Starting Your First Model Railway

For kids big and small alike, a model railway guarantees endless possibilities limited only by your imagination. But where do you start?

It’s best to buy a train set at first as these usually come with everything you need to get started – a basic oval of track, a locomotive and rolling stock and a controller and power supply. Also, some brands supply a “track-mat” with the plan of a complete layout printed on it to help guide you. Once you’ve got your train set up and running, it’s a simple matter of adding extra track to create the layout you want. 

“Track Packs” are a cost-effective way to increase the size and shape of your layout, though they are designed to follow the plans on the track-mat. This doesn’t mean you can’t rearrange them to your own design, however, and both can be a lot of fun, especially once you start adding buildings and other scenery!

Buildings are usually designed to a set scale, referred to as a “gauge”, and there are several available. The most common, however, is what is known as “OO” (double-O) gauge and this is what most of the popular brands are designed to fit. Buildings usually require some assembly, but this is never difficult. Beyond simply setting out your buildings on your layout (including stations, of course), there is always the possibility of making your own landscape. Packs of model earth, sand, bricks and more will let you create rolling hills and towns and cities for your trains to run through, not to mention packs of people of all shapes and sizes and vehicles both vintage and modern.

And not forgetting the central element of any train set – the trains!

The major manufacturers offer a range of locomotives from the glory days of steam through to the advent of diesel and on to the latest high speed electrics and it’s up to you whether you want to specialise in one particular era, or mix and match to your heart’s content. The same goes for rolling stock, by which we mean passenger carriages and freight wagons. Again, feel free to model a specific train, such as the Flying Scotsman and its famous Pullman services, or mix freight and passenger stock as you see fit.

As your layout expands, you will need to consider power and control. The basic train sets that we stock all come with the means to power the included track and to power it. However, as you add more ovals and sidings and passing loops, you will need to add more power sources. This is especially true when adding extra ovals of track as each oval is a separate electric circuit. Also, you will need to add another controller if you want to run a train on each oval at the same time (it is possible to use one controller for more than one oval, but your trains will start and stop at the same time and run at the same speed). Some manufacturers offer controllers specifically designed to work with multiple ovals of track and, whilst more expensive, their build quality is worth the price.

You can see our stock both in store and online.

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