Making a start

I had a few items of rolling stock and engines for quite a while before I had any baseboards. This wasn’t a problem as it gave me time to assemble more stock and get used to the new size of everything.

I do remember buying some Peco flexi-track and being really excited by its size. I couldn’t wait to put something on it and have a look at my new trains.


My dinning room table with no food to offer!

Apparently, dining room tables are to be used for meals and not for modelling.  Well so much for that rule! Tables are excellent for modelling and just the right height. In the above pic, my rather clean Dapol 08 shunter is posed with a brake van I had recently built along with another wagon that was being assembled. I had yet to try my hand at ballasting any O gauge track, so I decided that I would stick a piece of straight track to a piece of wood and practice my skills. This was a really useful exercise and I cannot encourage you enough to do this before embarking on your main projects

A note about ballast…

You can use what ever ballast you like, but looking at reference pictures will always help you to get your modelling to look realistic. Ballast is different across the country as different quarries are used so this should be reflected in the models that we build. I’ve seen many layouts at exhibitions ruined by dreadful ballast or out of scale ballast.

When I dabbled with N Gauge, I used the finest grade ballast I could use and with my O gauge layout I have used ballast that might normally be used for OO gauge. I think this has given me a good result. Even with my layout being far from finished, I have already had some very positive comments about my ballasting.

Here’s a picture of the main line coming into my station and the adjacent head shunt showing the tidy ballast which has been laid onto a cork underlay. More about that elsewhere!


I think that when I started to buy items of rolling stock, I had already assembled in my mind, the layouts narrative so I knew what stock would suit the layout. I guess you can buy whatever you like just as many young boys have been given a model of the Flying Scotsman, which is then used to haul three wagons and a coach around an oval of track.

YOU CAN RUN WHAT YOU LIKE and nothing I say should stop you from doing so but you will have a much greater experience if you can focus on one era or company and stick to that with your engines and stock.

I have settled for a Pre-Tops era for my layout so this has influenced my purchases. If a picture shows that I have got it wrong then I will claim that Rule 1 applies.

Making a start can be an expensive process and scary too which is why the planning stage is so important. Knowing what you want to do can save you a lot of tears and cursing not to mention a lot of money. When you are ready, you need to think about where your layout is going to go, if it needs to be movable. If you have a dodgy back like me think about the height of your layout. If it’s low, you’ll get a lovely view but you might kill your back when it comes to doing your modelling.

On another page, I shall talk about my baseboards. I’m not going to show you how to build them on this blog as WH Smiths is full of model railway magazines that can tell you about building baseboards. I shall however tell you about mine…