With the commitment to model trains as a pastime in place, the hobbyist must then decide on two important issues which play a major role in the construction of a model train layout. The first decision involves the choice of an era or time period, and the second is of equal if not greater importance, and that is in choosing a scale in which to model.

Much has been written about both of these topics, and in the end, the final decision for each of these aspects of model railroading is a matter of personal choice. Suffice it to say, that to be able to make a decision regarding scale and era, a fair amount of research should occur before any type of decision is made.

With that said, there are a couple of contributing factors that are unavoidable when making a decision about scale or a time period. For example, when choosing a scale, this decision closely relates to the amount of space the hobbyist has available to build his or her layout.

If there is a limited amount of space available, this will require that a smaller scale be chosen, and conversely, if the model railroader has an expansive space in which to build his railroad, the number of scales from which to choose from isn’t quite as narrow.

Another contributing factor which will influence, and must be considered, which most of us have to contend with, is in regard to the amount of money one can realistically invest in their hobby. Fortunately, a model train layout can be built over an extended period of time. For many, however, this may not be satisfactory, and luckily there is a solution to this problem.

The model railroader can elect to scratch build many things which comprise a model train layout. Where it may be true that this approach represents a more economical way to construct a layout, there are also those hobbyist who as a matter of preference choose to scratch build.

What Is Scratch Building?

As the phrase suggests, it quite literally means building whatever component of a model railroad that is selected from scratch and typically using raw materials, versus purchasing something that has been preassembled. The former can include bridges, tunnels, water effects, roads, mountain ranges, hills, trees, rocks, structures, and for that matter entire cities. For those who are more industrious even locomotives and rolling stock can be scratch built.

Not only can you build something for your model railroad literally from scratch, you can also combine parts from various kits to build any one of the various things which were mentioned in the previous paragraph. If your ultimate goal is to create a model railroad which is unique and has your personal signature on it…..then this may be a modeling method that is perfect for you as hobbyist.

If you have an expressed interest in scratch building, there is one invaluable resource which is available online, and this site will aid in insuring that whatever you choose to build can and will be constructed in exacting detail.

This websites address is, and of course they sell and create scale model plans for a variety of things. If you’re going to model something for your layout from scratch, having a blueprint or plan for the component is an invaluable resource.

It isn’t imperative or written in stone that you should scratch build every single thing on your layout, but one should consider the value of making a decision to scratch build some of the elements which comprise the scenery on a model train layout.

The experience of building anything from the ground up with your own hands and through your own ingenuity is priceless, and when the project is complete it is an invaluable source of pride as well. A word of caution at this juncture is important to note however:

If you are new to model railroading it would be advisable to actually begin by purchasing a pre-built kit of some sort. This allows the novice an opportunity to closely examine how a structure or some other item was pre-constructed by a manufacturer, and can serve as useful guide for a scratch building project.

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