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Explained: Prototype Railroads vs Model Railroads

Beginners to the wonderful world of model railways often get confused with the term
prototype trains. Generally, model railroad enthusiasts will refer to the real (full size)
trains as prototypes. As the name implies, every railway track system is a unique, one
of a kind system.

This explains why the phrase 'prototype train' is a good description for full size train. If,
as a model railroading enthusiast, your aim is to create your own "real" system, then it
is easiest to refer to full size trains as being prototypes.

Model Railroad Train Scales And Track Gauge

The terms scale and gauge are two of
the most confused terms in the model
railroad hobby. The SCALE proportion
is expressed as a fraction of a real
life-sized railroad. As an example, HO
scale model train set is 1/87 the size
of real life-sized railroads. For model
trains, track GAUGE is the width
between the inside running edge of
the rails. For toy trains, track gauge is
the measurement from the center of
the two outside rails.

Analog Model Railroads - How They Work

An Analog model railroad is simply a conventional model railroad with conventional
analogue controls [DC or AC] to provide a power feed to a piece of track.  Any
locomotive that is on that piece of track will respond by moving forwards or backwards.  
The speed and direction of a model train is controlled by varying the voltage and
polarity on the rails. The higher the voltage , the faster the locomotive moves, the
lower the voltage, the slower the locomotive moves.

DCC Model Railroads - A Quick Definition

DCC stands for Digital Command Control.  It is a system that allows model railroads to
independently operate multiple locomotives, functions (speed, sound, lighting,
direction, movement) and accessories rather than control of sections of railway track.  
This is achieved by locating a decoder in the locomotive that listens to information in
the track.

Laying Loose Ballast On Model Railroad Layouts

When laying 'loose' track ballast, be very careful while distributing it around point
blades. Also, when laying 'loose' track ballast never run the trains until the glue has
fully dried and the track has been vacuum cleaned to ensure no loose track ballast

A Common Mistake To Avoid When Making Scenery

When making scenery for a model railway layout there is a temptation to make trees
too small. This probably because many people live in housing developments that were
built less than 40 years ago. In real life mature trees can be huge with some trees
being 80-100 feet or more in height.

If you are modeling conifers or other very large trees here's what to do. Take your
longest passenger car, turn it up on end, and make the trees taller, up to half again as

When positioning your trees on your model railroad, keep in mind the loading gauge of
your widest and longest rolling cars. Check to see if the trees will be too close to the
tracks BEFORE you glue them into place.

Famous Railways & Railroad Journeys

  • 20,000 Commuters At Largest Train Station

  • The world's largest station by number of platforms is Grand Central
    Terminal, Park Avenue and 42nd Street, New York City, USA.

  • The station has 44 platforms situated on two underground levels with 41 tracks
    on the upper level and 26 on the lower level. Around 200,000 commuters arrive
    and depart on approximately 550 trains every day.

  • Grand Central was built over a 10 year period from 1903–13 and covers
    19 ha (48 acres).

London Underground - Interesting Railroad Facts

  • Some interesting facts about the London Underground (affectionately
    known as "The Tube"):

  • Maximum depths below ground level - Northern Line, Holly Bush Hill, Hampstead
    67.4m (221ft)

  • Deepest station - Hampstead 58.5m (192ft) below ground level

  • Longest continuous tunnel - Northern Line, East Finchley to Morden (via Bank)
    27.8km (17.4 miles)

Australia Has Longest Straight Railroad

The Australian National Railways Trans-Australian line over the Nullarbor Plain, is 478
km. (297 miles) dead straight, from between Nurina and Loongana, Western Australia,
to between Ooldea and Watson, South Australia.

As the name implies, the Indian Pacific Train travels from the Indian Ocean all the way
to the Pacific Ocean. This famous ocean to ocean train trip across Australia is one of
the world’s longest and greatest railroad journeys.

This railroad journey from Sydney (on the East Coast) to Perth (on the West Coast)
covers 4352kms. The Indian Pacific Train travels from the spectacular Blue Mountains
to the treeless plains of The Nullarbor, where the train travels the world’s longest
straight stretch of railroad track (478 kilometres).

