Hello all Model Railroaders and Welcome to Issue #102 of the popular Model Train Newsletter…
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What Is Scratchbuilding?
Scratchbuilding is exactly what it says on the tin; building from scratch.
True scratchbuilding is done completely using raw materials, from the foundations of your model train layout, to the buildings and detailing you use to decorate your model railway.
Rather than using a shop-bought kit, which simply needs assembling, scratchbuilding is the creation of a scale model by hand from raw materials.
Plywood, clay, plaster, metal and plastic are all materials that can be used to create your model railway if you choose to scratch build it.
Whether you choose to buy some of the extra layout detail, such as buildings, signs etc. is down to personal preference.
Scratchbuilding by Larry Summers
There are definite advantages to scratchbuilding.
Your layout becomes completely unique, with the exact measurements and specifications you desire.
It is very satisfying to stand back and admire your hard work once completed. The raw materials required to scratchbuild are cheaper than a commercial kit, which is an attraction to those with the practical skills to make a successful scale model by hand.
Planning is an essential part of scratchbuilding.
The concept of your railway layout can be based on commercial designs. Many scratchbuilders gain their experience from assembling kits first.
To begin with, you may wish to kitbash to help you get started.
With a big project, merging pre-made kits to create a new design, without having to think one up yourself, can be a good way to start.
Always plan your layout carefully.
You can include as much detail as you like. Specialized software is available to plan your model railway on a computer.
Simulations of the track and trains are very useful if you struggle to visualize a 2D design in 3D.
Making the transformation from paper to model isn’t easy, however scratch building allows ultimate flexibility as well as the ability to recreate a totally original model train layout.
Although scratch building uses raw materials, this doesn’t mean you can’t use things like plastic.
It simply means that instead of buying landscape detail, you build everything to start from scratch.
For example, instead of buying trees or buildings, you will scratch build them yourself.
Using wood, cardboard, or even paper, every last piece of your model train layout can be hand made from raw materials.
Very satisfying! Scratchbuilding is not for the faint-hearted but is incredibly satisfying.
It takes time and requires motivation, precision and patience. Almost everything can be scratchbuilt, from the buildings to the sheep grazing on your mountains.
I recommend to start by learning the basics through kit building.
This will give you an idea of how commercial, pre-made items are finished and then you can try to replicate them.
Scratchbuilding is a satisfying way to create your own unique model train layout.
When every last detail is perfect, sit back and enjoy your hard work. You deserve it!
Have you done any scratchbuilding or do you have any comments on scratchbuilding? Click here to comment.
Photos Submitted by Subscribers
Model train layout by David Howarth.
Model Railroad by Tom and Lisa Jedic.
Model railway by Carl Cascone.
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.McMyler Coal Dumper Video
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To Finally Create The Model Train Layout of Your Dreams?”
Model train beginners need clarity!
Why do model railroaders need clarity?
Because the model train opportunities are endless!
You can build a layout in your basement, attic, shed, garage or garden.
You can run steam or diesel locomotives.
You can have multilevel railways with rivers, dams, mountains, snow…
You get the idea!
The opportunities are truly endless in this wonderful hobby.
Some points to consider are:
Where are you going to build your layout?
In my case it’s “Where will my Wife let me?”
I find that I prefer being in the shed where I am out of the way and can enjoy lots of “me” time. I have a friend who has a large model train layout in his front lounge area.
How much space have you got available?
The entire layout needs to be easily reachable by the operator to correct derailed trains, line faults, etc. “Against the wall” layouts need to be restricted to 3 feet wide.
A layout size of at least 3 feet 6 inches x 4 feet would allow space for a continuous loop railroad in HO scale.
A layout space of at least 6 x 4 feet would be a better option. This would allow room to have a reasonably interesting model railroad.
Which scale are you going to use?
This is largely dependent on the space you have available and how much detail you want. Detail is easier to see and reproduce on larger models.
HO scale is the most common and has the widest variety of accessories available. But if space is at a premium then consider N scale.
You can build an N scale layout in an area about 30% of that area needed to build a similar layout in HO scale.
Will you model a real life layout or create your own?
Most model train enthusiasts will eventually create models of real life systems. It can be challenging to model real life systems, but is very rewarding.
Google Earth provides us with the perfect tool to check real live layouts, sizes, scenery, buildings and more. Being clear on what you want will make your life so much easier.
I would love to hear your thoughts… Click here to comment.
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