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Model Railroad Trains: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
EMD F59PH - A Locomotive Profile
Prototype history of EMD's F59PH diesel locomotive and a list of available scale models.
EMD
The meaning of the acronym EMD is usually Electro Motive Division, which was a division of General Motors from the 1930s until 2005 when it was sold and became an independent company, Electro Motive Diesel, Inc.
What Is the Best Model Train Scale?
What scale, or size, of model trains is best?
Everything You Need to Know About Model Train...
Model train track curves may seem like a simple issue, but there can be much more to track curves than meets the eye. Track curves on model railroad layouts require some planning and knowledge of a few relevant issues.
Integrated Roadbed Track
Integrated roadbed track is defined as any track attached to a roadbed. This track makes assembling a model railroad train layout much easier. Many people erroneously refer to this type of track as snaptrack, snap track, or snap-track. However, SnapTrack is a brand name for a track with no integrated roadbed. Today children's toy train sets benefit from the use of integrated roadbed track. Here is a list of brands, scales, and types of integrated roadbed track for your electric trains.
kingpin
A kingpin is defined as the pin used to mount railroad cars to their trucks or bogies. The kingpin is the pivot which allows the trucks to turn freely beneath their railcar.
Electronics Glossary for Model Trains
A quick guide to basic electronic components common in model railroading.
Fixing Poor Model Train Operations
Troublshooting tips for correcting poor or sporadic operation of model trains
Slippery Slopes: Is Your Model Train on the...
Track grade is the slope of a railroad track. The track grade is expressed as the percentage of its rise for the length of its run. For example,if you have 100 inches of model railroad track, and the train climbs one inch, then the grade is 1%. So when 25 inches of track rise 1 inch the grade is 4%. Maximum grade is the steepest slope your trains can climb. Well planned grades can make a layout interesting. Badly planned ones can be a disaster.
Appraising Model Trains
What's my old train worth? Learn where to find the answers to this common question.
Freight Car Photos
Freight car photos compliled from the weekly Freight Car Friday blog, grouped by car type. Get the inspiration for your next modeling project here!
Scale vs. Standard Knuckle Couplers
In recent years, the size of HO scale knuckle couplers has been shrinking. Why does it matter?
Laying Cork Roadbed for a Narrow Gauge Railroad
Materials needed and reasons for laying cork roadbed beneath model trains track.
Pennsylvania GG-1 - A Locomotive Profile
Prototype history of EMD's BL2 diesel locomotive and a list of available scale models.
Assembling Your First Train Set
Introduction for basic train set assembly instructions.
Build a Working Derail
Your model derail can be made operational with a manual or motorized turnout control. Page 3.
Open Loads for Flatcars
Flatcars carry a variety of interesting loads that offer special challenges for modelers.
Run-around Tracks
Definition of a run-around track.
How to Install Bus and Feeder Wires for Your...
Tips for choosing and installing electrical wiring busses and feeders for all types of model trains.
Building Your First Train Table
Assembly instructions, materials and tools lists for building a simple 4 foot by 8 foot model train table with storage shelf.
Choosing the Right Train Set
Tips for finding the perfect train set to adorn your Christmas display, give to a young railroader, or get started on the hobby of a lifetime.
GE 44 Tonner - A Locomotive Profile
Prototype history of GE's 44 ton diesel locomotive and a list of available scale models.
Model Trains Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to common questions about model trains and railroads.
EMD E6 - A Locomotive Profile
Prototype history of EMD's E6 diesel locomotive and a list of available scale models.
6 Things You Should Check When Your Model Train...
Steps to take to troubleshoot and repair a model train that will not run.
What is the Minimum Curve Radius for Model...
Nothing impacts a track plan like the minimum radius of your curves. How sharp is too sharp? There are several answers to this simple question.
NCE Power Cab DCC System Review
Product review of the NCE Power Cab DCC system.
Model Railroad Layout Rigid Foam Insulation
A tip about sculpting landscape on a model railroad layout using rigid foam insulation. Links to a series of YouTube videos demonstrating the sculpting of this kind of foam insulation.
Choosing the Right Transformer for Your Model...
How do you choose the right transformer to power your model train layout? These tips will point you in the right direction.
Lay Flex Track
Explains flex track and how it is used.
Introduction to HO / OO Scale Model Trains
Introduction to HO and OO scale model trains.
Introduction to N Scale Model Trains
Introduction to N scale model trains.
Parents' Guide to Toy Trains and Electric Trains
A primer on toy trains, electric trains and model railroading for parents. Topics include when to start children on electric trains, how available space is a primary concern in the selection of a train, and how to utilize electric trains as an educational tool.
Introduction to G Gauge Model Trains
Introduction to G gauge model trains.
Steam Locomotive Classes
A list of steam locomotive classes
Wiring a Model Railroad for Block Operation
Wiring a model railroad for multiple train operations with blocks.
