This is the most important decision you will probably make when starting off on the railway modelling journey. Many of you will not have the luxury of a spare room in which to site your layout, this tends to become available in later life when all the offspring have left home. People in modern houses do not have the opportunity of siting it in the roof space as to-days houses have the gang nailed roof truss construction. Older houses offer a different perspective, but you do have to prepare the area as roof spaces have a vast change in temperature throughout the year.
The other option you may have is to site your layout in your garage, although some thought needs to be given if the garage needs to still house the car. Then there is a room in the garden or a garden shed. I actually purpose built my room solely for my P4 railway, but this worked out very costly. Most normal people buy a ready built structure but I wanted it to have a railway feel.
The other thought you have to consider is what type of railway you wish to model. Naturally space restricts the size and scope of your layout along with the scale of models you wish to work with. ‘0’ gauge can work in a restricted space but you will need to design you track plan to suit. A sector plate and hidden storage sidings are a way of saving space as they can be incorporated offscreen. Whereas with ‘N’ gauge you can possibly fit in a sizeable layout into the same space.
So some thoughts on possible sites.
The spare room or study offers you some clean and dry conditions but can be restrictive in size.
The roof space can give you a large area especially where there is no gang nailed roof truss construction. Even if this is not the case with a little ingenuity this space could be adapted, but whichever there will still be some work to do to insulate the area and make it dust proof. Ventilation may also be needed in the form of a roof light, but at the end of the day it could give you the space you require.
The garage can provide you with a home for your railway even if the car needs to be stored in there, I have see some ingenious methods where the layout is lowered from the roof space using a pulley system. Baseboards could even be hinged against the walls and lowered when needed. The downside is the garages can be draughty places.
The Garden Room or Shed can be as large as the garden and domestic authorities will allow. I found it very rewarding designing and building my own railway room. Originally I built it to house my P4 layout and at a size of 12ft x 8ft gave me a good workroom, and after a change in scale I have extended it by another 10ft in length giving me a room of 22ft x 8ft. It now houses the station areas of my ‘0’ gauge garden railway. It is affectionately known as ‘The Dog House’.
The purpose built railway room is a luxury not many people have, but people who have this luxury have usually a master plan for the layout they wish to house.
There are however some places that need to be avoided, places that have a wide variation in temperature and humidity such as greenhouses and conservatories. Uninsulated roof spaces also show a wide temperature variation and vast changes in humidity. Large window areas can also cause fading problems especially where scenery is concerned and where any kind of printed paper/card has been used. To overcome this problem all the windows In ‘The Dog House’ have roller blinds.
In summary the ideal environment for your model railway needs to be temperate, damp free, clean and draught free, shielded to direct sunlight and in a position where it will not interfere with domestic activities and away from all pets as all your work could be demolished in seconds.
What do I model
You will either have a strong leaning to one period or railway company, maybe Narrow gauge or Industrial setting. How much space will I need and where might I find information on my chosen subject.
There is so much information available, there is the internet, books, monthly magazines, quarterly specialist publications such as Great Western Railway Journal and the Midland Record, quarterly Journals of the various railway societies, numerous films/DVD’s and for those looking to model the modern era you have your eyes. The National Railway Museum at York has an extensive archive which you can tap into, the Great Western Museum at Swindon and the GWS at Didcot both have extensive archives. For Midland and LMS information there is the Midland Railway Centre at Butterley. Some of the Preserved Railways house some of the smaller railway companies, such as the Somerset & Dorset which has a museum on the West Somerset Railway at Watchet. Many of the more obscure railway companies have enthusiast societies and can be found by searching the Internet.
Tags: Model, Railway, Site