How To Video Model Trains

Model train enthusiasts are no different than other hobbyists. They are proud of their creations and want to show them off. Pictures are one way to do that, but since model trains MOVE, a photo cannot do them justice. Searching the internet reveals a number of videos out there that may be interesting to other model railroaders but the quality runs the gamut from bad home video of “ring around the Christmas tree” to professionally produced videos of massive layouts.

Why do a video? There are several reasons you might want to make a video of you model train layout and train. The primary reason might be just to share your creation with others that have similar interests. Another reason might be as an instructional video to show less experienced modelers what is possible, or how to build certain scenery or how to fix an electrical problem. You might want to show a detailed video of the detail on a new locomotive.

You’ll want to make sure that your video is something others want to watch. In order to do that, you need to start out with a higher quality camera. You don’t have to buy a $1500 video camera, but don’t try to shoot a quality video with a handheld cell phone. Invest in a camera, (or rent or borrow one) that you can mount on a quality tripod and make sure you use that tripod when shooting. Another key is to shoot your video from various viewpoints. Don’t have a static one position shot and expect it to remain interesting for very long. A third key is lighting. Video cameras see light differently than the human eyes does so make sure to shoot some test footage and take a look before shooting your real footage. Adjust lights as necessary and don’t depend on our on camera light.

After you shoot your video, the raw footage is probably not what you want to upload for others to view. Most computers have at least rudimentary video editing software. Find yours and learn to use it. Cut out any uninteresting scenes and shorten those that run too long. Now is also the time to add any voiceover, not at the time when you are preoccupied with shooting. Also use some interesting transitions to avoid abrupt changes in the scenes.

The length of your video is also something that you need to think about. If it is an instructional video, the length should be what is required to provide that instruction. If the purpose of your video is to show off your layout, be very careful not to overdo it. It might be a great video to show an outside train clearing the track of fresh snow, but not if it goes on for 15 minutes! Go out on the internet and take a look at what others have done. Pick the ones you like and check the length of them. Edit yours accordingly.

Now that your video is shot and edited, what do you do with it? YouTube might be the obvious answer, and it is one choice. You might also want to share it at one of the social network sites like Facebook or Myspace that have model train groups. You can also search the internet for model train forums where enthusiasts will be excited to see your video.

Article courtesy of  “The Enthusists Guide to Model Trains”

Model Train Table

After you and your model train layout get kicked out of the dining room and relegated to the basement or garage, you will begin to realize that you need a table (or bench work as it is also known) to put your layout on. This can be an intimidating part of the process for some people. If you are handy with a saw and hammer and used to working with wood, this probably won’t faze you, but if not…well read on.

Bench work for model trains can be made of various materials, and be of various sizes. A table for an N-scale layout can obviously be much smaller and lighter than bench work for an O-scale train system. The expanse of the scenery will also dictate the size of the table. Since scenery is generally made of light materials, it generally will not dictate materials of construction or how sturdy your table needs to be. The weight of the train and track will generally help you specify that.

Do you go to train shows to show off your layouts? If so, you may want a portable table that you can take with you. That may just mean ensuring that the legs are collapsible and that the size is such that it can fit your vehicle. But it also may mean that you need to build the bench in sections that can be bolted together and taken apart as needed.

Commercial bench kits are also available to buy if you have the extra cash or don’t want to take the time to build your own. As with everything else, they come in a range of sizes, prices and quality so be sure to do your research before parting with your hard earned money. You get what you pay for.

Not a woodworking expert? You probably know at least one, if you think about it. Ask for their help to build the bench in return for you teaching them about something you are expert in – model trains perhaps? If you don’t know someone, you could look on Craig’s list or in the newspaper for a handyman or out of work carpenter. If you go this route, you will need to have a pretty good idea of what you want ahead of time including the size, shape, height, materials, etc. because you will want to get a quote up front and to give you a price, they will need to know what they are going to build.

Access to your train is another consideration. For larger layouts, you will not be able to reach the entire track from the outside edges of your table. You may need to ensure that there are access holes in the center of your table so that you can crawl under and pop up to get to those middle sections of your layout. Another area you need access to is tunnels. While you can put access holes in the sides of your scenery to enable you to reach into the tunnel in case of a derailment, you might want to think of having these access holes beneath the tunnel to make them less visible.

