Want to Build an Empire? Try a
Model Railroad!

Solo Build It!

Have you ever seen a model railroad at a friend's house, at a show or hobby shop? After the Wow! factor sunk in, I'll bet the next thing you were thinking is how neat it would be to have your own railroad to enjoy and operate.

It's exciting to think about - developing your own empire right in your own home - an artistic, working, operating masterpiece that you created. You can enlist the help of your friends or family, or you can create the whole thing on your own and then invite them in for an operating session. You could go there by yourself after a long day of work and "get away from it all".

Model railroading is the most versatile hobby in the world. It incorporates multiple disciplines including history, civil and mechanical engineering, carpentry, electrical wiring and circuitry, digital command control, sound and lighting, painting, airbrushing, various kinds of artistry, using multiple types of material to create structures, terrain and scenery. The model railroader essentially becomes a jack of all trades as he works in a "labor of love" to create his or her dream.

About This Site

These pages were conceived and written to help put together whatever I have learned in 20 years of experience in working with model trains and train layouts - along with the experiences of many others who have shared my passion - in order to provide you with all the information, tools and techniques you need to build your own realistic, artistic and fully operational model railroad empire.

As you look through this guide, I hope you will become excited and impassioned to start your own layout or, if you already have one, to enhance it with the tools and techniques you find here.

My mission is to make this the best site available as a resource to help you build the best model railroad possible.

This site is supported by donations (here and on the Blog Page) and by advertising from Google, Amazon, eBay, All-Posters and others. If you find this site useful, Please consider using these links or the ones on the Supplies Page to make purchases.

(To learn how this site was built, go to the Site Building Page. You could have your own site up and running within a couple of weeks!)

Your Comments

I hope you will feel free to send me your comments, questions, additional tips or any suggestions you might have that may improve the quality and/or quantity of information available here. Submit an article to post here if you like. Or, if you would like to see more information on a particular topic, I will try to make that happen. To easily get to the Comments Page, you can click on "Comments" in the Navigation Bar on the left side of every page.

Getting Around

The Navigation Bar at the left and the Table of Contents listed below contain the main categories of pages available on this site. There are many other pages on the site that are accessible through the links in the text on the main category pages. The Sitemap contains links to all the pages on the site.

If you are interested in a certain subject that you can't find using the Navigation Bar or the Sitemap, use this Search Bar to find any specific topic on this site:

Custom Search

Also, wherever you happen to be within the site, if you want to search for a certain topic, you can click on the Search Page in the Navigation Bar. This page has search engines not only for this site, but across the internet as well.

Don't forget to bookmark this site to your browser so you can return here quickly whenever you need to look up something or see what's new.

Also, there is a shortcut to typing the URL. Who wants to type out www.building-your-model-railroad.com all the time? Try this: bymrr.com when you want to return here and can't find the bookmark.

I hope these user-friendly features will help you find the information you want quickly. However, if you just want to browse around the site, that's okay too.

Additional Notes

If you are a beginner, the first 8 or 9 buttons on the Navigation Bar may be the most useful to you in the early stages. If you are more of an intermediate or advanced hobbyist, you may be more interested in the Special Effects category.

The Resources Page is a great place to see what else is out there. It contains a listing of lots of books, magazines and informative websites that have been helpful to me along the way. There is also a section of the page with a list of favorite places to get supplies if your local hobby shop doesn't carry what you need.

Pay special attention to the Blog page ("Blog/RSS" on the Nav Bar) which will always contain the most updated and newest pages added to the site. These are being added and updated fairly often. If you subscribe to the Blog by adding it to your favorite RSS reader, and if you have the RSS reader accessible to you through your email, you will always be notified of any new updates. You can add the Blog to your RSS reader easily by clicking on the link below and then click on your favorite RSS reader... Subscribe to Model Railroading Blog


The BYMRR-Zine Newsletter is currently on hold. However, you can still access tons of information by reviewing all the past issues of the newsletter. Click on the logo to go to the newsletter page that will provide a link to past issues...

Model Railroad Books

If you wish to learn more about specific model railroading topics, you may want to look over a collection of Model Railroad Books that are available at Amazon.com and at many of your local hobby stores.

