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How Do You Handle Criticism In Model Railroading?

This young model railroader has obviously been the target of some tough criticism by some others in the hobby. In my opinion we should be encouraging the younger generation to get involved in the hobby rather than trying to make them feel inferior. Sure, many of us have considerable experience and do know the best methods to complete many tasks, but we should be focusing on passing on our skills to the next generation rather than putting them down. Do you agree?

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28 Responses to How Do You Handle Criticism In Model Railroading?

  • c.howren says:

    well first I also have just started . I have a ho scale 8×10. i was told i had to do so many thing a certain way. but then i thought about it. i built this to enjoy. i have been told how i did this or that wrong. i just told them it’s my layout i enjoy it the way it is. if you don’t like it then don’t look at it. remember build what you want the way you want. it’s the ONLY way you will really enjoy it. i picked cars i like not what i was told had to be. i have old building and new building. who cares if you are happy, great.

  • R. Olivarez says:

    Regarding people who criticize your layout or operations. ( Remember that this is your layout to enjoy and not theirs. )

    If it is constructive and you feel that it is useful, thank them for their offer, and if you do use it, thank them again the next time you see them.

    If it is not constructive, you can politely cut them off by saying that you appreciate their opinion but that it may not be applicable for your layout and does not fit the scheme of things that you have planned for your layout or operation.

    If they tell you that your cars are the wrong type for the era, area or for the type of engine that you are using, you can tell them that you are operating in a transitional time period for your layout and that cars and engines where commonly mixed during that time.

    The last resort that I use is, that “I am operating an imagined railroad in a imagined time period at an imagined location in the Twilight Zone.”

  • Ken Williams says:

    Kw says:
    I have been in model railroading for 50 years, starting out with an old Lionel train. I have had N, Ho, 2 rail O scale and I’m now hoping to go back to Lionel, I can’t see the Wheels to get HO back on the track anymore.
    I am not Master modeler but I have friends who are. Some of them pick my layout apart, but most will just suggest easier ways.
    Ten years ago I was setting up a large HO layout. One friend came over and we looked over the layout that I had started and suggested that I take up the layout and start again. I ask him why and he gave me an answer that made sense by asking me a question. What is the purpose of your layout? What are the trains going to do?

    So I thought I have a lot of hopper cars, I could have a coal mine and haul coal to factory or an electric power plant. I have a town so I could build a interchange where I could bring in fruit and deliver it to a warehouse using some of my box cars.

    I use what ever power I have steam to present locos. It’s my layout. SO WHO CARES..what I run or pull on it. Its no a job its a Hobby so Just have FUN That’s why we do it.

  • kevin stroud says:

    Hi Guys
    I agree .We are in it for the fun .It is not work it is a hobby and you should enjoy it the way you want too .I have a layout and run all sorts of engines and locos and my grandkids and myself enjoy every moment so just do it your way and enjoy

  • Steve Lindhurst says:

    Hey Mr. Young Man (you didn’t leave your name),
    This issue is really a pet peeve of mine and I could go on for hour upon hours on the subject. The bottom line is IT IS YOUR RAILROAD, THEREFORE YOUR RULES APPLY. You can run your railroad in any manner that pleases YOU. I used to be the butt head that you politely try to describe. But I learned long ago that it’s okay to put a caboose on the back of an Amtrak passenger train. I like the older style boxcars with the moon walks on the roof, I also like cabooses, I like steam locomotives. I pull my American Orient Express with a New York Central Hudson when it is supposed to be pulled by a pair of E8A’s, where as in actuality when it still existed it was pulled by various Amtrak locomotives (Yech!!!) The point is it is yours not theirs. You can, to use your words , politely tell them to buzz off, or as I am not nearly as polite as you are, I would likely resort to stronger tactics and if that didn’t work I also have the option of resorting to a more forceful tactic and escorting them from the premises. It’s your railroad and most other
    railroads do not tolerate “trespassers”.
    I must admit I have my own preferences on model railroading but they ONLY apply to MY railroad. I am guilty of bustin’ chops with my friends but that is just good natured ribbing, in good fun and completely without malice. If they didn’t give me a hard time I would think they didn’t love me anymore, and it is definitely not criticizing. It’s supposed to be fun, make it happen that way.
    I have already gone on way too long. Let me end this by saying don’t let anybody ruin it for you.
    Best of luck to you, Mr. Young Man :-).
    Steve Lindhurst.

