Model Trains and More Freight Hobbies!
Model railroading has existed as a hobby for over a century. It combines radio-controlled technology with novelty railway cars to form a dynamic hobby. Model train enthusiasts take pleasure in constructing train layouts, buildings, and scenery. No two hobbyists perceive model railroading in the same light. Therefore, beginners should become familiar with the basics before pursuing more advanced concepts. Understanding the history of the hobby and its founders will help put into perspective the appreciation people have for it. In addition, some basic understanding about the scale of a model train and the gauge of a train track helps when it comes time to lay down the track.
The History of Model Trains as a Hobby
The history of model trains traces back as far as actual railroads themselves. The earliest model trains were made from metal and powered by steam or clockwork components. The average home did not have electricity to power model trains in the same way that modern homes do. As a result, the earliest model trains had high price tags that only the wealthy could afford. As the prices began to drop in conjunction with the improvements involved with model railroading, more enthusiasts started to get involved with the hobby. Model railroads started to become more common from the 1920s as they were mass-produced for the general public.
- A Brief History of Model Railways: An avid hobbyist explains the evolution of model railways.
- Any Make, Any Gauge, Any Age: The Train Collector's Society explains the development of model trains as a hobby over the years.
- Tony Cook's Ho-Scale Trains Resource: A webpage dedicated in providing information directly related to the history of ready-to-run model trains.
- The History of Model Trains: A short description that explains the historical roots of model trains as a hobby.
- Model Trains Then and Now: A brief description on how the interest in model trains as a hobby has grown over time.
- Model Railroading in Germany (PDF): A historical analysis of the international interest in model railroading, specifically in Germany.
- Lionel Train History: A time line covering the history of Lionel trains.
- Model Railroading: Evolution of the Model Train: An article covering the evolution of the model train since its inception.
- History of Walthers Model Railroad Trains: A brief history of Walthers, a prominent model trail producer.
- The Evolution of Model Railroad DCC Motor Control: A webpage describing the evolution of DCC motor control for model railroads.
- My Track Plan: A webpage covering the evolution of an enthusiast's track layout.
Model Train Producers, Museums, and Exhibits
Hundreds of model train manufacturers provide scores of products for enthusiasts. Bachmann Industries, one of the oldest model train manufacturers, have remained as one of the leaders in the industry since 1833. Lionel developed and maintained its legacy as a leading model train producer since 1900. Other recognizable manufacturers include USA Trains, Atlas O Trains, Model Rectifier Corporation (MRC), and the Rokenbok Toy Company. Over the years, enthusiasts have formed organizations, museums, and exhibits to help support the hobby of model railroading. This has kept the hobby alive, while also keeping the model railroading market rejuvenated for future generations.
- Lionel Model Trains: A historical account of the development of Lionel model trains since its inception in 1900.
- History of Bachmann Industries: Bachmann has produced model trains for hobbyists since 1833.
- Atlas O Trains: Atlas Golden Spike Club: Atlas, one of the leaders in model railroading, introduces this unique club for hobbyists interested in taking their hobby to the next level.
- Model Rectifier Corporation: As a leader in quality hobby products, MRC continues its stride in excellence while producing some of the best model train materials on the market.
- USA Trains: USA Trains was established in 1987 as a manufacturer of G-Scale model railroad products.
- The Rokenbok Toy Company: Rokenbok produces an extensive line of RC model trains for everybody to enjoy.
- Amherst Railway Society: A non-profit organization consisting of over 450 members who love model trains as a hobby.
- National Model Railroad Association: The National Model Railroad Association is an extensive resource full of images scale model railroading.
- Twin City Model Railway Museum: A museum focused on furthering the hobby of model railroading and preserving all historical information about it.
- Golden State Model Railroad Museum: A membership-based museum that offers events and special theme days for California residents.
- The San Diego Model Railroad Museum: The largest and only accredited scale model railroad museums in the United States.
- The Great Train Story: The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago provides an exhibit displaying more than thirty trains running on a 1,400 feet track.
Resources for the Avid Model Train Hobbyist
Beginners getting started in model railroading will need to seek out several sources to understand the basics of the hobby. Model railroading involves more than piecing together a train track and powering a locomotive. In fact, it requires a great deal of cleaning and maintenance to preserve the life of the train. These resources will help the beginning and avid model train hobbyist perfect what they love to do!
- Getting Started with Model Trains (PDF): A beginner's guide to model trains, including scale model trains, toy train collecting, and garden railroading.
- Go with The Flow (PDF): An extensive document that explains train cleaning and maintenance techniques.
- Miscellaneous Modeling Tricks and Tips: The Pennsylvania Railroad Northern Division provides tips on maintaining model tracks, including track cleaning, working cabin marker lights, modeling railway track joints, managing sound and momentum.
- Cleaning Model Railway Track: A webpage that answers frequently asked questions about cleaning the model railway track.
- Building A ZERO Maintenance Layout (PDF): A document that explains how to properly maintain a railroad track without causing damage to the train.
- Maintaining Your Lionel Trains: A guide that teaches you how to maintain Lionel tracks properly.
- Track Maintenance: New Railway Modelers shares tips and tools used to clean railroad tracks.
- Model Train Tips: A set of simple tips that for storing, maintaining, and trouble shooting model railroad tracks.
- Signals For Your Model Railroad - Getting Started: A beginner's guide for learning the appropriate signals to use for model trains.
- Designing Model Railroad Operations: A webpage describing the complexity of designing model railroad layouts.
- The Basics of Model Railroad Track: An article introducing the basics of model railroad track.
- DCC Wiring (PDF): A practical guide for setting up DCC wiring for model trains.
Written by Tyler Glassman