Welcome to Build a Model Railroad!
Build a Model Railroad can be your starting point to a fascinating hobby that not only will last a lifetime but even span generations. One of the greatest things about Model Railroading is the freedom to build your own empire, just the way you imagine it. Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, you can learn the skills necessary to present a realistic view of your world. You can learn about carpentry, electricity, drafting (CAD), even photography. The nice part is that with a little research you can find help whether it be a live person, a club meeting or a book, resources are readily available.
One of the first decisions that must be made when building a model railroad is the choice of “scale” and “gauge”. Gauge is defined as the distance between the track rails, and scale is the proportion to “real-life”. Popular gauges are identified by letters — “G”, “O”, “HO”, “N” and “Z”. There is also a size of model railroad that is actually large enough to ride upon, with a gauge of 7.5 inches and a scale of 1.5 inches to the real foot! These models are frequently coal or propane fired steam locomotives that operate just like the “real thing”. Obviously, the decision regarding scale must take into account the amount of space available and the resources that can be used in the construction of your model railroad.
When you make the decision to build a model railroad, a good starting point may be to purchase a starter set from a hobby store. A simple “table top” layout can created with the track included in most sets, and by adding additional track pieces the track plan can become very challenging to operate. Some model railroads are built “just for fun” and others are designed for realistic operations, which includes various industries that provide a reason to move cars from place to place. Many model railroads are selective copies of portions of prototype railroads, and some are totally imaginary. Some who model imaginary prototypes, actually make up a history of their freelanced railroad and others even create an interchange point with other railroads to provide the opportunity to have “foreign” equipment on their railroad. Building a model railroad allows your creativity to run wild!
Some modelers are more excited about detailing the structures and landscape than the train that runs thru the scenery that they are creating. Many of these scenes are so realistic that it is difficult to tell if it is a picture of real life or a model. There are publications that focus on model railroading and many books have been published with layout plans, structure plans, and even scale drawings that can be used to create detailed models.
The FAQ pages will provide answers to common questions as well as links to suppliers and other resources to help you make the decisions necessary to build a model railroad of your own.
Welcome to the journey! Be prepared to develop skills that you don’t even realize that you have, and above all have fun!