Any good model railroad started from an idea for a layout and worked up from there. Let’s face it – when you are building a world from scratch to display and run a train through, you need to have an idea of what type of runs you want the trains to make before you get started! Do you want to set up an outside run in your garden? Run a train along the top of your ceiling in your house? Have a dedicated diorama in a spare bedroom? And perhaps most important of all: do you want free-reign to do whatever you like or do you want to prototype (emulate a real-life train in scale) and if so which system or train should you choose?
If you need inspiration there are many existing layouts already out there and a quick search can find you looking over sites such as simplytrains.com to see what other prototype layouts have done, or you can choose to create scenes from favorite books or movies. Obviously the more common choices will be more readily available in kit or pre-made forms, while more exotic or rare units may require extensive work but will result is a unique and interesting model of which you can be very proud.
A good idea once you choose an existing train system to emulate is to go to a discussion group and see if any tips, suggestions or caveats to that particular idea can be given. Sometimes you may find it best to change your plans once others give feedback into costs and lack of resources for a specific concept – but you always will gain insight into what others would like or need to see in your design to be intrigued by it. And why not find out what everyone else is doing and learn from their mistakes along the way?
Whether you choose a prototype that is common with readily available models or build everything yourself you are sure to love every minute spent acquiring or creating your scale model – and after all that is what model railroading is all about isn’t it?