Top 3 Mistakes Model Train Beginners Make
and How to Avoid Them

In this article, I am going to show you the THREE biggest mistakes almost model train beginners make and exactly how avoid them.

By the end of reading this you’ll not have to go through the painful experience of sifting through 10 books or surfing the internet for hours in an attempt to find answers. The right information is all in one specialized resource that will teach you the short cuts, tips and tricks with the space, time and budget you have available, download it now

Mistakes # 1 – Too Much Eagerness & Too Little Patience

You’ve probably seen the amazingly complex and well detailed model train layouts in the magazines, or at a model train show and thought… I want to build one of those!
detailed model train layout
There is nothing more fulfilling than owning and operating a layout where the trains don’t derail, multiple trains can run at once with sound and smoke effects, and the layout is interesting and realistic.

But… there is something you need to know!

Those amazingly complex and realistic looking model train layouts took a very long time to build with a huge amount of patience thrown in too!

Those intricate layouts did not happen overnight. Some of them may have taken hundreds of hours, but they were a labor of love! So the amount of hours it took to build the layout ultimately does not matter.

Things to remember:

  • Most times the owner had to have 3 or 4 attempts at getting the scenery and structures looking exactly as they wanted.
  • Most model train layouts are never finished. They become never ending “works in progress”.
  • That is because this hobby is about the adventure along the way.

Each small part of your layout will provide many memories for years to come. You will look at the tunnel you created and remember that it took you 3 attempts to shape the landscape and 9 coats of paint to perfect the look… but in the end it was all worth it.

This is the adventure the experienced model railroaders talk about. It is where the most enjoyment and fulfillment comes from… Tame that eagerness and find some patience!

Mistake # 2 – Trying To Grow A Model Train Starter Set Into Your Dream Layout

bachmaan model train starter set

It probably came with some track, a diesel or steam locomotive, a few carriages and a power pack.

Model train starter sets can range from $60 to $300 and upwards. They come with varying components from the very basic oval track to tracks with elevation and landscaping included. But, like most things, you get what you pay for.

These starter kits are designed to provide an introduction to the hobby. Some of the lower end starter kits have just enough power to send the train around the oval track it came with, and not much more!

Most beginners get bored very quickly with a train going around an oval track. So, they purchase new sections of track, and possibly a turnout or two, just to expand from the boring oval.

That seems a great idea until the locomotive keeps slowing down and sometimes stopping when it is at the other end of the track. This can be very frustrating… You’ve just paid for this extra track and now the train won’t run properly.

Breakdown of the two biggest problems

  • The problem is that the transformer was designed to provide enough power for the oval track. It doesn’t have the grunt to push the power all the way around the length of the new track when the locomotive demands it. So to solve this problem a higher rated transformer is required…
  • Then there is the locomotive in the starter set. A good locomotive is one that has many pick-up wheels and is fairly heavy.
    The pick-up wheels take the power from the track and provide it to the motor. Better quality locomotives have many pick-up wheels while starter set locomotives tend to only have one set.
  • Tracks get dirty (something we’ll talk about later) which can provide a less than perfect conductor for the power from the track to the motor. A heavier locomotive will also provide an even better contact.

The lesson here is… Do your research!

In 9 cases out of 10, trying to grow a starter set into your dream layout usually ends up becoming an unwieldy mess of a layout. With some initial research and planning you will completely avoid this problem.

Mistake # 3 – Confusing Scale And Gauge

A common mistake for model train beginners is to confuse scale and gauge. Let me explain…

Scale is the proportion of the replica to the real thing or ‘prototype’.

For example, HO (pronounced “aitch-oh”) scale locomotives are 1/87 the size of the real life locomotive, or an HO scale
locomotive is 87 times smaller than the real locomotive.

Model train gauge is the width between the inside running edge of the track.

Hopefully that explanation will demystify the scale and gauge differences and you won’t make that mistake again…

Next, learn detailed step by step directions on:

learn how to lay model railroad track

  • How to pick and build the perfect layout to suit your budget and the space you have available? One that will provide loads of fun for years to come
  • A full glossary to explain the model train language
  • All the track cleaning methods explained and what not to do. Easy ways to maintain and keep your layout clean… easily keep your trees and scenery free from dust and cobwebs
  • The 4 different track options explained and compared to allow you to make an informed decision on what you should be using
  • The best way to create grassed meadows and fields and fire scenes!
  • What repairs you should do yourself and when you should use an experienced repairer
  • The secrets to creating realism and an aged look… how to create rust, mud and tire marks on your rolling stock
  • Handling common track features – turnouts, reversing loops
  • How do you convert your analog layout to a DCC system and should you even consider DCC?
  • How to avoid those frustrating electrical shorts on your turnouts?

The most important part to building a model railroad is knowing exact step-by-step directions for planning, designing and building ahead of time. To avoid endless frustration due to limited space, derailment/wiring issues and wasted time trying to figure out, understanding the fundamental steps is crucial. The best feeling in the world as a model railroader is enjoying a fully operational layout with all the bells and whistles.

To master model railroad building will take countless hours trying to figure out the exact process for each part.

You must know each of the bullet points above to ensure your locomotives do not have erratic stops, derailments or lack of speed on gradients. and is a fully functional realistic model train layout.

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend hours and money with trial and error, here’s everything you need to know packaged into one resource.


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In this book you will learn how to:

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  • Wire the perfect current flow so all of your trains run smoothly at different speed. This is one of the secrets for creating the most realistic model train layout possible
  • Convert DC to DCC and have intricate layouts with numerous trains on it, following their daily routes at varying speeds with no power issues
  • Create terrain and buildings from scratch , this will help you to build the layout of your dreams and save you tons of money on buildings, which are some of the most expensive accessories of a model railroad
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