When I turned 14, I got a model train. I remember I started to draw an endless stream of layouts on paper. Once the (cheap carton) track was laid, the driving experience often was frustrating. When driving slow, the trains would stutter or halt. To avoid that, they needed to drive unrealisticly fast.
A few years later there were other interests: newspaper delivery job, some money to spend on a stereo, a motorcycle, a girlfriend. The train was sold.
In 2014 working less meant more spare time and I renewed my interest in model railways. It is all DCC control nowadays, which seems great. But man … those prices … liquid gold! Since my interest still was mainly on the design side, the PC came to rescue. There were train sims! And they set you back just some $40,- !
I tried Train Simulator. It seemed to focus more on the driving experience, while I like to play around more with the layout. Then I tried Trainz. It suited me better, there was more room to create your own layouts, be it that track can only be laid ‘loosely’, not with exact coordinates. AIso the automated driving has ‘a mind of its own’, it drives trains around in ways not intended, some times even backwards.
Then I came across Eisenbahn-X, a German program. In the mean time there also is an English version, called Railroad-X. That was it to me … a model rail sim! There is a learning curve and the program has its quirks, but once ‘mastered’ fun things can be done with it. For those interested, I published a series of tutorials on youtube. There’s an example here a the top. There is also a German EEP forum where people are friendly and always help out.
Beginning of 2014 I joined a hobby club, the Eindhovense Modelbouwvereniging (EMV). Members are very friendly and they offer their knowledge and help. I quickly felt at home. After a while it started to ‘itch’ to buid my own layout at home to tinker with. With all the support of club members available as a backup I decided to ‘go for it’ and start my own model railway project.
July 2014 the first purchase was made: 2 locs and 2 DCC decoders. They were on offer with the Grootendorst railway hobby shop. An offer I couldn’t resist … hehe … I did not even have any track or a control system yet! Buying these locs brought me at the point of no return … the project is a go! 🙂