Chapter 1 : Introduction

Did your children grow up with Thomas the Tank?  Did you ever read them the story of the "Little Engine that could"?

Railroad-themed stories and toys are part of the fabric of the American experience.  While today, the only passenger trains running are owned by Amtrak, railroads were once the fastest way to cross this huge country.

There's a nostalgia associated with model railroading -- even if it's unspoken.  Railroads take us back to an earlier era.  A more basic time. When spending a week or more on a train was seen as a luxury -- an event in itself -- not at as merely a mode of transportation.

Perhaps you've spent the best times of your life in that era?  Or maybe you didn't, but would love to recapture the joy you imagine would be associated with it.  Then model railroading is the hobby for you.

You've probably already scouted some model railroad shows.  You've no doubt recognized the camaraderie and the passion these folks have.  And yes, you're interested in becoming a part of that.

This book will help you do just that!  It's as comprehensive a guide to model railroading as you'll find anywhere, starting with some basic "train knowledge" and continuing on to the more detailed aspects of the hobby.

And yes, this hobby can indeed get quite detailed.  And that tends to be intimidating to some people.  The beauty of this hobby is that you can get involved at just the level you care too. 

Don't want to build entire villages by hand?  You can populate your layout simply by going to the hobby store and buying proportional figures, houses, cars and other objects for your scenery.

If you'd rather hand-build an entire company town -- house for house, general store and other structures -- you can. 

The great secret of this hobby that is both the person who buys his village and the person who builds it from scratch are enjoying themselves to the fullest.

As an individual who stumbled onto the hobby in a way many have -- with one single electric train set as a Christmas present in my childhood -- I'm thrilled to have progressed in my passion to be able to share it with you now.

You'll discover that every model railroader is in it for the love of the trains and the history.  The vast majority of us are not out to make a fast buck from our interests 

Are you ready to take a train ride back in time? 

What you're going to learn from this book

I've written this book not only to provide you with a general overview of the basics of model railroading, but to give you some little-known tips on the best ways of enjoying yourself through this constantly growing hobby.

Chapter 1 gives you an overview of why model railroading is so popular.  I explain some of the benefits it's given me over the years, as well as why many of my fellow railroaders are such die-hard hobbyists.

In the following chapter I explain what is, without a doubt, one of the most troubling and confusing aspects of model railroader to the novice -- the idea of scale and guage and the difference between the two!

I've been told by many that this alone has prevented many a person from delving into the hobby!  What a shame!  Once it's explained to you properly, you'll be amazed at how easy it is to understand.  And the entire hobby of model railroading suddenly is at your fingertips.

Chapter 3 starts you on the idea of building benchwork.  Of course, before you actually build the benchwork, you need to know exactly what it is.  I'll explain it all to you.

The following chapter then gets to the nitty-gritty of model railroading . . the tracks, the wiring and the physical layout of the land.  Here, I'll explain the various types of tracks, how they're wired to ensure they work continuously and how to create a layout that doesn't derail your poor train every time it rounds a corner.

Once you know that the train is safe on your track, you've got to decide what cars your locomotive should pull.  And that's where chapter 5 comes in.  Don't know an open-top hopper from a gondola?  Well, right now why should you? Don't worry!  Before you've finished reading this book you will.   

Finally, I'll talk about the scenery.  If you chose to "scratch build" your scenery, I've got some great tips for you.  I'll let you in on the secret of "forced perspective" which makes your entire layout look larger and gives it an uncanny sense of realism.

You're going to marvel just how realistic your miniature world can look.  And you're be so placed because you did it yourself!

Oh yes. I know that this can be all overwhelming at first.  That's why I've included a glossary for you as well.  Any time you need to, just refer to the back pages of this book, you'll find the terms explained succinctly.

One more thing.  I'm suspecting that before you finish reading this book, you'll probably be drawn into the magic of model railroading.  Based on this presumption, I've provided you with a few resources you can consult to help cement your relationship with this marvelous pastime.

So what are we waiting for?  Let's start!

"All Aboard!"

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