As with most hobbies once you’re into it and have learned a little you look back and say ‘man, if only I had known then what I know now’ … this common regret is something that beginners often experience without realizing that the journey to the point where they are now is what those early steps were all about!
With Model Railroading especially there is no ‘right and wrong’ approach, no specific gauge or scale that is ‘right’ … but your individual tastes and preferences will likely assert themselves once you are exposed to the sport and may cause you to change your buying hobbyist focus. To help minimize this possibility and build your enjoyment of the hobby I suggest you take a few steps early on to help you begin building a model railroad you will love for years:
- Research the available scales and models and see which appeal most to you
- Join clubs and / or discussion groups with the focus you are researching and ask what people like most and least about this specific type and style
- Identify the location and type of railroad you most want to have, and whether you are going to build it ‘all at once’ using stock parts or want to make it a long-term project that you build yourself one diorama at a time
- Prepare your area, buy the materials and get started
There are many great articles on planning and creating layouts and terrain that you will want to reference, and materials range from foam and wire mesh covered with plaster to pre-made kits of plastic or even all natural materials hand-picked for realism. Just be sure to draw on the vastly available information on what has been tried and proven before investing countless hours only to be disappointed in a result – tricks like using ‘real dirt’ can backfire when the graininess and texture turns out not to match the scale of your model and using ‘real water’ can corrode tracks and engines as well as attract insects but all seem like great ideas to beginners who have yet to learn the hard way. The key to beginning successfully is research and education … with the internet and the many books now available this should be simply a matter of time.
So grab your engineer cap, put on your coveralls and start building a world of your own … and let a train run through it!