The Beginners Guide to Model Railway Trains

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Here’s a simple guide for anyone wishing to get involved with Model Railways.

n sacle model railway train 300x150

Before you jump into purchasing the track, trains and accessories it’s worth doing a little bit of research first.

Free Resources

The following websites should be bookmarked:
http://espee.railfan.net/clubs.html (Find your local model railroad club)
http://home.centurytel.net/pitch/home/link_page/howto.htm (Great layout information)
http://www.naisp.net/mfischer/m_train2.htm (Some great N scale layout ideas)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N_scale (Get some background info on N scale)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OO_gauge (Get some background info on OO scale)

Other Resources

Whilst the Internet does contain a lot of free resources ‘“ it will save you a lot of time if you purchase, or check out from the library, the following books:

The Professional Approach to Model Railways

and subscribe to the following magazine:

Subscribe with Amazon here

Decide on a Layout

Use the books, websites and magazines to find a layout you like.

A good tip is to use graph paper to first sketch out the layout. It is far less expensive to make errors on graph paper rather than when you’re using plywood and track! I often make hundred off errors whilst in the layout stage which have required only an eraser to fix rather than spending hours removing track.

What board material should I use?

Once your layout is perfect on your graph paper you now need to decide what board to use. The main options are plywood, MDF and softboard such as Sundelia.

MDF and Plywood
Benefits: Very Strong
Drawbacks: Both need powered tools to cut them

Sundelia
Benefits: Can cut with a sharp knife.
Drawbacks: No strength which makes fitting Point Motors difficult

I would personally go for using MDF but if using power tools would be a problem then please go for the soft board option.

Remember the Frame

Remember that all boards will require a softwood timber frame (2×1 inch).

How do I add hills?

To add realism to your base board you will want to have rolling hills – in order to add these contours you will need to add layers of green pulpboard (the stuff used under laminate flooring). A craft knife can be used to carve round curves between the layers.

Trains and Track

A cheap way to purchase trains and track is to purchase a ‘starter’ kit:

N scale starter kits– http://www.bachmanntrains.com (A good selection)

OO Scale starter kits – http://www.hornby.com/sets-123/category.html (Range from £40+)

What controller should you use?

Digital controllers are now very cheap and are far easier to use than analogue systems, as only two wires are used to feed the track. Remember not to loop the track back on itself or you will cause a short circuit. Digital controllers also allow a number of trains to run on the same track.

  • The Dcc 135 from Hornby is a nice first choice.
  • You could also have a look at the selection available from Bachmann trains: http://www.bachmanntrains.com

My last piece of advice to budding model railway enthusiasts would be to keep your first layout simple and – above all – have fun!

Tags: #model railways

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