When I first began with model railway trains, the only way to design the model railway track plans back then was to painstakingly draw them all out by hand. This meant that any mistakes had to be erased or scribbled out and redrawn. This was a bit of a hit and miss process which took an awfully long time and a lot of skill to get right. The problem was that even if you had drawn what you thought were good plans, they wouldn’t always work out perfectly in the real world and adjustments had to be made because you’d made an error in your design.
Fast forward to the present day and this whole process has been made a whole lot easier with the use of specialist software, which is designed for purpose to help you with creating your model railway track plans. If you are a technophobe, fear not as these can be range from very simple pieces of point and click software, right up to far more detailed bits of kit if that is what you are after.
What’s really great about using computer software, is that it allows you the freedom and flexibility to try out as many different ideas as you want and save them all and then choose on your favourite plan. To do that using a traditional drawing method would take days, but on a computer this can be all be done in a few hours.
Getting scale right is a lot easier too. It used to involve a lot of calculations and graph paper to make sure you get it right, but with software, you just select the right option and off you go! It really is that simple!
When you have finished planning your model railway track plans on the computer, some software packages will even go so far as to allowing you work out detailed parts lists that you can then take to your hobby shop and buy. This solves having to work this out on your own, which can be a very time consuming process. The software may even be able to calculate the estimated costs for you, so you can work out what you can achieve with your particular budget.
You can also print out your designs and start working from them straight away, but if you want to view them in more detail you are able to often view them in not just a 2D birds eye view, but also from every angle in a 3D virtual interpretation on your computer screen.
The great thing is that many of the software packages also contain features that allow you to design much more than just the track plans and will also let you plan out the scenery too. This allows you to get a virtual idea of exactly what your railway will look like before you have even begun. This is really handy to avoid coming up against unwanted problems in the future that you hadn’t planned for. It really does put you completely in control.
Using your mouse as you would to create the model railway track plans in the first place, it is simply a case of dragging and dropping elements from the menu screens onto you layout plans and arranging them as you want. You can even test out things in different colours, so if you wanted to create an autumn forest scene, you could shade them with reds, oranges and yellows.
If you are serious about building your own model railroad, I would say that computer software is pretty much as must have tool to help you successfully build your railway, rather than giving up at the first hurdle because you can’t draw out the track plans for it!
Hopefully this article has given you something to think about and you have found it useful. As with any area of model railways, I recommend doing thorough research first as this is the key to any successful model railway. For more information on model railway trains, visit my website by clicking the links below.
Tim McCarthy is a model railway enthusiast with many years experience in the field of model trains. For further information on model railroads, including more on model railway track plans, please feel free to head over to http://www.modelrailwaytrainstips.com/model-train-layout-plans.