In addition to the obvious things that the model train hobbyist will need like track, locomotives, and rolling stock, there are numerous model railroad supplies that you will want if not need to make your past time more rewarding. If you plan on making your own scenery, you will need a plethora of items that may or may not be obvious like foam, glue, various things like ballast, roadbed material, latex rubber, paint etc. Let’s take a look into some of these things in more detail.
First, depending on what scale you are working with, you have numerous options for finding and buying locomotives, rolling stock, and track. There is rarely a need to buy new items unless you want some rare, hard to find item. You can get just like new items from the various internet auction sites, Craig’s list, model train forums, and train shows. If you live in a larger metropolitan area, you might even find them by scanning the classified ads. If you do want to purchase new trains, those suppliers can also be found on the internet where you can peruse their online catalogs.
Scenery could almost be a hobby in and of itself. Of course it may be a little boring without our trains rolling through it, but what I am saying is that scenery can be as complex as you want it to be. You can buy readymade buildings, trees, mountains etc. or you can buy ready to assemble kits. Another option is to buy all of the parts and make your own scenery from scratch. Trees, foliage, rocks, roadbed, sawdust, talus, flowers, simulated snow, and realistic water (no, tap water just won’t do) are just a few of the items you can find and/or make for yourself.
Sound decoders are another thing you will want to make realistic train sounds to accompany your models. These are made for each scale, so make sure you are getting the size you need to match the scale of railroad you are planning. Power packs to make your train run and rail cleaners to keep it running will also be necessary items in your inventory. Digital Command and Control (DCC) systems are also something that should be considered. Rounding out your supplies are electrical kits, couplers, switches, and specialized tools.
Another thing to consider is some kind of storage unit to store all of your inventory in an organized fashion. Tool boxes, cabinets with sorter bins, or even baby food jars (cleaned of course!) can all be used to store and sort small parts so that you can find them when you need them.
When you are just starting out, this list of Model Railroad Supplies can be intimidating. That is why all-in-one starter kits were made. Start out with one of these kits, build a small layout, and expand from there as you learn. As you talk to other hobbyists, scan the internet, read some books, (including mine The Enthusiasts Guide to Model Trains), and go to some shows, you will find that you want to get more and more stuff, so go for it!
Article courtesy of “The Enthusists Guide to Model Trains”