Facts You Should Know About Model Railroading
Building a model railroad is a wonderful hobby that has been enjoyed by many, for generations. A model railroad hobbyist can call back to memory, getting a train set when they were children, and the interest and enjoyment they got from fixing together those model railways.
Model railroading can be regarded as one of the most versatile hobbies in the world.
It involves multiple disciplines like history, civil and mechanical engineering, carpentry, electrical wiring and circuitry, a good digital command control, painting, airbrushing, terrain and scenery and many others which are beyond mentioning here.
If you are interested in becoming a model railroad hobbyist and you are not sure where to begin, this article will put you through some of the things you need to know about model railroading.
This includes the size of trains, tracks, gauge, electric system and many more.
One can easily say that this is the world’s greatest hobby but some will wonder why you say so. In answering this, it is choice. Model railroading offers a variety of activities for ages and interest irrespective of your field.
Are you a historian? You will enjoy researching a definite time period to model your layout after. Do you enjoy woodworking? Then you can create a custom bench work and wooden structures.
Maybe you have an artistic flair, you can use it to create a distinct scenery, layout accessories and backdrops. The most important thing is that you don’t have to do all these to be a model railroad hobbyist.
You can specialize on the areas you find most interesting and learn others whenever you choose.
A good number of model railroad hobbyist have found out that the hobby can incorporate the entire family. Many children of all ages have always been fascinated by model trains.
What a better gift to give your children, than your time?
It creates precious memories together by sharing a long lifetime hobby which teaches patience and the joy of creating something with your own hands.
In this article, I hope to inspire you to begin enjoying this wonderful pastime as a model railroad hobbyist.
SIZE OF TRAINS AND GAUGE.
The size choices can be confusing to a model railroad hobbyist when you are new to the model train hobby. At first sight an “N” or a “G” in the name of the trains, you might think it’s an error or a mistake, but those letters contain very crucial information with regard to the size of the model.
It depicts the scale or the size of the model. You can differentiate a model and toy trains according to their scale and their gauge.
While a scale relates to the comparative ratio of measurements between a model and its full size prototype, a gauge which is the second aspect of a model’s size relates to the space between rails of the track.
For instance, a model of 1:29 scale is one 29th the size of the actual train. Note, a good precision is needed when dealing with gauge and so the manufacturers must guarantee that the actual gauge stated does fit on the correct size track.
G Scale: This is sometimes referred to as garden scale; they are some of the largest reproductions. The G is derived from grob, a German word for big. It has a scale of 1:22.5 but can range up to 1.29.
Many opt to use them outside with regard to their large size and that is why they are referred to as garden scale.
At the height of 8 inches, their equipment does not fit well inside most homes and many model railroaders enjoy planning their landscaping within their train and track. G-scale trains basically run on a 45mm gauge track.
O Scale: They have a scale of 1:48 and run on 31.8 mm gauge tracks. It is smaller than G scale but still appear large to a model railroader who often opt for smaller models. They were once popular, especially to children and so many of the older model trains you see are this size.
S Scale. This train size derives its source with the American flyer brand of model trains which was very popular during the 1950s, it’s about halfway between the O and HO size. These models are 1:64 scale and run on 11.4 mm gauge track.
HO scale. This is by far the most popular size for model trains, it is big enough to offer a lot of details in terms of reproduction and still small enough that most people can find a space in their homes for their track.
It is the most produced size and so, it has lots of trains and accessories to choose from as you enlarge your set. The scale is 1:87.1 and they run on 16.5mm gauge track.
N Scale. These trains are very compact and as well popular, its scale is 1:160 and it runs on 9mm gauge track. Their smaller size allows you to fit a sophisticated track layout into a small area.
It’s very fun to model railroad hobbyist who like to work with the scenery along their track and show little about the detail on the actual train.
In model railroading, a good track work is of great importance for a successful railroad operation.
In general, track is made up of four materials, they include: brass (the gold colored metal), we have the zinc-coated steel (dull whitish gray colored), steel and nickel silver (the color of a five-cent piece).
Among all, the first two types are regarded as the most common in train sets but the nickel silver is suggested base on its conductivity properties.
Brass conducts electricity very well but it needs a great care and cleaning. This is because the oxide it forms is a poor conductor, and entails frequenting the rails with a track cleaning block.
In using a zinc-coated steel, its coating can wear away thereby leaving the steel exposed and steel will rust.
The nickel silver is a good conductor as much but its oxide is still about good as its original thereby providing a reliable operation for railroading.
Sectional track: The materials for making tracks are not equal and they come in different lengths and shapes.
A model railroad hobbyist will generally use 9 inch long piece of sectional track that comes in sets. When laying of tracks, there are few important rules to remember.
The tighter the curve, the smaller the cars and locomotives you can run. A curve of 15″ will limit the size of the equipment that can run without jumping the track.
In sectional track, it uses a slotted clip called a rail joiner to connect the pieces. It provides both the electrical and physical connections. The holes in the middle of the ties can be used to tack the track in place.
To get electric power to your train track, most sets comes with a terminal section. Some sets have wires fastened to two rail joiners and these help to hide the wires.
There can be soldering of the wire at the outer face of the rail but you might risk melting the plastic ties thereby losing the actual gauge of the track.
The turnout otherwise known as switches come in different sizes and quality of construction. In turnout we have the left-hand or right-hand turnout.
Another type of turnout which is called selective turnout is responsible for the selection of way the power is routed by which way it is thrown.
When such is thrown for the siding, the siding is powered and the straight route goes dead. When this turnout is set for the main, the siding is dead.
Flexible track: This is probably the standard track for the majority of model railroading today. This type of track piece is made by most of the manufacturers, but differences still exist in this type of track.
This type of track has many advantages, it have fewer joints in a run, and it has the ability to curve to a chosen radius. In this type, a three-foot section of its track will replace four 9″ pieces of sectional track, and so you have fewer connections to worry about, and therefore a good advantage .
Model railroaders can make the curves to be what is needed instead of being trapped into a fixed radii which may not exactly fit the area you are using. In flexible track there is no provision for rail joiners.
How Being A Model Railroad Hobbyist Is The Greatest Hobby
At the heart of it all is our fascination with a reduced scale of all kinds. We find an enthusiasm in studying tiny duplicates of real objects. Though an exact model of a locomotive is a work of art in its own right, placing that same model in the context of a total setting makes it come to life.
Constructing a complete model railroad that establishes a sense of time and place, is the heart of this hobby. A model railroader comes from all walks of life and enjoys the hobby in many different ways.
There are model railroad hobbyist who rarely, if at all, build a model. Their joy comes from reading about the hobby and dream about the model railroad which they are going to build someday.
In general model railroading is the greatest hobby in the world because it allows you the freedom to build your own layout, and on the other hand you will develop a variety of skills.
A model railroading hobbyist has no limit on what to achieve. You can be of any age, gender and can be at any skill level as you start to create your own little world.
Here are some ideas to get you started.