If you have your own website and want to link to this page from there, check out the TIP in the tan-shaded table below.

Finally, I would sincerely like to thank you for visiting. I hope you will find that this site has been designed with you, the viewer, in mind. I do have a few ads here and there, but I have tried to keep them from getting in the way of obtaining the information you need, and I have tried to avoid using anything that I thought might be annoying. The vast majority of the ads are content-related, and, wherever I have had a choice in what shows up in the ad, I have tried to make it something that I think will be useful and helpful.

Above all, this site is intended to add to your enjoyment of the "World's Greatest Hobby". Have fun!

-About the Author-


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Table of Contents:

Model Railroading Blog
New site pages, additions, pictures, comments, article reviews and new techniques relating to building model railroads.
Sitemap for Building Your Model Railroad
Sitemap for Building Your Model Railroad - Navigate to any page on the site with one click.
Search Page
Search page to find anything on or off this site about model railroading.
The Basics of Model Railroading: Getting Started
The basics of model railroading, including descriptions of model train scales, types of model train displays, and how to get started in the "World's Greatest Hobby".
Model Railroad Terms
Definitions of model railroad terms
The NMRA ( National Model Railroad Association) establishes standards for model railroading.
Model Train Scales
Description of the most popular model train scales. Helps in deciding which scale to use for your layout.
Model Train Displays
Model train displays: various ways of showing off and operating your trains
Model Railroad Layout Design
Model railroad layout design: establishing a theme and purpose for your railroad
Train Layout Design Elements
How to use train layout design elements (LDE's) to develop your own model railroad trackplan
Model Railroad Software
Various types of model railroad software are available which may be helpful for developing actual or virtual layouts.
Model Railroad Track Plans
Various types of model railroad track plans that could be incorporated into your layout.
Model Railroad Yard
This page contains all the ins and outs about building a basic model railroad yard for your train layout.
Model Railroad Lighting
Various aspects of model railroad lighting, including overhead lighting, sunset lighting, illuminating buildings, street lamps, etc.
Model Railroad Benchwork
Ideas for building model railroad benchwork
Model Railroad Backdrop
How to make a model railroad backdrop.
Model Railroad Track
How to lay model railroad track
Model Railroad Wiring
Overview of different types of model railroad wiring
Model Train Scenery
All aspects of building and developing model train scenery, including creating terrain and rock formations, tunnels, ground cover, trees, roads, water effects, etc.
Model Trains
Information and resources to help you in choosing appropriate model trains, including different types of locomotives and rail cars, for your model railroad layout.
Weathering Your Model Trains and Structures
Basic weathering techniques for model trains and model railroad buildings.
Model Railroad Operation: A New Adventure!
How to conduct sessions for model railroad operation.
Advanced Model Railroading: Special Effects and New Ideas
How to create special effects for model railroading and other new ideas. Tips on sound and lighting effects, animation, signal systems, mirrors, fire and smoke, automation and other details.
Trolley Layout
Building a trolley layout is another facet of this wonderful hobby that can provide loads of enjoyment for the young and old alike. Here's how to get started.
Garden Trains
Garden trains are a great way to involve your family in model railroading.
Small N Scale Train Layout
Step-by-step creation of a small N Scale model train layout - A great way to get started, or if you just want to take a break from the big layout.
Railroad History
Railroad history is an important part of model railroading that helps inspire us to do what we do. It also provides a reference for us whether we freelance or model the prototype.
Train Photos / Gallery
Gallery of prototypical and/or model train photos and model railroad layout photos
Model Railroad Showcase
This is a chance for you to showcase YOUR model railroad with a whole webpage on the internet dedicated to your layout, diorama, structure-building, kitbashing or other projects.
My Train Layout
My train layout represents an example of what you can do with the modeling techniques described on this site.
Model Trains and Railroads: Resources and References
Where to find more information about model trains and model railroad supplies, the best resources and references.
Your Model Railroading Tips and Comments
Share your own model railroading tips and comments to help other model railroaders improve.
Model Railroad Stories
We all have model railroad stories we could tell - some funny, some not-so-funny, but maybe educational. If you have a story to tell about your model railroad experience, let us know about it here.
Blog- It
Blog-It: Use this page to send in a model train story, picture or event or anything else related to model railroading. It will appear as a blog enty within the next few days.
Model Railroading Tips / Newsletter
Building a Website
Describes the basic process of building a website for your model railroad club or to display your own train layout, and what's required to accomplish this.
Model Train Supplies
Many of the model train supplies that you will need to build your model railroad can be found on this page.

