Posted By Mike
Metal, Wood, or Plastic?

Train enthusiasts can enjoy their hobby from afar or they can get right in and build the cars. You have many decisions to make: metal, wood, or plastic. There are pros and cons for each. Beginners start with the basics, simple kits with minimal parts. You have to have a good eye and a sense or organization. Many tyros complain that they are always losing those tiny bits and pieces. I show them how to set up small containers before they begin the process. By the way, you have to have more than a modicum of patience, not to mention manual skill. If you are all thumbs, model train building might not be for you.

Many dads like to use these primary level kits to have fun with their kids. Don’t hesitate. Lots of tots are better with glue than dad. Just be sure you have the right adhesive for the material. You don’t use the same one for metal, wood, and plastic. Plus, each of these requires a different approach. You will find what you like if you give them a try.

Another key point is that the different materials require a special kind of paint. You see that you can’t go into model train building blind. It takes a bit of research and know how. Your hobby shop consultant will point you in the right direction. Many people specialize in wood, plastic, or metal; but I have examples of all types. I have a fondness for the texture of wood for an old-world feel. They are all durable and fun to work with, and have a distinctive appeal for collectors. It comes down to the process and what suits your skills.

There is the preliminary effort of building the cars. It all leads up to your miniature empire: a true railroad system. You can select whatever special features you want. It can be an old-world set up or a western one. Some go ultra-modern. Get out the metal, wood, and plastic: you are going to need them all. Plus a bit of mechanical and civil engineering, electrical wiring, some basic carpentry, and an eye for a good overall design. Ideas are plentiful on line. You might also check out all those handy YouTube videos.

Once you have the concept in mind, you are in for a treat. Years of developing your railroad and sharing it with others. I love to see what fellow train lovers have devised. Every railroad has a purpose, a setting, and a season. I love what some do with snow. I am captivated by trains that transport goods or logs. It makes for very picturesque scenery. A coal train will run through mountains to mines. You could include an entire steel mill. Here is where some metalwork and welding come into play. Of course, in remote times, you would find a steam engine.