While improvisation can often yield surprising results for a scene, your best bet for creating a successful model railroad layout is to plan ahead. This is certainly true for landscapes and buildings, but planning is especially important for trackage. The last thing you want as a modeler is to map out all of your scenery and get ready to glue and then notice you don’t have enough clearance for your tracks or your turnouts won’t fit properly.
To avoid any missteps in your construction, we recommend taking your time in going through the necessary process of model railroad track planning. In this lesson, we teach you how to map out your trackage and complete thorough model railroad track planning before you even begin to configure the scenery in your layout.
Using long paper for model railroad track planning
You can go about your model railroad track planning in a number of different ways, some being more complex than others. Our favorite, and in our minds the easiest, is to use long paper to trace your trackage. To help you figure out the best way to lay out your tracks and finish your model railroad track planning on the workbench, NMRA Master Modeler Gerry Leone walks you through a step-by-step demonstration of the proper technique for tracing trackage onto long paper.
The paper that Gerry suggests utilizing for model railroad track planning is just your run-of-the-mill rolled paper, which can be purchased at a range of stores and commercial outlets. He explains how you can use a pencil and a stretch of this paper to get quick imprints of your existing track, and then shows you how to plan turnouts with a hole punch and a pounce wheel. The spokes of the pounce wheel are typically used for sewing and quilting to cut along the border of fabric, but you’ll learn how this handy tool also makes for a great guide in model railroad track planning. With Gerry’s techniques, you can quickly lay out your trackage and move on to the fun parts!