My model railroad

It’s been almost 30 years since Christmas 1969, when my wife and I bought a train set for my two boys. Needless to say, I was bitten by the railroad bug!

Back then, the track was on a plywood board that occupied a four by five foot section of my living room. Today, it’s about 300 square feet, complete with mountains, tunnels, rivers, etc. There are 26 tracks leading to the roundhouse, where the engines are serviced for the R&TRR — Robbie and Tommy Railroad, named after my two sons. I even dug out the crawlspace in my house to make room for it.

The layout of my railroad is in HO scale, with a ratio of 1:87. This means that an HO scale model is one-eighty-seventh life size. It is the most popular scale for people in my hobby — 70 percent of model railroaders use it.

When building model railroads, you must bring multiple skills to the table: carpentry, to not only build the base but also to add mountains and hills to your layout; electrical wiring, for track switches and lights; vision, to plan and diagram your layout; imagination, to build the town and industry that surrounds your layout; and painting, to create a realistic backdrop and add scenery.

However, don feel intimidated by the above skill set. To learn these techniques, simply join a model railroading club. In addition to mastering skills, it’s a great place for socializing with other railroaders. Moreover, you’ll learn some Canadian history, much of which revolves around the railroad.

Railroad building is perfect for those who are 55-plus. Many find it an excellent retirement pastime. As it doesn’t require a great deal of moving around, it’s perfect for those with arthritis or other disabilities — depending on the size of your model, everything is within reach.

By the way, don’t worry about messing up and wasting a few dollars — consider it apprenticeship money.

The most important thing is to have fun while building your set. Don’t bring your everyday frustrations into the hobby. You’ll feel a great sense of reward when you finally achieve your vision.

So hit the high iron — a railroad’s mainline — and get your dream rolling.