I s Mo d e l T r a i n
Bu i l d i n g a n
Ex p e n s i v e Ho b b y ?
The model rail building hobby is an
interesting one, full of variations and
themes, with lots of scope for
personalization. Whether you just want to
see a train go round and round on an oval
track, or model a busy yard, there are three
things that you will need to spend money
Locomotives and rolling stock;
Scenery and buildings;
Tracks and electrics.
For each of these, there tends to be an
expensive and a cheaper way to achieve the
desired results - rolling stock from many
manufacturers comes in 'hobby' or
'professional' finishes, for example.
Before buying anything, it's important to research
the available material; the hobby is fraught with
compromise, and that often extends to choosing
cheaper locomotives and rolling stock that might
not be finished to the same standard as more
However, with a bit of time and skill (which
increases over time!) the cheaper stock can often
be modified so that it looks as good as the high
The same goes for scenery and buildings; often
there are expensive, painted and finished models
which are much more expensive than unpainted
models that have to be assembled and painted
before they can be used on the model rail layout.
There are also several manufacturers of track, who usually
divide their ranges into:
Finescale - as the name suggests, fine modelling,
close to reality;
Set track - cheaper, less realistic, set pieces.
Here again, set track can usually be
modified with some care to look as
good as the finescale track. This usually
requires removing sleepers, changing
the spacing between them, and
painting, weathering (making them look
old) and finally sanding them.
Scratch building is another way to save money - and there are many
materials to choose from.
From card to plastic, metal and polystyrene, most materials can be
glued, painted or slotted together to make anything from trucks and
locomotive bodies to buildings and hills.
Rolling stock can be scratch built by buying in the chassis, and then
building on top of it, and even more money can be saved by reusing the
chassis for multiple models.
Look for Household Alternatives to Expensive Items
Finally, there are many household objects (such as
empty bottles and tubes, and lids) which can be
used to make all manner of railway related objects.
The internet is full of groups dedicated to reusing
everyday materials in model building, and all it takes
is a little care and attention.
A top tip to close on - buy the various model train
and railway magazines, not every month, but fairly
regularly, and become familiar with the model
building techniques, suppliers, and innovations.
These magazines are a gold mine for those who
want to control their budget by using innovative
ways to create their dream model rail layout.