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While most of us will make mistakes when we fist start out with a layout, with a bit of planning and assistance we certainly can avoid some common mistakes.. and you may actually just achieve so much more! Actually, many newcomers make a lot less mistakes due to the high quality and ease-of-use of scenery materials and excellent DVD and internet downloadable tutorials that are now available.


Please remember that the techniques and recommendations provided here are not the only ones that will get the job done, nor necessarily the best- however, after building and visiting countless layouts, including the three largest commercial layouts in the world (Miniatur Wunderland, Northlandz and the Grand Market-Russia) and researching numerous layouts (including Pendon Museum, Gotthard Mountain, Loxx, Gainsborough, ToggenburgSierra Pacific, and countless others) over a period of some 25 years, some of these methods are proven to work and ensure consistent results, even for beginners.


Undoubtedly techniques will again change over the next few years..


Scale & Gauge

Many modellers are unaware of the importance of Scale when they receive or purchase their first model train set, yet, ultimately one of the most important decision that a model railroad enthusiast has to make concerns scale!
Let’s briefly clarify the terms SCALE and GAUGE which are commonly mixed up, but actually have very different meaning.
Scale refers to a models relative size as compared to the real thing, while Gauge refers to the measurement between the rails of a railway track.

Here is a useful Article that will introduce you to model railway Scales & Gauges


The most popular commercial available scales include HO/OO, N-Scale and G-Scale (based on available world-wide sales figures).

  • HO/OO Scale
    HO/OO Scale railroad products continue to account for a very large portion of the model railroad market, with most hobby shops having carried stock at some point in time..Due to it’s popularity it only makes sense that more Manufacturers produce HO/OO Scale than for other Scales, with the exception of N-Scale..It is also not surprising that most books and magazines focuses on HO/OO Scale.Personally, I believe HO/OO Scale provides the best overall trade-off between Size, Quality, Usability, Availability and Price- That said however, I , like many other modellers, have no problem in investing in the “other” Scales as my preferred Scale, and have a collection of trains ranging from TT to G!
  •  N-Scale
    N-Scale is undoubtedly competing with HO/OO for the title as “Most Popular Scale”, with world-wide sales of model railway products suggesting that many new modellers are turning to N-Scale for two reasons: (a) The smaller scales allow you to build a layout in a small space and (b) it allows you to model a much larger area in a smaller space.Because a growing number of modellers find that common materials used in HO, often cannot be used in the smaller scales -as it just looks wrong-, I have dedicated a number of pages to N-Scale throughout this site, in order to show the modeller some issues and alternatives..Here are some Articles to get you started:

  • Considering  N-Scale
  • Guide to N-Scale
  • Tips for maintaining an N-Scale railroad
  • Atlas N-Scale Turnouts


Track & Ballasting

As Track plays such an important role in any layout, I have compiled the following list of Articles to help you out:



A signal is a mechanical or electrical device erected beside a railway line to pass information relating to the state of the line ahead to train/engine drivers (also called engineers). The driver interprets the signal’s indication and acts accordingly.

Typically, a signal might inform the driver of the speed at which the train may safely proceed or it may instruct the driver to stop.

Here you will find a quick reference to some common Signals used world-wide..


You are again reminded that some of the information provided here is derived, copied or simply borrowed from other sources – some of the original sources no-longer exist, some content is published with permission, while some sources choose to remain anonymous- all content is or has been made freely available to the public. Credit is due to the many authors and my appreciation goes to all who have worked hard to make this information available.

This page has been compiled by Stéfan Stoltz from various sources.
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