Frequently Asked Model Train Questions

Which is the best model train scale?

The short answer is that there is not one best scale. The different model train scales fulfil different requirements, and that is why the manufacturers continue to manufacture them.

HO scale, or OO gauge in the UK, has been popular for a long time because the scale was just the right size to be robust enough and carry enough detail, but small enough to allow a reasonable sized layout in a room.

The best scale for you is the one that suits your age (consider your eyesight), your budget (less popular scales are more expensive), the space you have available and your model railroading goals (do you want to scratchbuild or create a complicated switching layout).  

Should I start with DCC?

With DCC (Digital Command Control) becoming more affordable as demand increases and the fact that it brings the hobby alive, I would definitely start with DCC. 

DCC has completely simplified the electrical component of running more than 1 train at the same time. It has added a host of new features like sound, smooth speed ramp up and down, lighting, smoke, door operations and much more. This makes model railroading a rewarding and exciting hobby.

There is a learning curve to programming DCC, but this is so much easier than creating electrical blocks and avoiding shorts in the old DC systems.

Why does my train derail?

Trains that derail or don’t run properly are the quickest way to kill your enthusiasm. Model trains are complex and a small problem can be very frustrating to fix.

Model trains are scaled models of the real thing, so they need to be precise in their operation. A slightly misaligned track will have a disastrous effect when you run your train across it at high speed.

A quick check is to run your finger across track joiners. Misaligned track can easily be felt.

A lack of maintenance, changes in temperature, curves that are too tight, coupler problems and running the train too fast are the common causes of derailments.  

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