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Starting An Australian Themed Model Railway

Neil from New South Wales in Australia asks:

“Hi, I’ve been working in the railway industry for a long time and am starting from scratch into model trains, so would like to know what to purchase first? I live in New South Wales, Australia (NSW) so I would like to keep with the trains I worked with and loved if possible. NSW GR rolling stock would be good. Do I go plastic or die-cast models? I have seen a plastic model in a Tangra set. There are just so many options when planning a layout and don’t know where to start. Please help.”

Please add your thoughts to help and encourage Neil.

8 Responses to Starting An Australian Themed Model Railway

  • Gary STASINOWSKY says:

    Outstanding idea. If you choose to proceed, please stay connected letting us all know how it’s working out for you. Cheers, and good luck!

    • Neil D says:

      Thanks would like some ideas on tables seen some on YouTube, a little bit overkill is their a easy way with tables.

  • Garry says:

    Join a model train club near you.
    They are a wealth of information and are always willing to help a newcomer.

  • Barrie Morgan says:

    Hello Neil,
    I don’t know what your layout size will be but I strongly recommend N scale for your project. Some say it’s very fiddly, yes it can be, but you can get so much more in for a project like yours. There is more and more N scale ready to run Aust rolling stock coming on the market. Look at the Buckambool website bmodeltrains.com This will put you in touch with Aust railway modelers. I also strongly advise going with DCC for your trains and layout. LMy last piece of advice – read, read, read & ask, ask, ask !!!

  • David Stokes says:

    Are you wanting to run trains like a real railway, or just look at them. No, this is a serious question. If in H0 then and running trains is your thing then the current batch of plastic NSW locos and rolling stock from your local hobby shop is the only way to go.

    In Nscale most locos are die cast to increase their weight and pulling power but the choice is limited for Aussie outline.but plastic rolling stock is a must.

    Some might find your question amusing and to have come from the 1950/60 era when the diecast/plastic debate was raging. Plastic won that battle decades ago.

    I recommend the Australian Model Railway Magazine especially as an essential your library, and Model Railroader and one of the three British magazines. As scientists say, keep up to date and read the literature – this applies to our hobby as much as Covid 19 research.

  • Mark Liesegang says:

    Hi Neil, as a beginner I have been luck to have a friend that has a hobby shop and has for some 20 plus years been modelling in HO scale.
    My suggestion are:
    01 – Work out the layout size you THINK you will need and then re think the size (bigger is better).
    02 – HO scale is my preference and you will find loads of locos and cars.
    03 – The American Locos are my choice but I have seen some Aussie FMG Locos in HO Scale that look really good.
    04 – Buy quality Locos and with all the sound cards etc, well worth while in the end.
    05 – PECO Code 100 track and turnouts
    06 – Invest in a program like SCARM or AnyRail, it is well worth the small cost and really helps with designing your layout.
    07 – Minimum radius should be 460 mm and 520 is better.
    08 – If you have dual track have 60 mm centres for the main track and I use 60 mm in the sidings, easier to place a car back on the track
    09 – Controllers, NCE or DigiTrack I have had both and both work well, I do prefer the NCE but for my layout I now have DigiTrack.
    10 – Take your time, do not rush the track work it is the most important thing to do or you will have ongoing issues.

    As I said, I am new in modelling and this is how I have approached my 3rd new layout. Definitely find a friend to help you, or a club.

    Good Luck and Happy Rail Roading!


  • Leon Edward Zaharis says:

    I was going to suggest Z scale due to the size of the Australian Continent but if they are roaring along with N scale models for Australian railroads all the better.

    Neil if you do not mind me asking;

    When was the direct north south route finished?
    I have forgotten what rail gauge you use, are you using standard gauge over there?

    Is the north south route all 136 pound ribbon rail or the greater 165 pound ribbon rail?

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