4 Easy Steps to Building a Great Model Train Layout

The Proper Size

The best way to determine the proper size for your model train layout is by deciding where it will be placed. Do you have the whole basement of your house available? How about on top of the pool table? Is the only space available a small section of a room in your apartment. Does the train table have to be taken apart and stored after each use. Is there room for expansion? These are the just a few of the many questions that need to be considered.

What is the proper Bench Work?

A model train table can be as simple as a sheet of plywood placed over 2 saw horses or a pool table. It can even be converted from a table tennis table. Some options include bench work that can be dismantled into several sections. Something like this is very suitable for storing under the bed when you are finished using it.

A nice start is with a 3/8″ to 3/4″ thick sheet of 4’x8′ plywood. This can be attached to a frame built from 1″x4″ wood planks. The legs can be attached by screws or carriage bolts with wing nuts for easy disassembly. A nice way of breaking this down even further is to cut the top into 2 4’x4′ sections that can be separated and locked together with pin dowels and a simple hook and eye or table latch.

Picking your Trains.

One of the things that make this hobby so interesting is the many choices of model trains. You have the freight trains, the passenger trains, the steam locomotives, the diesel locomotives, the electric powered locomotives. Then the large variety of each. You can set up your train table to have one, two, or three levels. Each level can be interconnected so the trains can change levels and pass each other on sidings.

Different types of model trains can be purchased at hobby shops, train shows, and the internet. eBay auctions are a great source of obtaining all types of equipment and accessories at a great price.

Setting up your scenery.

During the track and layout planning process, it is a good idea to try and envision what type of scenery you will have. Will you have mountains with a tunnel, how about a farm house, and then a city scene with a train station? Don’t forget about the factories and the freight yard. There are so many possibilities that this can keep you busy and challenged for a long time.

The choice of scenery materials is as varied as the types of trains. You can make the mountains and tunnels from cardboard boxes or chicken wire covered with paper Mache or use layers of Styrofoam. Both when done properly give a very realistic look. All types of paints and materials are used for grass, miniature trees, telephone poles, track ballast, etc. These items add the finishing touch and will make your model train layout realistic, exciting and enjoyable for a long time to come.

Don’t forget it is something that can be shared with children, friends and neighbors. Everyone can get involved in planning and putting together the various aspects. That is one of the reasons this great hobby has been so appealing for so long. You might say it can be a real Family affair.