A return to the fold

It was a sad day when, at the tender age of 14, I had to sell my unfinished 6 foot by 5 foot N gauge layout to some friends of the family, partly because I found I had less and less time to keep it maintained, but mainly because I was heading towards O levels and needed to focus.

It’s now 33 years and one emigration since those O levels (I did OK by the way), and in the intervening years I’ve thought more than once about getting back into railway modelling. I love trains and train travel, especially in mainland Europe, and a couple of holidays in Switzerland over the last few years pushed the idea to the front of my mind, where it stayed, refusing to go away.

Finally, a couple of months ago, having decided to quit my day job and become self-employed, I also decided that while making major life changes, it was time for a new hobby, and railway modelling was going to be it. I would take it slowly, try to keep my budget moderate, and build a layout over the course of a few years.

Having made this momentous decision, instantly my head filled with thoughts of scale, gauge, country and era. I decided the first thing I had to settle on was scale and gauge.


I don’t have the luxury of having acres of attic or garage space, or indeed acres of any kind of space, and I knew that whatever I built could be no longer than about 8 feet, but I still wanted to run realistic-looking trains (i.e. more than 3 coaches).

Basically that meant modelling either in N gauge, or pursuing the narrow-gauge option and modelling in OO9 or HOm (though the scale is bigger, coaches and locomotives are generally a little shorter than standard gauge OO or HO stock).

Having narrowed it down to these two options, I browsed the web, looking for inspiration. What I found (in addition to bucketloads of inspiration) was a significant difference in price. It looked like, in general, buying HOm locos and rolling stock could easily cost twice as much as buying similar stock in N gauge.

I don’t have bottomless pockets and so the decision was made for me. I will build an N gauge layout. I can buy 5 or 6 trains in N gauge for the price of 2 or 3 in HOm. I also have to figure in postage costs since Malta (my home for the last 10 years) has no model railway shops.

Because I work as a web developer and consultant, it occurred to me that documenting the build in a website might be quite fun, and so here we are. Over the next months and probably years, I will post here with information about the build process, the decisions I make, the stock I buy, landscaping, wiring, and I’ll try to include photos whenever possible to keep things interesting.

BLS - one of my favourite railway companies
BLS – one of my favourite railway companies
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