Guide For First-Time Owners of Model Trains

Model trains have gained popularity in the role-play gaming industry. After all, people are typically enticed by games that give them the power and authority to build something, decide on things, and have their piece of the community.

Model trains are indeed a great option to achieve this satisfaction, but experts say it won’t be easy at first.

So, if you are planning to take on this new hobby, a newbie in the field, or a parent who wants to introduce model trains to your kid, here are some things you need to know as a beginner owner of model trains.

Where to put it. Early on, before even buying your model train, determine where you would put it in your space. It will also help you identify how much available space you have and, later on, help you decide the dimensions of the model train you will purchase.

Start with the small, basic ones. Gaining interest in a new hobby, such as model trains, can be quite exciting and overwhelming. You may want to try it all at once. But experts suggest that you start with the small and simple ones and gradually learn your way up to the more complicated pieces.

You may see experts playing with their model trains, making it look so easy, but in reality, they reveal that building a model train layout requires a lot of patience, determination, and effort. 

The most important thing to learn when starting is to gain experience and familiarization with model trains so you can eventually upgrade to more sophisticated models.

Choose your scales wisely. As mentioned, there are different dimensions and scales you can choose from. Do your research as to what is suitable for your available space, what are the basic ones, and how much they cost.

Among the most popular ones are the following:

  • HO scales (1:87.1)
  • N scales (1:160)
  • O (1:48 scale)

Essentially, prioritize your space and budget to determine which ones to buy. Avoid overspending on the wrong materials. You can learn to avoid these mistakes once you research and read some notes from expert and experienced model train owners.

a miniature town by the railroad

Invest in quality products. Nothing is more frustrating than finally building your model train layout and excitedly playing with it only to find out that the locomotive does not run smoothly because of poor quality tracks. Of course, these tracks need to be replaced with better ones. So, instead of saving money for buying cheaper products, you spend more on buying replacements and on improvements.

For this reason, you need to invest in quality-made products that might cost you more than the others but can assure you a worthwhile experience. Make sure that when buying your model trains, you can look at a wide range of options available. Remember, those good quality products are often costly, but they last for years than cheaper ones. And don’t forget to allot something for your maintenance.

Do not combine models early on. Kitbashing is the act of putting together different pieces of model trains from ready-made kits. Although experts make it appear easy when they do it, it is much more complicated than just putting those pieces together. It is a skill that needs to be learned through time. Stick with your first layout and gain experience from it before upgrading to these complex projects.

Relax and have fun. As a beginner owner of model trains, you will encounter some struggles and challenges along the way. These challenges may frustrate and test your patience but remember that it is all fun and games. Model trains should be enjoyed and proud of and not be a cause of your stress and frustration.

a person tinkering with train set

So, building your model train layout from scratch, make sure that you bring enough patience to read on instructions, be ready for some trial-and-error approach, and start over when you fail.

Keep in mind that you are doing this for fun.

Although you may still be starting as a model train, you may also want to learn about these other options that you can explore in the future.

In terms of tracks, your choice may depend on your specific needs. Snap tracks are the type that requires a more permanent location as they are nailed down to a flat surface, preferably wood. They may need extra commitment for being a permanent fixture of your space, but they sure bring a sense of pride when you flaunt it to your friends and home guests.

Meanwhile, the Easy Track model railway is the counterpart of the Snap tracks since they can be taken down once you are finished playing with them. It has its roadbed attached to it and what’s great about the Easy Track model is that you can create many configurations from its pieces. However, its major disadvantage is that it only is limited to the tracks you can buy.

Now, if you want a more digital approach to model train ownership, you can also try the digital trains. With a microchip embedded in each of the trains, you can easily maneuver your vehicle around the rails. You can also transform its surroundings into your preferred scenery.