How to Get Started With Model Electric Trains

getting started

An electric train layout, like the real railroads, can involve a large number of components - or focus on a select few.  From specific models, to benchwork, to the type of controller you need, etc. it all can feel very overwhelming. At Roundhouse Electric Trains, Inc. we want to help you to enjoy this fun hobby. We have compiled a guide of important questions that you should answer to help you get started in your electric train journey.

Layout Size

The first important question that you should be able to answer is how much room you have available for your train hobby. The space can help define what:  scale you want to build in, if you want single or multiple main lines, regular or high speed turnouts, modeling specific industries, inclusion of a city or rural area, etc.  If you’re working with a smaller space, note that layouts can be tiered with multiple levels. We have the software to provide a creative plan to build your railroad, or the books to choose a plan for a 4' x8' table.  


Roundhouse Electric Trains, Inc. endeavors to provide the best economy as well as variety of products, both new and pre-owned to help you plan your empire.  We can plan a basic layout that provides for growth to spread costs over a comfortable period - while allowing you to enjoy each part built.  We are glad to help !!! 

Time Period/Eras

Understanding the time period you wish to model can be very helpful in refining your search when it comes to actually picking out layout products. Typical eras can include pre-war, post-war, and modern; or steam vs. diesel eras.  A specific era significantly helps in finding the products that are relevant to you. 


The space available, the features desired and the era to model will assist in selecting the scale with the best fit and availability of products for your layout.  We have several scales available on our front room test layout to show the differences between each scale, and we offer our knowledge of commercial availability of products in each scale.  Scales supported by Roundhouse Electric Trains, Inc. include:  G (1:24), O (1:48), S (1:64), HO (1:87) & N (1:160).

Control Type:

Another question to answer is how do you want to control your train(s)? There are two primary types of control units; transformer and remote. With transformer control, you control the power in a track for a dedicated train.  Remote control allows you to independently control multiple trains via electronic signal. This includes direction and any other capabilities, such as sound, built into the train. Remote control allows you to operate multiple trains from one power supply.


Other Considerations:

Scenery, structures, operating (or non-operating) accessories, wiring, signaling, people, vehicles, etc. may occur to you ... as inspiration to further your model railroad empire !!! 

Roundhouse Electric Trains, Inc. seeks to help our Customers make educated model railroad purchasing decisions.  Your enjoyment of trains is our goal and our pleasure.  If you have questions, please email us or visit us in our store!

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