So don’t just go out and buy a folding table at Wal-Mart to use for your model train table or you will probably be disappointed. Take some time and give it some thought and create a table that will last.

Article courtesy of  “The Enthusists Guide to Model Trains”

Model Train Shows

A quick search of the internet will show you that there are dozens of train shows throughout the United States each month. They are in every state in the country and the size of the show varies in accordance with the location and venue. Many clubs also have open houses and swap meets where the public is welcome.

So how do you select a show to attend? First, you can search for shows in your state or area. Next, decide if you are interested in just one scale or all model trains since some shows are dedicated to a specific model train scale. Indeed there are some clubs that are exclusively dedicated to O-scale trains, N-scale trains, or narrow gauge layouts. This is not technically snobbery, it is just a way of narrowing the focus of a hobby that is so diverse. Some purists would disagree I am sure, but each scale has its own advantages and disadvantages and none is better than the other.

Cost may be another consideration in going to a show. The shows themselves are usually pretty inexpensive i.e. less than $10 admission for adults and often free for children ($7 seems to be a popular price of admission), but travel costs must also be considered. If you live near a larger city, chances are there is a model train show in that city at some point during the year and most likely more than one.

What can you expect at a train show? While each one is different, there are some things that shows have in common. First and most importantly you will find enthusiasts that are eager to share their knowledge and experiences and show off their layouts. You will also usually find some sort of “swap meet” which is really a kind of model train flea market where you can purchase used trains and supplies, or possibly even negotiate a trade with another hobbyist. New trains and supplies from manufacturers are also usually available.

Another good reason to go to a show is to learn from others. Clinics are popular at these shows because you can learn from others who may have more experience with a particular aspect of model railroading than you have. While online forums provide some of the same benefits, there is no substitute for talking to someone in person and being able to see the subject matter close up and hands on.

You may also see contests between train enthusiasts for locomotives, layouts, photos, scenery, etc. Perhaps you want to enter your pride and joy in one of these. Model train shows can take some of the intimidation out of the hobby for those that are new to it. Getting up close and personal with these trains and talking to their proud owners will get your adrenaline going for the hobby and you will come away with a renewed appreciation for the hobby. So take in a show, you won’t be sorry you did, and you may just get hooked!

Article courtesy of  “The Enthusists Guide to Model Trains”

Model Train Information

The model train hobby has been around for a long time. To the inexperienced, it may just appear as a hobby for those who like trains, but it is much more than just collecting locomotives. The technical aspects include learning about train scales, track gauges, types of cars, and narrow gauge vs standard gauge just to name a few. Add to that building your own scenery, learning the history of railroads and trains, and spending time with other people with similar interests, and you can begin to see the expanse of this pastime.

There are many different scales of tracks and they are not always standard throughout the world. Large scale or garden scale trains (G scale) at 1/24th of full scale to miniature trains (Z scale) at 1/220th of full scale are available as well as many sizes in between. The choice of scale among enthusiasts is a personal one and is made with regard to interest, availability, space required, and cost. HO scale is the most popular scale and is therefore most widely available.

Gauge is NOT the same as scale although the two terms are commonly confused. Gauge, refers to the track rather than the train itself. Some time ago, railroads needed to standardize the size of the track so that trains could get around between different areas. The width decided on was around 4 feet 8 inches from the outside of one rail to the outside of the other rail. Other than narrow gauge railroads (which were developed for areas such as the Rocky Mountains where rail beds were necessarily narrower), this is the size that model train track gauge is based on.

Scenery is another aspect of model railroading that many people enjoy. While it can be purchased in kits, part of the fun is building the scenery yourself. In theory, you don’t need scenery for a layout, but that would be like having a Christmas tree without decorations! The scenery is always built to the same scale as the train that runs through it. Trees, hills, mountains, buildings, people and even lakes and rivers are some of the scenery options to consider. All of the scenery is usually built on what model railroaders call “bench work”. This is the base that will hold the train, tracks, and scenery. It requires careful planning to know if the scale of train you have selected will fit into the space you build for it. Some people take the opposite approach. First, figure out how much space you have, and then decide on the scale of train you can fit given how much scenery you will want.

