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[ARTICLE] Toy Model Trains: Model Railroading Begins, by Charlotte Mathes
For a hobby that stretches from 3 year olds to 83+ year olds,try model railroading. The whole family can plug-in to the fun at any age. While the price of the hobby is a factor even in toy model trains, discounted prices can be found on eBay.com and Amazon.com. Model trains are a hobby that is frustrating, demanding and rewarding.
The unending variation in trains and products give hobbyists choices from which they can create endless environments. Model trains run the gamut in size from the tiny z scale to the Garden Railway g scale. You may even see a model train scale you can ride on, especially at zoos.
Hobbyists fall into two large groups, those who focus on the trains and those who concentrate on the scenery elements. Among those who specialize in the trains are the hobbyists that like to model train details including working lights, sounds and tiny details for the life like trains. The tiny details used in modeling defines the train's realism. The model train may be small and the life-sized train large but the details of both are precise.
Train modelers are found internationally, in Europe, in the Far East and nationally in the USA West and Appalachian Mountains of the East.US modelers often model the early history of railroading in the British Steam Era.
To get started you have many decisions to make. The first and biggest decision answers this question. What kind of space or work area do you have for your layout? If your space is small, say 2 foot by 8 foot then you will want to use one of the smaller scales like a z or n scale. A large space, like half your garage or basement will accommodate an ho or o scale train layout. The g scale is perfect for outside track along with live steam sizes.
Next, you will want to make a budget for your train. Some expenses include the train, track, bench scenery, modeling supplies. The cost of the hobby has disappointed many a railroader with ambitious plans. For most of us our eyes are bigger than our pocketbooks. The cost alone is sometimes the deciding factor as to scale. Reducing your plan will provide speed for completion and dollars for more pieces. Remember the further you go to each side of the HO scale, the more the scales cost. When cost is a factor, you will find a compromise in the detail and realism.
The third decision will be choosing the Era you will be modeling. The number of time periods available give you variation in buiding your world. You can choose from the earliest steam trains to swanky diesel locomotives produced by EMD, GE and others. Nostalgia is usually the rule of the day encouraging us to choose the trains of our youth. The Era is a personal preference and chosen for many different reasons. The layout may be a location you've lived or wanted to live, a city or the rolling prairie or a mountain range rimming the ocean. The role of the railroad world builder can be demanding and yet oddly invigorating. The decisions are yours. Make your decisions; create your railway and happy railroading.
Charlotte Mathes and Max Mathes-Redd make up the The Mathes Group, an educational family business. Both are teachers and historians. See additional articles on:
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