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Model Railroading

as a hobby

I’m proud to be a railway modeler. It means more to me to be on the cover of Model Railroader than to be on the cover of a music magazine.

Rod Stewart, singer and model railroader

Model railroading is the hobby of creating miniature replicas of real or fictional railroads, trains, and scenery. It is a fun and rewarding hobby that can stimulate your creativity and imagination, develop your skills and knowledge, provide relaxation and enjoyment, and connect you with other hobbyists and friends. To start model railroading, you can buy or borrow a train set.

Helpful content to start model railroading as a hobby

We aim to provide accurate information, but errors might be found. Always exercise judgment and discretion.

Videos

Short visual inspiration.

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YouTube | LARGEST family owned O-Gauge train layout in the America!! – Cornerfield Model Railroad Museum
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YouTube | One Of The Best and Most Detailed Model Railroad Layouts in the World 4K UHD
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YouTube | Rod Stewart’s model train set is mind-blowingly realistic | Your Morning
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YouTube | How to Start Model Railroading As A Beginner

Podcasts

Play an episode while exploring the page.

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Spotify | Around The Layout – A Model Railroad Podcast
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Spotify | The Crossing Gate. Model railroad discussion.
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Spotify | Model Railroad Talk
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Spotify | Hornby Beyond The Buffers

Model railroading is one of the oldest and most popular hobbies in the world. It dates back to the late 19th century, when the first toy trains were invented. Today, there are millions of model railroaders around the world, who belong to various clubs, associations, and organizations.

Terms

Basic lingo for orientation.

  • Accessories: Any of a number of electrically operated items on the layout, other than the locomotives and track. Includes switch machines, lighting for buildings, small motors for animation, etc.
  • Airbrush: An air-powered system for applying paint from a miniature spray gun. It allows extremely thin, smooth layers of paint to be applied to a model and can also be used for special effects such as weathering.
  • Backdrop: A photo, painting, or relief model on a wall or partition continuing the background scenery to or above the horizon line; or sometimes the wall or partition behind a modeled scene upon which the photo, painting, or relief model is or is to be applied.
  • Benchwork: The structure which holds up the track and scenery of a layout.
  • Code: The height of the rail measured in thousandths of an inch.
  • Command station: The brains’ of a DCC system, a micro-computer that communicates with the decoders in the locomotives or accessories.
  • DCC: Digital Command and Control. Trains and accessories are controlled by digital signals allowing trains to be individually controlled.
  • Gauge: The distance between each rail.
  • HO scale: A scale of model railroading that uses a ratio of 1:87, meaning that one inch on the model equals 87 inches on the real thing. HO scale is the most popular and widely available scale in the hobby, as it offers a good balance between detail and space. HO scale models run on a standard gauge track with a width of 16.5 mm (0.65 in).
  • N scale: A scale of model railroading that uses a ratio of 1:160, meaning that one inch on the model equals 160 inches on the real thing. N scale is the second most popular and widely available scale in the hobby, as it offers a great option for small spaces and large layouts. N scale models run on a standard gauge track with a width of 9 mm (0.354 in).

How to start model railroading as a hobby

First moves for getting acquainted and breaking the ice.

Books

Get read(y).

Model railroading is a hobby that can benefit your physical, mental, and emotional health. It can improve your hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, spatial awareness, problem-solving skills, memory, concentration, etc. It can also reduce your stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, etc.

How-tos

Step-by-step tutorials.

Articles

Further reading.

Websites

Go-tos for information.

Model railroading is a hobby that can foster your creativity and imagination. You can use various techniques and materials to create realistic and artistic representations of trains and scenery. You can also invent your own fictional or fantasy worlds with your own rules and stories.

Movies

Nothing like a film for inspiration.

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YouTube | “MODEL RAILROADING UNLIMITED” 1970s SCALE MODEL TRAINS PROMO FILM WARD KIMBALL HO SCALE XD50084

FAQS

Get a clue.

What is model railroading?

Model railroading is the hobby of creating miniature replicas of real or fictional railroads, trains, and scenery. Model railroaders use various techniques and materials to build and operate their layouts, which can range from simple loops of track on a table to elaborate and realistic landscapes with multiple trains and accessories.

How do I start model railroading?

– Decide on a scale and gauge that suit your preferences, budget, and space.
– Choose a theme or era that interests you.
– Plan your layout design.

How much does model railroading cost?

Model railroading can cost as little or as much as you want it to. The cost depends on many factors, such as the scale and gauge you choose, the quality and quantity of products you buy or build, the complexity and size of your layout design, etc. You can start with a basic train set that includes everything you need for a simple layout for under $100.

Apps

Smart assistance.

Products

Essentials to have.

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YouTube | 2023 Bachmann USA Catalog Announcements
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YouTube | Hornby 2023 Range Revealed: All The Details You Need To Know

Courses

Get smart.

Near You

Get together.

Model railroading is a hobby that can enhance your knowledge and skills in various fields. You can learn about engineering, electronics, art, history, geography, etc. You can also improve your abilities in planning, designing, building, wiring, operating, maintaining, etc.

Newsletters

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Tips

Additional advice for beginners.