Model train enthusiasts enjoy hours of fun researching, purchasing, building, and sharing their hobby. One of the most rewarding aspects is seeing the locomotive pulling cars around the track you built and sharing that excitement with friends and family.

Article courtesy of  “The Enthusists Guide to Model Trains”

Model Railroad Supplies

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”

Model Railroad Software

As with most hobbies today, Model Railroading has entered the 21st century complete with computer technology. While the model train past time has been around for over a century, recent technology improvements have allowed it to continue to grow. For the enthusiast who is interested in such things, track planning software, Digital Command and Control (DCC), switch list generators, and even train inventory software is now available with a quick search on the internet.

So why would you need software for a hobby that is based on technology from the turn of the century? Well the answer is you don’t, but you still might want it. You can enjoy model railroading quite nicely without even owning a computer processor. After all, enthusiasts have been doing it for decades. But just like many things, once you try it, you may wonder how you ever survived without it (think cell phones)!!

Track planning software may be the most prevalent and easily attainable software out there today. You can plan your track layout and even see it in 3D with some of the software. Are you a Mac user? No problem, there are plenty of Mac versions of track layout software available and some of them even have a free demo version just like most software products these days.

DCC is another hot word you will hear over and over in the model railroading circles. It stands for Digital Command and Control and it is basically software and hardware combined that help you control your trains and layouts doing such things as track switching, turning lights on and off, raising and lowering drawbridges, and scheduling your trains. This is just a smaller version of the system that full size trains use these days, although I would venture to say that they model train variety may be even more sophisticated.

Once you have been in the hobby for a while, you may have so many train cars and locomotives that you have a hard time keeping them straight. That is where inventory software can come in handy. Sure, you could get by with lists on paper or in a notebook, but with a software program, you can more easily search for what you are looking for and find it quicker. Sort the data by scale, manufacturer, gauge, or many other categories depending on the software product.

One other software that may be unique to the model train industry is “fast clock” software. As the name implies, a fast clock is a clock that runs faster than real time so that you can scale time just like you scale your train!

Of course you will need a computer to run all of this software and you will probably want one that is dedicated to your layout. It does not have to be a super powerful processor or a computer with a huge hard drive. As mentioned before, either a Mac or a PC will work depending on your preferences.

So if you thought you were getting into a hobby that was mostly analog, you can continue that way, but in this day and age, model railroad software may just make your hobby even more rewarding than it already is.

Article courtesy of  “The Enthusists Guide to Model Trains”

Building Model Trains and Scenery

When building model railroads, part of the fun is building the scenery around them. You may wish to build something more permanent than a simple train set running around the Christmas tree.

The foundation of your railroad is the bench work. You may either buy ready made bench work or build it yourself. If you decide to buy a bench work kit, you will be treated to various advantages; these kits come predrilled and precut, they are sturdier than a homemade bench work, and they are mobile therefore they can be taken apart and brought to shows.

Of course building your own bench work, though more complicated, has its own advantages. You will be able to exact what your vision is for your trains. Step one is to create a design for your layout. Decide the size of your bench work, being sure to compensate for any additions you wish to make in the future. Consider how much area you have open to you to create your layout. You will need to decide what shape you would like your layout to be. The bench work may be any shape, ranging from squares and rectangles to ovals and circles. The standard leg length of the table legs is 28 inches but this can vary to meet your design. Making sure that your bench work is solid and can sustain a fair amount of weight is of paramount importance. Plywood is a good platform, usually three eighths or one half inch thick will suffice. If you wish to make it portable, the plywood can be cut into sections.

When building the scenery for your railroad, be sure to keep perspective in mind. You want the scenery to look bigger than it actually is. To help with this, use different layers of scenery. Put the larger trees in the front and smaller trees in the background and on mountains. Your theme should also play a role when designing your landscape. For example, if you are putting many logs on your train then it should run through terrain that has many trees.

You may also use aspects such as tunnels, rocks and boulders, grassy meadows, roads, and bridges. Incorporating towns and villages may also help you bring your landscape to life. Of course, you will need to include finer details such as underbrush, bushes, fences and telephone poles. Adding water, such as ponds and streams, is always a nice touch as well.

