Model railways on a budget, #1 ,baseboards and track

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  • Baseboard, Free
  • PVA Glue- large bottle, £2 – Poundland
  • 1/8″ Cork sheet- Javis
  • Peco track pack, £62.00 – Jacksons Models
  • Dapol class 27, £120 – Hattons.

Nowadays, building a model railway can be an expensive business. Therefore, how do you create a layout for less than £300?

The answer is n gauge, as a rule n locomotives are cheaper, and you use less materials to make the baseboard and scenery. A basic oval with two sidings, can be had for around £60 and locomotives are generally cheaper than their 00 equivalents. For example a Dapol 9F, can be had for £120. While the 00 equivalent would be well over £200.

The video below shows some early running tests of the prototype layout. The locomotive should run at normal speed with no stalling or stuttering. It should also pass over points smoothly.

Track can be cleaned with a spray of WD40, on a cloth, or lighter fluid.

You also need much less space than with the larger scales.

Baseboards on a budget

The baseboard used for this project was made from three old chipboard shelves. They were screwed together using scrap plywood battens. Check that they are perfectly flat.

Priority number one is getting the track laid flat, and reliable. N gauge can be very finicky, with wheel flanges being fractions of a millimetre deep, there is no room for error. Consequently, cork sheet was used as an underlay.

Another issue is unreliable joints, especially with sectional track. Sometimes you just have to solder a recalcitrant joint, take care not to get solder on the rail head. N gauge track is usually nickel silver and takes solder well.

Power connecting clips are also a source of problems. I usually solder these to the outside of the rails. Use a very fine tip, not a braising iron!

Once the track is good we start work on the backdrop. This splits the layout into two scenic sections….

Part two looks at making the backdrop. We also investigate what is available on the second hand market, in n gauge.