Friday, February 11, 2011

The Best Way to Enjoy Model Railroading?

A scene on the CP Rail M & M Sub. layout.

Is a layout really necessary to enjoy this hobby? That was a recent thread on the Canadian Model Trains group on Yahoo!

The consensus was no—and I agree. There are so many ways to enjoy model railroading; building a layout is just one of them.

But building a layout is still, in my opinion, the best way to enjoy it. It is, it seems to me, the ultimate goal of this hobby. Unlike some other kinds of model building, our model trains were built to move.

Model trains that sit in a display case look great, but I want to see them run.
The conversation on the Yahoo! group produced some interesting thoughts. One person who works at hobby shop estimated that 60-65% of his customers don’t have a layout. (Although many intend to build one “some day.”)

Another person chimed in that his layout is DCC: “Display Case Central.”

A third suggested that maybe there is a market for “highly detailed models that contain no motors or electronics, therefore cutting the overall cost down while allowing shelf modelers the opportunity to better fulfill their hobby in a much more economical way.”

I wonder what others think: Is there a best way to enjoy model railroading?


  1. I agree you don't have to have a layout in order to enjoy the hobby. Its fair to say I get more fun from scratch building a loco than running it BUT if it doesn't move I might as well model cars or tanks or more static objects.

    Model railroads encompass a broad church of followers but for me I still like to sit and watch my creation pass me by. There is an extra buzz from a model that MOVES

  2. I believe that model railroading is so multifaceted, from design, benchwork, track, wiring, structure building, scenery, locomotive detailing, to operations that there is something for everyone. You just need to find what makes you happy and go with it!

  3. You don't always need a layout to enjoy moving model trains, but it depends on what your interpretation of a layout is. A simple oval of track on the floor without benchwork and scenery isn't a bad way to get your kicks when you're feeling particularly lazy.