Of course, we get into model trains and scenery to show off our imagination and artistic talent, right? So get going and bring awe and amazement to your friends’ faces with your fantastic talent.

Toy Model Trains

Men who play with trains may seem a little childish to some, but those men were once boys who may have watched Thomas the Tank Engine on TV, or read about him in a book. Those same feelings they had as a child come alive again as they build that special layout, or finally get their hands on the elusive car or locomotive that they have been looking for. What is it that fascinates these grown up children? Perhaps it is having such a powerful machine under their control, doing their bidding, hauling the cars they have chosen through the scenery they have built with their own hands.

Education is another powerful draw in the model train hobby. Learning about the history of railroading, learning how trains work whether the real thing or something 160th the size of the real thing. Perhaps it is expanding your knowledge of how to properly run the electricity through the tracks and keep the trains running on schedule. How many hobbyists get started with model trains when they first wake up on Christmas morning to find a locomotive pulling cars on a track around the tree? But the toys of yesterday are no longer the model trains of today. These toys are all grown up.

If you were to pick up an HO-scale locomotive today, you would probably be surprised at its heft. The plastic trains that ran around the Christmas tree when you were a child are toys, these are the real thing. These true to scale models are made to last and their weight is evidence of that. The high quality is easily seen in the craftsmanship and materials used as well as in the intricate detail. The engines are much stronger than toys as well. While the weight helps keep the locomotive in contact with the track for better electrical connection, it is the strength of the engine that allows it to pull all those cars and go up 3% grades just like the real thing. Wheels of high quality are also essential to keep the train from derailing and also to help with that same electrical connection.

But electric trains aren’t the only option for model train enthusiasts. Some model train manufacturers offer steam locomotives to satisfy those who need to see the “smoke” floating into the sky. These locomotives offer a different kind of nostalgia for the guy (or gal) who just refuses to grow up all of the way! These model train engineers may never get to operate a real train, but watching these scale models go through their miniature world is the next best thing.

Perhaps if you ask a train engineer if they love their jobs, they would say that they do, or they might say that it is just a job. But if you ask the model train hobbyist if they enjoy their hobby, you will undoubtedly get an unequivocal YES!

Article courtesy of  “The Enthusists Guide to Model Trains”

N-Scale Trains

If you have been around the Model Train world for very long, you’ve heard the words gauge and scale over and over. When you first hear them, they may be intimidating, especially when veteran hobbyists use them so often and easily. I assure you though that once you have been around the hobby for a while, you too will be throwing those terms out as easily as you cite your own name.

Scale and gauge are important because they provide a standard that the various manufacturers of trains and tracks can use to ensure that a locomotive from one company will fit on the track of another company as long as the scale matches the gauge. There are quite a few different scales available which can be intimidating when you are starting out, but it can also be a boon for you. Each person has a limited amount of space available and for some, that may be the size of a warehouse, but for others it may be a small corner in their basement or garage. The different scales available can accommodate everyone. After a short time, you too will understand which letters relate to what scale and which track they run on. I promise!!

Of the four most popular scales, N-scale is the smallest at 1:160. That means that if you took an N scale model and was able to inflate it like a balloon to 160 times its size, you would end up with a full size train. N-scale is just a bit bigger than half the size of HO-scale which is 1:87. N-scale is popular among enthusiasts who do not have a lot of space, or those who do, but love to work with a large amount of scenery. There are smaller scales than the N-scale, but you will find that those, for the most part, also have less detail. Smaller size cars, track and scenery also allow a layout that is easy to add on to and to maintain. Also, as the train and track get smaller, the more your scenery will contribute to the overall beauty of the layout.

Only coming into prominence in the 1960’s, the N-scale is much newer than the O-scale or HO-scale which have been around for over 100 years. As with most of the scales, the letter N has meaning. N stands for nine millimeters between the rails which is less than ½ an inch (actually closer to about a third of an inch). As a reminder, gauge is the word used for track size. Another word you may hear in relation to the track is “code” which refers to the height of the rails.

If you don’t have a lot of space, or are more artistic (for scenery) than technical (for locomotives) you should consider N-scale. No matter what scale you choose, the fun doesn’t change.

