Ask Phil: Beginners model railway guides


09 December 2020
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I'm very much excited about this early Christmas present - the Hornby Coca-Cola train set, but I've no idea how to build a track for it - can you point me at some instructions suitable for beginners? Ken, Holborn.

No problem Ken. There is plenty out there to help the model railway newbie - possibly so much it's overwhelming.

The first piece of advice, start small. We all look at the back of the trackplan booklet and dream of a four-track mainline with trains hurtling around in all directions, but even if you are really experienced, building that sort of thing takes ages and it's easy to lose interest as you spend your third week under the baseboard with a soldering iron in your hand!

I built a micro layout covering all the basic techniques you'll need to produce something much larger - and you can follow the whole process in a series of videos here.

You might prefer to start with Hornby's Family Fun Project, which provides everything you need to build a layout, apart from a baseboard, in a box.

Don't think that the results from this need to be basic. We took one of these and slightly upgraded it using simple techniques everyone can use.

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Finally, if you want a really complete guide, we have the  BRM Guide to building your first model railway, which you can download from Pocketmags.

In there, we take you through step-by-step building a complete OO gauge model railway layout. Everything from building a baseboard if you can't do woodwork, through track-laying, wiring, scenery, buildings and, of course, the trains themselves.

And don't forget, there is this website, which is full of helpful articles for modellers of all skill levels. We are adding more all the time, so do keep checking back - we want to get you modelling!

Do you have a model railway question - send it in and we'll answer it.