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Model Railway Glossary | Model Railway Hints, Tips, How To Articles and Reviews at Model Trains Online
Photo courtesy of Steven's Transport Photos

Photo courtesy of Steven’s Transport Photos

Analogue Control

This is the traditional method of model railway control which alters the speed of a model trains by varying the voltage applied across the rails.

Baseboard

This is the wooden structure supporting the model railway and is made of a suitable wood such as MDF, Plywood, Chipboard or the preferred Sundeala. Baseboards can be of several types, but most typically solid top or open frame with scenic structures such as hills added to complete the baseboard.

Backscene

A backscene is a photographic or hand painted image used at the back of a layout to add greater depth. Typical backdrops are countryside or town scenes.

Cassette

A cassette is a train storage cradle system which is usually constructed from aluminium angles fixed to a piece of wood. A number of these cassettes are then used to store individual trains which be swapped in and out of the layout easily.

Controller

This is an electrical device which allows the layout operator to alter the speed and direction of the trains and will be either of an Analogue or DCC (Digital Command Control) type.

Digital Command Control (DCC)

This is the latest and most sophisticated method of controlling model trains and is slightly more expensive than analogue control. It involves much less wiring though and allows multiple trains to be operated on one layout and even the same length of track.

Diorama

A small layout which is often constructed just to display model trains in a prototypical surrounding.

Fiddle Yard

This is an area used to store trains which are not running on the scenic area of a layout and is usually located behind a backscene.

Fishplate

Folded metal clips that are used to join track sections together. Clear plastic fishplates are also available for joining isolated track sections together.

Flat-topped Baseboard

A simple, table style baseboard with a solid top. Great for town and village scenes as well as giving good support for stations, goods yards and maintenance depots etc.

Frog

A term used by manufacturers of model railway track to describe a crossing section.

Modern Image

Used to describe the models from the post-steam or diesel/electric era.

Open-Frame Baseboard

A more complicated type of baseboard which is useful for modelling railway lines running through open countryside.

Point

A section of track that allows you to change the route of a train and are usually of a left or right configuration.

Point Motor

An electromechanical device usually consisting of a pair of solenoids or a motor which is used to switch a turnout or point from one position to the other.

Prototype

Full scale 12″ to the foot railway… Real life basically!

Ready To Run

The name describes model trains and layout components that can simply be taken out of the box and used on a model railway.

Relay

An electromechanical device that can be used to switch power to multiple circuits.

Scale

The ratio of dimensions on a model to the prototype or real thing. See our Model Railway Scales page for more info.

Scratch-building

The art of constructing model buildings, trains and track from scratch, using basic, individual materials and elements.

Transformer

An electrical device used to covert mains electricity (240v or 110v AC) to a suitable voltage such as 16v DC for controllers, point motors and accessories.

Traverser

A section of baseboard with a number of straight rows of track laid on it, which can be slid at right-angles to the incoming track enabling you to switch entire trains without the need for complex pointwork.

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