Article courtesy of  “The Enthusists Guide to Model Trains”

H0-Scale Trains

There are many different scales (proportion to actual size) of model trains. This is due to many factors, like the amount of space the hobbyist has, how durable they need the model to be, and simple tradition. One of the more popular train scale models is the H0 scale. The H0 model train literally means “Half of the 0 scale”. This is not exactly correct though since the 0 scale is 1:48 and the H0 scale is 1:87. H0 scale trains use a standard track gauge that is 16.5mm between the rails. This distance comes from the standard actual distance between railroad rails of 4 feet 8 inches converted to millimeters, divided by 87 and rounded off.

This scale is popular because it is small enough to fit in a reasonable amount of space, but still be able to be creative with scenery and track layout. Fine detail that is lost in some of the smaller scale trains is retained in this scale. Another consideration is durability, especially if small children are in the house. H0 scale models are large enough to have some durability to reduce the risk of damage by small hands. Small parts are minimized while maintaining a reasonable level of detail. Because of these attributes, H0 has become one of the more sought after scales.

In the 1930’s, H0 scale trains first appeared in the United Kingdom to compete with the long established 00 scale. It failed to make headway in the UK with enthusiasts though and languished until the 1950’s when it started to gain a foothold in the US where there was a high demand for model trains that could be used as toys. The 1960’s saw continued growth of this scale whose popularity continues today. Six out of ten model train lovers prefer this scale to any other.

This popularity has led to a very large availability of train sets, tracks, accessories and locomotives throughout the world that are made by a number of companies. Collectors will find train sets in the HO scale complete with modular track, bench work kits, supplies for building models from scratch, and many models of locomotives available for any budget. Many hobbyists are so enthused that they will shop around the world for the specific piece that will make their layout perfect.

Model railroading brings out the train engineer in all of us. It is a nostalgic way of spending time with children, remembering small town life, and finding a creative outlet for your nervous energy. If you are just getting into this hobby, perhaps the H0 scale is the place to start due to the ready availability of the trains, tracks, and accessories.

Article courtesy of  “The Enthusists Guide to Model Trains”

G-Scale Trains

Model train enthusiasts are familiar with grouping model trains into scales. There are many scales to choose from, but the largest of the most popular scales, at 1:22 actual size is the G scale (i.e. the real thing is 22 times bigger than the model),. This scale was first made by the Ernst Paul Lehmann Patentwerk Company in Germany in 1881, often referred to as Lehmann Gross Bahn or LGB. English speakers may also know it as the “Lehman Big Train”. The US branch of the business is known as LGB of America. The G scale models are considerably larger than other scales with a train car height of about 6 inches. This is in comparison to an O scale train which at 1:48 scale is roughly half the size of a G scale train. This makes the O scale train car height about 3.6 inches.

Because G scale model trains are so large, they are also commonly referred to as “Garden Railroading” hence the name. Another interpretation of the G is that the word for big in German is “grob” and as we learned in the preceding paragraph, this scale has German origins. In order to run a G scale model train, you will need number 1 gauge track which measures 45mm between the rails.

G scale trains are very durable due to their size and so they make an excellent choice to be used outdoors in the garden. They require little or no maintenance other than wiping the track occasionally. Their durability also makes them ideal for smaller children to enjoy with their parents. Mom and Dad can be confident that their investment will last for many years even when toddlers are in the house. Small children usually lack the gentleness required of the smaller scale trains like an N scale train, which at 1.1 inches high is much more delicate than a G scale model. If the big train lover has the space, these trains can also be used indoors. Be careful though, these monsters have been known to take over a room or even an entire basement!

G scale trains are also made in the US by leading manufacturer Aristo-Craft and Bachmann in Irving, New Jersey. This company has been around for a while and also has a free club and forum on their website. You can also peruse the catalog or get an instruction manual for their trains.

Article courtesy of  “The Enthusists Guide to Model Trains”

A Good Quality Locomotive Will Make All The Difference!

It can be very frustrating having a locomotive that you need to push to get going or it suddenly speeds up and falls off the tracks.

