Designing Model Railroad Layouts
HO train layouts can be designed using ideas from many sources. These sources can be enthusiast and hobby books about model railroading, brochures of track designs by model railroad manufacturers as well as the internet. For a beginner, looking at enthusiast books for HO train layouts is completely useless as usually no diagrams are given to help you to understand the design of a layout and instead names for the layout will be given like The Yardmaster and Figure 8 with Spurs which won’t make any sense to you. Thus beginners should pick up hobbyist books for getting info about HO train layouts or go online to find some nice solutions.
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When thinking about a layout, start small, and give yourself room/options for expansion. This allows you to have a working railroad quickly, while you keep costs down. As funds, time and space allow, you can expand your layout, while always having a working railroad to enjoy.
Drafting Model Train Layouts
Before constructing your HO train layout, the entire plan of the design of the railway should be created, preferably on plotting paper, or using computer software specially made for designing model railroad layouts. This should be done as accurately as possible so that constructing the railway will become easier. While drafting HO scale layouts you must make sure that the gauge width is kept constant at the standard 16.5mm. This must strictly be checked in corners as several people make the mistake of designing the turn without taking measurements leading to a narrower gauge at points which leads to inaccuracies in the design of the track, and possible derailment problems.
You can read more here about drawing model train layouts.
Gathering Components and Tools To Build Your Layout
As HO scale trains are the most popular type of model trains in most of the world, looking for components to build HO train layouts is pretty easy. You can either get fully completed sets off the shelf, or purchase individual components. After you have built or bought the main railroad, you will want to have realistic scenery such as buildings, trees and other items to decorate your layout. Before buying these online or in stores, you should definitely double check the description to see if the object matches the dimensions of the HO scale. The last thing that you would like is to end up with incompatible scenery objects.
Some necessary components for a basic railroad:
• Rerailers, which can also serve a crossings.
• Rail Joiners, both insulated and non-insulated, along with terminal joiners, which allow you to hide wiring easily.
• Various straights, including odd sizes, which are handy when you are creating a free-form layout;
• Needlenose pliers. Get one with a wire cutter;
• A good DC transformer. While you may have one from a set, getting a better one allows you to have more realistic railroad operation;
• Wheelsets, trucks and couplers.
Putting The Layout Together
To put together HO train layouts without off the market construction sets, you must have good carpentry skills to construct the sections of railroad yourself and then put them together accurately by hand. However if you use a store-bought set, you may not need to use even a single screw or bolt and you can put together your layout much more quickly and with more ease. But the downside of this method is the lack of the freedom of design that you get if you constructed the layout yourself.
Here are some videos of small HO train layouts, with commentary that will help you put all the pieces together.