5 Must Read Books For Model Railway Beginners - Model Railway Engineer

5 Must Read Books For Model Railway Beginners

6 comments 6 Beginner's | Featured 6 Comments

If you’re just starting out in model railways, save yourself a lot of time and effort and read one or all of these 5 tip-packed books.

Written by experts with years of knowledge, these five books will guide you through building your layout with invaluable tips and advice and answer all your questions.

#1 Newcomer’s Guide To Model Railways

newcomer's guide to model railwaysFor beginners and newcomers to the hobby, there’s no finer book than Brian Lambert’s Newcomer’s Guide To Model Railways. Written by a 50 year veteran of railways, this is a book you’ll find yourself going back to time and again. Pretty much every aspect of building a model railway is covered, including digital electrics, with lots of tips and information to help you along the way.

I liked the numerous pictures and diagrams that help convey the points being made and while some people have commented that it doesn’t go into much detail on some subjects, it’s intended as a guide to get you started and for this it gives more than enough.

Newcomer’s Guide To Model Railways scores 4.5 out of 5 on Amazon with 50+ reviews (at the time of writing) and is now in it’s sixth print run.

#2 Making A Start in N Gauge Railway Modelling

making a start in n gauge

Although the next book in my list is called ‘Making A Start in N Gauge Railway Modelling‘ don’t be put off if you’ve chosen another gauge –  it’s a great introduction in general. Topics covered include baseboard construction, how to lay track, cut it to size and join it and how to bring your layout to life.

Like the author of my first book above, this author of this book, Richard Bardsley, is a long time modeller and writes with authority on his subject but Richard is also the author of over fifty railway-modelling articles which shows in his writing style, with subjects demystified and clearly explained in any easy to understand, easy flowing, manner.

Somewhat unusually for model railway books, Making A Start in N Gauge Railway Modelling is also available in Kindle format. I wish other publishers would do likewise.

#3 Hornby Book of Model Railways

hornby book of model railways

When it comes to model railways in the UK, there’s one name that stands above everyone else: Hornby. And this book written by Chris Ellis for Hornby should be in any model railway builders library.  And although it’s not as comprehensive or technical as some of the other books here, and is very Hornby focused, it’s great book for inspiration, general information and is packed with glorious photographs that make you want to run out and build and run your trains.

If you like reading the Hornby catalogues do yourself a favour and get the Hornby Book of Model Railways, you won’t be disappointed.

 

#4 Aspects of Modelling: Railway Electrics

aspects of model railway electrics

While the above three books are general introductions, there are some aspects of model railway building that most newcomers will need more help with and merit more information. Electrics is one of these areas and ‘Aspects of Modelling Railway Electrics‘ is one of the most highly rated books on the subject.

Starting from a safe assumption that the reader has no knowledge above connecting up a train set, Ian Morton guides you through the various techniques used all the way up to complex railway wiring with helpful diagrams along the way. It doesn’t cover digital trains however which is sad but given the novice audience this is aimed at understandable.

This book combined with Brian Lambert’s Newcomer’s Guide To Model Railways (above) will get anyone up to speed with railway electrics and help fix many problems that often crop up along the way. Highly recommended.

#5  The Hornby Book of Scenic Railway Modelling

hornby book of scenic railway modellingOnce you’ve got a basic model railway up and working, it won’t be long before you want to add scenery to bring your layout to life. It’s one of the most rewarding aspects of the hobby, requiring skill, patience and practice. There’s no short cuts to the works of art that many model railways are but the Hornby Scenic Railway Modelling will give you lots of tips to help you along the way.

Written by Chris Ellis, the author of the other Hornby book in this collection, it’s produced to the same high standards, with glorious pictures throughout but this time a little less Hornby focused.

Again, like Hornby Book of Model Railways it can skimp on details but with plenty of tips on the Internet – including more than a few here on Model Railway Engineer 🙂 – it does a more important job of showing what’s possible and motivates you to grab your paints and brushes and have a go.

If you’re looking for advice and tips on setting up a railway, these books will be a great step forward but may I also suggest you take a look at my posts aimed at model railways beginners.



PS, If you liked these tips, you might enjoy my newsletter, Footplate. Over 12,000 model railway fans get my tips direct to their inbox with this. It's completely free, you can unsubscribe at any time and I promise to never spam you. Sign up now.


  1. Johnny Byrne - June 11, 2016

    As a recent (inspired) convert to the wonderful world of railway modelling, can anyone recommend a book or website that explains the history and meaning of all those letters and numbers that are attached to locomotives and the like? I love reading the articles in magazines and looking at the lay-outs, but I would enjoy them more, I’m sure, if I understood a bit more. Many thanks.
    Johnny

  2. Johnny Byrne - June 21, 2016

    Hi Andy, both articles, particularly the second, were very helpful in starting to get my head around this subject. I’m sure it will all become much clearer in time!
    Thanks for the advice. Much appreciated.
    Regards, Johnny

  3. gareth evans - December 30, 2016

    hi, ive just recently bought a hornby flying scotsman train, im having trouble with derailing, the front wheels boggie is so loose it causes it to derail can you recommend anything I can do.
    thanks
    gareth evans

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