Ideas for Your Model Train Track

Model Train TrackAre you working on your model train track? If you are, there are very important things that you need to know. Working on the tracks can be a lot of fun but one simple mistake can lead to a non-functioning model railway layout.

Express trains are really fast and so you need to create a lot of straight tracks for the train to run on and if you are going to have curves, the radius bends should be large enough. These tracks will suit the trains that you’re using and even if you run them at higher speeds, the trains can still run safely. If you don’t plan the track layout carefully for the express trains, you send them off the track and who knows… the trains can be thrown away from the base board and get damaged!

If you have long-wheeled trains with carriages, you will need radius 3 tracks. There are times when the radius 2 tracks can’t handle full speed especially if you have the Eurostar loco or the class 90 model train.

If you have small locomotives and wagons, you can create curvy track layouts that travel in or out of the valley, bridges, and tunnels. Since the trains usually run slower, they can run on smaller bends. This track layout is also suitable for coal trucks and small tankers.

Working on the tracks is a very important stage. New modelers can stick with model train kits so that everything they need is already included in the kit. The tracks can be a continuous loop, out and back, and point to point. As you gain experience, you can now mix and match these tracks. The most basic is the continuous loop and the train set just goes round and round the tracks. The out and back type will require a much larger space. The tracks are more complex and will already include turning circles, stations, and tunnels. The point to point is also simple like the continuous loop but it includes a station; the trains can go from point A to point B.

Try to develop a workable plan and don’t attach the tracks when you’re just trying to figure out the final outcome of the layout. You can use pins to secure the tracks so that you can change them if you’re not satisfied with the outcome. It’s typical to encounter some problems but you have to overcome them. Depending on the size of the layout, you will need to determine how many tracks you need for the corners, bends, etc. Think of a theme so that you can easily finish the track layout.

The table for the layout should already be ready before you layout the tracks. It would be best to have the tracks in the different areas of the layout. The out and back type can be complex for beginners but if you’re more experienced, you can try it right away. The model train track is really a great aspect of making the model railway layout so take your time.

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Steps on How to Build a Model Train Table

A model railway layout will not be possible if you don’t have a model train table. This will serve as the base that will hold the weight of the entire layout. Because of this, you need to ensure that the table is strong and durable. The standard tables found in your house are usually not a good option. The drawbacks are too obvious and it can ruin a beautiful layout. If you’re really serious with model railway layouts, you need to get a quality table.

Ordinary tables are not that good. Using your dinner table is not a good idea because your family will soon complain about it. These standard tables have no holes to feed the wiring or power cables. It would a great idea to build your own model train table but the question is – how?

You need to be choosy when building the table for the layout. The ideal table should be sturdy and will include the basic structures like a top, bracing mechanisms, and 4 legs. The common height for the table is 28 inches but you can choose the desired height that will suit your project. The parts of the table can be purchased in local stores or from online stores that sell wood or steel products. Get a top that is strong and don’t forget to put some cross braces, just to be sure.

Decide on the shape of the table. You can make a square, round, or rectangular table but you can also create other shapes. Next, decide on the style of the table’s legs. You can not limited to square legs because you can also get the cabriole, farm, flared, taper, trestle, and turned. The underside of the table should also have a ‘finish’ to make the table more attractive. The raw materials for the table can be purchased from a local store and you will just need to cut and nail or screw them together. To ensure a stronger table, you can use wood glue as well. To create a leveled table, you can use clamps and squares.

If you think that this DIY is too much, then you can just buy a used table from a consignment or garage sale. For the holes, you can just drill them. You can make the table look new once more by sanding it and later on applying a new paint color. Even if the focus of the audience is on the model layout, it still pays to create a good base. Everything should look perfect and if you can make a good quality table, your layout will surely look its best.

The table’s raw materials are not that expensive and you can save a lot of money if you build your own layout base. However, you must be prepared to invest time and effort to create the perfect table. What are you waiting for? Follow these steps and in no time at all, you will have a good looking table to work on. Next step… the model railway layout!

Considerations To Remember When Making Your Own HO Model Railway Layout

For many people who are interested in the hobby of model railroading, the layout is the most important part of the whole process. The how you lay out your track will ultimately determine how your world looks, what scale of train you have and more. Your HO model train layout is probably best dreamed up before you head out to the hobby store.

The thing about layout is, its design will be unique to you. Unless you follow a diagram in a book or manual, this will be your town, your track. If you are new to the hobby then you will probably want to copy a design from a book or website, and there is nothing wrong with that. In time you will feel more comfortable with design that you will begin making your “town” look more like something that reflects you.

