Model trains stores can be expensive, but then you do get what you pay for. If you are a beginner then model trains stores should be your first stop.
Not a hobby shop, but a model trains stores because there is a big difference.
Hobby shops are usually staffed by people that are not experienced model railroaders, while model trains stores are usually owned by very well experienced model railroaders.
Creating your own model train world is the most enjoyable past time in my opinion. There is no other hobby where you can learn a complete new range of skills in one place.
Building a model train layout exposes you to planning, design, woodwork, metalwork, wiring, electronics, kitbashing, scratchbuilding and so much more. But, you don’t need to know it all when you start.
The model trains stores in your vicinity are waiting and willing to advise you on the best way to go about building your dream model railroad.
So, why is model trains known as an expensive hobby?
The expense is based on the decisions you make. These are the 3 model train mistakes you should try to avoid:
1 Not Knowing What You Want
Most model train beginners start with a model train set that comes complete with an oval track, locomotive, some cars and a controller. Often this is because it is cheaper to buy the set rather than individual components, but you get what you pay for.
When you try and add more track to expand the small oval or figure eight, the problems start.
The power pack in the train set may have only been designed to power the figure eight or oval length of track. When you add extra track, the power pack is now not powerful enough. This can result in a voltage drop on parts of the track. This usually means intermittent starting and stopping of your train. This can be very frustrating.
2 Building a Model Train layout That Is Too Big
Often the impressive model train layouts at the shows encourage beginners to go home and convert their entire basement into a huge model railroad.
Some of the model railroad experts at those shows have spent 20 or more years on their layouts and a beginner trying to achieve that level of model railroading from the beginning will be disappointed.
Often the smallest of layouts can be more fun because they get to a level of enjoyable operation quicker. The experience adds up over the years and a small layout is always easy to expand.
3 Paying Full Retail Price
Pay full retail price for every part of your model railroad and it is going to be an expensive hobby.
Your local model railway club will have members with locomotives, cars, buildings, etc. in good condition that they will sell at a fraction of the new price. Model railroaders are generous people and willing to help beginners.