Model railway build: it begins

Something unexpected happened last week – I took possession of a model railway. Well, to be exact, I took possession of some of the parts I’ll need to create my own model railway. Which essentially means I’ve been handed a mid-life crisis.

When I were a lad, my Dad and I built a 00 gauge railway. We mounted it on a big board hinged to the wall. It had two ovals (an outer express line and an inner goods line) that went through a tunnel, a branch line that went up a hill and finished on top of the tunnel, several sidings, a hole in the middle for small people to peep up through, and some weird electronics to optionally isolate certain bits of track so we could have lots of engines on the track at once. There were many happy hours spent playing with engines, painstakingly applying ballast to the tracks, and trying to make the grass look realistic.

But with my parents moving house, it became time for me to reclaim the railway, or lose it. Of course, I couldn’t take it as it was, on that great big board, so my first task was to rip up all the track and scenery. That was tough, not physically but emotionally. But the heartache was balanced out by the hope that it would live again, albeit in a different form.

And so begins my next project – making my own 00 gauge railway layout. I’ve already got a rough idea of a track layout, using the bits of track that were still usable. I’m trying to keep it simple, but I also want it to be interesting. My plan at the moment is to have a single oval, but with a wiggle in it for variation, and a few sidings. Below is a picture of what the track looks like on my sitting room floor.

I’m already considering changing that, though. I’m contemplating whether the sidings on the right could be inside that wiggle, on the edge of the board rather than inside the loop. I’ll need to get the track out again and see if I can make it work.

As for mounting it, I’m looking at using some sort of styrofoam base to build up some scenery, making some nice hills and a subtle elevation change such that the back straight is slightly higher than the track at the front. I’m still researching how best to do that. I’m imagining that will all be mounted on a bit of chipboard, possibly with some slats underneath for rigidity. I’m still working on how best to raise that off the ground; it’s going to be in my garage, and I’ll want to store stuff underneath, so I need to work out whether I can repurpose an existing table or whether I’ll need to create my own legs. I’m not exactly experienced with woodwork, so this is going to be a challenge! I’m also wanting a lid, probably also in chipboard for now, which will keep the dust out when I’m not using it, and possibly also allowing me to store some stuff on top if I need to. And there was me thinking this would be a simple project!

Height map showing where the hills might be

Ultimately, I’m aiming for a quaint little countryside line, ideal for a little tank engine and a few carriages or trucks. I’m not anticipating express trains on here. I’d quite like some sort of industry on the top branch line, but I’m not sure what yet. Might be a farm, or a mine, or a factory. Suggestions on a postcard.

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