Before heading out to the hobby store is the type to get out the paper and pencil. You should know the dimensions of the area in which you plan on setting up your track so you can make sure that your layout will fit. You don’t want to overdo you design, if you design you track layout and it won’t fit on your bench then it will ruin the whole look of your town, you’ll have to take more time to redesign you layout, which will lead to greater frustrations.

Since you are choosing to use the HO scale, which incidentally is the most popular of all the scales, then maybe you should choose to set up your train on a plain wooden door or large piece of plywood. A door is generally bigger than a table top and is sturdier than a piece of plywood. So a door might be your best choice to use as a bench.

For an easy to shape layout, you might want to use Styrofoam. It might sound a little strange, but Styrofoam is a great base for your layout, if you are a complete do it yourselfer. This material can be formed to your needs. By simply carving the foam into the hills and valleys that you need you can essentially do anything you want. Even if you plan to have a city along your track, the foam will make a great base for your city. It’s convenient since you will be able to stick your trees and press your buildings directly into the foam base. This will help ensure that your scenery will stay put.

You also have to consider if you are trying to replicate a specific railway or if you are making it up as you go along. If you are replicating a specific railway or portion of a railway then you need to be sure get the details right. In this type of situation, you might want to get pictures of the railway. If it’s one that is no longer in existence, then you need to do your research to ensure you have it all set up correctly.

In the case of an antique type railway you might have to weather everything to make the layout look right. Since the track, engine and everything you will get will, of course, be brand new it will have to be made to look older. You can find many weathering techniques on the internet.

The most common track design is an oval shape. For those who are more experienced in laying out track you might find some figure eight designs, or sidings that end in a horseshoe shape. All of these things will play into the layout of your setting and scenery.

Especially if you are new to the model railway game layouts don’t have to be complicated. Your HO model train layout will reflect on how you perceive your railway to be. So no matter what you choose to do, make something that is totally you’re own or something that is a replica of a famous railway it’s all up to you. Your imagination is the limit.

How to Choose Between Analog and Digital Model Train Transformer

You’ve decided that you want to get into the model railway hobby. It’s a fun and often time consuming hobby. By now you’ve probably decided on where your railway will be located, what the layout will look like and what your landscape will look like. You have been comparing scales and engines and you might even have your first engine picked out and ready to go. Now how are you going to power it? Model train transformers can actually be as individual as the trains themselves.

If you buy an out of the box set, then choosing a transformer is going to be a no brainer. This is because they will give you the transformer that you should use with this train. End of discussion, that transformer is designed to work well with that train set. That being said it doesn’t mean that down the road you can’t upgrade your transformer.

Analog Power Supply

When choosing your transformer you need to know a few things. First off is the train you are running set to accept AC, DC, or both? Some have a voltage range listed only in AC volts. Some have it listed only in DC volts while others might say 9Volts AC or 12V DC, this is an example of course but you see what the package may look like. If that is the case then you have a little wiggle room on which type of transformer you purchase. You need to know this information because if your train is set to run strictly on DC voltage and you hook and AC power supply up to it, you could damage your train. Of course, most if not all the trains produced today can handle both types of power.

Once you’ve determined the current type that your train will accept and the number of volts needed to run the train you need to consider everything else. What this means is how many accessories are you planning on also hooking up to this single power supply? Are you planning on hooking up the train, all its cars, and the towns to this transformer or are you planning on having two separate transformers to do the job. If you want one transformer for your whole set then you will need a power supply that has more voltage output than what your train alone needs. Don’t worry this won’t damage your train because there will be more items taking care of some of that power. In other words the more things drawing power from the supply the “bigger” the power supply needs to be.

Digital Command Control

With that in mind you might also consider a DCC ready locomotive. The Digital Command Control system is slowly replacing the power packs. Since this is the new industry standard you might consider starting here if you are just starting out. These DCC systems can help to power everything. It’s accomplished by the modulation of volts while encoding digital messages. It runs the trains without worry of which type do I get.

Probably one of the biggest advantages to going this route versus the traditional power supply is the simplistic wiring, for multiple trains. To operate multiple trains in the past you had wire the trains on separate blocks with separate switches. That meant when you ran the trains then you would run the risk of running into this block wall if you failed to make the switch before the train entered the area. This could lead to short circuit and loss of train control. DCC makes that wall go away. You don’t have to worry about the boundary, everything is set up on a single block and you can cross as you please.

If you are purchasing a new set, it is probably best to choose the DCC power supply. Its simpler and the way trains are heading with their power supplies. Everything is going digital these days. If you are purchasing an older train or are already into model railroading the DCC may not be for you. It can be expensive to upgrade your trains to this new technology.

