Making a Model Railroad at Home

You can’t be the only one who’s always awestruck whenever there’s a model railroad right before your eyes. Model railroads, along with model trains, are such an exciting view to gander at, especially when they start operating.

The possibilities when it comes to creating a model railroad are endless. Think of a world wherein you want to live in and actualize it through your model railroads and trains. The hobby is just so amazing that you may want to start building your model railroad at home.

In this article, we will discuss what you need to know before spending your money on expensive tools and materials. If you want to know how to build the model railroad of your dreams at home, make sure to scroll further!

Come up with a theme

Imagine the world that you have been wanting to actualize. How does it look like? What is its purpose? Where are your trains coming from and why? Do they carry passengers or cargo? You need to come up with a theme that unifies your ideas.

The setting, era, and location are important. Do you prefer traditional trains of the 70s or those that were operating during World War II? If you already have model trains, try matching their eras with the model railroad you are conceptualizing. Your imagination is your limit. Research on this if you may.

Choose a scale

Now that you have a theme, it’s about time to come up with a scale. A model train’s scale is the size compared to the real train. In simpler terms, at what size trains do you want to operate?

There are four common types of scales: O (1/48th), HO (1/87.1), N (1/160th), and Z (1/220th). HO is the largest scale.

Sometimes, what you want is not fit for your space at home, so keep this in mind to. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How much am I willing to spend?
  • How much space do I have at home for my hobby?
  • How much money am I comfortable shelling out?
  • Do I want to emphasize the scenery or the trains?
  • Do I want a longer or shorter trains?

When researching for tips online, you may come across the term “gauge,” which is commonly confused with scale. The latter refers to the measurement as compared to the prototype, while gauge is a term that refers to the distance between the two rails of a track.

Prepping the space

It goes without saying—a model railroad takes up space—like, a lot of space. So, make sure you have a designated space at home wherein you can peacefully work on your model railroads away from distractions (your family members and rowdy pets). If you are not building a permanent layout, then a ping-pong table already makes a great canvas for your project. Meanwhile, some people use pulleys and cables to lower model railroad tables.

If you are after a temporary layout, you may want to invest in a train set, then buy additional materials from there.

On the other hand, if you want to build a permanent layout, you have to do extensive research about your requirements. O scale layouts usually take so much space, while HO and N scales take up average space. These scales are perfect if you have a spacious room, basement, or garage. Apartment dwellers usually opt for Z scale trains so their model railroads would fit their spaces at home.

Planning the displays

The next thing you should plan is how would you show off and let your trains operate. Whether you like a wall-to-wall empire or a small switching layout, it’s important to decipher what additional supplies would you need for your plan. If you want, you can invite your family or friends to participate in the operation of your model railroad!

Planning your layout

Once you have done planning the logistics, it’s time to plan the layout. First, decide what brand of model railroad track you’ll be using. Then from there, sketch your ideal layout. Scour the internet for inspiration if you don’t have something in mind.

Picking railroads and assembling them

Now that you have everything planned, it’s about time to purchase the railroads. To operate the trains, purchase a DC power pack.

These are only a few ways to get you started in your hobby. Enjoy and have fun building your model railroads!