A locomotive runs by picking up the electricity from the track through its wheels. The wheels transfer the electricity to the motor, which then turns the gears to drive the locomotive.

A locomotive with poor pickup on the wheels or a poor gear set up will give you lots of problems. As with most things, you get what you pay for… but this is one area you do not want to skimp on. A great operating locomotive is 90% of the way to having a fantastic model train layout.

When buying a locomotive these points are critical:

  • The amount of metal wheels that pick up the electricity – the more the better, but definitely more than 1 set.
  • A good gearing ratio and motor which requires the least amount of electricity to move the locomotive, with a slow but smooth start.
  • Flywheels at one or both ends of the motor to ensure a smooth take off and smooth stop.
  • The weight of the locomotive should be just right to maintain a good connection to the track at all times but not too heavy to make the locomotive sluggish.
  • The length of the locomotive – shorter diesel locomotives are less likely to derail on the curves than longer steam locomotives.

Most hobby shops will let you test the locomotive on their in-house test tracks before you buy.

Test the locomotive forwards and backwards… Check for a nice smooth take off and a nice smooth stop when the power is ramped up or down.

I usually go into my local hobby shop after doing my research online, test the locomotive, and then I negotiate the price… That tip has saved me nearly 30% of the retail price in some cases…

Buy quality when you buy your locomotives… I guarantee the investment will be well worth it.

Article courtesy of “Model Trains for Beginners”

How to Avoid Model Railroad Derailments

Are you frustrated because your model trains derail from time to time?

This was a major frustration for me. I would fix one section of the track and the next day the train would derail on another section.

It frustrated me to the point of wanting to give the hobby away..!

A smooth running model train is a dream for most model train beginners. But it is actually quite easy to achieve with a little attention to detail.

Here are 7 ways to stop your model train derailing: 

1 – Ensure every joint on your track is level, aligned and properly fitted.
Sounds like common sense? But poorly assembled track joints are the worst offenders for derailing model trains.

Slide your finger across the joint. It should feel level with the gap between the tracks kept to the absolute minimum. I solder my joints because this stops any problems with expansion and contraction opening and closing of the joints.

With a small file I am able to create a continuously level track and have a beautifully smooth running model train.

2 – Check your track gauge on joints, turnouts and frog assemblies.
Another common problem for model train derailments is incorrect track gauge. A tight track gauge will cause the wheels to climb up and derail off the track.

A wide track gauge will also derail your model train as the wheel flanges can not span the track properly. The gauge can be adjusted using a soldering iron to gently heat the rail, moving the rail to the correct position and allowing it to cool.

3 – Check your switch points for sharpness when they switch.
Some new switch points can be fairly blunt on the movable section where it strikes up against the stock rails. This can grab on the wheels and cause a model train derailment.

A small file can be used to gently smooth the moveable part of the points to allow a nice smooth transition. Remember to check the gauge in both positions.

4 – Check all your model train couplers.
A snagging coupler will cause model train derailments. Some new carriages can come with unpolished couplers which can catch and force derailments.

Clean off any rough edges and adjust the couplers for proper centering. The manufacturers usually provide these instructions.

5 – Add extra weight to your freight cars.
I find that most freight cars are too light and sometimes all the wheels do not contact the rails equally. By adding a small amount of weight to the cars your model train will run smoother and you will eliminate derailments, especially on the tight radiuses.

Just make sure you add the weight as low as possible to the car and in the center, keeping a low center of gravity.

6 – Check all your wheel sets for proper operation.
Wheel sets that are out of gauge, not aligned or moving freely will cause your model train to derail. Check your wheel sets and make sure that your carriages are not crabbing and forcing the wheel flanges into the rail, making it prone to derail.

The carriages should rock freely to take up any small imperfections in your track.

7 – Lubricate the squeaks.
Sometimes the smallest drop of light oil will cure a problem with your model train derailing. An un-lubricated or snaggy wheel, or coupler, can cause a slight tip over, or jar, which usually forces the wheel flange to snag the rail and derail your model train.

Oil attracts dust and can damage paintwork, so make sure you use only the smallest amount required.

Now you have no reason to put up with your model train derailing.

It usually comes down to a small bit of maintenance from time to time. With the quality most manufacturers are producing today, and some ongoing maintenance, you can make model train derailments a thing of the past.