  • Tony B says:

    I enjoyed your discussion and concur with the readers above – your time and effort in building your railroad for your enjoyment and that of others IF they choose. I really valued your honesty and frankness and I believe you are going to have a terrific future in this hobby.
    Tony Bartlett

  • Tyler Turner says:

    Thanks for the compliments guys, i suppose what i was trying to say was that if i am actually trying to do somthing that will not work then just tell me no problem, but if you are telling me i am not operating my small (but super fun to me!) layout the way you think i should run it or critisise my use of a grass mat on my layout then i dont get why because i would enjoy your layout no matter how you built it. And this may be a bit of an excuse but this is my first layout and i am still honing my modeing skills so to speak.

  • Tyler Turner says:

    by the way dont forget to sub to my channel ATSFmodeler!

    • Steve Lindhurst says:

      Hey Mr. Turner,
      Glad to learn your name. I now have a question for you. What do you mean by the statement in your last post at 6:14 am? (you really get up that early?) I am for the most part, internet and computer and electronically impaired. I still use a VCR and a phonograph (know what that is?). So I have no earthly idea what it means to “sub to my channel ATSF modeler”. Please enlighten an old 60 year old dude. I really want to know!.
      Oh yeah, I think you have a bright future in Model Railroading. Keep on keepin’ on!

      • Harry T says:

        sub = subscribe
        vcr = video cassette recorder

        Steve, I think Tyler was abbreviating a word in the same way you did.

        I think the post is showing at your local time (I presume you are from the USA?). By his accent I guess Tyler is in the UK so he probably posted it at 6.14am your time.

        • Steve Lindhurst says:

          Hey Mr. T,
          First of all, I am in the USA, Wilmer Alabama,and don’t even think about laughing !!! And now I feel pretty stupid, not figuring that out, and I’m originally from New York!
          Thank You!!!

  • Kevin Ching says:

    I have been modeling railroads for the last 50 or so years and i am still learning and any information is eagerly passed on amoungst my other friends in the hobby. We have our own little club with 10 members ranging from beginners to the oldest like myself.

  • Geoff Britland (England) says:

    Hi. What an interesting topic!
    I encounter a lot of REALLY skilled modellers who are able to back up their comments with the fact that they are able to produce absolutely superb models. My experience has been that they are more than willing to share their expertise and be very helpful. Criticism from such modellers tends to be quite positive and offered with the best of intentions i.e. to help another modelling colleague get the best from the hobby. That kind of criticism I can take by the bucketload! Remember that, if such criticism enables us to build upon our modelling skills and enjoyment, then we are onto a winner!
    However, I suspect that your comments are intended to target those who may criticise DESTRUCTIVELY. Well, remember that at the end of the day we are in this hobby for all sorts of reasons, but more particularly for FUN. So do your own thing and enjoy yourself.


  • TONY L says:


  • Daniel Marso says:

    Just have fun, you always get those guys who are purists, and if your RR doesn’t live up to their expectations,so what. I have a freind who builds every thing from scratch, but I use “shake the box” box cars and all, that’s what I have time for, just enjoy your RR,have fun .

  • Milton Robinson (aka The SrCitizen) says:

    I have an 9×12 HO layout which would be more fun to operate with 2 people but unfortunately, it’s just me. Grandsons are into girls, cars, and everything but model railroading. I get no visitors, and the only criticism I receive is from myself. I watch tons of videos, read the magazines and go from there. I learn from the beginners and the “train gurus” alike. The more I learn, the more I enjoy the hobby. I’ve found the harshest critics are a few who belong to clubs where standards are super high. Some of those guys don’t even have layouts at home and were never “beginners” like you and me. They never made mistakes or were criticized. If they have no home layout, they have the extra cash to pay $300-400 for locos. Learn to ignore, grow and have fun!

  • Jack says:

    There is only one person you have to satisfy and that is YOU! !! If they don’t like it tell them the door swings both ways. Good luck

  • Ralph Burkinshaw says:

    Our Hobby relates to what we perceive is right from how we remember experiances from years past through to the present. Some want to build to a prototipical railway to gain an accurate model of that railways time period and become “rivet counters” that great for them. Some just build to enjoy trains running around their creation that is great for them too!!. You build it your way and enjoy it, but you can also pick up tips that you may wish to use, go to model railway shows and observe and talk to the people there, displaying their model railways, who knows you may decide to build another one. The main thing is to enjoy the hobby.

  • mike curran says:

    it is YOUR layout. Accept advise. tell criticism to leave. Now “man up” and enjoy YOUR hobby!!

