Outdoor Model Railway Planning


The desire to model the real world extended to railways over a century ago. Trains were first clockwork, steam then electric. Today the scales chosen, to me, are surprising. The range and detail at each scale is vast and the involvement of technology is increasing very rapidly.

This page is not to replace any enquiry that you might make with your favourite search engine. However if you enjoy visiting model railway systems or have ever considered making a railway of your own there are some excellent gold mines out there. Nothing I can list here can be more than just cursory look however I offer the following subjects in the order that you may want to consider appropriate if you were going to make some sort of model railway system of your own.

You will need to research your methods, what you will model and where you are going to put it. Can I also suggest that what you do and how long you spend doing it will affect other people so do, please, discuss this with them otherwise there could be big trouble ! Likewise I’ve seen several situations where people have just dived in and then got out of their depth or lost interest. If I can offer one single piece of advice it is to: plan.

An initial web search in the UK may find about eleven different monthly magazines dedicated to this subject. Obviously they exist in most other industrial countries. The reviews and adverts are a healthy presentation of what’s available.  The glorious colour photographs are an ever glossy encouragement to you to do better, to aim higher than sticky backed plastic and toilet roll holders.

As I said technology is moving apace and many magazines are keen to join up what manufacturers websites merely sum up in the ever increasing heap of specialist jargon. This latter I’m beginning to see may be there to sway people to stick with that one manufacturer’s own kit for fear of unknown consequences if it is mixed with herbs of a different kind.

Join A Club

Nobody is born knowing it all. However those ‘old boilers’ may have an incredibly sublime wisdom that cannot be underestimated. Clubs too offer fraternity and fresh ideas. They can commiserate and encourage when you feel that you’ve reached the end of the line. They also will know of sources of much cheaper materials because, let’s face it, all of us like a good bargain.

Clubs will have members who have bought magazines themselves. They may be willing to lend these out - as long as they are returned !

Some of the characters will also have an air of healthy cynicism. Online one manufacturer says that their track is completely self-cleaning and trouble free. Maybe a little word in your ear will alert you to the perhaps overblown claims of, say, silver steel track or whatever it is that you are about to spend two months wages on. You can only remain alert by being alerted !

Help Online

You’ve not read the verbiage above you just want data. Here’s a completely non-exhaustive list of mainly UK resources:

I’m quite a fan of TVD. They offer a lot of equipment and a lot of free advice. Pay particular attention to their downloads.

The fount of all DCC knowledge.

The Benefits Of Planning

Planning will take a lot of time and this may seem like a waste. However the system that you are about to make will not actually be a simple toy to put back in the box before bath time. The time that you expend beforehand will save considerable time, cost, fuel, waste and perhaps bad language. I suggest that you plan something larger than you first envisage but to plan not to build the full system initially or indeed ever. But if you then do want to extend the system your cunning will make all the aforementioned savings. By doing this you will have laid track or left gaps where the extensions can go further without serious impact on your already running system.

Public Displays

Here’s another completely non-exhaustive list:

Southport Model Railway Village   Southport, Merseyside PR8 1QX

United Kingdom

Beaconskot Model Village     Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire  HP9 2PL.

Miniatur Wunderland   Hamburg  20457.    Claims to be the biggest in the world !


The vital Wiki page just so that everybody knows the starting point. Obviously not everybody keeps to it.

Environmentally friendly rotproof plastic railway products. Clever and beautifully well-made from recycled materials.

Enthusiast John’s site that claims to be ‘a "one-stop shop" for everything to do with garden trains’. However whilst it may have set out to be such in 2015 it only mentions G-Scale and doesn’t appear to have been updated since ! Whilst there’s a Products Gallery there’s no shop ! As well as quite a large number of typos there are some glaring mistakes Eg a 10 fold error in track height specifications. Worth a visit but ignore all the updates in red as they’re miles out of date.

Extremely detailed buildings if cost is no object.

Extremely detailed buildings and accessories if cost is no object.

A massive range of on and off rail components.

Based in Lincolnshire (partial retirement of proprietor)



The most detailed enthusiast’s G-Scale description and help guide I know. This Blog alone must have taken Rik Bennett several years to prepare. A tremendous resource. To say that what he’s built is brilliant is an understatement. Well done.

From Ge Rik’s Peckforton Blog

Tip Of The Day

When laying any concrete it’s worth adding a latex addative (SBR) to prevent penetration by water and therefore damage by frost.

It makes it more workable and improves adhesion too.


The very active UK society comprising 26 geographic groups of enthusiasts.

Their: List Of Suppliers is extensive and kept up to date.

Clubs and Societies

Enthusiast’s Sites

Seems to be a rather inward looking UK club. Quirky site which is extremely hard to navigate. The only page of use that I found was the list of External-How-Tos !

Their: List Of Suppliers.

For UK indoor railway modelers included for completeness here. The oldest of its type in the world with permanent premises, including library and bar, near Kings Cross, London. There is no list of suppliers.

A wide range of on and off rail components.

Good Show Calendar.

Please note the order of these suppliers is random - I have no affiliation with any of them.

A brilliant index of mainly indoor UK suppliers. Extremely useful.

A brilliant index of mainly indoor UK clubs.

A Little Bit Of Help

As you are already reading this I’m sure that you are already an expert. I’m not. However we all need a little bit of help sometimes and I found these guys particularly noteworthy:

Heaton Lodge Junction

Making scenes look real in Simons George’s giant 0 gauge railway:

To see the overall result scroll to the bottom of:

My Own Garden Railway

I am just setting off on the journey to building a system in my own garden. Not so much for ‘playing trains’ with but for delivering drinks and food to a bar at the far end.

Ongoing photos here:  Matts Garden Railway