This page will contain information on generic and specific skills that you might learn while pursuing the hobby of model railways. By generic skills, I mean those that can be transferred to other parts of your life. Specific skills which are those you probably could not transfer.

A list of generic skills includes

  • administrating
  • artistic skills
  • brasswork
  • carpentry
  • computer skills
  • drafting
  • electrical wiring
  • exhibiting
  • gardening - for garden railways, who would have guessed?
  • landscaping - also for garden railways
  • lighting
  • machining
  • painting
  • photography
  • researching
  • script writing - for the dialogue of videos
  • social media skills
  • soldering
  • speaking
  • selling items as second hand
  • troubleshooting - a very general skill
  • videoing
  • volunteering
  • writing

A list of some specifc skills includes

  • driving
    • general
    • shunter
    • train
  • operations
    • creating
      • timetables
      • train graphs
    • dispatching
    • using
      • car card
      • manifests
      • switch lists
  • trackwork
    • handlaying track
    • adding ballast


The main time you will need carpentry skills is when building a layout. The layout could be static, modular or portable (similar to a modular layout except it is complete in itself and not part of a larger layout). You will need to build the benchwork. You may also need ta valance above the layout, especially for a static layout, and a gate to permit access to the interior of the layout. This gate could lift, swing or roll and may involve more than one deck. If you do have more than one deck will need a way of getting trains from one deck to the deck. A helix is often used and these take some time to build and get working. If you have a modular or portable layout, you will need boxes or frames in which to transport the layout and rolling stock, and tables on which the layout rests. Your layout might need wooden risers and splines. You will need a largish work bench and storage facilities for your tools, equipment and supplies. Work benches and storage facilities can be bought but building them may save you money.

The above tasks do not require high quality carpentry. You need accurate cuts, solid joints and level surfaces. You may need to allow for large seasonal variations in temperature.

Building a helix will be time consuming. A double deck swing gate where the two levels swing together is possibly the most difficult carpentry task. You need the gate to work the same way to the nearest millimetre or so time after time. This can be difficult to achieve if the swinging sections of the two decks are heavy. There are alternatives to the double swing gate that may be suitable

  • have a swing gate for the lower deck and require people to duck under the upper deck
  • have a swing gate for the lower deck and a lift out section for the upper deck
  • forego both swing gates and use two lift out sections
  • forego both swing gates and use a double deck roll out section.


Although you can have a lot of fun in the hobby without writing articles, you could well find that writing adds to your enjoyment. If you are a member of a model railway organisation, you could articles for the

  • organisation's newsletter
  • organisation's website (this would overlap with social media skills)

You could also write newspaper articles that promoted your organisation and the hobby.

If you are a bit more adventurous, you would write a booklet or small book. The subject matter is almost limitless. You could write about the history of a local railway, station, or model railway organisation, or about an aspect of model railway you have expertise at, or a guide for those starting out in the hobby.

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