Digital or analog, new or traditional choosing the right model train transformer is probably the one thing that will take a while to make the determination. You need to take your time and research all your possibilities before taking the plunge.

Tips for the N Scaled Bachmann-Highballer

It can be hard to obtain the needed information about the Bachmann-Highballer especially if you don’t know where to search for them. If you want to create a layout which has several trains running on it, the N scaled Bachmann-Highballer is an excellent choice. You see, it was called ‘highball’ because it indicates that the track can accommodate reckless speeds of the trains. However, you still have to be extra careful in using this scale and model most specially the throttle. The term highballer was used to describe train engineers who prefer to drive at very high speeds.

What are the features that you can expect from the Bachmann-Highballer? Once you purchase this set, you will get the EMD F9 diesel locomotive. It ensures smooth running and it already comes with an operating headlight and all-wheel drive. You will also get an off-center caboose and two freight cars, speed controller, power pack, E-Z track in nickel silver (24” circle), and a detailed instruction manual. If you purchase online, you can enjoy around 32% discount but only if you shop around first.

If you are wondering if the tracks of Bachmann-Highballer can be extended, this will depend on how creative you are. Originally, the track is circular and if you purchase extra tracks, you may be able to create a track that goes into different directions. To be able to do this, you must consider the model and for this project, you are going to concentrate on the Bachmann-Highballer. Try to inquire at the local hobby shop or the online store if they are selling tracks. If you can find stores that sell additional tracks, you can purchase the very important ones that you really need. Before making the purchase, you can already sketch out the tracks that you want to extend and their designs. By doing so, you can determine the needed additional tracks that will make up your model railway layout.

The 11-piece rail tracks are curved, so if you want to extend the tracks, you can make use of straight ones. Simply use the internet to find other Bachmann tracks that is compatible with the Bachmann-Highballer. The tracks are snap-fit and this is an important feature that you need to watch out. Never purchase an incompatible track because you will waste your money and you won’t be able to attach it to the curved tracks of the Bachmann-Highballer.

So, what are you waiting for? This is the best time to start your search for the perfect model railway layout and you can also try American Limited Models, Athearn N Scale Trains, Atlas, and many others. The N scale is an excellent choice because of its size and the ease of detailing. As long as you’re a creative person, you will be able to create an extended track with your Bachmann-Highballer. Not everyone can succeed with model railway layouts but if you put your heart to it and mix it with a bit of imagination, you can succeed. Put your N scaled Bachmann-Highballer to use and purchase additional tracks that you can add to the curved. This will be an additional cost but it’s worth the money.

Electric Model Trains – Scales to know before making your purchase

As you may know, having looked and looked at the different types of model trains available. Where there are some steam powered engines out there they are few and far between. You have probably realized by this point that the electric model train is the most popular type of model out there. It didn’t use to always be this way. When the original model trains were invented they were clockwork trains, but that changed quickly all it took was an inventive mind.

While most of the electric trains run on DC power there are some that run off of AC power. The majority of trains started out as AC slowly converting over to DC as time went on. There are still many trains systems that use AC power even if DC is more popular.

There are many scales of electric trains to choose from. The G scale is the largest and generally runs outside in a garden or yard type setting. Because of its larger scale it is easy to handle and most are easy to set up.

If you are looking for a table top variety of electric train there are several to choose from. Probably the most popular, however, is the HO scale. The scale of this model is 1:87 which is much smaller than the G scale but still bigger than the smallest available. This popular scale is perfect for children as it is easy for them to handle without being too small. Since it is the most popular, it is the one with the most accessories available.

Just a step up in size is the O scale. This is scale electric train is just about twice the size of the HO so it too is a popular type for children. Since it is a little larger, it will take up more space and therefore might not be ideal for some model train enthusiasts. It is probably next in popularity to the HO scale but you won’t find as many accessories.

Another scale that is popular with some is the OO scale. There are many that would argue this is not a true scaled engine since it is exceptionally close to the HO scale, with a scale of 1:76. So close in fact many use HO scaled items as accessories to this scale. These trains can and have often been used interchangeably with the HO tracks and cars. A hard core enthusiast would probably never own one of these trains, but if you are looking for something just a little smaller than the O scales but not as small as the HO this is a perfect compromise.

Another popular electric train scale is the N scale. Still smaller than the HO, but nowhere near the smallest available this train is often known as the narrow scale. These trains are generally narrower than other models making them ideal for tight spaces.

The smallest of all the scales is the Z scale. With a scale of 1:220 this scale is the true table top model and is often referred to as the TT scale. These trains are extremely tiny are most definitely not for the younger generation. Only those who are used to handling these types of trains should invest in them.

