The artistic element of Model trains and model railroading is one that has captured hobbyists worldwide for ages, and is often hailed as a magnificent way to spend time and express oneself. But on this website I want to explain the basics, give some advice, and explain the complicated advanced stuff as well. So it’s important for me to point out that there’s a lot more to the aspect of model trains then just collecting the model locomotives themselves. Rather, the model train hobby stretches to include the building of model railroad scenery as well as the knowledge that accompanies model trains such as the gauges and the variety of different scales.
Much like other collectibles, the scale of a model train refers to the size of the model train in comparison to it’s larger real prototype. There are a ton of model train scales, but I’ll point out the four most popular in today’s market. The G scale, which has a ratio of 1:22 and the O scale of which has a ratio of 1:48 are often grouped together into the LARGER-SCALE trains category. They run on a No. 1 track which is the larger of model railroad tracks. Next up, you have the HO scale train which has a ratio of just 1:87 and it is actually half the size of the O scale locomotives – HO literally stands for Half of O. Then we have the N Scale model trains which consist of a ratio of 1:160 and is half a size smaller than the HO scale in size. Now, you may seem overwhelmed, thinking which one do I want to choose, but in reality each scale bases itself upon different purposes and good points.

Now there are other less popular model train scales such as the S scale, the TT scale, and the Z scale. To lightly summarize these three sizes, the S scale has a ratio of 1:64 of the actual train’s size, while the TT scale has a ratio of just 1:120 which is slightly larger than that of the N Scale model trains. And lastly, we ahve the Z scale which possesses a ratio of 1:220 coming in at even smaller of a size than the N Scale come in at in sizing.

Here is the EXACT guide I used when, years ago I stumbled upon my Grandfather’s (on my father’s side) massive model railroad set / collection. This kicked it all off for me, and then it became a extensive hobby. It explains very in depth about the different model train scales and gauges, includes model railroad layouts and track plans, and so much more regarding railroad scenery techniques. You can check it out here whenever you’re ready to, and of course, if you’d like to:

Next we move onto model train gauge, and that refers to the size of the track between the two rails of the train track itself. Because there were so many different manufacturers crafting trains and developing model train tracks, they all had to reach an agreement upon certain sizes to make it so that the trains and tracks were interchangeable with one another. Put this more simply, a standard gauge is usually four feet and eight and a half inches in measurement. Meanwhile a narrow gauge is a term that’s coined for rails that are closer together than the distance of the standard gauge tracks. This is usually around three feet to three and a half feet total, but can sometimes vary (this is just me speaking from experience).
One other MAJOR contributor to the addictability of this hobby would certainly have to be that of model railroad scenery and building a complex model track layout for your project. I like to place and run my trains through landscape layouts to create differences. Each of my layouts is typically designed and crafted to fit the vision that I may have for that particular setup or scenery. When you’re designing your own layout, you have to remember there’s really no right or no wrong (to an extent), and you are free to include mountain scenery, variations of trees, different rock formations, rolling valley hills, and extensive fields. I have even created little dramatic things like bodies of water, things like ponds, rivers, streams, lakes, and one time I culminated a mini waterfall which took up a bit of my time but was well worth it in the end of the project build.

While building your track and before building, during the planning phases, you need to figure out where to place your track with in the landscape you are building, and this is often time consuming because it can be A LOT of fun. No, I’m not exaggerating, I genuinely mean that. Your track can be laid out in such a way that it enables your model locomotive to constantly run itself in a loop. It’s most common to lay them out in the basic oval shape, a figure eight, twice around which is two loops or even in a dogbone shape or design. However, it’s often good practice to lay your train track layouts in a wide curve to compensate for g-forces (look those up if you don’t know – it’s a whole different topic), and this way your trail will not derail itself while traveling around the model railroad track.

For me and many others, building model trains and model railroading can be such a large part of the world of hobbies and our lives. People young and old have gotten caught up in its thrill and vast hours and years of excitement. One of the most rewarding and enjoyable parts of building model trains is the ability to share the experience together with your kids or your grand kids.

I hope you’ll take the time to check around my pages and learn some more about this topic, as you can see – I’m VERY passionate about this and I hope that I can rub that passion off onto my readers and get them to become just as enthusiastic and knowledgeable about this hobby and craft as I have become over the years.

Thanks so much for reading,
Stephen Davis

PS: Below I’ve included a link to the guide I got started off with. Check it out if you feel so inclined to do so!

Again, this is the same guide I used which taught me ALL of the beginner stuff I needed to know and helped me from where to go after that. I cannot recommend this ENOUGH, it is seriously PACKED full of information and it’s at a bargain of a price. Just click the image below and check it out for yourself. You’ll thank me later — I promise!