How to Build a Model Railway

how to build a model railway

If you have decided to start building your own model railway, the first step is building a base. You will also need to decide on your track plan and the type of benchwork you want. The trackwork and rolling stock will determine the cost of the layout, so it’s vital to choose the right materials and tools to start your project. Following these steps will help you build a model railway that will last for years.

Building A Base For Your Model Railroad

The first step in building a model railroad is to make a baseboard. Most model railroad builders prefer to use permanent tracks, which require nailing to the baseboard. Building a baseboard requires carpentry skills and involves joining blocks of timber to a plywood top. Once the baseboard is completed, it is time to start laying track. After you have built the baseboard, you can add a backdrop and wire track to finish the terrain.

Once you have a sturdy base, you can begin adding scenery. There are many different materials to choose from. You can use plaster or insulation board. While plaster is convenient, it doesn’t come in convenient ground simulating colors. Choose brown or other neutral colors for the base. You can also add a tree or other landscaping feature to give it some detail. Lastly, you can finish the base with paint, if you like.

To build a model railroad benchwork, you need to prepare a level surface. Next, lay a 4×8 foot sheet of plywood on top of it. Use a nail gun to attach the plywood to the framework. You should then attach the legs with 1/4-inch bolts. The video below shows you the step-by-step process of building a benchwork. The video also gives you tips on how to choose wood for the base and how to apply glue.

Step 1 – Choose Your Track Plan

Before you start building your model railway layout, it’s important to choose a track plan. This will ensure that your layout fits into the space available. A realistic track plan will be scaled to the available space, while allowing you to incorporate terrain, roads, towns, buildings, and other details. However, don’t go overboard – if your track plan is too detailed, your layout could look like spaghetti!

Once you have chosen your track plan, you can create the layout design. Choose one with interchanges to make the operation more realistic. If you can’t decide on the exact layout of your track plan, you can create software to help you visualize the layout. It will even let you run train simulations to see how your layout will look like. When you finish designing your layout, you’ll be glad you chose a plan.

When creating your track plan, you’ll need to consider the polarity of each track section. If you’re planning on looping trains, make sure to draw railgaps between them to prevent electrical shorts. For instance, if you’re building a loop with multiple tracks, you should create a track for each car to unload to a truck.

Step 2 – Building Benchwork

There are many ways to build benchwork for a model railroad. If you are building a seasonal or temporary layout, you may be able to make do with plywood or 3×6 ft doors. You can also purchase plywood from a building store. You may also want to use an old wooden kitchen table or folding table. If you have children, you might want to get permission from them before building the benchwork.

First, determine how much benchwork you will need. The size of your bench will depend on the size of your track plan. When you lay your track, you’ll see if you can fit all of the curves on your bench. If not, you’ll have constant derailments. If your benchwork is too small, you may not have room for alterations. Once you’ve determined the number of tracks you’ll need, you can begin building your benchwork.

Once you’ve decided on the size of your benchwork, you’ll need to determine how you want to build it. Most modelers build a benchwork framework using a four-foot by eight-foot sheet of plywood decking. The legs of the benchwork will typically be about 28 inches long. You can also add bracing to the legs. If you decide to use a plywood bench, make sure you have a drywall-covered wall before you start cutting.

Step 3 – Laying & Securing the Trackwork

When constructing a model railway, it is essential to ensure that the trackwork is level. Track sections should be secured with cross-ties in four points and two in the middle. This will prevent the tracks from buckling in summer and separating in winter. In addition, it is important to keep the rails straight to avoid sags later on.

If your trackwork is uneven, you should use rail nippers to level it. These tools are available at hobby shops and are specially designed for cutting model rail. It is essential to use the correct tools for the job, however, as they may damage wire or other products. Once the track is level, you can apply paint and ballast to finish the layout.

If you are planning to paint the trackwork, you can use water-based acrylic paints to make it look more realistic. For example, you can use “Roof Brown” or “Grimy Black” from Poly Scale. However, you should remember that acrylic paint dries very quickly and will clog your airbrush if not cleaned regularly. To prevent this, soak the airbrush parts in water while cleaning the rails. When you’re done painting, you should clean the rails as soon as possible to prevent them from absorbing any paint. If you use oil on the rails, the cleaning should be easier.

Step 4 – Wiring the model train layout

To get started on wiring the model train layout, you should start by building the basic platform. Next, you should add accessories and the command control. Many model train manufacturers provide recommendations for wire size and connectors. While most of the models are low voltage and low amperage, it’s still best to use the manufacturer’s recommendations. The good news is that wiring the model train layout is not as complicated as you might think.

Before you start wiring, you need to understand the concept of’short test’. To make sure your wiring is safe, you need to run a short test by flipping the turnouts. The short test is a safety feature used by manufacturers to prevent melting and arcing of the wires. Then, you need to connect the feeder wires to the power bus using suitcase connectors. Use slip joint pliers to install these connectors.

Next, you need to wire your layout. You can use two-wire transformers, but this option is only suitable for ovals that are forty to sixty feet long. Moreover, the transformer has a voltage drop over a long distance, so you need to use a DC or DCC wiring system. If you intend to have multiple locomotives, you may want to use DC or DCC wiring.

Theme For Your Railroad – Location & Era

To create a layout that is historically accurate, you’ll need to determine the location and era of your railroad. Then you can choose locomotives and rolling stock appropriate to the era. For example, if your railroad is based in the early twentieth century, you may want to use modern-style locomotives. Alternatively, you could use early twentieth-century era trains and add modern buildings. Adding specific elements will make your layout come to life and give your trains a sense of scale.

While there are many different themes for model railroads, there are some common patterns to consider. For example, some model railroaders base their entire layout on a common theme, such as narrow gauge railroading, logging, or early rail railroads. If you’d like to build a railroad that is set in the Rocky Mountains, you can choose a theme that reflects these regions. After determining the era and location of your railroad, you can choose the scale and style of your layout.

Scale To Be Used For Your Railroad Modelling

There are two types of scales for railroad modelling. One is the American OO scale, and the other is the British Standard gauge, commonly known as On30. American OO scale trains are designed to run on 19mm track, which is the same size as the standard railway gauge in the real world. However, even a small G scale layout requires a fair amount of real-world space. As a result, it is not advisable to run your OO trains on HO scale track. On30 is a better choice, and it is also more economical.

HO and N scale models are two very different types of model railroads, and each has its own pros and cons. HO scale is the most popular among model railroaders, and it allows them to create a broad range of models. As a result, many modelers begin with HO scale equipment and a flat sheet of plywood. It is important to know which scale is right for you. If you’re unsure, check out the National Model Railroad Association’s website.

Displays – Wall to Wall vs Shelf Layouts

If you’re interested in model railroading, then you might have wondered about wall to wall and shelf layouts. These two display styles are very different, but share several common characteristics. First, they are both used to display model railroads. One type of display is often called a fiddleyard, and it uses the concept of a terminus station that sits at one end of the layout. Another layout style is called a shelf layout, and it’s designed to be arranged in a circular fashion. Both designs are used to simulate the workings of a real railroad.

Besides these common advantages, shelf layouts are also quite flexible and versatile. Since they typically take up less space, these displays are ideal for those with limited space. Unlike continuous run layouts, shelf layouts can accommodate trains, scenery, and people. They can also be operated quickly and easily. However, they do have some drawbacks. For example, they do not have a continuous loop of track, which makes them less functional.

About the Author Jamie


Get In Touch