Probably the best thing about electric model trains scales is that they are a standard. If you have an HO engine of one name brand you can use an HO car from another name brand and it will work. Scenery and landscape made for your favorite scale is the same way, you can pick and choose which pieces you want from any number of companies. The versatility of the scales means your electric train will be able to run in a layout that is totally you. You are not restricted by the brands at all, the sky is the limit.

No matter what your passion, you can find an electric train that will fit your needs and space and still look great.

Some Things You Should Know About Model Railways

Have you seen model railways? A lot of children are really amazed by these model railways. It is basically a hobby wherein the railway systems are reduced and modeled at a certain ratio or scale. Scale models usually include canyons, hills, streams, lights, model figures, vehicles, buildings, roads, signaling, tracks, streetcars, rolling stock, and locomotives.

The very first model railways were created way back in the 1840’s and was called ‘carpet railways’. The model trains were not very detailed but today’s model trains are quite realistic. Modelers these days can create railroad layouts or model railways based on certain history periods and even real locations.

Hobbyists can spend many hours and even large sums of money on the model railways. Their possessions are not limited to train sets only since it includes the scenery or landscape. Some models are even big enough for a person to ride. The older models are pricier but hobbyists don’t hesitate to spend their money.

The layouts are also very attractive. It’s typical to see oval and circle tracks. Since a scale is followed, the model railways are very realistic. Two of the most popular models are the Miniature Wunderland and Train Mountain.

The trains have engines and sizes that can vary. The largest and ridable trains are around 28″ tall and the smallest is the 1:220 (Z-scale). Last 2007, a new scale was introduced – 1:450 in a 3 millimeter gauge track. Among the popular scales are Gauge 1, G Scale, S Scale, O Scale, N Scale, TT Scale, and the HO Scale. A lot of hobbyists prefer the T Gauge and the Z Scale but the HO Scale remains on top. You can also find narrow-gauge scales like HOn3, Sn3, and Nn3 Scale.

Most modelers give much attention to the layout or landscaping. It’s like creating a dream world based in historical and actual locations. In model railways, the landscape is called scenicking or scenery building. The scenery is often prepared using cardboard strips, screen wire, Styrofoam sheets, casting plaster, paper pulp, lightweight foam, plaster of Paris, colored sawdust, scatter materials, natural lichen, balsa wood, caspia, candytuft, sagebrush, and many others.

The model engines are powered by DC electricity but only low voltage is required. Some models use AC power like the Lionel Corporation and Marklin. You can also find gasoline-electric engine models which are based on the diesel-electric locomotives. Pricier engines are the large scale ones like the petrol-hydraulic and petrol-mechanical models

Toy Model Trains

As Thomas the Train enlightened every boy’s fantasy and graced the thoughts of those who have been awed by those fantastic machines, trains offer a powerful addiction to many. Small boys watch the talking trains from their living rooms and do not understand what it is that makes them so wonderful. But as boys grow into men they realize what it is that captured them when they were boys and stayed with them into their adulthood; control over a powerful machine.

What is it that drives men to play with “toys”? It might be that they are enthralled by the thought of controlling something so powerful even though it is 1/87 of its size. Maybe it is the puzzle of how trains work; the electricity running through the lines to make it run. Perhaps it is because trains are so organized; only able to run on its track. Or maybe it is the memories of seeing the train whistling around the Christmas tree every year that makes us want to relive it through our “toy” trains. But the word toy is not accurate any longer when talking about model trains. These toys have grown up into machines and are ready to play with the big boys.

Toy trains are usually the plastic ones that you find on sale while you are Christmas shopping. They are low quality and priced as a great way to introduce kids to the hobby. When boys grow up they are called men. And when toy trains grow up, they are called locomotives. Locomotives are made to last. They are higher quality and many lack the “push it slightly to get it to move” feature like lower quality trains have. Their wheels are made to make greater contact with the track in order to get a better connection to the electricity which will help to get it going. They are the things that make model railroaders smile. Plus, locomotives have stronger engines. A stronger engine means greater pulling power. A quality locomotive is also made out of metal rather then plastic like toy trains. The weight of the train has a large effect on how well it works. The heavier the train, the better it will make contact with the track and therefore, a better running train.

And if electricity wasn’t good enough, the wonderful makers of the model train industry offer steam engines for the little boys inside grown men. Of course there are a lot of different quality trains on the market that offer steam but, there is nothing better then enjoying these trains with lifelike steam filling their scenery.

