Model trains are a fun and fulfilling hobby for those of all ages. Model trains come in a variety of different sizes and are referred to in scales and gauges. Setting up the tracks and scenery for a model train can be quite intricate and even the smallest model train can end up taking up a large amount of space. The majority of hobbyists dabbling in model trains enjoy making their models as close to a real life replica as possible. Basically, a model train is a scaled down replica that includes box cars, signalling, scenery, and street cars as well as any other components to make it more life-like.

The different types of Model Train Scales

A model train’s gauge refers to the distance between tracks, while the scale refers to the size in proportion to the real life original locomotive. The largest model scales are 1:8 and 1:4. Most 1:4 models are used in kiddy parks. The Garden, or G scale is 1:24 and primarily used outdoors in the backyard or garden. A G scale train is perhaps a tad too big for indoor use and does better in the garden where the scenery can be scaled down in proportion while keeping its realism. Indoor scales include HO (1:87), S (1:64), O (1:48), and N (1:160). The smallest scale is Z which is proportioned at 1:220 and T scale at 1:450. T and Z scales are referred to as the matchbox trains.

Use of Power

Powered models use one of two forms of electric current, AC or DC. Larger locomotives such as 1:8 scale use steam as their power source. The electric engine on a matchbox Z scale train is about the size of a sugar cube, and no bigger than two inches.

Model trains for beginners

The first thing a beginner needs to consider when starting a model railway is the amount of space that it takes. A serious hobbyist will need a basement or spare room to set up the tracks and scenery. A good amount of space to begin with would be about 5x10 feet. This will ensure that there is adequate space to connect the tracks and have a running model with scenery. It also helps to have basic knowledge of carpentry to make a table to place the tracks on. The hobby of model trains is something the entire family can enjoy. The entire family can get involved in piecing together the intricate workings of a model train. Aside from laying the tracks, which is the most important part of a successful model, there are all sorts of other jobs like assembling the scenery in a realistic manner.

How to use Model Trains

Arranging the tracks is the foundation of a good working model. Research should be done prior to laying the tracks in order to decide what types are available and decide which tracks fit the individual’s needs and preferences. Assembling the tracks requires more than just forming a circle and can get very detailed and intricate. Beginners can usually find packs of accessories to decorate their model train table in order to make it more like a real life replica. When choosing models, keep in mind that plastic trains are usually considered toys by hobbyists. Serious hobbyist often opt for metal models because they are of better quality. Finding a reputable hobby shop that sells trains is a must for any beginner looking to start a collection of trains. A hobby shop often carries only high quality products and an experienced professional can help a beginner piece together a train set. Hobby shops usually shy away from the plastic toy trains and offer good quality models to start a beginner in the right direction.

Main Manufacturers for Model Trains

There are many different manufacturers of toy trains and it is possible to piece together a train from many different manufacturers as long as the scale and guage are the same. Some of the most popular brands of trains include Lionel, American Flyer, and Bachmann are well known brands among collectors. Brand names often mean alot to serious collectors and should not be overlooked. Less known brands can be found for cheaper prices but should be avoided if at all possible. Another tip for beginner train enthusiasts is to pick a scale to start with and go from their. While it is possible to mix and match brands, it is not possible to mix the scale of the model. Once a scale has been picked it is common to piece together the rest of the train using a mix and match method. To start off beginners can always buy a starter kit to help them get their feet wet. Building model railways has been a hobby since the 1800’s. With a little time and research it can be a fulfilling hobby for the entire family. While getting started may seem daunting at first, there are always other model train enthusiasts and hobby shops that can help the novice vet started. Collecting quality pieces of the train set can be expensive but well worth the investment in the long run.