How Expensive Is Model Railroading as A Hobby?

Model railroading as a hobby has become very popular because it is fun.

It teaches one the importance of a job well done by helping them choose one theme or prototype and stick to it until it is complete.

Here we will help you determine….

So, How Expensive Is Model Railroading as A Hobby?

Model railroad planning for beginners usually requires a significant time investment and money. Generally, there are two possible ways you can draft your model railroad plan. These two options include using a computer or simply drawing with a pen and paper. One of the most common mistakes model railroad beginners make is going too big or too fast in the planning process.

Beginners also tend to start with a large layout which is overwhelming and can make you lose interest in the game quickly. Instead, you are advised to start with a small, manageable layout, such as a 4 by 8 feet layout that you can eventually expand as you continue playing.

If you plan to use the pen and paper option, you can start by making a rough sketch and later use actual measurements in a scaled-down version to ensure accuracy. Alternatively, you can use a computer software program, which provides a drag and drop interface and lets you view a three-dimensional model of the layout.

See Also: Bucket List Of Hobbies From A – Z

What Should You Look for When Buying Model Trains?

Selecting the locomotives for your train set is one of the most exciting parts of setting out your model layout.

This is your chance to find a theme that meets your preferences and choose the bells and whistles to accompany it. As a rule of thumb, always pick quality over quantity.

Good quality train models will serve you for a long time and prove to be a worthy investment in the long run.

Before you buy your first train, you should understand how these locomotives pick up electricity from the tracks.

Essentially, the metal wheels on the trains collect electricity from the tracks and transfer it to the motor running the gears. This then allows your locomotives to move.

Understanding how locomotives move will come in handy in the unfortunate event your trains suddenly stop.

This situation is usually caused by poor connections on the track or bad motor-to-gear pickup connections. To mitigate this and other problems, consider the following when buying your trains:

  • The number of metal wheels on the locomotive that can pick up electricity. Make sure you get more than one set. The more, the better.
  • The presence of a flywheel on one or both ends of the locomotive’s motor. Flywheels ensure a smooth stop and take-off every time.
  • The locomotive’s length. A short diesel train runs a lower risk of derailing around corners compared to a long steam train.
  • The locomotive’s weight. It should be heavy enough to maintain contact between the train and the track but not so heavy that the train cannot move smoothly.
  • The gear ratio that allows your locomotive to start and stop smoothly without using too much electricity.

How Much Do Model Trains Cost?

The average amount for a new model train usually depends on the material and the design.

Lionel train sets are the most expensive model trains, with the most expensive set to date selling at $250,000. There are even some that cost more than $1,000.

However, if your budget is limited, you can opt to buy yourself used or old model trains that are usually very affordable.

In addition to the pricey nature of new model trains, there are other additional costs incurred when developing model trains and the model railroads.

Although a $100 model train will not have the same level of detailing as that of a $25 model train, there are more than one ways you can customize your model trains and tracks to improve their overall appearance and performance.

For example, you can include your own paint, wheels, couplers, decals, and other details.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Do You Plan A Suitable Track For The Model Layout?

Before creating your benchwork, it is often advisable to create a track plan of your model train layout.

The essential building blocks of your track layout should either entail a point-to-point or a continuous running loop track plan.

Examples of loop-to-loop track layouts are the figure eights, ovals, and twice around tracks.

While continuous running loop tracks can be displayed in several ways to make your track layout appear unique.

It is due to this attribute that people consider continuous running track loops to be more relaxing and soothing to watch than the loop-to-loop layouts.

In the point-to-point track layouts, as the name suggests, your model trains will move from one point to the other.

For instance, a prototype model railroad where your trains start in a terminal station and end their journey back in the shed.

However, there is also the option of drafting your own model train track layout, where you will have to use the computer-aided design sketches or models.

2. How Do I Cut Down On My Model Railroading Expenses?

The most effective method of controlling how much you spend on your model railroading hobby is by determining whether quantity or quality is the most vital factor to you.

This may entail determining if long trains are your preference, the number of model trains you will need, and the price of other essential kits.

3. What Scale Should I Use?

Once you determine which model layout you will use for your model trains, the next step is to decide on what type of scale to use. Scaling in model railroading refers to the ratio between the actual measurements of the model as compared to that of the prototype.

There are many different types of popular trains available; thus, the one to choose depends on:

  •  The amount of space you have
  •  Whether you would prefer shorter trains or long-running trains
  •  The amount of money you will spend
  •  Whether you have the visual acuity, skillful fingers, and the patience to work on very tiny tracks and train engines.
  •  Whether you would prefer a more emphasis on the scenery or the trains

The scale should be consistent within a model train set.

If you pick a 1/87 train piece, make sure all other trains in your set match or complement this size.

You can ensure you get the same size trains by purchasing all of your pieces from the same seller.

If the seller is a previous owner, ask them only to give you trains of the same scale.

Bottom Line

A common saying in model trains is that it is a rich man’s hobby.

Sometimes, it can certainly feel that way, especially as every new release features a heftier price tag.

Overall, however, you always get what you pay for when it comes to model trains.