Review by Dan Bourque
eBooks can be a tricky proposition for buyers because you can’t browse them like you would a book in a hobby shop. I first came across Model Trains for Beginners when I saw it advertised on many model train websites. While I’m not a beginner, I still found myself wondering “is it a good book and worth the price?” I revisited this book when I was looking for information and products to promote on Appalachian Railroad Modeling that might be useful to readers, so I bought my own copy to review.
As the title states, Model Trains for Beginners is intended for new or prospective model railroaders, and it serves as a one-stop resource to educate newcomers on the basics of the hobby. The text is concise, easy to understand and covers a lot of ground in a hurry. If you’re like me and have been in the hobby for decades, most of what you’ll find in this book will be familiar ground, but these are things I’ve had to learn through trial-and-error. Looking back I would have really appreciated a book like this to guide me through some key decisions and keep me from having to learn all these lessons the hard way. Model Trains for Beginners does a fantastic job of arming the reader with the right questions to ask when planning a layout so it will be more likely to fit their interests, space and budget.
In 116 pages, this book touches the vast majority of topics every model railroader needs to know including choosing a scale, determining what type of layout to build, choosing between a prototype or freelancing, picking a good locomotive, basics of benchwork, laying track for good operation, basic wiring, DC versus DCC, basics of scenery, track and locomotive maintenance, and basic weathering. What I like most is it takes the time to explain why you would choose one thing over another and why certain things are important. For example, rather than just say “choose this type of locomotive,” it goes through what to look for in a locomotive and why that feature is important–this will help the new model railroader make better choices because they understand the underlying logic and the potential consequences of poor choices.
Model Trains for Beginners doesn’t go too deep on any one topic, but therein lies its beauty. For example, it gives the reader enough information to get started on scenery by walking through common methods for creating scenery forms, the benefits and drawbacks of each, and some basic techniques to help a modeler start putting scenery on their layout. It’s not detailed enough to make the reader an expert in any one scenery technique, and you’ll find more thorough photos and explanations of these techniques elsewhere. However, what the book does very well is educate the reader on what’s out there so the new model railroader understands what follow-on research and material they need. The same is true for wiring, benchwork, weathering, locomotive maintenance, laying track, etc.
If I were to pick one negative about this book, it would be the photos. The photos used are colorful, relevant, and sufficient to illustrate the points; but in my opinion, it could use more. This is offset by the many links to videos and hi-res images, and it also comes with several smaller eBooklets covering some topics in greater detail and a subscription to the Model Trains for Beginners “Insiders Club” forum which gives the reader access to more detailed information, product reviews, additional videos and (best of all) other model railroaders to help a beginner get over many of the early hurdles of building a layout and provide a support network and answers to questions.
In my opinion, this book is exactly what it claims to be and does exactly what it claims to do–it teaches new modelers the basics, and it helps them avoid many of the mistakes which cost modelers lots of time and money. Model Trains for Beginners is a great investment for anyone just starting or thinking about getting started in model railroading!
To learn more about Model Trains for Beginners or to purchase your own copy, click here.
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Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this eBook to see if it was a product I was willing to endorse. The author did not request a review, and these opinions are my own. As an affiliate, I now receive compensation for sales of this eBook which originate from this site.