Introduction to Z Scale Model Trains
Introduction to Z scale model trains.
Model Train Gift Guide
Tips and ideas for good gifts for model railroaders and toy train collectors.
Introduction to O Scale Model Trains
Introduction to O scale model trains.
Building L-Girder Benchwork
L-girder benchwork can be built with a variety of common building materials.
Paint a Night Backdrop
There's more to making a night sky than black paint.
Minimum Vertical Clearances for Model Trains by...
Minimum vertical clearances for different model train scales
Build a Static Grass Applicator for Model Train...
Build your own static grass applicator to apply fine scenic ground cover to model railroads and other miniature scenes. This simple tool has many uses and can be built with only a few basic tools for around $10.
Toy Train Size: Electric Train Scales for...
Are you confused about the sizes of toy trains? Here's a guide to choosing the scale, or size, of an electric train set for a child. This article focuses on cost and available space as the primary concerns and proposes smaller electric train scales, resulting in more track layout options for your available space, as a method of maintaining a child's interest in their train sets. When starting a child in model railroading the size of trains can make all the difference.
Leasers, Demonstrators and Pools - Add Color to...
Add some extra color and variety to your locomotive roster in a prototypical way with demonstrator, lease and pooled power equipment.
Troubleshooting Model Trains Problems
Introduction to troubleshooting tips for model trains.
Locating Your Layout - Where's the Best Place...
Tips for finding the best place for your model railroad.
Simple Signal Circuit for Model Trains
A simple signal circuit for bi-diectional signals for model trains.
E60C - A Locomotive Profile
Prototype history of the E60C electric locomotive and a list of available scale models.
Building a Model Railroad Helix
A helix is the ultimate train elevator and always a center of attention on a model railroad. Although intimidating, even a large helix is a very manageable project.
Weathering Techniques
Hub of articles for various weathering techniques to age model trains.
Reverse Loops
A special toggle switch is all you need to add a reversing loop to your DC control model railroad.
Introduction to Model Train Switches
Beginners guide to understanding model train switches, terminology and uses.
Index of Model Train Set Manufacturers
List of model train manufacturers offering complete sets in various scales.
Track Occupancy Detection
Track occupancy detectors allow you to know where you trains are even when you can't see them. They are also essential elements in prototypical signalling systems.
What Is the Maximum Grade My Train Can Climb?
Standards for the steepest grades your model trains can climb.
Monopoly Railroads
Everybody knows the railroads in the game Monopoly are the Pennsylvania, B&O, Reading, and Short Line. But how many people realize that three of the four were real railroads?
Planning for a Model Railroad Helix
Planning a helix for a model railroad takes time and patience, but good plans can avoid costly construction mistakes later.
Athearn Genesis' HO Scale GP49 Review
Athearn's brand new HO scale GP49 represents the first model of a very rare prototype.
Gluing Scenery for Model Train Layouts and...
Materials and tools to add scenery to model train layouts and dioramas.
Thomas the Tank Engine Toy Trains
Thomas the Tank Engine delights children everywhere. Here are Thomas toy trains that are real electric trains instead of push toys.
Selling Model Trains
Tips for selling used model trains.
Model a B Unit Locomotive with Character - the...
Learn how to upgrade an older locomotive with techniques that will work on any model. The distinctive BQ23-7B is a fun project with wide uses.
Cleaning Model Trains
How to clean model trains. Model Railroad Trains.
Better Curves with Easements and Super Elevation
Simple techiniques to improve model train operation by easing the transition from straight to curve tracks with easements and superelevation. Page 2.
Master Airbrush Paint Booth Reviewed
Review of the Master Airbrush paint booth.
Remote Control for Manual Turnouts
Remote installations for ground throws for convenient and reliable manual operation of turnouts (switches). Page 4.
Standard Gauge
: As with prototype trains, gauge is the measure of the distance between the rails. Standard Gauge has
Digital Command Control (DCC)
Here is an overview of Digital Command Control (DCC), a system that utilizes digital computer technology for controlling model railroad trains. DCC in model railroading has been around for a decade now and, as the terms used in this technology have defined a new language for the model railroading community, this overview is intended to serve as a primer for beginners.
Building Foam Scenery
Building model railroad scenery from foam insulation boards.
Making Paved Roads for Your Model Railroad Layout
Introduction and materials lists for modeling paved roads.
Popular Modeling Eras
An overview of different railroading eras and the advantages and challenges of modeling each. Page 5.
About S Scale
S scale is defined as 1:64 or 3/16ths of an inch to one foot. S gauge track is an unusual 0.884 inches. This article is an overview of S scale and S gauge, including the History of S scale and modern S scale manufacturers in both three-rail AC and two-rail DC varieties. S scale is frequently regarded as synonymous with American Flyer trains, which were made by A.C. Gilbert who originated S scale and S gauge.
