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Model Trains Frequently Asked Questions


Whether you've been in the hobby for years, or are just getting started, there are certain questions that always come up. The questions are common, but the answers are not always simple. Click on the links below to get started. If you don't see the answers you're looking for here, consider posting your question to the forum where your fellow modelers can help.

What Scale Is Best?

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Model trains come in many different sizes, or scales, the best one is up to each modeler. Find your answer here.

What is my train worth?

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Whether you're a serious collector, or just curious about that old train in the attic, learn the places to go for an honest and accurate appraisal.

Where Should I Build My Model Railroad?

Z scale layout
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Don't think you have any room for a model railroad? Take a look at some of these possible locations and you may change your mind. From the basement to the backyard, each potential place has its advantages and challenges, but if you put your mind to it there's nothing you can't do.

What is the Minimum Curve for my train?

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Minimum curve radius is an essential question in every track plan. Not only the scale, but the prototype and theme of your model railroad play an important role as well.

What is the steepest grade for model trains?

®2010 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Like curves, the grades of a model railroad are an important part of any plan. Although models may be able to handle steeper grades than the prototype, both perform better when grades are planned carefully with operations in mind.

How big of a transformer do I need?

The size of your transformer doesn't just depend on the size of your layout, it's how much you put on it and what you want to do that matters most.

What size wire do I need?

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Sometimes manufacturers provide detailed instructions for their products. When they don't, these general guidelines should keep your wiring safe and efficient.

My Train Won't Run

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Whether your train won't stay on the track, stalls frequently or just won't run at all, learn troubleshooting and maintenance techniques to find and fix most common problems.

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