How to build an o-gauge model train layout

Written by rich finzer
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How to build an o-gauge model train layout
(Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Model railroaders have a wide variety of choices when it comes to designing and building their train layouts. Many select O-gauge trains because of the vast assortment of accessories available in this size. Building an O-gauge train layout involves calculating curve radii, number of track sections to purchase, overall layout shape and ease of assembly. For a beginner or novice O-gauge railroader, this could become a daunting task. But, you could eliminate the legwork and planning by letting someone else do it for you. You could acquire and build a layout from a complete kit.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 4-foot-by-8-foot sheet of 1/2-inch or thicker plywood
  • LIONEL Track Pack, part number 6-22969
  • LIONEL Lighted Lockon, part number 6-14112
  • Tack hammer
  • Small nails or brads
  • Needle nose pliers (optional)

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  1. 1

    Locate your plywood sheet in an area where it will remain undisturbed. Here is where you will initially assemble your O-gauge train layout.

  2. 2

    Follow the assembly instructions included with your kit. Insert the track connecting pins into the corresponding openings in the individual sections of track. Be sure they fit securely. This ensures that electrical power will flow correctly around your entire layout. If the pins do not fit securely into the next track section, carefully pinch the rail openings with the pliers until they do.

  3. 3

    Complete assembling the entire layout track section by track section, until all are connected. Take your time and proceed methodically, lest you damage a track pin or track section.

  4. 4

    Slip and clip your Lighted Lockon accessory to any straight section of track. This component and its electrical contacts will eventually be connected to your track power transformer, providing electric current to the rails.

  5. 5

    Using the hammer and nails or brads, secure the track sections to the plywood. Your train layout is complete. Now it's time to purchase a transformer, engine and some rolling stock (railroad cars).

Tips and warnings

  • As your model railroading skills improve, you can always enhance your layout with additional accessories, such as switches, sidings, buildings and trestles. Once your initial track sections have been laid and "spiked down," you can acquire the engine and rolling stock you wish to operate, purchase an appropriate size and capacity transformer and construct a table frame to hold your sheet of plywood.

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