B2B 1 to 7
P. 1

   sharing know-how
This is the first in a series of articles aimed initially at the new member and beginner but building up into a handbook on various aspects of this interesting hobby of ours. This part is based very closely on an article by Doug Geiger MMR (NMRA Rocky Mountain Region) published in the July 1996 NMRA Bulletin and is repro- duced and updated with his kind permission.
In the beginning
Some people get started in model railroading at a young age, when a train set is received as a gift. Others get into the hobby after seeing an exhibit at a show held at a local hall or exhibition centre. Some modellers focus on animation, others on scenery. Some are intrigued by railroads of a bygone era; others like to build models of the latest diesel locomotives. In the case of members in the British Region, they might have got interested in North American railroads after some years modelling British or European outline. Whatever their interests, and however they got started, all have one thing in common — they were once beginners. And, like those who are likely to read this article, they had questions. Some longer standing members may still have questions.
Now that you've decided to embrace model railroading as a hobby, what's next? There is a bewildering amount of information and vocabulary to absorb and digest, both from the real world of rail- roads and our model trains. The number of products available in the hobby is staggering and has evolved much over the past decade or so. As a serious model railroader for about 40 years [Editor’s note: check out Granite Mountain Railway and articles in Model Railroading], I have some "good advice" to share with you. But don't assume that I have all the answers; this article is simply a place for you to start. And also remember, that the things I write here are not cast in stone; there are as many techniques as there are hobbyists. Advice should be used as a guideline, never an abso- lute.
Several specific model manufacturers are discussed in this article, but there are many other fine products on the market. Don't feel limited to the things mentioned here. The brand names and prod- ucts discussed will provide the beginner with a firm foundation in model railroading. Other products and manufacturers not listed will add to the pleasure of the hobby as you discover them. Seek out several opinions before plunging in.
The ultimate goal for many model railroaders is perhaps a finished, permanent layout that can be visualized as a complete miniature world. Others may want an exhibition layout or a modular set up they can take out to meets and shows. As with any well-rounded hobby, one needs to learn the basics. In this age of instant gratifica- tion, a hobby like model railroading can be frustrating since every- thing may not come at once, but is rather learned over a lifetime. This depth is what makes model railroading a lifetime hobby.
Choosing a scale
One of the first decisions you will make is choosing a scale. Scale refers to the size of the models. Scale determines the products available, the difficulty of modeling and how much space your model empire will re- quire. Although there are many sizes, there are five major scales — Z, N, HO, O and G (formally known as large scale). These tags are the indus-
try-wide labels that almost all manufacturers use when describing their products.
Each scale has its own advantages and disadvantages. There are also narrow gauge sub-sets of some of these scales (see below). Z-scale is the smallest, next is N, HO, then comes O and finally "Large Scale" such as G. Scale is a measure of the size of the model relative to the real thing (real trains are often called "prototype" by hobbyists). One foot in the real world equals about 1/8" in HO (Half O) scale, which has a ratio of 1:87.1. N scale is 1:160; O scale is 1:48; and large scale (G) is 1:22.5, though this variesastherearelargescalemodelsinscalesotherthanG. Sincescale directs many of the other paths in model railroading, pick your scale care- fully. (Some modelers can never decide and have chosen several scales!) If possible, visit a train show or see a modular layout setup at a meet or visit someone's layout and witness firsthand the various scales.
Since the majority of modelers are in HO, this has benefited the HO mod- eler with an abundance of products. Next in popularity comes N scale, with a corresponding decrease in variety of products. O-scale is large in size, a plus when modeling since the pieces are bigger! But, there are fewer products available. Finally, G scale has been growing in popularity. It's the only scale that can be reliably run outdoors! Many modelers choosing G- scale combine gardening with model trains, a great way to get the spouse to share in the wonderful world of model railroading. Subsequent parts of this series will look at each major scale.
One scale I have not mentioned thus far is S-scale. It is to a scale of 1/64th and has less modellers and fewer products. The hobby has nicknamed S -scale as the "Scratch-builder's Scale", not a good choice for the be- ginner. (Scratch-building is the art of making a finished model with raw materials, not even from a kit).
You will also encounter the term "gauge" in your search for the best scale. Gauge refers to the distance between the rails. Standard gauge (4' 81/2" between the rails) is the gauge most modern prototype railroads use. If models don't mention a gauge, it is safe to assume standard gauge. The other gauge to deal with is narrow gauge. Typically, prototype narrow- gauge railroads used either two-foot, two-foot six or three-foot gauge. In model railroading, folks refer to these trains by a suffix added to the scale. For example, in HO-scale, there is HOn3 which implies a model using a three-foot spacing between the rails (HOn30 is 30 inches gauge). On30 (and to a lesser extent On3) has become popular over the past decade due to increased manufacturer support – HOn3 is following a similar route. In addition many other products are craftsman level kits gearedtowardmoreadvancedmodelers. ThereisalsoNn3butthereare few manufacturers supporting it; Sn3 is supported by specialist manufactur- ers – for example see PBL at http://www.p-b-l.com . As you can see you can model narrow gauge in all of those scales except Z.
By Doug Geiger, MMR, edited by Mike Arnold
Above: comparison of scales .

   1   2   3   4   5