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Working on some major updates to this site. I have been neglecting it and need to focus on this for a bit. If there is anything you would like to see or learn about please let me know and I will do my best to add it in!

Want to see more about the trains? let me know! More about scenery? Let me know!

Planning A Small Model Train Layout?

When you plan a small model train layout, it’s important that you know the limitations the small space imposes on you and your model train set.

Although the space you have available for your RR layout might limit your choice of scales, the major limitation is usually in the choice of themes you can model. In most cases main line model train themes wouldn’t fit. Whereas, given that you only have a limited space available for your layout; industrial, branch line and tramway themes are possibly the best model train layout options to consider. If you must have a mainline theme, but don’t have space for it, then you’ll probably have to scale your model train layout down.

If don’t want to compromise, then don’t start a small model train layout.

There are a number of differences that you will need to accept or adapt yourself to when choosing a small layout: the curves may be too sharp, the angles of the switches may be too steep, and the sidings too short. With a small layout everything is compressed to the max. But when you think about it, although a small layout may not be your first choice, it is better than no train set at all!

By Robert Anderson – Author of the best-selling Model Train Help ebook.

How Model Train Classification Yards Work

Most model railroaders have far more cars (rolling stock) and locomotives than they can possibly operate at once. One option is to simply store excess rolling stock and locomotives in boxes or on display shelves or cabinets. It is possible, however, to store all of your extra equipment and trains on tracks in a yard that may or may not be part of the visible operating portion of your model train layout.

However, design mistakes are a common feature of model railroad yard layouts. Yards don’t always work out as well as they should. A major cause is the lack of available information on how to design a good model railroad yard layout. Without the resources, model railroaders are forced into a lot of guesswork.

Model Train help

Model Train Yard Layout Compression

Apart from the lack of available information on model railroad yards, another cause for less than satisfactory model railroad yard designs, is the need to compress a model railroad layout into the space available. ‘Compression’ is the model railroaders enemy, but in most cases, necessary.

Let’s start by looking at the make up of real classification yards. Generally, they are huge. They often consist of many smaller special-purpose rail yards, that collectively, add up to a complex array of train track.

It is commonplace for there to be three separate double-ended rail yards strung one after the other. These are designed to move train traffic efficiently and usually comprise: an arrival yard, a classification yard, and a departure yard.

The Arrival Yard On Model Train Layouts

The arrival yard is where arriving trains drop off the cars of their train. The cars are then moved to the classification yard, being switched back and forth as necessary to get the right cars onto the right trains. The trains are then built out and moved to the departure yard. After getting a new caboose and locomotive, they then proceed to their next destination.

For more information on yard designs read the best-selling Model Train Help ebook by Robert Anderson (Highly Recommended).

How Model Train Locomotives Work

A locomotive runs by picking up an electrical current from the metal rails through metal wheels that ride on the rails. The electricity is transferred from the wheels to the motor, which causes the motor to run.

The motor connects to the wheels through a mechanical drive system. When the electricity turns the motor, the motor turns the gears that turn the wheels and push the locomotive along the train tracks. Simple!

The contact point where your locomotive wheel meets the rail is extremely small. That’s why; it doesn’t take much in the way of dirt, dust, or debris to obstruct the wheel-to-rail contact. Dirt can build up, so it is important that you keep the wheels clean and free of accumulated dirt. If the wheels of your locomotive become dirty, they may not make good contact with the metal rails, and your train will stall. Remember, plastic wheels don’t conduct electricity.

Locomotive Wheels And Locomotive Gears

A good locomotive needs lots of wheels and lots of gears. A poor performing locomotive is often because of the gears and/or the wheels. Although in saying that, some locomotives with only a few wheels work surprisingly well… although it is considered to be unusual, rather than the norm.

By Robert Anderson – Author of the best-selling Model Train Help ebook.

Why Build A Branch Line Model Train Layout?

Branch lines are a popular theme for small model train layouts. A branch line is a quieter alternative to a main line layout and can be fascinating to build and operate. Although not always the case, a branch line layout generally requires less rolling stock. It can also mean greater flexibility in the complexity of your track plan depending on what you want to achieve.

Building a branch line is a favorite for many model railroaders, because it can allow more opportunities to include small dioramas within the model train layout.

More About Model Train Branch Lines

A branch line will commonly have a small station where trains can pass. The station has some shunting possibilities, e.g. serving a freight shed. To make the operations more interesting a “shadow station” or passing loop can be added to a branch line layout.

For for ideas on planning a branch line layout see the section in the Model Train Help Book.

Many branch line layout designs consist of an oval shaped line, though on a shelf-based layout an out-and-back format is also reasonably common. The branch line theme often includes mixed freight and passenger trains running to a timetable-based operation.