Article courtesy of “Model Trains for Beginners”

Construction Planning For Model Train Layouts Explained

The hardest thing about construction planning on model railroad layouts is where to start. The project can seem so huge, it can seem daunting. Well, as the old Chinese proverb goes, “there is only one way to eat an elephant – just one bite at a time.” Constructing model train layouts is just like that. Take little steps at a time and do not bite off more than you can chew!

Model railroading is not a fad that you will grow out of in a few weeks. It will become a lifetime passion. Most model railroaders spend decades perfecting and expanding their train layout. So, you are not competing in a race to get your layout finished. It is better to take your time and do things well. Break your project down into small tasks and do each one carefully and thoroughly. You will experience fewer operational problems and avoid the frustration of when things fail to work properly.

Start by researching the section of full-size railroad that you will be modeling. Document it physically and operationally, and then scale it down to fit in a reasonable layout space.

The options are endless, but you will need to take the available space you have into consideration.

There is no point in trying to replicate hundreds of miles of mainline track if you only have limited space available. Your available space may also dictate, to some extent, which scale you decide to model.

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Popular themes to consider include: an engine terminal, shunting yards, a horseshoe curve, town scene, industrial theme, or even an important railroading location from history. Researching your ideas before you get started can be a lot of fun and help you avoid making unwanted mistakes.

Careful planning may lead to better or even best results. Constructing a layout for a model railroad may be tough. You have to be considerate on the space and style of the layout you want it to appear. As advised, doing some research could help to gather important inputs to make your model train layout more appealing.

A model railroad layout needs to look good at a first glance, but it also needs to stand up to close inspection and scrutiny. The point is; spectators will get up close to your model train layout and they will start to spot the small details the longer they stay. Adding detail to your model railroad layout can be the difference between an average layout and an impressive layout. Take your time and do things well.

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Deciding a Track Plan Before Building Your Model Railroad Layout

When planning construction of a model railroad there are all sorts of possible track configurations and plans to consider. It really depends on the space you have at your disposal and what type of train operation you would most enjoy.

Real railroads (prototype) run from one destination to another rather than go around in a circle. In reality, real railroads usually have hundreds, if not thousands, of miles of track to work with. Even in a scaled down form, most model railroads lack the space to fully replicate this, so a degree of adaptation and compromise is usually required.

Full size trains often run for long stretches over monotonous landscape, which if reconstructed on a model layout, would be rather boring. To give you an example, the Ghan Train in Australia, runs 1,880 miles across mostly barren desert. Imagine replicating that on a scaled down model railroad – it would probably stretch from one end of town to the other!

The main line begins at one point, and travels to another point, and stops, hence the term – a point to point railroad.

Although a point-to-point layout is necessary on real railroads, the format is not generally practical for the average home (or club) model train layout. Replicating the scale mileage of a true point-to-point railroad does not generally work that well.

To make things a little more practical (and interesting), prototype railroads have branch lines, sidings and other subsidiary systems. Adding these to a model layout can be a good idea.

Before departure, the trains are turned around at terminals using yards, loops, wyes, and turntables. A single or double-track main line usually stretches from point to point.

When planning your point-to-point layout, you might want to include switches and yards at one end of the layout, and a turnaround at the other.

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Most small layouts would not have enough space for two terminals, so use an “out-and-home” track configuration. An out-and-home layout accommodates only one terminal and is like a point-to-point layout double backing. The train journey would start at the terminal and it would pass through various landscapes, possibly a small town, and eventually arrive back at the same terminal.

Some might say it is cheating, but unless you have unlimited space (and money) for your layout, a little compromise is usually required.

Constructing an out-and-home layout usually enables a little more mileage between terminals. The train will still arrive back at the terminal in a reasonably short space of time.

You could add more realism and interest by combining an out-and-home, and point-to-point, format with continuous pikes. You would need a fair amount of space though.

Many model railroaders prefer a continuous layout because it allows for varied train movements which make operation more interesting.

Whatever track plan you decide, the important thing is to have fun.

Join Robert Anderson’s popular online Model Train Club to get lots of clever model railroad ideas to help you build the model train layout of your dreams!