Model Train Layout Designs (Part One)

If you were to interpret the phrase model train layout designs literally, one would think that this subject pertains specifically to design, arrangement, and placement of your model railroad tracks. However, there actually is a great deal more to this subject than track design, and much is determined prior to ever laying one piece of track for your layout.

Where To Begin

The first step in creating a model train layout involves determining where you can actually set-up your model railroading empire. Location is an important issue as it will control and determine other factors as well.

You may be able to use a spare room in your home, or you may have a basement with plenty of room, or a garage space, or attic space, or you may live in an apartment or condominium which has limited space. All of these types of areas will play an important role in determining the size of your layout as well as the scale you work with.

It is not uncommon for those who have limited space to work with one of the smaller scales such as the N scale which is accommodative to smaller spaces. With that said, it is also important to note that there are hobbyist who choose the N scale because of there own personal preferences regardless of the amount of space they have available.

Even with a limited budget, a larger area offers an opportunity for future growth because the construction of a model railroad can be built in stages, and as funds become available. Before, the construction of your layout can begin, it is essential that dimensions of the space are taken, taking note of everything in the room.

You may want to draw everything in this space out on graph paper using a dimensional scale which can be used at a future date when you begin the construction of your railroad.

When this task is completed, you’ll now want to invest time in deciding on a theme or era, as well as the type of railroading you want to focus on. For example, do you want to concentrate on rail fanning, passenger and freight operation, way freight, or industrial switching or a combination of more than one of these types of railroading?

As for a theme, era, or period this decision will require some research. You may want to model your layout after a prototype railroad during a certain time period. If this is the choice you decide on, keep in mind that your efforts to replicate a prototype railroad may not be perfect, but you should get pretty close to the real thing.

If you have a specific location in mind, this will make it much easier to decide on the type of railroading you want to commit to, and of course by pre-planning this phase of your railroad, other decisions will be much easier to make. More than anything else your goal is to create a realistic and artistic result.

Along with the previously mentioned issues, operation should also be included in the initial planning phase. In fact, there are model railroaders who would suggest that you place operation at the top of your list when planning a model railroad.

You see, in spite of all of the time and effort that a hobbyist may invest in creating a perfectly replicated model railroad, it may just become a dust collector in no time at all if operation isn’t planned out for running your trains. This is what maintains the interest of railroaders, and is an activity which can be shared with other hobbyist as well for many months and years.

The next part of this article will cover creating and drawing track plans and why this is so important to include as part of pre-planning a model railroad.

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