N Scale beginner "how to" Books?

Discussion in 'Photos & Videos' started by Burger, Jan 12, 2007.

  1. Burger

    Burger New Member

    Some members of the Gauge have kindly suggested that a newbie like me would do well to invest in some N Scale Beginner layout, wiring, building, designing, general information, etc., books. I've done a search here for such a thing, but haven't had much luck (I may not have conducted the search correctly, sorry if I missed it). So, I thought this was the most appropriate place to post this. Does anyone know of a good book(s) fitting this bill? Are there any that helped you more than others? I've picked some MRR magazines, but I haven't digested much of those yet. Seems that I've got to get the basics down before tackling some those higher intensity items featured in those mag articles.

    I don't have access to any local hobby shops or clubs so I'm pretty much on my own, other than the great advice you folks have warmly given to date. Any help is truly appreciated!:thumb:
  2. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    Starting out with layout design, since that's where any modeler should begin thinking, there are a number of wonderful books available on the subject. The first, and most important, is John Armstrong's Track Planning for Realistic Operation, now in it's third edition. This will teach you the basics about how real railroads function and how to best convey this on your layout. Beyond that there are a few books by Ian Rice that will provide countless inspiration to doodle your own layouts; Small, Smart & Practical Track Plans is just the one I grabbed off my shelf first.

    There are also a number of elementary N scale guide books to help with basic skills. I have a very well worn copy of Beginner's Guide to N Scale Model Railroading by Russ Larson; a newer edition from a different author is now available, I believe. I also have N Scale Model Railroading by Robert Schleicher. You'll find with model railroading there are as many ways to do something as there are modelers to do it. Nobody's way is any more right or wrong than the next. I'd suggest picking up two or three different beginner's books and sorting through them for the techniques that'd work best for you. There's absolutely no harm in getting a second option.

    Beyond these there are literally hundreds of books on model railroading to choose from. Once you get past the basics of how railroads work and what works best in N scale you can do more research and adapt techniques and ideas from other scales to your modeling. One of my favorite books for any scale is HO Railroad From Start to Finish by Jim Kelly. It's not an N scale-specific book but it has a lot of valuable information for beginners and experienced modelers alike. I'd even go so far to say it should be in every modeler's library.

    I would also very strongly encourage you to pick up a few books on your favorite railroad(s) or at the very least the region you plan to model. There are many great books out there from Four Ways West, Morning Sun, Hundman, and Old Line Graphics that are a boon to modelers. By learning about the prototype you can better understand layout design and the models you are building.

    I just got a stack of about a dozen books from a friend that used to work for Kalmbach that are anywhere from ten to twenty-five years old. Some of them are scale-specific and others not. Some have very outdated modeling techniques and others have timeless ideas that have been used for decades. Don't be afraid to pick up all the cheap books you can get your hands on at train shows. There's a wealth of information floating around out there still!

  3. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Another source to consider is the NMRA Standards & Reccomended Practices.


    The NMRA has set standards and reccomended practices for just about every area of model railroading to help modelers achieve enjoyable, reliable, and interchangeable railroads. It is because of NMRA standards that n-scale equipment can be taken off of one layout and run on another without interchangeability problems.
  4. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    I checked the table of contents for the book "HO railroad from start to finish ".
    It looks very interesting. Of course, i'm not as lucky as Brian Schmidt and have no friend working with Kalmbach :)

    If you buy just 1 specific N scale book, I highly suggest " N Scale Model Railroading Getting Started in the Hobby " by Marty McGuirk.
    It is very complete and the last 2 chapters give all the information required to build a realistic N scale layout ( the well known Carolina Central ) on a hollow core interior door.
  5. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    That's the book I was thinking of that replaced the Larson one. If it's anything like the Carolina Central series was it'll be a good guide.
  6. Burger

    Burger New Member

    Thanks guys! I'll check those out.:thumb:
  7. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Wiring, scenery, benchwork are multi-scale things. Any good book on those basic subjects will work. Also check out the model railroad magazines for articles. Model Railroader, Model Railroading and Railroad Model Craftsman.
  8. Burger

    Burger New Member

    Thanks guys! I went to Amazon.com and ordered a few of those titles. They should be here in about a week. This will probably be a L O N G week waiting for them to come in.:D

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