  • Jay says:

    My close buddy is my biggest critic. He is a perfectionist, everything has to be just right and perfect. He has several N scale modules (about 8′ worth) that look great, and he can run a short train back and forth, but that is all he has after 10+ years. I however,have built a 32 foot long x 6 feet wide room,in my attic, that houses a running HO & HOn3 layout, that fills the whole room, with a 2′ isle in down the center. I can operate many trains at once, using DCC & JMRI on a desktop PC. Most of my turnouts are controlled via PC, I have 4 fully functional DCC operating cranes (that I converted to DCC) for loading and unloading trains. My scenery is very basic, and simple, but is in progress. I did all that in 10 years. Sure I don’t do everything by the book, but I do run trains, and lots of them. I love to run mostly vintage equipment, and every loco I run has sound…
    So, if you want everything to look super good, you will spend lots of time doing it, so you may not have as much time to actually run trains. If you want to run trains, you may not spend as much time perfecting every building or mountain etc. It’s your choice, remember to have fun and enjoy it.

  • Cary Hewitt says:

    1) You have the right attitude: model railroading is FUN! If it pleases you to run cars and engines from different eras, do so. 2) Always remember: IT IS YOUR RAILROAD! 3) Turn the critism around. If someone complains about your grass not being perfect, then ask that person “how would you do it? or Do you have any tips for me to help make it better?

    Sorry to hear about the critics. Most model railroaders I have met are very nice and would not critize anyone. But, I recognize that there are some bad apples out there.

    My friend has a layout set in the 1950’s. However we have operated the layout with SD40’s and AC6000s pulling a string of 1950’s era cars. We don’t care. We are in it for the fun.

    Don’t let those critics get you down. Remember, if they are criticle of someone’s layout, then most likely they are just a crabby, mean, critical, person in their everyday life.

    From what I could see of your layout, it looks as though you are off to a good start. Keep going!

  • Herb says:

    It’s nice to see the younger generation getting into the hobby. I can hear the frustration in his voice regarding the criticism he has experienced. Hopefully with all the comments he can now sort out the difference between “constructive and destructive” criticism. For his info on realism perhaps he would consider our local line here in Globe,Az. It’s a small line operating from our mines and connects to an enterchange about 120 miles away. They operate on limited funds and you can see a mixture of rolling stock from the old days to the present. That’s reality for our area. It would be a great idea to model a prototype of this railroad but I model my 12x24ft HO layout according to my imagination including rolling stock spanning many time periods. I add heavy weathering and enjoy my non typical operation even though it may not depict one’s sense of realism. I suggest for him to stay at it and sort out the non-constructive criticism.

  • Tom says:

    I love this guy. What a great example of what the younger generation could be. Criticism is a good thing as long as it is delivered in a positive manner. A better example for the experienced modeler to set would be to point out all the positive things that he observes in a layout. Model railroading is an expression of your individualism and your adventurous spirit……express it and enjoy it. Criticism, negatively delivered, usually stems from arrogance, insecurity and dissatisfaction…….traits usually found in someone who is involved in something they don’t really enjoy. So, Tyler, express your imagination, enjoy your railroad and tell those jerks to kiss your bu##. And, if you have the time, come help me with mine….lol.

  • Marx R Johnson says:

    This hobby should be like all hobbies, for your enjoyment; I told my kids the same and now my grandchildren, they enjoy some of the things I grew up doing, all of them love the trains not as much as I do, but I’m still a child at heart just as my father is so as long as your having fun ignore them.

  • Don Rowland says:

    Sign in my Train room.
    Rules of my Railroad
    1. This is my railroad.
    2. I’m building this layout for me.
    3. No nitpicking allowed no, exceptions.
    4. If I have to please everyone else then it is not fun any more.
    5. If you laugh at my railroad or me, I’ll be glad to show you the door.
    Don’t let the door hit you in the ASS on the way out.

  • JD says:

    I like Dan Rowland’s approach. Perhaps we should all post that at our railroad location. I let all who view my layout that I am free-lanching in order to do things as I wish and that I like the flexibility. I, as a result, have had almost no criticism. I am interested in pointers that are given to help me improve something I over-looked, but so far NONE. Miracle? Believe it.
    Like you, I have limited funds (I am retired) so I mix rolling stock that I sort of like…because I both like it and can afford it. My biggest problem is the vehicles on the layout, they are mixed a lot…but no complaints from anyone so far. Do you thing and enjoy it!

  • Bob Macdonald says:

    I have a collection of cars and locomotives from the thirties through to the present and are displayed ain cases all over my home. I am not fortunate enough to have a layout because I rent my house and I just don’t have the room. I do have an office with an art studio where I paint and draw all types of locomotives and I display them at my home and in studios around the city. I have had people criticize my work because I paint what I want, trains and planes but my comment to them is I am the artist and I am doing what I love. If they don’t like it then they don’t have to look or buy it, lots of others do and I sell on average two a month. This is your art…..you do what satisfies you not the masses. I make a nice living with what I do so someone must appreciate It as much as I do. Keep on doing your thing and satisfy yourself…..no one else.

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