The pastime of building and running model railways has been around at least since the turn of the 20th century. In the beginning model railroading was primarily for children and the trains were built with that in mind. The earliest model railroad layout were O-scale, which are a bit larger than the typical trains older children and adults focus on these days when they do elaborate model railway layouts.
That said, the actual definition of the O-scale is not really standardized, and American and British model trainers each have slightly different specifications. In fact, Soviet and other European countries also had the own particular versions of the O-scale. This meant that trains and accessories don’t always match up if they are bought in other countries or from different manufacturers.
Over the last twenty years there has been an effort to standardize the scale so that it would truly be to scale. The earlier O-scale layouts were not true to their 1/48 scale.
This is important because the recent focus of model railroading is on accuracy and interchangeability. This means you may be able to use the products from different companies in your O-scale layout. In the past the British used a slightly different O-scale for their trains which were more for adults. With the new improvements in the O-scale, these differences might disappear.
The O-scale layout has a very long and convoluted history, but things are getting a little easier for the model railroader who demands a true standard to get behind when starting out on the adventure of railroading. Perhaps it will spawn a new generation of Internet international railroading where trains, buildings, landscapes and props could be traded across the ocean. It would certainly allow a greater range of choice in products if there were truly an international O-scale layout standard.
There are as many model railway layouts as there are model railway enthusiasts, and then some! There are model railway builders who create replicas of real world track layouts that are perfect down to the tiniest detail. And there are others who make a model railway layout that only exists on the train table. Both ways are fine: there’s enough room for every design when it comes to model railroads.
There are a number of retailers selling accessories for every scale train layout. You can buy trees, buildings, automobiles, even people that are made for a certain scale model railway layout. You can even order custom made accessories built to your exact specifications.
But you can also build your own landscaping for your model railway layout, and there are some model railway hobbyists who wouldn’t have it any other way. You can, for instance, build your own berm on either side of the tracks using Styrofoam, a grater, glue, paint, and pieces of board to put it on. Did you know that you can create a realistic pond by cutting out wax paper and painting it? The smooth surface gives it a realistic look.
A pebble makes a fine mountainside boulder, and you can imitate cultivated fields with dry coffee grounds (smells nice, too!). You can even make your own trees using steel wool for the canopies and bits of wire for the trunk and branches. Realistic snow is not always easy to make. Some people use talc, and some people make snow that looks realistic, but actually forms a solid layer on the scenery. This, of course, produces less of a mess. To do this, you mist the scenery you want snow on with water, then sift small amounts of white gypsum cement over it. If you keep doing this in thin layers: mist/sprinkle/let dry several times, you can get a realistic looking snow scene.
The most important thing when building your model railway layout is not to be afraid to try something new. You may not be great at making papier mache mountains yet, but with practice you could become an expert.
Making and planning model train track layouts is one of the most fun aspects of train collecting, and is one of the reasons this hobby often lasts for a lifetime. You could never run out of changes to make to a train layout! There are numerous websites devoted to train lovers who write about and post pictures of their model trains. Video upload sites like YouTube have countless videos of model trains in action. These sites are not only entertaining, but they can also serve to inspire, and they’re great places to find people who can answer just about any question concerning model trains and model train track layouts.
For some model train enthusiasts, one scale of model train just isn’t enough! Some may have a little N scale or HO scale indoor layout, but also have a large G scale layout running through their garden outdoors. While most train hobbyists have one or two scales to which they are more devoted, they can appreciate the beauty and functionality of the other scales, too. There is nearly infinite scope for model train lovers to indulge in the great fun of making model train track layouts.
While some enthusiasts have entire rooms devoted to model trains, others may only have a table-top display that has to be put away when company comes over. There is room for every level of train collecting in the world of model train hobbyists. It is a passion that transcends nationality, geography, race, or gender, and sharing model train track layouts is a big part of the experience.
There are dozens of websites where people can share model train track layouts through pictures, videos, and text. These sites are great sources of information and help for things like designing for the sharpest curve your particular model can make without derailing. Collecting, designing, and running model train tracks are very enjoyable aspects of the hobby for most people, second only to the fun of sharing the experience with others.
Model train layouts can mean anything from simple ‘found’Â pieces like Matchbox cars set up to surround a Lego toy train to amazingly realistic landscape and built-to-scale buildings in elaborate, complex designs. The great thing about model train layouts is that you can make them a little at a time, changing and modifying as you go.
The most popular scale model railroads, O, HO, N, and OO (in the UK) have accessories that are widely available and don’t have to be custom made. In addition, there is a growing cottage industry of software used for designing model train layouts and printing simple fold-together building designs onto card stock. For those who go for the most realism, there are custom model railroad artists who make very realistic, perfectly scaled architectural and landscape features for the most demanding model railway enthusiasts.
This is not to say that Lego model train layouts are in any way inferior. Now that an entire generation of Lego train enthusiasts has grown up and has more disposable income for such pursuits, Lego trains are very popular among adult model train hobbyists. The beauty of Lego train sets is that the bucket of Legos that a child has grown ‘too old for’Â is suddenly a source of building materials for model train layouts. The fact that Lego model trains are sturdy enough to stand up to years of use is one real advantage to choosing such a set for a child who is a beginning model train enthusiast.
Whether a model train lover wants perfect scale and realism, or whether he or she wants the fun of running trains, with scenery ranking less importantly, there are plenty of other like-minded train enthusiasts all over the world. Because when you get down to it, one of the most fun things about having model trains is sharing them with other people who appreciate them.