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Trackmat Question


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Despite my best efforts at brain-washing, my son is more interested in modern image standard gauge than he is narrow gauge, so next year's project will be to start a Hornby project together.


Accepting that it's a trainset, I'm going to start with a Hornby Trackmat but the ones included in the newer starter sets appear to be a bit limited and rubbish. Do people generally agree that the older ones are better?


That being the case, does anyone have one of the older, more comprehensive ones that they'd be willing to sell? My options appear to be:


This one strikes me as too limited and rubbish but appears to be what's included in every set.



This one appears to be better and has two stations and plenty of sidings. I think it's my favourite.



Despite having more track, this one appears less realistic, with only one platform. I can't say that I'm taken with this one.


The plan is to put the mat on a folding board that fits under his cabin bed, so that it can pack away but also be left up. As it's on a Trackmat, he can see the unrealised potential and decide what bits he wants to add next, helping to plan it's growth.


The chances are that it'll never be finished before we move on but, in doing it this way, he'll hopefully understand the planning process and limitations of a layout that somebody else has designed for you.


I'd appreciate other people's input. Do you generally agree on the Trackmat chosen, the outline plan, etc for giving a small boy, who's no stranger to model railways, his first layout. By way of clarification, he is a qualified operator of the Rio Florida Logging Co!

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I gave my godson a Thomas train set including the first track mat in your list. I bought him the extra sets to make up the full layout and advised him to ignore the mat and to paint and build his own scenery. At 4 years old his primary interest wasn't photographic accuracy or anything resembling reality. As such papier maché filled all of the gaps, his sister helped out by painting everything pink and a cavalry of medieval knights set-up camp behind the station.

Most importantly he spent much of his summer holiday occupied building, making, painting, as well as playing with his train set.

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Hi Alan


I agree with Matabiau, we often advise our customers to follow the Track Mat layout but ditch the mat.  They are not easy to lay without wrinkle and dictate the position of the buildings etc.  The layout is easy to work out with the aid of a Track Pack box and I would go for the middle layout as the old Track Mat used a lot of Radius 1 curves which are not suitable for larger locos.





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It's funny that, the first picture is of the new MIDI-MAt which is supplied with virtually all new train sets, there are only a couple that have the full Midi mat.

Photo 2 is of the full TrakMat

Photo 3 is of the older TrakMat.


I built the full TrakMat (pic 2 in your list) in N-gauge as space is a premium!

It's an exhibition layout that kids can actually play with.


What I have noticed about the plan is the only cross-over next to the level crossing.

Looking back I wish I had put another cross-over on the back straight, behind the signal box to allow trains to come from the outer loop to the inner one, just makes it easier.


In the Hornby Track Plans book edition 12 I think it was the siding down the right hand side can be extended into a nice big station terminus, in the latest plan book they've changed it a lot!


The photos of the terminus station were taken in 2011 at Mansfield exhibition, I don't have any current ones at present, although I really need to get some, the controllers are all Hornby now as shown in the first photo.











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My son started off with the Midi-mat but as we wanted to modify the board so that it would fit under the bed we dispensed with the outer siding. During the rebuild, he decided not to have the printed mat as the 'it tells you where to put things' and he wanted the freedom to move stations etc. He's currently using Lego to add bits of scenery etc. At the age of 5 the set is proving remarkably versatile and playworthy so hopefully he'll keep the interest in future. 

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