Well, I’m hopelessly behind again.
I hope to get up to date by the end of the week. Until then, here are some pearls of wisdom from Mike:
You can purchase an app to help with scaling conversions. I used Woodland Scenic Scaler. Very helpful as I added road beds, scratch buildings, and scenery.
Laying the Track- I use an all in one track for my layouts because most off the shelf beginner sets come with this style of track. Its easy to work with, come in many different lengths, straight , curved sections, and you can add turnouts, crossings and crossovers. It does have some limitations but it is perfect for most beginners.
The plastic road bed does not look realistic however with a little weathering and some ballast it looks just great.
In my garage, I measure and tape out on the floor the shape of my layout. Once completed I then layout the track. The all in one track makes this very easy as it just snaps together and apart.
Note: I made a few early mistakes (costly) when purchasing locomotives and rolling stock. Follow the manufacturers recommendation on ” runs best with 22″ or 18″ radius track” if its best run on 22″ and you have 18″ you will have issues with operations on the curves.
Power Up- I switched from DC to DCC on my second layout. Most new sets come with a very basic DCC system. The basic sets are easy to program and add a bit of realism that really adds to the fun.
I used the Bachmann Dynamis system but there are many others out there that are more and less expensive. The beauty of these systems is that you can control the entire operations of your layout from the tip of your fingers. ( lights, speed, sound, crossings, turnouts etc.)
The newer controllers are even more advanced. You can run your system from your phone or tablet.
Scenery- Most of my tips are already posted but I do like to add real items like rock, moss, dirt. I will use ground coffee to simulate dirt and small twigs and branches for my trees and shrubs.
I like to make my own signs and billboards when possible. Its much cheaper and I think they look very realistic. I just search on line for the signs I want to build, ( billboard , street signs, railroad signs etc,) print them to scale and use painted balsa wood to build the posts and frames
I also add graffiti and decals using a similar technique.You can purchase decal/transfer paper at a local supply store. find the graphic you like on line, scale, print and apply. Cheap and easy
I build mountains and tunnels with foam, plaster sheets and sometime a combination of both. I did learn from an early mistake to add an access panel on the back side of the piece for the unfortunate derailment or cleaning.
I think that’s all I have for now.
And lastly, you may remember some excellent tips from Alan in this post. Well, he speaks with good authority, have a look at his last layout (the poor soul had to break it up when he moved).
You can tell Alan has a keen eye for photography as well as train layouts. Cracking pics.
That’s all this time folks. Don’t forget if your getting bored of the armchair, the Beginner’s Guide is here, lovingly edited by the Hall of Fame members.
Keep ’em coming.