Skip to content
Home » model railroading » Page 3

model railroading

Investing in model trains: Good idea or bad?

From time to time, I see the topic of investing in model trains, whether Lionel, Marklin, scale brass models, or any other niche come up. There was a time when people make a lot of money doing that. Sad to say, for the most part that window of opportunity is closed.

It’s certainly possible to make money at your hobby. But investing in collectibles tends to be fleeting, so it’s something you should approach with extreme caution.

Read More »Investing in model trains: Good idea or bad?

Dinky 1:48 vehicles for O scale

There’s a bit of myth around Dinky vehicles. 1:43 vehicles are the standard size, the story goes, because Meccano made Dinky-brand 1:43 vehicles to go with its Hornby-brand trains. But that’s part of the story. Dinky models of American vehicles were 1:48, to go with American O scale trains.

Dinky produced 1:48 diecast models of American cars from the late 1940s well into the 1960s. While they can be expensive, they hold their value well. Model railroaders who don’t want to pay collector prices can buy beat-up Dinky models and paint and detail them as they like.

Read More »Dinky 1:48 vehicles for O scale

How big is a train engine?

Train engines are much bigger than your car, and their huge size and weight means they aren’t nimble at all. That’s why you should always stop for an oncoming train. But how big is a train engine?

Sizes vary depending on the purpose of the locomotive, but generally speaking, you can stack up about 30 Toyota Camry passenger cars in the space of a typical train engine.

Read More »How big is a train engine?

What are 1 gauge trains?

What are 1 gauge trains? It’s a fair question, since it’s terminology you don’t see every day. And it’s one, as in the number one, not L gauge or I gauge. It’s not the same as O gauge, and it’s terminology that goes all the way back to the 19th century.

German model railroad maker Marklin introduced 1 Gauge, or Gauge 1, in 1891 as the smallest of five train sizes. Its track measures 1.75 inches across and trains marketed using this terminology are usually 1:32 scale.

Read More »What are 1 gauge trains?

What is a narrow gauge railroad?

What is a narrow gauge railroad? If you’re not a train enthusiast, or even if you are, you may be a bit unclear on this term even if you hear it all the time. Let’s talk about narrow gauge, why it exists, and why hobbyists like to model narrow gauge instead of standard gauge trains like the ones you probably see every day.

Narrow gauge railroads are railroads with a narrower track than the standard 4 feet, 8.5 inches. They typically occur in areas where a full-size train is impractical.

Read More »What is a narrow gauge railroad?

Buying trains at estate sales

I think estate sales are an underrated place to buy trains. While some things have changed from 15 years ago when I started, there are still good finds out there. Here are my tips for buying trains at estate sales.

There are lots of places to find trains, including train stores, antique shops, train shows, and placing want ads. But buying trains straight out of people’s estates is surprisingly effective, and can be economical too.

Read More »Buying trains at estate sales

Using landscape transformers on train layouts

It’s fairly common for hobbyists with extremely large train layouts to use outdoor landscape transformers instead of specialized train transformers to power the lights and accessories on their layouts. Landscape transformers are large, rugged, and less expensive. But it can be confusing how to set them up. So here’s a step by step guide to using landscape transformers on train layouts.

I use PC power supplies to power lights and accessories, but that limits me to 12 volts DC for power. I’m OK with that. But if you want 15 volts AC, or you’re uncomfortable modifying a PC power supply, low-voltage landscape transformers are another viable alternative. I don’t think they’re as economical as an old PC power supply, but they cost much less per watt than a train transformer.

Read More »Using landscape transformers on train layouts

Painting electric train track

I had an interesting question come in: Can you paint American Flyer train track? You can, if you’re careful about it. There could be a couple of reasons to want do that. Here’s what you need to know about painting electric train track and why you might want to do such a thing.

Ironically, the main reasons to do it are to make old track look less rusty than it is, or to make new track look old and rusty.

Read More »Painting electric train track

Train show tips

I like to support my local dealers, and of course Ebay makes it easy to buy trains, but there’s still nothing like an old-fashioned train show. Here are my train show tips that I’ve found helped me in the past. Hopefully they’ll help you too.

You may recognize some of these from my tips for garage sales and estate sales, but some of the methods are unique to shows. Also, not all shows are the same, and my tips may work better for local shows than traveling shows but most of them should work for both types.

Read More »Train show tips