If you are interested getting started with making model railroads, there are some things you will need to consider before you rush right out and purchase a lot of parts. The first thing to do is to research and consider what type of railroad you want to set up. You might consider:
o How much room do I have to set it up?
o What is my budget?
o How much time do I want to put into this?
There are lots of online communities, forums and articles that can help you learn more about different types of setups. Once you have some idea of the kind of railroad you want to work on, you will need to make a suitable workspace. A large, sturdy table is an important investment. Of course, it does not have to be purchased, a homemade table will work just as well, provided that it is sturdy and gives you room to walk around and work from any angle you like. You will also need to invest in some basic tools, if you do not already own them. You will need at the least a saw, a drill and screwdriver. These can be hand-powered or electric. It would also be good to have sand-paper and a planner, as well as a dremmel tool. After you have made or purchased a table, you will want to start planning a track layout on paper. Using a ruler and graph paper, you can determine where your track will run and what other items (such as trees, buildings, etc.) you want to include. You can always add to and change the design as you go, but this will give you a good starting point.
Tracks and other model train parts can be purchased from a variety of sources including local and chain hobby stores and online retailers. You can also find model train parts on E-Bay or similar auction sites, although in order to buy online you must have a pretty good idea of what you want in mind since you will not be able to see the merchandise first in person. Before you begin to lay down the track, you will want to affix a large piece of foam board to your table. This will allow you to easily change the setup if you need to, without disturbing your table. If you make a mistake or change your mind about your configuration, just throw the foam board away and get another piece.
After the track has been drawn out it will be obvious how much track and how much roadbed you will need. Roadbed can be bought through the same sources mentioned above that sell other model train parts. The easiest kind to use is cork, and it will lie beneath the tracks. Roadbed is essential for your train to run correctly. You will also need to buy the actual track and track switches. There are numerous tutorials and videos online that can show you the proper way to lay the roadbed and track, and start setting up switches. If you have questions as you are starting, be sure to check out online resources, including forums. Most hobbyists will be happy to share information with you, including how to fix something to the best sources for getting modal train parts.