To help you develop your model train layout there are four major steps to take before you begin any of the construction:
1: Select the scale for your model train layout.
Scales range from micro-sized Z scale for tiny miniature layouts to gigantic G-scale model trains used mostly for outdoor garden layouts.
You can visit your local hobby shop or check out our page on the various popular Model Railway Scales here . Staff at a hobby shop will almost always be happy to discuss the various model railway scales available, and point out the advantages and disadvantages of each. You’ll find quite often that most hobby shops have staff who build and run their own model railways, so you know the advice will be from someone into the hobby.
Your decision about scale will be largely based on the space available for your model layout – a spare bedroom, garage, loft, and garden sheds are common spaces used for this. The most popular scales are O scale – which is 148th actual size and the smaller HO scale which is 187th actual size. As a result of being the two most popular scales these have the greatest variety of locomotives, cars, scenery, and other accessories available.
2: Learn about layouts for the scale you have chosen
You can easily do this by reading hobby magazines and websites, and joining local railway clubs. All the good train hobby stores carry a range of magazines on the hobby, or you can pick them up at places like Waterstones and Bookstores, and even on Amazon on the Internet.
Re-visit hobby shops you visited for information when deciding on the scale of your model train set and ask questions about layout. The good ones can provide helpful advice and they sell how-to books on wiring, scenery, detailing, and other subjects.
3: It’s time to begin!
Some of the questions you need to ask yourself include:
- Do you want to start with a little layout that can later be extended?
- Do you want to set up a permanent layout right from the start?
- Do you want to develop a ‘theme’ layout – say a Victorian railway line, or a country village scene?
The major decisions are to decide your objective and set the size parameters for your train layout. Don’t forget that the size parameters for your railway layout will be determined largely by the space you have available (a spare bedroom, a garage, up in your loft, or out in the garden shed).
4: Begin making sketches and drawings on plain paper
It’s easier to make changes to your drawing than to have to physically pry up a section of track that ‘went wrong’. Refer back to magazines and websites during this planning stage – to get fresh ideas, and just to see what others have done in their own layouts. Many magazines and websites will have photos of layouts appropriate to the scale you have decided to go with.
These days there are even some computer programs which can help you with designing your layout – look for ads in model train magazines.