Model Railroading is a great family hobby, particularly if you pick a project where everybody can participate. Our "Jeffersonville, NC" layout has proved a perfect method for me to introduce the hobby of Model Railroading to my two sons. A lifelong model railroader, I changed to N scale when planning this layout in order to share my sons' interest in the Norfolk Southern and CSX diesels that come through our hometown of Cary, NC each day. The small size of N scale makes it easier to model the larger engines and rolling stock of modern day railroading.
A friend on staff at Model Railroader had written an article on building a small layout on an interior door. The project was small enough to keep my older son's interest and involved enough to test my skills as I tried out new modeling techniques. Choosing N Scale allowed us to fit a reasonable amount of railroad in a small space.
For the most part we used the Model Railroader article "Building the Carolina Central in N Scale" to construct this layout. We made a few compromises such as shortening the layout in order to fit it on the lower bunk bed in Jeff's room. If you choose to build a similar layout you will likely make some changes as well. I think it is impossible for any two of these little layouts to be built exactly the same way! While we originally built and operated the layout using cab control, we have recently updated to Digital Command Control (commonly referred to as DCC), using Digitrax's Zephyr system. This has been a big improvement, as now two operators can easily run trains at the same time. One operates the mainline while the other switches industries from the siding track.
Along the way Jeff has learned to lay track, mold rocks, pour a river, and construct buildings and trees. My younger son Cooper has learned to properly handle model locomotives and rolling stock, and runs the layout almost daily. Cooper was just 5 years old when we installed DCC. It only took him 15 minutes to learn the basics of selecting a locomotive and using the system. Not only is it simple to learn, DCC makes train operation much more realistic. We highly recommend it for all model railroads regardless of size or complexity.
We look forward to sharing our model railroad at future train shows. It continues to provide enjoyment and learning adventures as we upgrade buildings and add details. If you are thinking of getting started in the hobby we suggest joining a local club to obtain assistance and ideas. Model railroaders are very willing to help newcomers to the hobby, and the interaction with others will keep you motivated as you learn new techniques and improve your skills. Happy Modeling!