by Robbie White (aged 16)
All over the world, many thousands of people of all ages enjoy making model railways. We started ours off with a model of the great Flying Scotsman. This model is made by Hornby, one of the best-know makers of model trains and model railway accessories. We chose the Flying Scotsman because we wanted our model to have traditional English scenery. You might want to try something more modern or more specific to your country. Hornby make model kits for just about any type of train you can think of.
Once you have a basic train set, you have many options open to you. You can:
Add more track
Add buildings and other man-made features
Add other models, such as cars and/or more trains (we've now added a canal with a narrow-boat, a slot car track with Minis and and airfield with planes to our model).
We did all of these things over quite a long period of time. In fact, we've been working on our model for well over a year, now, and it'll probably never be finished because we just keep adding to it. We did a lot of our buildings and landscaping from scratch. We got hold of templates, photos and kits and copied them. Hornby make just about everything you'll ever need to get started. Have a look at the Hornby website to get some great ideas. Then, if you're creative, you can start making your own stuff - like buildings, trees, roads and fences. You can read about how we made a lot of the features in our model in the Super-Twins books. For some simple building ideas to get you started have a look here. If you are feeling more ambitious look at this web page. And for highly realistic building templates, specifically designed for model railways, that you can print from you computer try here. Hint: If you are making your own model buildings always use heavy cardboard (e.g. strawboard or boxboard) and contact glue, regardless of what the instructions you are using may say. Paper and light cardboard will distort and look terrible over a period of time. Slow-setting glues such as PVA can be very frustrating. If you are printing templates, print them on regular paper and then laminate (glue) the paper to the cardboard (you can use PVA glue for this operation). The only other tools you will need are a good quality Stanley knife, a steel ruler for cutting out the template, and some heavy-duty scissors may be handy if the template has any curved lines in it.
Here are some other ideas you might find useful. We'd also love you to send us your ideas and photos of your models so we can include them on this page:
You can make your own very realistic model trees from twisted copper wire and lichen (available from hobby shops). Lichen is also good for making hedges.
Suitably coloured plasticene is great for anchoring trees and fences.
Paddle-pop sticks make good bridges and fences. For a finer picket fence use toothpicks.
Emery (carborundum) paper and sandpaper make excellent roads and other textured surfaces.
You can also make your own textures for imitating stone, brick, tiles etc by adding sand, crushed brick or plaster to PVA glue or poster paint.