Why Model Train Branch Lines Are So Much Fun

Most branch lines run through countryside giving the possibility for creating some truly amazing scenery. But, when creating a small layout branch line, you’ll need to accept that it can be hard to depict the wide-open space of the countryside on a small train layout. One option is to use forests to “box-in” the scene. Another option, which works well, is to depict a branch line in a cityscape. This makes sense considering that most branch lines start off in a larger town. That way you can build a small station located in this larger town. The buildings will have the same effect of “boxing-in” the theme.

Plus you can add connections to several industries, although this does conflict with a countryside theme.

By Robert Anderson – Author of the best-selling Model Train Help ebook.

How Model Train Track Works And What Can Go Wrong

Model train track consists of two metal rails separated by plastic tie sections. Each rail carries one side of the electrical circuit. To work properly, the two rails should not contact each other and no metal object should contact both rails together. This would cause a short circuit, which could damage your model train power pack if it happened too often.

With this in mind, assemble your model train track and connect the power pack… and you’ll be ready to start operating your model trains. It is as easy as plugging in the power pack, carefully placing the locomotive on the train track, turning up the throttle…and enjoying!

More About Model Train Tracks

It’s best to set up your train track on a sheet of plywood, a tabletop, or other hard surface. Carpet fuzz and floor dirt can hamper smooth train operation.

Model train track comes in different types made of brass, zinc-coated steel, nickel silver and steel. Regardless of what the train tracks are made of, most track sets come with a terminal section so that you can hook into the transformer. Brass track and zinc-coated steel track are common in starter sets and, when purchased separately, are usually cheaper in price than nickel silver tracks.

By Robert Anderson – Author of the best-selling Model Train Help ebook.

What Model Railroaders Get From The Hobby Of Model Railroading

If you ask model railway enthusiasts “what appeals about the hobby?” you’ll get a variety of answers. For some model railway enthusiasts, it is a way of re-creating a fond childhood memory. Others; simply enjoy building a world in miniature with all its detail and realism. Then there are those model railway enthusiasts who love solving the technical problems of building and operating an electronic control system.

It doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re 5 or 95… or somewhere in between. The personal satisfaction of building and operating a realistic miniature railway layout is rewarding and fun… no matter how old you are. Model railroading is a truly rewarding leisure activity that will keep most model railway enthusiasts busy and entertained for hours…if not a lifetime.

The Model Railroaders Own Wonderful World

Model railroading is a fun-filled leisure activity that provides plenty of scope for the creative individual with a technical bent. It incorporates a variety of interesting activities from building, maintaining, upgrading and operating a model railway. What kind of world you create, where you create it, and how much time you spend in it… is entirely over to the individual model railroading enthusiast. We are all different.

A model railroader can build a layout in the solitude of his or her basement, attic, shed or garage workshop…or they can sit in a sun lounger and watch trains weave around their garden… or the model railway enthusiast can join a local model railroad club and share their model railway ideas and experiences with others. The opportunities for the model railroading enthusiast are endless!

‘We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing’ George Bernard Shaw

By Robert Anderson – Author of the best-selling Model Train Help ebook.

How to Create Basic Model Train Scenery

How to Create Basic Model Train Scenery

Do you want to start doing your own model train scenery but you don’t know how? Here are some of the basics.

Steps

  1. Plan out your scenery. Draw up scenery ideas on paper using a pencil. Erase anything that doesn’t work out. Make sure you are happy with the plan that you have drawn.
  2. Get your supplies from a hobby store. Good supplies include grass, trees, buildings, people etc. You will also need a shaker to put the grass into the scenery. If you don’t know what to products to buy, ask for help
  3. Use glue or scenic cement to glue down your scenery to your layout. Hobby brands such as Woodland Scenics have a great range of scenic cement but if you want a cheaper option, make your own using PVA glue, detergent, a glass jar and an eye dropper. Mix half glue half water and two drops of detergent in the jar then shake the mix.
  4. Put down some glue solution or scenic cement. Put the grass material in a shaker and gently shake on the chosen area.
  5. Open jar get eye dropper and get glue solution or scenic cement and gently drop over area.
  6. Add other scenic elements.
  7. Wait until dry. If scenery did not turn out the way you wanted, put another layer on and repeat until you are happy.
  8. Use natural material as well if wished. Such things as soil, sticks, little rocks etc., depending on your scale of choice and if you think it will work.


Tips

  • Research on the web for ideas.
  • Buy books at hobby stores and train exhibits about model trains.
  • Ask a staff member at the hobby store if you don’t know what you are doing.
  • Join a model train club for two reasons:
    • to get free advice; and
    • if you need help they will help you.


Warnings

  • Be careful not to spill any glue on the track; it is hard to scrape off.
  • Take care when using hobby knives.


Things You’ll Need

  • an old set of clothes (optional)
  • hobby scenery
  • paint brushes
  • hobby knife
  • shake
  • jars
  • bags