What is On30 Scale?
O scale trains and HO gauge track make a great combination for a variety of users.
GE's Dash 9-44CW (C44-9W) - A Locomotive Profile
Prototype history of GE's C44-9W (Dash 9-44CW) diesel locomotive and a list of available scale models.
Switching with Thumbtacks: A Quick Tip for...
An easy tip for speeding your yard switching operations on a model railroad by using pushpins.
Children's Toy Train Tables and Boards
Here are some children's train table and train board space planning ideas. A toy train table or train board can be used to keep a child's toy train track layout intact between play-sessions. This helps avert the tedium of having to put away track between uses, which may detract from a child's enjoyment of their electric trains.
N Scale Model Train Couplers
Couplers are an important consideration when buying N scale model railroad trains. You need to make sure the couplers on your locomotives and cars are compatible.
Model Railroad Waybills
Understanding waybills and how they make model rsilroading more interesting and realistic.
Install a DCC Decoder
Simple instructions for installing a DCC decoder.
4x8' Track Plans for Model Train Layouts
Trackplans for a 4x8' sized model railroad.
spur
: A spur is a railroad track on which cars are left for loading and unloading. Spurs are also used sometimes
Model Trains Toolbox - Model Building
Helpful tools for building model trains.
Adding Lights to Model Buildings
Choosing the right bulb is essential to getting the most out of any lighting project.
TT Scale: An American Orphan
TT scale is defined as 1:120 or ten feet to the inch scale. TT gauge track has rails spaced 12mm. TT scale was introduced to American model railroading by H.P. Products in 1946. This article is an overview of TT scale, including the History of TT scale, modern German and other Eastern European TT scale manufacturers, and some thoughts on the future of the exotic TT scale.
Planning a Classification Yard for Your Model...
Advice for planning a more efficient and prototypical freight classification yard for a model railroad.
Model Railroad Track Types
An overview of model railroad track types and codes including an explanation of track code numbers and rail metal types.
0-8-0 Switcher - A Steam Locomotive Profile
Prototype history the 0-8-0 switcher steam locomotive and a list of available scale models.
Replacing Model Train Wheels
Instructions for replacing wheels on model trains.
Modeling TOFC (Trailer on Flatcar) Trains
Ideas for modeling TOFC (Trailer on Flatcar) trains, equipment and operations.
Making a Miniature Forests
Making miniature forests - building the trunks
Updating An Old Model Train Car
Upgrade an old toy train into a detailed scale model. A rare Pittsburgh and Lake Erie gondola serves as the example for a complete model conversion.
Fiber Optic Lighting for Model Trains
Fiber optic lights start with a good light source. Page 2.
Build a Classification Yard
The difference between an efficient classification yard and an operations nightmare is all in the planning. Learn the steps to design the right yard for your purpose.
Making Easements with Segmented Model Railroad...
Easements can be simulated using segmented model railroad track pieces. A true easement is a parabolic curve. This means its radius is different at any point along it's path. Unless you are using flex-track, model railroad track curves have fixed radii. But you can simulate an easement by placing segments of smaller radii inside of segments with greater radii when building your curves.
Weathering Models with Chalk
Techniques for aging models with powdered chalks.
Athearn's EMD Model 40 Locomotive
Review of the Athearn HO scale EMD Model 40 locomotive.
Consolidation (2-8-0) - A Locomotive Profile
Prototype history the Consolidation type of steam locomotive and a list of available scale models.
Designing and Building Staging Yards
Staging yards can be designed for a number of operating situations. Careful planning can maximize your time, space and fun. Page 2.
Installing Switch Motors
What is a switch motor and what can it do?
Tomix N Scale Thomas and Friends
N scale Thomas the Tank Engine and friends are manufactured by the Japanese model train company Tomix. They offer Thomas, Henry, James, and Percy models in N scale.
Two Rail Vs. Three Rail O Gauge
Understand the subsets of O Gauge.
Soldering Tips for Model Trains Track and Wiring
Tools needed for soldering on model trains.
HO Scale Knuckle Coupler Guide
Listing of HO knuckle coupler manufacturers and products.
Installing Streetlights
Connecting the wires for model trains streetlights. Page 4.
Denver and Rio Grande Western Trackplan
A simple trackplan for a 4 foot by 8 foot model railroad depicting the narrow gauge Denver and Rio Grande Western in HO scale.
Walthers Amfleet Passenger Cars Reviewed
Product review of Walthers' HO scale Amtrak Amfleet cars, deluxe edition.
N Scale Showcase Model Railroad Track Plan
Track plan for a 4x8' N scale model railroad featuring a double track mainline, yard and turntable to switch or just display your collection.
prototype
: A model's prototype is the real-world locomotive, railcar or other object that it is a model of. The
Model Railroad Track Switches a.k.a Turnouts or...
