The Many Life Skills Model Railroading Can Teach
While browsing around in the model railroading community on forums and sites
like Twitter I have noticed many adult males ask a particular question. Is
model railroading a nerdy activity that is mostly aimed at children? To
answer this simply, model railroading is a hobby that is suitable for
all ages and can actually teach you many life skills. There are certain
aspects of this hobby that most children or even teenagers just could
not do as they require time and dedication to learn such as wiring up the
tracks or designing a locomotive from scratch.
Designing and building a layout can be straightforward or a very creative
and complicated process depending on what approach you use. The 3 main
approaches you could use in increasing difficulty are:
- An "all in one" kit that is ready to run out of the box. This means
that all the components such as locomotives, rolling stock, scenery and
tracks are already constructed. All you need to do is link the components
together on a layout.
- A "shake the box" kit where all the components are included in an easy
to assemble form.
- The last one is either craftsman kits or raw materials that you use
to build the whole layout from scratch.
The more experienced you become the more you will want to challenge
yourself. Choosing number 3 from the list above can involve woodcarving,
painting, electrical skills, machinist skills and possibly a few
others. Learning these skills can be a lot of fun when in the context of
model railroading. Not only can you increase your ability to customize
your layouts, but also learn things that are useful for other areas of
your life. Read on to find out how learning additional skills would be
beneficial to you.
I bet you never thought your History classes would come in handy
The more enthusiastic model railroaders like to build layouts that are
historically accurate such as the .World War 2. era or the steam train
era. Getting the details factually correct can take a lot of research
and attention to detail. This is not only limited to the locomotives and
rolling stock, but to scenery also. In fact when showing off your completed
work to non model railroaders it is usually the scenery that will explain
to people what your layout is about.
When researching for the layouts you will also learn some cool train
history lessons along the way. However a more important benefit is that
your research skills will improve and this skill can be transferred over
to other parts of your life.
Ever thought of painting your own model trains?
While the mechanical features of your locomotives and rolling stock are
important, it is the visual impact that they are able to exert that is most
important in order to impress people checking out your layout. Learning how
to paint the train models gives you a lot of control over the design. This
higher level of control is beneficial because it allows you to customize
your layout to whatever your imagination is limited by. This creative
aspect of model railroading can keep people making new models and layouts
for many years.
Typically there are two main approaches to painting your train models
which are using spray or a brush. Spray painting more of a mechanical
process whereas using a brush allows for a much higher level of detail
and customizability. However using a brush requires a greater level of
skill and takes longer to learn. Learning this type of painting has other
benefits such as doing DIY work on your kitchen furniture among other things.
Create your scenery using woodcarving
Being able to create your own scenery components without any limitation
using wood carving techniques is not only a very rewarding process, but also
allows you to create impressive layouts. Using wood you can make figurines,
buildings and even the whole landscape. Then using your painting skills you
can adapt the scenery components to fit your particular theme. Wood carving
skills learnt during time spent on model railroading can be transferred
over to many other useful projects such as carving out a toy to give to
a child as a birthday present.
Learn how to wire up a layout
Wiring up a model railroad layout is a more technical aspect of the hobby
as opposed to the creative sides such as choosing a locomotive or arranging
scenery components. At first it might seem too much of a chore to learn
the electrical skills. However when building your own layout it is a
vital skill to learn in order to ensure that your trains run smoothly,
fire effects work, switches switch, light go on and off, signals change,
smoke blows and whistle effects work. Even if you choose to get an .all in
one. kit to build your layout there will often be problems of an electrical
nature. Knowing what to do in such cases will make your model railroading
experience much smoother.
Electrical skills learnt whilst building and maintaining your railroad
layout can come in handy in a large number of situations. Such as fixing
an electrical appliance in your home or doing some car maintenance that
requires wiring of some type.
Consider building your locomotives from scratch
The high quality locomotives and rolling stock that are manufactured by
reputable brands such as Bachmann and Lionel primarily use metal. Learning
machinist skills will give you the ability to create models from scratch. It
will not be easy to master such a skill to the point where you can build high
quality model trains. However for the more enthusiastic model railroader
this is a skill worth investing a lot of time and effort into. Learning
machinist skills gives you the added benefit of being able to do a high
number of DIY activities such as repairing a car.
For those of you not interested in completely mastering machinist skills,
you could make an effort to learn some aspects of it as this will allow
you to do some important repair or maintenance work on train models that
you might buy.
Selling model trains to fund your hobby
Now that you roughly know what it takes to build your own models and
layouts from scratch you can consider doing it for the purpose of selling
them. The money earned can be reinvested into model railroading in any way
you see fit. This will give you even more freedom to build bigger and better
layouts. Before searching for a venue to sell of your goods do the following:
- Clean the items you wish to sell. Nobody will appreciate buying a set of dirty model trains.
- Next inspect all your items for any damage and repair to the best of your ability. Any damage greatly reduces the price.
- Take many pictures, this will increase the sales price because it will allow people to see what they are buying clearly.
- Do some research at places like Amazon and eBay to give you a better idea of what your stuff is actually worth.
The best places on the Internet to sell stuff in a very quick and safe
manner are eBay and Craigslist. Offline alternatives include auction houses,
gadget shops, toy shops and model type shops.
Making the decision to invest in skills For most people this decision will be
based on what it is that they get out of model railroading. The people that
only enjoy looking at the finished layout in full working order hardly need
much investment of additional skills. Instead buying an .all in one. kit
will be the fastest and simplest way of achieving what they want. Whereas
the model railroaders that enjoy the building and customizability aspect of
model railroading will gain a lot from investing in the skills mentioned
in this article. In closing I would like to say that what you usually get
out of a hobby is what you put into it in terms of effort and enthusiasm.
For additional information check out Model Railway Layouts
where you can download a free e-book called 7 model train mistakes
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