So you want to build a model railway?
If this is your first venture into Model Railways or many decades have gone by since you had a 'Train Set' as a child there will be many questions that need answering. How do I build it? Where can I buy the parts I need. How do I plan my layout. These questions will be answered on other pages in this section. However on this page we will deal with the question where will I put my layout?
This is perhaps the first question that needs answering as this can influence other factors further down the line. You may already know where you are going to put your layout. But please read on as we will look at the pros and cons of the most popular locations.
For a larger layout the four most popular locations are as follows. The Loft, The Garage, The Garden Shed, A dedicated Room. A fifth that some use is the Garden
The loft can be an ideal location, most houses have quite a large space, and putting a layout up there can give a chance to sort out what is up there. The lofts big advantage is that it is usually spacious, you can go to town on a larger layout. However there are howtoa lot of disadvantages, The first is headroom, is there enough room to stand up? Most loft layouts are built round the edges leaving the centre for standing. The next is that if there is no floors you will need to put one down before you start, as well as getting electric sockets and lighting in there. However there is another one that needs to be considered that of Access. Most lofts are accessed by a loft ladder. A question we don't like to face is although I can get up there now, what if my health or mobility deteriorates will I be able to still get up there is 5, 10 or 15 years?
The garage is another favoured location. The obvious question though is what are you going to do with what is there now in particularly the car? If the garage is large enough then a layout can be built at the back or to one or more sides. I have seen garages where the layout folds out of the way to let the car in. However if you do not have a car or the garage is never used for the car then the garage can be an ideal location. Headroom is never a problem. Usually most garages have light and power sockets and access is usually easy.
If your house is large enough then a dedicated model railway room is the best of all. It has height, power, light, heat. With certain designs it could be combined with other functions say an office?
A garden railway is much more of a specialist undertaking. If done right it can be a real asset, however it requires both either making outdoor support for the track either raised, or built into the ground. All this needs to be weatherproofed as does the electrics if that type of power is used. Then there is storage of the locos and stock, possibly having part of the layout going into a shed? Garden railways are best for the larger scales, O Gauge or larger. They can be electric powered, however they do have the potential for Clockwork or even Live Steam.
The other decision which needs to be considered is what scale the layout is to be built in. We mention more about scales and gauges on other pages. But it does need to be considered at the start. Unless space is at a premium or you want a very simple layout then O Gauge and larger would be out. Although there are more scales, usually the choice comes down to HO internationally, OO in Britain or N Gauge. The most popular is HO/OO, a layout can easily fit into most rooms, the models being of a reasonable size. Where room is tight or you want to run true to live length trains, that is trains with more than 5 coaches then N Gauge may be the answer. Both are readily available in most countries.