Very few boys get to grow up to be able to actually drive a train. I’m sure that a lot of train drivers look at the work they do as a job rather then a little boy’s life long dream. But, we don’t have to all grow up to be train drivers to fulfill our dreams. We can indulge ourselves in the hobby that so many of us love; model trains.

G Scale Model Trains

When model train hobbyists refer to large-scale model trains, part of the scales grouped into the large-scale trains is the G scale. Its size is considerably larger compared to other types of model trains. In fact it is the largest of the popular scales that model train hobbyists deal with. G scale model trains are usually 1:22 to the actual size. That means that G scale model trains are one twenty-second of the size of the real train prototype. Other types of model trains come in lower ratios. The O scale which is also considered part of the larger-scale trains is only 1:48 to the actual size which is roughly half the size of the G scale model trains.
The G scale model train has a length if about 26.7 inches and a height of about 6.0 inches in comparison to the O scale model trains which have a length of about 16.1 inches and a height of about 3.6 inches. The G scale model train was pioneered by Ernst Paul Lehmann Patentwerk, a German company often referred to as Lehmann Gross Bahn (LGB) or “Lehmann Big Train” in English. The company was founded in 1881 and had a USA side of the company called LGB of America.

G scale model trains are large and are also commonly referred to as “Garden Railroading” thus the common use of term “G Scale.” The letter “G” is also short for the German word groß which literally means “big” which coincides with its German history. Just like other large-scale trains, G scale model trains will run on No. 1 gauge track. The No. 1 gauge track is 45 mm between either rail.

It is their durability that makes them the perfect choice to be used in the garden or the outdoors. G scale tracks are usually made of brass. They require almost no maintenance from the owner. The only thing that these big train lovers need to do is to give the track a single wipe of clean cloth and its set for operations once again. The G scale model trains could be used for indoor purposed as well depending on the make up of the model train.

The best G scale manufacturers in the United States are Aristocraft and Bachmann.
People love the benefits of a G scale model train because of its durability. Parents can feel assured that their kids will be able to play with it and have a toy like this that will last for many years to come. G Scale model trains are a great hobby for parents and children to enjoy together as well. Parents can feel confident that their children can handle these trains although small children may lack the gentleness it takes to handle train scales of a smaller size like the N scale which is only about 4.8 inches in length and about 1.1 inches in height.

With the amount of time that model trains have been around, train makers have given us different size trains for every purpose. This includes the G scale model trains.

Building Model Railway Trains and Scenery

Part of the fun of model railroads is being able to build the scenery around them. Once you have gotten tired of setting up the train set around the Christmas tree and putting it away after Christmas every year, you might be ready to build yourself something more permanent.

The benchwork is the foundation of your railroad. Train hobbyists have the option of buying an already made benchwork or building one for themselves. Buying a benchwork kit has several advantages. Benchwork kits are precut and predrilled. Plus they are sturdier then a piece of plywood on two sawhorses. Also, with a kit, you can take it apart to move it to a different location in the house or to bring it to shows.

Of course building your own benchwork is more complicated and takes more time but, you have the opportunity to achieve your perfect vision for your trains. The first thing you will have to do is to create a design for your layout. You’ll have to figure out how large you want your benchwork to be. Consider if you will be adding on to it later on down the road. How much room in your house do you have to place a train layout? What shape are you planning for the top or your benchwork? It can be square, rectangle, oval, or circular. Typically the legs of the table are 28 inches but they can be altered to meet your designs specifications. The most important thing in benchworking is making sure that your benchwork is solid and can withstand a certain amount of weight. A good platform is a 3/8 inch or ½ inch thick piece of plywood. If you would like your benchwork to remain portable, you can cut the plywood into several pieces before you assemble your benchwork.

Keep perspective in mind when you are building the actual model railroad scenery. The goal is to make your layout appear larger than it is. You can try using different levels of scenery to help with this. Placing larger trees in the foreground and smaller trees in the background or on the tops of mountains helps with this illusion as well. Your scenery should also reflect the theme your have chosen for your landscape. For instance, if you are running a logging train on your line, it should be running through a rugged mountainous area filled with a ton of trees. You can also place a sawmill or lumberyard close by.

Other aspects that you can have in your landscape are tunnels, grassy meadows, fields, rock formations, roads, and bridges. You can also incorporate towns or villages filled with houses and buildings. Plus, you should also add fine detail to your scenery. Fine detail includes signs, telephone poles, fences, underbrush, bushes, flowers, hedges, people, and animals. A really nice touch is including bodies of water like ponds, rivers, streams or even waterfalls.

After all, isn’t one of the reasons we get into model trains is to be able to show off our artistic talent by building dramatic and lifelike landscapes? So get to work and amaze your friends with your amazing talent.