Model Trains – Where Do You Start?

Model trains are a great hobby to get into. Why exactly? Well honestly there’s nothing quite like watching a little train race around your basement for a few hours, and if you set it up right you can even control it. You can build your own little community in your basement with just a few things from around your house, and then you can add a little train to it. It sounds silly yes, but believe it or not there are thousands of people around the world who indulge in this hobby, and if you are so inclined then there is no reason that you shouldn’t be able to join them!

When you are just starting out, the first thing that you will need to address is whether or not you have enough space. There is no set amount of space that you are required to have, after all this is entirely your project now isn’t it? You only need as much space as you actually plan on using, though one would recommend that you have a basement with at least half of the space reserved for it, and some people would go as far as to reserve the entire basement for their hobby.

When you first start out you’re going to need to buy several things. You’re going to need track which is not expensive, though if you go all out you can spend a bucket load of money on the track itself, especially if you want to have a third rail. You might expect to pay as much as fifty dollars for your first model train set, which will come with a little bit of track. Though you can use that track, it won’t be nearly enough for you to work with later on. Eventually you will probably end up investing at least a thousand dollars in making your track look realistic.

You might be thinking that it would be best to start with a small village, but be certain that you don’t limit yourself. If you build something that’s small make sure that you can add on to it later. Of course starting small now might be a great idea because you’re just learning but it helps if you can make it bigger and bigger as time goes on.

If you are just starting out, you could start with a starter kit. There are many model train starter kits out there. As you get a little more advanced you can mix and match train cars, making sure that they are the right weight for the rest of your setup.

Now you should know that this is not going to be a quick and easy process. You are literally building an entire community with hills, rivers, and roadways. You have to ask yourself exactly what sort of setup you want, because there are a lot of different variables to be considering. First of all, do you want more of a mountain setting? A town setting? Or do you want a combination of both, because that’s entirely possible. If you do have roadways you’re going to need cars, buildings, utility poles, and all sorts of things.

When it come to buildings you can go ahead and make them, but if you happen to be new to this whole thing then you’ll probably want to make sure that you purchase all of your supplies at a hobby shop. They sell all sorts of buildings at these shops and you can find anything you want. From schools, to churches, to fire stations, to run of the mill houses, you can have just about anything that you want to outfit your miniature town.

Don’t rush! That’s the most important piece of advice that we can give you! You want every inch of your model train set to look authentic and realistic. If you just rush through it there’s no way that you will achieve that look. If you want rivers and valleys, then you’ll need to find a way to make those rivers flow. You might want real water and you may need to install some sort of pump to control the water flow. The possibilities are endless.

Some things that might need wiring are the street lights, houses, etc. If the cars have working headlights then they will probably need batteries. An alternative might be to have the cars move around on some sort of magnetic track, but this is a fairly advanced technique. Remember though that this is your model train layout and you can feel free to implement anything you want, even if it’s not something that’s been done before!

You may find that your model train hobby grows and grows until it takes up the entirety of your basement. Your family can share in the joys of operating your model trains. Once you finally get it set up the way that you want it, you will be utterly amazed at how much fun you can have with it. You would think that it would get boring watching a train follow the same track over and over again, but honestly it never really gets old. So go ahead and start on your dream model train layout, you know you want to!

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Dan Morgan

Dan Morgan fell in love with model trains at the age of six when he visited an NMRA Convention in Seattle with his father. Forty two years later, his passion remains just as strong. After achieving a successful career in architecture, Dan’s particular interest is within layouts and buildings. With a wealth of knowledge on the subject, Dan loves nothing more than sharing this with others and is delighted in the forum of members who are brought together over the hobby they have in common. Dan lives with his wife Helen in Washington. As a professional painter, Helen has learnt through Dan about Model Trains and they now enjoy working on projects together. The only member of the family who isn’t allowed to join in is their over-enthusiastic Labrador called William who has been strictly banned from the workshop! You can find Dan on Google here!
About The Author

Dan Morgan

Dan Morgan fell in love with model trains at the age of six when he visited an NMRA Convention in Seattle with his father. Forty two years later, his passion remains just as strong. After achieving a successful career in architecture, Dan’s particular interest is within layouts and buildings. With a wealth of knowledge on the subject, Dan loves nothing more than sharing this with others and is delighted in the forum of members who are brought together over the hobby they have in common.
Dan lives with his wife Helen in Washington. As a professional painter, Helen has learnt through Dan about Model Trains and they now enjoy working on projects together. The only member of the family who isn’t allowed to join in is their over-enthusiastic Labrador called William who has been strictly banned from the workshop! You can find Dan on Google here!