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  • Writer's pictureDan Brown

The Long Road to a Finished Railway!

For the first few months of the year, I finally set out to build a complete model railway. Like many hobbies, especially those that require hundreds of hours of work... I had previously had a few false starts with building a railway. This time however I knew it would be different... famous last words?! (P.S. If you want to see my railway in action I have an entire YouTube Channel Dedicated to it HERE.)

The key difference when I started this small 2x4 foot desktop layout, was that I knew what I was getting myself into. The first railway I had worked on was a massive 4x8 foot classic OO gauge Hornby railway... it was going to be amazing... then I realised the sheer amount of work involved... and thought it would still be amazing... then I decided I wanted to live on a boat and that was the end of that, probably around 200 hours into the project, it was broken up and sold off!

Once I was on my second boat however, I moved down to the small N Gauge scale of model railway, allowing for lots more features to be held in a far smaller space than the OO scale. After absconding a briefly attempted modular railway that could be store onboard a small canal boat, I decided to call in my emergency plan... to build and store my layout at my mum's house!

Work went well, time spent modelling on a canal boat is just about the most relaxing thing I can think of, then every so often I'd visit my mum and add my latest creations to the layout, which had rapidly spiralled to a 2x8 foot landscape. Then... life got all weird, I couldn't decide whether to stay on the boat or not and I found myself very much isolated in a flat during the infamous first half of 2020!... Then in the summer I quickly moved back onto my boat!

Luckily for me at the end of 2021, my girlfriend agreed that I could turn half of her living room and a spare room into a modellers paradise! In order to keep things achievable, cost effective and above all within what I felt was my ability, I decided to create a single small oval of track on a 2x4 desktop... the best decision I ever made.

Don't get me wrong, there were moments that made me want to give it all up because I thought I had ruined it, and it still cost hundreds of pounds and took hundreds of hours of work... but within a few months, a plain desktop had turned into a bustling little world of "Olden Days British countryside"! In all honesty I am really happy with how it turned out. Keeping it small, keeping it flat and keeping the track itself simple all gave my novice abilities the absolute best chance to succeed.

There are some things I would do differently, things I'd add and remove, but as a whole, I really can't ask for much more. The next tabletop layout I work on will probably add some hills and a more 3D landscape into the mix, but that is an entirely new type of skill that I need to practice and learn first!

Anyway, thank you very much for taking the time to read about my modelling missteps. My first ever railway set was bought in 2017, and it really did take all the way into 2022 to finally complete a completely different scale of model!

... and I don't regret a thing!

Keep it boat worthy,

Keep it interesting,



(Want more Dan Brown? Take a look at my boat life books HERE, and my three YouTube Channels; HERE, HERE & HERE!)

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