The Basics of Making Model Railways

Venturing into the world of railway modeling is undoubtedly an exciting endeavor. It takes planning, creativity, and skills to build a train set, making it a fun and rewarding hobby. However, it can also be intimidating at times, especially at the initial stages that put most people off, thinking of the time and effort needed to come up with fascinating results.

Truth to be told, railway modeling is never worrisome if you get to know the basics first before rushing out to purchase your first model. So, don’t despair, as we’ve collated all the basic things you know about making model trains, which can help achieve fun on the tracks.

Planning railway design and track work


The initial thing you need to do is thinking of your dream railway design and track work. By doing so, you get to achieve a sense of direction and clear steps along the way. Know why you are building a model railway in the first place.

Are you trying to build a hobby or a collection? Then, lean towards designs that pique your interests, and you can be proud to show. Do you want to create one for your children instead? Spend less time and effort on the design, and focus more on guaranteeing that it can endure rough playtime.

Other factors you need to consider are the scale of your railroad, the money you’re willing to spend, and the availability of space in your home. Decide on the size you want to build, and assess if you have enough financial means for the project and an area to serve as its home.

Next, plan and draft your tracks. There are many styles to choose from, ranging from simple shapes to barbell or figure-eight pattern. Plus, you also have to think of the positioning of the stations, steepness, and clearance.

The planning stage can be less stirring, as there is not yet much work to do, but remember that it can be the most crucial part of the entire process. Don’t hurry when working out on a layout. Spend all the time you need, make necessary revisions if necessary, until you are 100% convinced of the design – things go pretty well when everything is well-planned.

Building the foundation


After thorough planning, it’s time to get your muscles going by building the baseboard. The baseboard is the surface where you will place the track and landscape. Typically, it is a custom-built table where you can place your tracks, integrate electric works, and add sceneries.

As such, it is essential to get a good and sturdy baseboard to ensure the functionality of the layout. Without doing so, it can result in operation issues, misaligned tracks, and sagging, which can be difficult and expensive to revert. So, take time when building the baseboard to keep mishaps away.

Placing the track works

After getting a baseboard, refer to your plan and start laying the tracks. Secure them temporarily by using a double-tape to avoid them from moving. Ensure that all electrical connections are functional. You can use a multimeter to test the track’s voltage, and the same reading should display across each track section. Run the train cars and check if they navigate with ease across the entire track. If there are any issues, fix them and retry running the train cars. Once done, secure the tracks permanently using track pins and then add ballast.

Adding the scenery

Though some hobbyists love the challenge of the more technical parts of model railroads building, adding the finishing touches and design to the model railways proved to be one of the most exciting stages of the process. Here, you can pour all your creative juices when adding the surface features, such as the rocks, trees, tunnels, bridges, houses, buildings, and even human and animal figurines, to make everything realistic. You can use paint to create other landscapes, rivers and roads.

Plus, play with visuals by positioning the elements to give an illusion of distance. You can also add a backdrop to elevate the aesthetics. It doesn’t need to be extravagant. A blue wall painted with clouds is enough to give the model railway a good impression. If you want a nightie scene instead, you can add a darker background brimmed with skyscrapers and city lights. Otherwise, you can add a mountainous or forest setting in the background, whichever fits your chosen theme, and what you think can bring more life to your model railway.


Like with any hobby or task, knowing the basics can do you wonders in being successful and in completing the project. Just take your time learning down the ropes, and you’ll reap all the benefits by ending up in a stunning masterpiece. Happy railway modeling!