New! Comments

What do you think? Do you have anything to add to what you just read? Leave me a comment in the box below.

How to Build a
Model Railroad:

Over 150 pages of information, tips and techniques on this site!


Getting Started

Model Railroad Layout Overview: Step-By-Step

Model Railroad Terms


Model Train Scales

Narrow Gauge

Model Train Displays

Model Trains - Equipment

Building a Model Train Layout with Your Children


Garden Trains

Resources and References

Model Train Supplies

Railroad Gifts!

Model Railroad Stories

Model Railroad Club: How to Get Started

Links to many other interesting modeling sites,
like Beginner's Guide to Model Cars.


Model Railroad Layout Design

Train Layout Design Elements for Track Planning

Using Google Earth to Discover Prototype Track Plans

Model Railroad Software

Train Simulator for the Mac

Model Railroad Track Plans

Grades and Clearances

Model Railroad Yard

Building the Layout

Model Railroad Benchwork

Model Railroad Backdrop

Model Railroad Track

Model Train Track Codes

Train Derailments

Wiring and Lighting

Model Railroad Wiring

Model Railroad Lighting

All About Turnouts

Model Railroad Wiring Tips

Soldering Tips

Train Control Panel

Common Electrical Switches Used in Model Railroad Wiring

Wiring a Remote Turnout Solenoid Switch

Automatic turnout control

DCC Decoder Installation

Managing Layout Wiring

Basic Electronics


Model Train Scenery

Model Train Scenery: Terrain

Model Railroad Scenery Details

Model Railroad Tunnels

Painting Rocks

Making Rocks

Building Model Scenery Roads

Model Scenery Ground Cover

Model Trees

Model Railroad Water

Model Railroad Waterfalls and Rapids

Model Train Bridges

Lift-Out Model Scenery

Model Railroad Ballast

Modeling a Winter Scene

Winter Diorama - Step-By-Step

Retaining Walls

Buildings and Structures

Model Railroad Buildings

Weathering Your Model Trains and Structures


Painting Models

Model Buildings from Scratch

Laser Cutting for ScratchBuilding Projects


Train Photos / Gallery

Model Railroad Photos: Tutorial

O. Winston Link

Special Effects

Advanced Model Railroading: Special Effects and New Ideas

Sound Effects for Model Railroads

Model Train Couplers

Lighting Effects for Your Model Railroad

Train Signals for Your Model Railroad

Traffic Signals for Your Model Railroad Layout

Model Railroad Crossing Gates

Computerizing Your Layout

Modeling Fake Fire and Smoke Effects

Animated Train Layout Effects

Model Railroad Wiring for Automated Train Operation

Visual Illusions and Mirror Tricks for Your Model Railroad

A Train Camera for Your Model Railroad

Starting a New Layout


Model Railroad Operation

Article Reviews

"Superelevating Flextrack"


Model Railroad Showcase


NYC Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show

The Chesapeake Bay and Western Model Railroad

The Seaboard Railroad Station Museum

A computerized, digitized model railroad layout

The Big Meadow Railroad

Building My Empire - A visitor's startup

The Blue Ridge and Southern:

The Blue Ridge and Southern Railroad

Model Railroad Concept for the BR&S

Train Room and Lighting


Model Train Benchwork for the Blue Ridge and Southern

Railroad History

Railroad History

The Virginian Railway

The Norfolk and Western Railroad

The Pennsylvania Railroad

The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway

Railroads in Wartime

Small Projects: Step-by-Step

Creating a Small 2'x4' N Scale Layout

Winter Diorama

Sharing Information and Stories

Model Railroading Blog

Share Your Model Railroading Tips and Comments

Model Railroad Stories

Protecting Your Model Railroad