Article by Scott Watkins
Finding A Suitable Layout
The first step used when drawing layouts of model railroads is to design the path of the track. The rails can either be in a loop so that the train continuously loops, or it can be from one point to another. Choosing which method to use depends upon the landscape modeled as well as the space available for the layout. If a large circular area is available you can easily make the track a continuous one.
However if you have a thin but long rectangular base, a point to point train would definitely look better. Plus, if a city environment is modeled, point to point model trains look more realistic unless you have covered a very extensive area of the city.
Designing the Layout
To draw layouts of model railroads that look realistic you need to adjust your placement of rails with the scenery until you find the sweet spot. Loops and turns can be added at the corners of the base and different scenes can be placed on the area near the tracks so that it doesn’t appear that the railway tracks are running next to a huge drop into space. Loops and turns can also be added on the tracks in order to go around hills, but unnecessary turns should be avoided because in real life railroads would just have been made straight.
Computer Aided Design software (CAD) is available specifically for designing model train layouts. I have written a review of model train layout software and it is available on my website, just click the link to read it.
Making A Practical Layout
A very important consideration that is used to draw layouts of model railroads is the practicality of your design. If you make very ambitious designs with very tight curves, your trains may end up derailing or crashing into one another. Make sure your curve radii are adequate for the longest locomotive you are using!
Another thing to keep in mind when creating layouts of model railroads is that you should know what the length of one section of rail is. This helps a lot, as you can draw your layout accurately on paper. If you make an unplanned layout, the track may not fit in the area available and pose problems for you which will waste a lot of time and energy.
Matching the Layout With the Surrounding Area
You should draw your layout while also taking care to match it with the area that you are modeling. An example of this is that in a country environment there should only be either a single or dual carriageway as there are very few instances of high number of trains in rural environments. In a city while modeling urban railways you may need to create two or three dual-carriageways at busy places like city stations, as rail traffic in those areas is very high as compared to the country, often with multiple trains arriving and leaving at the same time.
Scott Watkins is a model railroad enthusiast, and he can help you to get started quickly in this great hobby. He’s written a 12 part mini course on getting started with model trains, you can get it right now at his website. http://model-train-info.com