We would like to welcome you to the NMRA Beginners Pages dealing with creating a track plan and then wiring that track plan to give you many hours of enjoyment running a model railroad.
These pages are written with the assumption that you are starting off with a basic train set, as most people do when they get into the hobby of Model Railroading. While basic train sets are available at all sorts of stores, we would suggest you purchase your first one from a reputable hobby shop. The reason for this is some of the train sets available in discount department stores and toy stores are of rather low quality. Your local hobby shop owner to the higher quality train sets on the market or can start you off with individual pieces so you can make up your own. Like anything else in life, you get what you pay for and a low quality set can give you so much aggravation you simply won't enjoy it. The better sets do not cost that much more and are well worth the money.
One of the first things to tell you is all train sets will run a lot better if the track is secured down to a piece of plywood or some other workable surface. This simply keeps the track from coming apart as the train travels over it. Since most train sets only come with enough track to put together a circle or small oval, we are going to start our discussion with a simple but larger track plan. Since simple ovals or circles can become pretty boring in a short period of time, we recommend you go a bit larger and use a track plan that will allow more enjoyment. A larger area can be sceniced to give a more realistic look to the area your train will be running through. This will allow you to use other facets of the hobby that most find to be just as enjoyable as watching the train run, such as constucting buildings and adding trees, roads, etc.
Our first track plan is very simple to build and wire. The second will show you how to add sidings and spur tracks that will add to the realism of operating your railroad. These are things you will find on all of the real railroads and once you expand you have entered the world of Model Railroading.
Our third track plan will show you how to add an addition to the basic expanded track plan. It seems like all model railroaders want more area to operate trains in, so this will give you an idea of what can be done.
By no means are we telling you that these are the track plans you should use. These are simply examples. There are many very good resources available that show hundreds of track plans from as small as a 2x4' shelf layout to layouts that will fill a two-car garage. These resources include books, on-line forums, and of course a multitude of Internet sites. There is even a Special Interest Group (SIG) that deals exclusively with Layout Design: www.nmra.org/sigs/layout-design-sig All of these plans will give you ideas of what can be done. There are similar resources available on wiring model railroads, and you may want to refer to these, as we don't cover everything in these pages. All in all, there is information out there covering all aspects of model railroading, so look at what's available. The world of model railroading is only limited by your imagination.
We hope you find these and all the other pages in the Beginners Section of the NMRA Web Site to be of use as you enter the great hobby of Model Railroading. If you find them useful, please drop the Webmaster a note and tell him so.