Everything you need to know about successfully laying track and track tips galore in 6 must-watch videos.
Want to learn how to lay track? There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of videos on YouTube that cover the subject. Some good, some bad and some just plain wrong.
The pure gold guides
Ignore the junk and let me be your guide. Here are the best ones. Just over 2 hours of pure gold guides on Youtube from selecting the track to final ballasting these clips will take you through the process.
#1 Choosing track
Before you get near laying the track, you first need to buy it but which?
For N gauge it’s pretty much going to be Peco; for HO it’s more equal and down to personal choice between Atlas, Bachmann, Rivarossi (Hornby), Kato, Trix and Markin although Atlas seems to be amongst the more popular.
For OO gauge track, Hornby is common due to its brand name association but most long-term modellers prefer Peco citing build quality.
Watch this video for an up-close comparison of Peco and Hornby plus a great little tip to make your points look better using a silver pen, as I covered here.
#2 Positioning and Drawing Track
Once you’ve decided on the track, it’s time to lay it.
But this isn’t as easy as it seems. It’s not just a case of putting it down and fixing it in place. If you want the rails to meet up and the curves to be correct – so to avoid the trains jumping off them – it’s best to position them first. This next guide takes you through the process.
With the position of the track sorted, you can then add the wiring. For DCC (digital wiring) watch this next video. The equivalent for DC (old style power) can be seen below.
How to Wire for DC
As promised above, here’s how to do it for DC. This isn’t a slick video but it’s simple and covers everything needed to get the wiring up and running for a basic layout up and running.
#4 Fitting Point Motors
Not for everyone but many of us like to fit underboard point motors. The problem is they’re a pain to fit. This is done after you’ve positioned the track but before you fix it down, watch the video below now for one modeller’s approach which I now use.
#5 Fixing the track down
Of all the steps in laying track, the one most people seem to struggle with most is cutting and fixing the track down. This five-minute video covers key points.
#6 Detailing & Ballasting
With the track down and wired, you can add track detailing as covered here. Track detailing isn’t strictly necessary but I think it’s worth doing as it adds extra punch to the realism. This video also covers ballasting. There are lots of misconceptions about this but the tried and trusted approach is explained below.
Stick to this technique and you won’t go far wrong.
There’s a lot of video to watch here but hopefully, it answers all your questions. If you have any specific points you’re struggling with drop a comment below and I’ll try to help.
Finally, see my guide on the best glue for fixing track, since swapping to this I’ve found it much easier to secure track down.
>A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.