Passengers experience three nights aboard the train as well as scheduled stops at
Broken Hill, Adelaide and gold rich Kalgoorlie. A remote outpost on the Nullarbor Plain
called Cook, population 2, presents a further opportunity to stretch your legs.

The Indian Pacific passenger train first ran in February 1970 from Sydney Central to
East Perth linked New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia
but by-passed Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. The Adelaide rail terminal (with
standard gauge connection) was opened in May 1984.

A3 Class 'Flying Scotsman'

Flying Scotsman is arguably the best-known steam locomotive in the world. Model
Train manufacturer Hornby  produce replica models of 'Flying Scotsman' for model
railroading enthusiasts to add to their model railroad layouts.

The A1 4-6-2 is presented in LNER livery with four teak coaches to represent the
period of non-stop running between London and Edinburugh over the summer
seasons of the 1930s.

Hornby even have a complete 'Flying Scotsman' model railroad set containing
everything needed to just set up and run including: a transformer, controller and track.

World's Longest RailwayJourney

The longest railway journey in the world without changing trains is 6,346 miles (10,214
km.), from Moscow, Russia, to Pyongyang, North Korea. The train trip takes almost
eight days with only one train a week taking this route.

Famous Steam Locomotive Puffs Back

The Fairy Queen steam locomotive is all gloss and shine. A bronze chimney spewing
out thick smoke from its crown into the air, which thins to a misty vapour as the engine

The Fairy Queen broad gauge steam
locomotive was built in 1855 by Kitson,
Thompson & Hewitson, of England for the
British firm East India Railways. The petite
engine worked from Howrah to Ranigunj
(121 miles). After a complete overhaul in
Perambur Workshop of the Southern
Railway, it panted back to life in 1997. The
Fairy Queen made several trips between
New Delhi and Alwar, India (89km of railway
track) between 1997 and 1998. It now runs
as a tourist train.

Impressive Model Railroads

There are hundreds impressive model railroad layouts to be found all around the world
including countries like: New Zealand, Turkey, South Africa, Australia, UK, Canada and
USA  to name but a few. Here are a couple of model railroad layouts in the USA that
are well worth a visit:

10,000 Square Foot Of Model Railroad Track

The Golden State Model Railroad Museum in California has 10,000 square feet of O
scale, HO scale and N scale model railroading. Inside the Golden State Model Railroad
Museum, you will find three large model railroads, constructed and operated by the
East Bay Model Engineers Society (EBMES). When visiting California the Golden State
Model Railroad Museum is well worth seeing. The museum is located in Point
Richmond, California (just north of San Francisco, at the north end of the East Bay).

Indiana Model Railroad Layout Stretches 7 Miles

The Greater Midcontinent Railroad Company was founded in 1991. The HO scale
model railroad layout occupies approximately 20 by 30 feet of the basement of the
Garrett Historical Society Museum. The model railroad layout has about 7 scale miles
of track, which typically takes 20 minutes for trains to complete a circuit. Prototypical
operations are duplicated with the aid of a computerized system which controls the
model railroad layout.

Read More about Model Trains, Model Railroads and Railways

Model Train Clubs
Take all the guesswork
out of setting up the
perfect model railway.
Easy to follow action
steps to quickly and
easily design, build,
maintain and repair a
model railroad you'll be
supremely proud of.
Model Railroad
Model Railroaders
(beginners and
experienced) were
asked to submit
questions they wanted

It was like opening the
questions came in thick
and fast, including a lot
of questions on Analog
verses DCC and
advanced electronics.
Help For Model Railroad Enthusiasts
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Model Trains and Model Railroading Help

Programming DCC Locos
Ron has a question for those experienced with programming DCC locomotives:"When trying to re-program one of my DCC Locos I keep getting message "d nA" which I understand to be an indication of an open circuit on Programming Track. I am using a 3 foot strip of track made up with E-Z Track and have dismantled and re-made it up 2 or 3 times but get the same error message. Is this a problem with the decoder in the Loco, or is it the E-Z Track? Should I use a 3 ft strip of ordinary Peco or Atlas track?"To comment on Ron's problem click on the green comments link below this posting.