by Paul Meredith
Hi, my name is Paul Meredith from Chester in the UK and I m 61 years old.
Firstly I'd just like to say that my knowledge of trains and their systems is virtually zero, I'm more about modelling and creating something nice. Anything I write here is based on my experiences and not necessarily the right way! It's more of an article on why you should'nt be afraid to make a start and "have ago".
As with most of us, as a child I had the normal basic train set and when my boys were about 6 and 9 I started to build a HO layout in my garage but it was cold and it leaked so I gave up! So with my children all grown up and driving themselves I became redundant as a carer and a taxi, and with all this time on my hands I decided it was time for a hobby. When watching YouTube one evening I stumbled across the Nozomi 500, I was blown away, the colour, the shape, everything about it was just beautifull. I was amazed when viewed head on at just how similar in shape it is to an aircraft fuselage, then I guess that's as much to do with the aerodynamics of both of them. So I started to research the market for Japanese trains, tracks and accessories, and while doing this I came across the JNS forum and it's been an invaluable source of help and information ever since.
I went with Kato track for the simple reason it's more readily available in the uk. I started on the dining table but soon realised I needed more space so bought my train shed, 12'x8' with all the usull luxury's of a man cave, tv, music and a beer fridge. Trains and controllers are also readily available but the choice is huge, on all these items I guess it's a case of personal choice as most are quality, proven products. I like to keep things simple so I went for dc operation.
I started small and built up to a bigger layout. There s a ton of stuff available from the Japanese stores and eBay and I have used most of them. So a few pointers for anyone starting out;
For the layout that's about it. Accessorising it and adding detail is the best bit for me. I use 3v street lights from China, cheap as chips but at 3v they require a diferent power supply than the normal 12v that comes from the accessories outlet on most controllers. There's two ways of doing this, fit an in line resistor or if you re lazy like me, buy a 3v power supply. This will also apply to 6v or any other diferent voltage.
Scenics is a minefield, there s so much stuff and techniques,try them all and go with the one you re most happy with.Do nt be afraid to try it,worst case scenario is that you dont like it and you rip it up and start again.
My usual plan of action is this;
Most of my layouts have been just loops, my last one, Fukuoka Station was 6 lines of L shaped loops, but there was so much stuff on it no one noticed, including me! There s not much more to say really, but I went from a small tabletop layout costing about £400 to a 12'x8' layout costing about £11,000 in five years. Be under no illusions, you'll make mistakes and do things you do nt like, but all of it is easily put right, believe me, I speak from experience.
I have now switched my attentions to smaller layouts. The larger layout was proving dificult to maintain with my arthritis so I decided to down size. The train layout is on a 5'x3' board and is called "just for fun". I've done the prototypical stuff and this is just me having a bit of fun and self indulgence. It has Jurassic park and a Kennedy space Center. It has Four small loops and I run pocket line and b train shorty's.
Another current project is a small Unitram layout which measures 4'x2.5'..This is still a work in progress. All layouts follow my normal rules, plan the track, lay it then fill in the gaps. Most of my layouts are on YouTube. Hope this is of some help to anyone wanting to have a go, remember, don't be afraid to try!