The Model train
The charm of model railways has survived the impact of technology. The astonishing precision possible through modern methods of manufacture has created a world of miniature railways that can simulate every aspect of full size practice except the entraining and detraining of passengers. And in one respect the model-makers' world is larger than the real one. Models are being produced today in so wide a variety of sizes that the smallest model locomotive can comfortably rest on the front buffer beam of the largest.
The range of choice is compounded by the diversity of railway practice in the `real' world. Although all railway networks have a track spaced at a particular gauge incorporating a mechanical guidance system, there is little else that they have in common. National characteristics in railway design are very marked, while the methods of operation vary according to local, and sometimes national, legislation. The accurate reconstruction in scale form of any one railway system therefore requires meticulous attention to detail. The size of individual models has been steadily reduced as technical advances have made progressively smaller electric motors commercially viable.
In the mass production of models, there has been no loss of quality and fine detail. Considerable use is made of injection plastic molding supplemented by a little pressure die casting where, for mechanical strength, metal is preferred. The amount of accurate detail that can be effectively reproduced in plastic, coupled with the wide choice of plastics for specific duties, has led to the increased use of the material. However, only the cheapest models are sold in self-colored plastic. The major manufactures not only finish each body shell by spray-painting in authentic colors, matched to paint samples taken from the actual stock were possible, but lettering, lining and insignia are correctly printed on the bodies giving the model trains such realism you might just have to look twice at a photo to tell it apart from the real thing.
While all model railroaders strive for realism, they don’t all seek the same kind of realism. One group of modelers seeks to make each piece (locomotives, rolling stock, structures, etc.) as accurate as possible, often with very impressive results. This group tends to prefer the larger scales, which lend themselves better to that kind of detailing, but their layouts are often little more than a small oval or even less. The other group of modelers seeks to make the overall layout as realistic as possible, with plenty of track, realistic curves, and trains of more prototypical length. This group tends to prefer the smaller scales, even though the individual pieces aren’t as finely detailed. HO represents a compromise between these conflicting ideas of realism, allowing realistic layouts to be built in a fairly small space, while permitting a lot of detail in the individual items. Neither factor is optimal, but both are within acceptable limits. It is something to see and admire after spending your money, time, patience and passion in their creation seeing what can be achieved that before was only in your imagination. So, for people with kids, HO is probably the most practical choice. So why not get started today and start to build your very own model train set and see your creativity flow with your own two hands into something you can share with others.