Getting Started in the Hobby of Model Railroading
Why would you want to play with model trains?
Sam Posey, the Grand Prix legend and model railroader, offers this explanation in his book Playing with Trains.

"Trains are a part of our national heritage
---- and modeling them is too.
It's a hobby with proven staying power because so much is involved:
Imagination. Building. Tinkering. Inventing. Self-expression."

By participating in this hobby, you will be exposed to many different skills and disciplines including
photography, history, art, computers, carpentry, collecting, reading and research.
The great thing about the hobby is that, while you will become involved in all of these
disciplines, you need relatively little prior knowledge to begin
The practice of the hobby will lead you to explore these areas in an enjoyable way.
This will be your model railroad and you can do whatever you want with it.
Build it as big or small as your space, and budget, will allow.
Model any time or anywhere you choose.Put a vast amount of time and effort into detail on your layout or
be an arm-chair modeler and enjoy the many books, videos and magazines about railroading,
both real and modeled,that are available.

The first step is to do your homework.

There are many books and magazines available with articles on how to get started in the
hobby to provide all the basic information you need.
We stock many of these books in our store so feel free to come by the store,
browse our book selection and ask our
knowledgeable staff anything you might want to know.
We are always more than willing to help someone get started in the hobby we enjoy so much.
If you can't make it to the store feel free to browse our on-line inventory
and purchase a book today, give us a call to
ask questions at 1-800-334-2466 or e-mail us at

Here are some basic questions that you will need to answer in order to get started in the hobby.
The first issue is space.
How much space you have to allocate to your model railroad will help you
to determine which scale, or size, you will be working with.
Scale is the size of the model in relation to the real thing.
For example, HO scale is 1:87 scale which means that the model is 87 times smaller than the real thing.

Here are the major scales listed from smallest to largest with a helpful scale chart:

Gn3 (G Scale) 1:22.5

O Scale 1:48

On30 1:48 (But using HO Scale track)
S Scale 1:64

HO Scale 1:87

N Scale 1:160

Z Scale 1:220

Regardless of which scale you choose, a 4 foot by 8 foot layout is a good size to start with.
This will be your learning railroad. Be sure to finish building this railroad.
Many beginners start building a layout and eventually find
something they don't like about it so they scrap it and start over, or quit all together.
With this layout you should be willing to accept the mistakes you make.
Use it to practice techniques and decide which products to use for a more refined
layout in the future. Be sure to complete all phases of this layout to gain
experience with track layout design, wiring, scenery, and layout operations.

There is one guarantee in this hobby; your likes and dislikes will change.
Over time you will learn about new techniques, new railroads, and simply decide to try new things.
The great thing about this hobby is that you can always change your
layout and account for new tastes. You can constantly work to
take on more detailed and difficult tasks, expand your layout, and simply add to the
layout you already have.
Model railroading is a hobby you can enjoy for a lifetime.

One of the best resources for a beginner is simply asking someone
with experience questions about the hobby.
Feel free to contact anyone on our staff via the information
listed on our Contact Us page.