don’t want to wire it from scratch yourself, then you might be able to find the pieces cheaper at the electronics store. An electronics store is sure to have a wide array of power packs and switches for you to use. Some of the packs will come ready to hook up, just like you would find at the hobby shop, so all you have to do is attach it using the simple instructions and you’re off and running.

You can find discount power packs and electrical components on the internet as well. If you are unsure of what to purchase, you need to do the research before you purchase. A quick Google search will give you everything you need to know about the voltage you need. All you have to do is put in the type of train you‟re running (as in HO, O, Z etc.) and you should be able to find an answer to your question. It is suggested though; if you are running your train and a lot of accessories off of the same power pack get at least an 18V pack.

Saving Money On Model Trains – Backgrounds and Scenery

Saving Money On Background and SceneryWhen it comes to saving money on your railroad, the background and scenery might be the place to accomplish this. Spend a little of your budget on how to books. These insightful books can tell you how to make your own realistic scenery. It’ll cost you a fraction of the price to make your own from scratch than it would to purchase ready-made pieces.

If you don’t have time to stop at the book store, check online. There are dozens of places to find tips on making your own scenery. As for background pictures, anything you can take with a camera and blow up, or at least print out can serve as a great backdrop for your railroad. Making your own scenes for your railway will give you a sense of pride and accomplishment. It guarantees you get exactly what you want. You don’t even have to be a masterful artist, many of these books and instructions will give you the step-by-step procedure designed for those with less than expert experience.

If you are all thumbs or just simply don’t have time to render every tree in your town and countryside, then looking for pieces that are ready to stick on your bench will be your answer. You can still find good deals if you know where to look. Like with the train and track pieces you can find scenery on sale at your local hobby store. As with any other piece you can find sales and discontinued items that will allow you to save money.

The benefit of going this route is you know that it will look good, a professional has made it. You also know that it will be the right size, shape and color for what you are trying to accomplish with your railway. You will end up paying more for the completed product than you would if you made it yourself, that’s a fact everyone will admit to.

Heading to the internet can net you with some great discounted pieces for your scenery. Many of these companies are the same people that sell the tracks and trains, if you purchase all your pieces from them you can be assured that you have the correct scale of scenery to go with your train. Often times you will get an additional discount if you spend a certain amount and that discount might cover shipping costs bringing the price down even lower.

As with the trains, you have to rely on the pictures and descriptions to ensure you are getting what you want but often you will find better deals than in the stores. The internet is also full of beautiful pictures that you can download to blow-up and print as your background. Often you won’t have to pay for the picture you download if you are planning on using it for your own private uses.

The internet is also full of tips. Here you can find how to use everyday items as parts of your scenery with little to no work. A little paint, a little glue and you might have everything you need to make a grassy area, or pebbles to stick along the track. Your imagination is the limit when it comes to making your scenery for little cost.