Model Train Resource: Online Model Railroad Sites You’ll Love to Visit

Modern 130-foot Turntable from Walthers Cornerstone Series
Modern 130-foot Turntable from Walthers Cornerstone Series | Source

© 2011 by Aurelio Locsin.

Whether you’re a veteran of model railroading or just starting out, you’ll find something to admire and learn in this collection of five online model train sites. Just be sure to allow at least an hour or more to browse their pages because each model railroading site offers a lot to see.

Micro/Small Layouts for Model Railroads

Carl Arendt has gathered over 1,500 model railroad pikes on his Micro Layouts site. This railroad genre applies to pikes that are “usually less than three or four square feet in area, that nonetheless have a clear purpose and excellent operating capability.” You can no longer use lack of space as an excuse for lack of a layout – not when a functioning example sits on top of a Spam can. All scales and types are covered, with either track plans or fully detailed dioramas, or both.

There are G-scale locomotives on pizza box layouts no bigger than one square feet, T-gauge commuter lines in 16” x 24”, an On30 steam switcher in 12” x 84”, a modern traction line in 16” x 48” and an N-scale European station annex measuring only 2” x 3.5”. Many use ingenious strategies to increase operations such as manually operated turntables to turn locomotives around at the end of the line and sector plates to move trains from one track to another.

Sadly, Carl passed away on March 4, 2011, but his cause was taken up by Jack Trollope and Jonathan Scott. With their efforts, the website will continue to expand.

An example of a shoe-box sized layout.
An example of a shoe-box sized layout. | Source

Trainboard

Need the roster of engines for the Soo Line Railroad? Perplexed by an electrical problem on your layout? Or maybe you just want to show off photos of the Japanese bullet train you just rode on your vacation. You’ll find plenty of opportunity to ask questions, offer advice and show off in the forums of TrainBoard, which bills itself as the Internet’s original train forum.

The members here are always ready and willing to help out with any train-related issues, often posting pictures and track plans to break up the otherwise long stretches of text postings. Though you can read information and look at the pictures as a guest, you’ll need to register for a free membership to do searches or to post your own messages.

Greetings from TrainBoard
Greetings from TrainBoard | Source

Walthers

Walthers is the world’s largest distributor of model railroading equipment. Every year, they solidify that position by issuing catalogs in HO and N & Z scales. But don’t worry if you can’t afford these compendiums of the model train hobby. Their full contents are available on the Walthers Website –including locomotives, passenger cars, freight cars, structures, figures, vehicles, scenery, tools and books. Be warned, however, prices here are at manufacturer’s suggested retail, which is higher than average. But if you can’t find the item at your local hobby shop, you can order it online.

The website also contains goodies too new to make it into the catalog, O scale items, videos, technical resources and a hobby shop locator. All items are searchable. Plus you can subscribe to their free monthly sale catalog by mail, or download it as a PDF

Walthers catalogs have become Bibles for model railroading.
Walthers catalogs have become Bibles for model railroading. | Source

Poll

What scale do you model in?

  • HO
  • N
  • O
  • G
  • S
See results without voting

Model Railroad Hobbyist

If Model Railroader, the hobby’s main mag, seems too expensive for a subscription, then read Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine, an online journal edited by Charlie Comstock. This professional-looking, full-color delight runs over 100 pages each month and is totally free due to its large advertising base.

Articles take full advantage of online techniques like interactive links, flash downloads, videos, and magnifying glass zooms, and cover a variety of subjects. For example, one issue has a basement-sized Southern Pacific track plan in N-scale, tips for buying trains on eBay, procedures on building a polyurethane structures and a first-look on layout sound CDs. You can subscribe to the mag or download thousands of pages of back issues.

Online magazine for model trains.
Online magazine for model trains. | Source

Miniatur Wunderland

The world’s largest HO model railroad, Miniatur Wunderland, is located in Hamburg, Germany. It impresses with the final statistics it plans for 2020, when the entire layout is completed: nearly 25,000 square feet of layout, over 65,000 feet of track, 1,300 trains, 6,000 buildings, 300,000 figures and 330,000 trees. This giant of a pike is crafted by a staff of 200 working about 850,000 hours at a total construction cost of 15 million Euros.

But the statistics are meaningless until you marvel at the many pictures and videos on the site. Areas are devoted to such locations as Switzerland, Hamburg and the U.S.A. These include replicas of such famous attractions as the Matterhorn, the Hamburg Main Station and Las Vegas. Knuffingen Airport sprawls over 1,600 square feet, complete with scale airliners taking off and landing. Cars rush through highways, moving through proprietary technology, while boats cruise down waterways. Small wonder that this attraction has become on of the top sites of the city.

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Comments 9 comments

Alladream74 profile image

Alladream74 5 years ago from Oakland, California

Always great fun


Soramelo profile image

Soramelo 5 years ago

Hi :-)

Loved your Hub and voted.

You have great Hubs my friend :-)


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Wow! It would be something to see that model train display in Hamburg, Germany when it is completed. It will be quite the tourist attraction, I am sure. Thanks for all of this useful information. Voted that as well as interesting and up.


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago from Cambridgeshire, England

OMW what an astonishing collection of hubs.

You have done it again Aurelio. Excellent work.

The Hamburg video is mind blowing.

The amount if time, effort and ingenuity that went into building this exhibit is staggering.

The detail is stunning.

Voted up all the buttons except funny.

This is going on the list for a visit. Sharing socially.


B. Leekley profile image

B. Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

I'll share this with my brother who is into model railroading.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

This is a comprehensive guide to model rail-roading - or railway modelling on this side of the 'pond'. I model in 4mm 'OO' which oddly uses 4mm railway vehicle 'body' sizes and 'HO' scale track, a sort of compromise somebody came up with in the thirties or forties. So I couldn't take part in your poll. At one time I joined the Scalefour Society which I found to be fairly elitist but the finished product was worth a gape or two.

In terms of small layouts, I recommend you buying LAYOUTS FOR LIMITED SPACES by Nigel Adams (Silver Link Publications @ £15.99 when I bought it in 1996, ISBN 1-85794-055-5). There is a company called Wild Swan who publish 'How To...' guides for railway modellers as well as a periodical title 'MODEL RAILWAY JOURNAL'. I have a number of copies of this journal with articles on a large-scale exhibition layout (now retired from the circuit) 'Bramblewick' by Tom Harland, an East Yorkshire artist with help from some serious scale modelling names! It's spread across four different editions, two of which (No's 102, 153) I keep in plastic covers - they're that good!


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

Nice to hear from a fellow model railroader, alancaster149, and I think this is easily the longest comment I've ever gotten. I have quite a few small space books from your side of the Atlantic, mostly by Iain Rice. Interestingly enough, the title you recommend isn't available here on Amazon but the sequel is. I actually have a couple of OO Britrail cars that I bought when I was in the UK. Actually found some pics of Bramblewick at scalefour.org. Beautiful.


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 3 years ago from Northern California, USA

Amazing! Thank you for the references. I would really like to visit the Miniatur Wunderland some day. Ten thousand railroad cars? Over 200,000 habitants? It's amazing. And, visitors can interact? I totally wish I could see that.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 3 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

It's truly an amazing world, MarleneB. Someday I'll get to visit it. As far as I know, visitors can only watch, although there are a few places where they can push buttons to make things run.

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