Building model railroads is a fascinating hobby for many. If you are thinking about getting into the hobby, here are some important basics to consider.

Think about the size you want to have. Model train scales are expressed as a ratio. For example (1:87) is 1/87th the size of the real train. Here is a list of some of the scales used in model railroading: G scale- (1:22.5) often used for garden layouts, O Scale – (1:48), S Scale – (1:64), HO Scale – (1:87) this is the most popular scale, TT scale – (1:120), N Scale – (1:160), and Z Scale – (1:220). There are other model railroad scales used, but these are the most popular.

Carefully plan your layout. Where will you be setting up your tracks? Many hobbyists like to use a spare room, garage, or basement for their model railroad layout. You will need to find a space that is big enough to fit your finished railroad comfortably. Other factors to consider are humidity of the room, light, and also that the room has enough heat to be used year round. When you are planning the layout of your model, also think about how much time you think you want to invest in this hobby. A 6-week project is very different from a 10-month project.

There is an abundance of design elements that you can incorporate into your railroad, so you can really get creative with the details. From bushes, grass, and trees, to streams, rivers, and lakes, from gorges, cliffs, and valleys, the possibilities are virtually endless. You can also add any number of out buildings, as well as bridges and tunnels. Don’t forget to think about the time of year. You can have a winter theme on one side of your layout, and a summer or fall theme on the other side. Use the colors and seasons you like best to make it most appealing to you.

Make the railroad and scenery coherent with a lovely backdrop. You can make your own or use panoramic murals. Your railroad can have a rolling countryside with a bright sky behind it, or a majestic nighttime city scape, complete with skyscrapers, or even cliff side mountains with crashing ocean waves. It’s important to make sure the theme of your backdrop is harmonious with the rest of the railroad scenery.

Depending on your time investment, skill level, and budget, you can build model railway trains and layouts on as grand a scale as you desire. You are limited only by your imagination, so let it run wild and create a railway you’ll be proud to show off!