Model railroad switches, just like real-life railroad switches are used to route rail traffic. In model
Wire Gauge Standards for Model Train Layouts
Standards and guidelines for selecting the right wire for your model railroad.
Modeling Corrugated Metal Roofing and Siding
Modeling common corrugated metal roofs and sidings in any condition using plastic and aluminum foil.
Modeling a Steam Locomotive Service Area
For all of their power, speed and emotional appeal, if the steam locomotive has one fundimental flaw
Converting Track Curves Measurements from...
Prototype curves aren't measured by their radius but by degrees. How can you convert a prototypical curve to model proportions? A little math can shed some light on just how tight our model curves really are!`
Scale Speed for Model Trains
Tables for determining the scale speed of your model trains for various scales in both miles and kilometers per hour.
Add a Grade to Your Model Railroad
Most real railroads aren't flat, our models don't have to be either. Adding a grade to a model railroad takes a little planning but offers big rewards in operation and appearance when done correctly.
Hooking Up Your Train Set Power Supply
Outlines steps to hook up power supplies for model train sets.
How to Tell if You're a Model Train Addict
A list of ways to identify Model Train Addiction
Model Railroad Space Planning
An overview of space planning for model railroad train layouts and types of space allocation for model train layouts.
Simple Track Projects
Simple track projects to enhance a model railroad
Model Railroad Scenery - Add a River and Bridge...
Add the excitement of a river and bridge to your model railroad layout step-by-step.
Choosing a Model Railroad Scale
A discussion of factors influencing a model railroader's choice of scale.
Lionel Trains
Manufacturer profile and history of Lionel trains.
Making Miniture Cornstalks
Model a realistic cornfield in HO or larger scales.
Guide to Model Railroad Track Pieces
Regardless of the scale you are working in, individual model railroad track components fall into six
Choosing a Prototype and Plan - Denver and Rio...
Choosing the right prototype and design for a model railroad as seen in the Rio Grande Narrow Gauge project layout.
Building Model Train Kits - An Introduction
Getting started with simple model train kits
AEM-7 - A Locomotive Profile
Prototype history of EMD's AEM7 diesel locomotive and a list of available scale models.
GE's P40 and P42 - A Locomotive Profile
Prototype history of GE's P40 and P42 diesel locomotives and a list of available scale models.
O Gauge Loops and Yard Model Railroad Track Plan
Track plan for a 8x8' O Gauge model railroad featuring three independent running loops, a yard and plenty of room for accessories, industries and scenery.
Alternate Instalation for Switch Machines
Mount a Tortoise (or other brands) of switch machines in different locations to counter challenging space or access problems
Simple Wheel Cleaners for Model Trains
Simple wheel cleaners you can install on your model train layout to keep your wheels clean while you run your trains.
Miniature Layout Lighting Projects for Scenery...
Miniature lighting projects for model railroad layouts.
Model Railroading 101
What every beginner needs to know about model railroading.
Model Railroad Planning Introduction and Advice
An introduction to designing your model railroad.
Improving Holiday Train Displays
10 Tips to improve a temporary or seasonal train display.
Lionel Girls' Model Train Set
A marketing debacle in the late 1950s, the Lionel Girls' Model Train Set is a sought-after collectors item today.
Building a Wye for a Model Railroad
How to build and wire a wye to turn locomotives or trains on a model railroad.
Building Wood Model Kits - A Sherriff's Office...
Tips on building a wood model structure kit and adding details to make it unique.
Lift / Drop Bridges
Lift bridges are one method of providing layout access while preserving operations.
Comparison of G-Gauge Model Train Scales
G Gauge trains are actually made in different scales. See how each manufacturer sizes up.
Modeling Night
Modeling a night scene on a model railroad.
Build a Trundle Bed Train Platform
Build a train platform that can roll under a bed for storage. This can be used for electric trains or wooden train toys.
Understanding Model Railroad Switches
A guide to model railroad switch (turnout) basics and sizes.
Installing Ground Throws for Manual Turnouts
Installing ground throws for more reliable manual operation of turnouts (switches).
MU (Multiple Unit) Connections for Locomotives
Multiple Unit (MU) connections for diesel locomotives - how they work and how to model them.
About O Scale
O Scale in model railroading explained.
Building Model Buildings
Tips and instructions for model buildings - from different types of kits to scratchbuilding and lighting, details and interiors.
Powering a Switch Frog
Most model train turnouts feature non-powered frogs that can cause a train to stall. Power must be added in a way that will not create a short circuit.
How a DCC Decoder Works
A somewhat technical overview of how a DCC decoder works in a model railroad train locomotive. DCC (Digital Command Control) decoders are tiny, complex electronic devices that not only contain computer control systems, but power management as well.
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