You see some incredible piece of Model Train layout somewhere and the first thing that comes into your mind is: how did they do it? How much did they suffer to get it that way? Or, how long did they take to make it that way?
You start to feel a headache and think: I can’t do that without going through a very though process!
Well, that’s were your love for the Model Train hobby is put to the test.
And I can say to you this: that mainly happens because you start loosing the fun of it and see only mountains to climb.
But I can say this too: you don’t need to feel that way.
The whole process can be tough, that’s a fact, but it doesn’t need to. However, it must be fun for sure. And that’s one of the keys that will allow you to build great scenes and, in turn, have all that fun reflected in the layout.
You just have to go through some basic steps of planning and assessing your options.
If you do that, everything else down the road (or the track if you prefer) will be much easier and enjoyable.
So, let’s have a look how proper planning and option making are the foundations of your success in Model Railroading.
Plan, plan, plan … and plan once more.
For planning you have two things to consider: the space available and the track layout that you want to put in it.
For the space available you’ll have to see where you can build your Model Train but also you have to consider that you must be able to move around the scene and, sometimes, also into the scene. You must be able to reach any point of the layout with out a problem. This goes both for the construction phase as well as the running part.
Once the space you can spare is defined then you can plan your layout track.
Now, you can start designing one from scratch, and that’s OK, or you can start from one that’s already been designed and adapt. There are thousands of drawings available in the net. Usually the problem is to choose one from such broad range of options.
Either way, spend some time going though some iterations, adapting the layout to the space you have and vice-versa.
You can use some of the software that’s available today to help you in planning the layouts. You’ll find a range from free to paid software and almost any of them can help you. Just be careful though because some of the software may only be targeted to a specific brand.
Planning this way can take some time but it will enable you design a layout that’s balanced, up to your wishes and the process is fun.
Consider the options
With the track designed it’s time to complete the scene, which basically means, how much detail.
The amount of detail that you can have in your scene will be determined by the spare space that’s left after you lay the tracks.
Again, go back to the drawing board and start playing around to see how the landscape will look like and how you can distribute all those buildings, tunnels, bridges, etc.
As before, don’t settle for the first choice, dig deeper and keep improving it.
Of course, the budget that you have for your project will impact your choices but don’t give up. Repeating the cycle a few times usually ends in you getting more value for the money than you previously had.
A fun exercise is always to close your eyes and try to visualize the scene in your head. This can be difficult at the start but, as the time passes, you’ll find it easier to see your layout in your head and the whole process will start to be quicker.
Ah, and you’ll have fun with it also.
Don’t forget: have fun
In the end, for a Model Railroad hobbyist the main goal is to have fun throughout the process. You should enjoy it either in the planning or when you’re building or when you’re running it.
For every phase in the project allow your imagination to run wild and see the possibilities. There’s always some sort of track layout and scenery design that will fit your style. Don’t rush, just let it flow.
You’ll notice the difference.