me and ivor the engine

Hi, I’m Andy Leaning. This is my website where I share unique tips, guides, fun stories, videos and photos of my passion and lifelong hobby: model trains. 

It’s the place where people like you (almost 240,000 of you in 2018), come for inspiration, ideas and the best tips to build their own model railways and miniature worlds.

Creating model railways is a never-ending past time with so many skills to master, learn and enjoy. Both creative and technical. And here on my award-winning site, I show you how to make your own layouts through the experiences of myself, other modellers and hundreds of free tips, guides, illustrations, and videos.

So if you’re just starting out in the hobby, or returning to it after a break, come with me on my journey in this hobby.

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My Journey With Tiny Trains

Dundonald Road Signal Box 1982

This sadly long gone signal box in Dundonald Road, Wimbledon, has a lot to answer for 😃

My journey with model trains started when I was a little boy and first saw trains on the railway line at the bottom of my parents garden in Wimbledon.

The sights, smells and sounds that these huge and magnificent machines made as they flew past my garden and the goings on in the mysterious signal box just down the road stirred something deep within my childhood imagination.

I was hooked.

My fixation was compounded by the discovery of Ivor the Engine on TV.

To the little me, the railway works and buildings of the Merioneth and Llantisilly Railway on which Ivor’s adventures took place were wonderful, exciting and fascinating to watch.

And even today my layouts usually feature an engine shed, mine and signal box. (The photo at the top of this page is yours truly on a day out to Canterbury Museum where there’s a fantastic display about the creator of Ivor, Oliver Postgate).

A hobby for life

As soon as I was old enough, my dad bought me a train set and a lifelong passion for tiny trains was set in stone.

The dining room table went from home for the family dinner to a busy railway interchange with miniature versions of the trains I’d seen in the garden, racing from plastic station to plastic station.

About this time I also discovered the joy of Airfix models and it wasn’t long before I started mixing models and railways, using my fledgling model making skills to improve my train set layout.

A flair and interest for engineering also emerged over time and I moved from watching and playing with trains to dabbling with Mecanno and Mamod steam engines and creating model railways with increasingly complex electrics and dismantling trains to see how they worked.

It started here. One of my original Hornby Dublo OO gauge shunters, recently rediscovered. Now very battered but it’ll live again and take prize place on my layout.

My railway progressed from the dining room table to baseboards in my bedroom and into the loft as the layout grew in size and complexity. I would spend hour-after-hour-after-hour designing and building wonderful — well I thought so! — OO gauge railways and visiting the local model shop on Wimbledon Broadway.

This was called Platform 1, if I remember correctly. Being a child, I couldn’t afford much, so I’d spend most of my time in the shop picking through the displays of scatter and tools that I could afford with my pocket money. I still get a buzz from whenever I see tools and scatter material displays in model shops.

Sadly, I left these behind when I left home but my love for trains stayed with me and I took — and still do — every opportunity to travel and commute by train rather than drive and I try to find time to visit heritage and light railways whenever I can.

When my sons were born I wasted no time introducing them to the joy of toy trains and some of my happiest times were playing trains with them, building elaborate layouts first with wooden trains and later with plastic trains.

After a short gap, I returned back to model trains myself and now spend my spare time rebuilding the model railways of my childhood, complete with signal boxes, and dabbling with Mamod engines.


Model Railway Engineer — The Natural Result

Model Railway Engineer — this website — is the result of this journey.

It started as something fun to do and where I could share the enjoyment I get from railways and help others build their own railways.

From the start, however, it was never intended to be just about model railways but rather modeling and engineering with a focus on the particular needs of railway modellers and helping them with free, tried and tested, advice. Something that seemed to be missing on the Internet.

In the hundreds of articles on this site, I share my experiences of building railways plus the best tips, advice, guides, and inspiration from around the web to help with miniature world-building and engineering.

It’s now grown into a huge resource and community for model railway enthusiasts and modellers (with a thriving community of over 5,000 members) with the website attracting nearly 240,000 visitors last year. You’ll also find product details, news, reviews and occasional details of modeling and railway events and special offers as they happen.

If any of this sounds interesting and you’d like to follow me in my model railway building experiences, the best way is to sign up to my free regular email newsletter and I’ll send you my tips, news, guides and advice on building model railways.  Sign up now.

Other Activities

During the week, I run the web ops team for a  media company and when not working or ‘playing with trains’ can most likely be found out taking pictures with my camera, drawing, playing with Lego (my other passions) or shopping and socialising with friends and family in Guildford where I live with Mrs. MRE — my wife.

Good luck and may your trains never derail,


Model Railway Engineer,

May 2019.

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