Archive for the “References & Software” Category

Inventory software is a great idea for several reasons.  It can help avoid buying duplicates, keeps an accurate want list, forms the basis for insurance valuations, keeps track of where your items are at and their condition.  The following is a survey of model train inventory software.  If you know of others, please add it in the comments below.

All Aboard Data Express by Tayden Design – “A new, innovative database software that was specially designed for Model Railroaders! This new inventory software is based on recent database technology, especially for model railroad equipment!”  Adobe pdf Data Sheet.  Tayden also offers separate programs to track maintenance, simulate layout operations and inventory literature and documents.  Dowload or CD from retailers. USD: $30 includes 2 years of upgrades, OS Windows XP, Vista & 7.

Easy Model Railroad Inventory by RCL Software, Inc. – “is designed to inventory all of your model railroad rolling stock, locomotives and cars, the structures, electronic equipment, book collection . . . there are many ways to view, query, report, and graph . . . functions to operate your railroad using a variety of methods” General specs page. This EMRI is a complete, integrated solution.  It tracks the locos, cars, MOW, including DCC info, structures, books, videos tools and does operations.  Tip: turn on Maintance History for an item by checking the “Do Maintenance Check” box under the Routing/Operations tab.  Update announcements and tutorials at MRH blog.  Download USD: FREE – Donationware, OS: Windows.  Current version 6.0 dated October 2012.

MiTrains by ShenSoft – “an inventory program specifically for model railroaders and rail fans. One that eased the burden of typing wherever possible” Includes database of N-scale Micro-Trains series.  MiTrains is highly customizable and regularly updated.  Integrates with Waybills program for switching and operations.  Download – USD: $50.  OS: Windows, Vista & Win7 with MS patch.  Current version 6.5.0 dated March 2011.

RailFanExpress– “An easy way to keep an accurate record of your entire model railroad inventory. Catalog every item, with its cost and even include a photo. The numerous report options make Railfan Express excellent for insurance purposes.”  USD: $20.  OS: Win95 to WinXP.  Not compatible with Win7.  Current version 5.1 dated July 2009.  Website down Aug 24, 2011.  Version 5.0, description and reviews available at

RRTrains 2000 – “is a small program used to create a detailed inventory of your model railroad collection.”  USD: FREE.  OS: Win95 to Vista.  Win7 unstated. Current version 2.7 dated July 2004.

SofTrack – “is the easiest to use and most complete solution for managing your collection of railroad equipment. It is designed for use on Macintosh or Windows computers with Filemaker Pro®.” USD: $60, OS: Mac OSX and WinXP, also requires Filemaker Pro database. Current version 2.0 has can be run without Filemaker Pro.  As of October 2012, this software is no longer available.  They are providing support and updates for the Apple Lion OS.

TrackMyTrains – “is a comprehensive database system designed especially for model railroading enthusiasts and collectors. Our subscribers keep their collection databases on our website with complete control over how it is organized and who can see their information.” USD: $30/year, Web Application.

TrainMinder – has optional paid modules adding Lionel and American Flyer images, data and prices.  Price data is updated with eBay and other pricing.  USD: $40-85, OS: Win98 to Win7.  Current version and last update unknown.

TrainTracker – offers very extensive optional  modules including, MTH, K-Line, Pre, Post and Modern Lionel and American Flyer data.  USD: $29-130, OS: Win98 to WinXP.  Vista and Win7 not stated as working.  Latest version 5.5 last update not stated.

YardOffice -Tracks motive and rolling stock with custom notes, photos and DCC codes.  Registered version allows printing of labels and reports.  Free limited version or registerd USD: $27 w/ 1 year updates.  OS: Win98 and up.  Also works in iMac Windows partition.  Latest version 3.08 dated August 2009.

In the comments that follow, I have made some suggestions and expressed some personal opinions.  However, my likes and dislikes should not scare you off from looking at all the software.  From looking over the software, I think all of the inventory programs are good.  There are two programs that are no longer supported.  One, the website is down, the other is supported, but no longer providing updates.  I would choose a program that is currently supported and verify it has not been years since the last update.
Much of this is personal taste, interests and the look and feel of the software and your tastes are probably different than mine.  Please use this post as a starting point, do the research and then pick out a couple of programs to try out, most offer a demo.  Actually entering some of your collection into the programs will tell you if they do everything you need and want and if you like how the program operates and if it works well on your computer, operating system and printer.

Comments 47 Comments »

Layout design software or CAD is helpful in designing and building layouts, modular setups and shelf layouts.  The products range from manufacturer specific 2D layout templates, to 3D CAD programs that can simulate operations and building design.

3rd Plan It – “Built on a strong, innovative set of design tools, the new 3D terrain and landscape features let you really visualize your layout like never before.” Download – USD: $125 or Printed Docs & CD – USD: $170.  OS: WinXP

AnyRail – “is probably the easiest-to-use model railway design tool around. It’s also entirely independent, so you can build with almost any track. Enjoy designing your layout – AnyRail ensures everything fits.” – USD: $55.  OS: WinXP

Sandia Software CADrail – “The original railroad CAD program. Cadrail has all the extra features that will satisfy advanced users.” Download – USD: $60 or Printed Docs & CD – USD $100 + shipping.  OS: WinXP Read the rest of this entry »

Comments 2 Comments »

There are several kinds of simulators.  Prototype, cab operations, model layout simulation and regional dispatch simulators.  Your selection will depend on the scale of operations you are trying to simulate.

BVE – Boso View Express – “Freeware Japanese train simulator; the latest version features new realism and high resolution graphics (1024×768), supports most 2.x version routes in CSV format.” Cab view simulator.  OS: WinXP

LocoMotion – “Use railroads, trucking lines, buses, airplanes and ships to outmaneuver ruthless competitors and see who is best at meeting the needs of a growing metropolis.” Regional dispatch simulator. $10 + shipping.  OS: WinXP

Rail3D – Model railway simulation software for building routes and running multiple trains. Model layout simulation.  Freeware download.  OS: WinXP

Train Dispatcher – “control the movement of trains over large track territories. This game simulates the gargantuan routing tasks a real-life dispatcher faces daily.  Regional dispatch simulation.  USD: $45, OS: WinXP.

Train Player – “offers bold new adventures in mouse-driven armchair model railroading. Designed for the railroader who studies track plans and dreams of an empty basement.”  Model layout simulation. USD: $30-100, OS: WinXP and Mac OS X.

Microsoft Train Simulator –  “brings the power and excitement of some of the world’s most famous trains to your PC” USD: $45 – possibly not a current release. Cab view simulator.  OS: WinXP

Auran Trainz Simulator 2009 – a 3D train simulator boasting “more realism, more rail lines, more features, more flexibility, more community” USD: $30 Cab view simulator.  OS: WinXP

Comments 1 Comment »

Layout automation software has two main uses, to allow the simulatio of dispatchers on model railroads and to create automated displays for museums and similar situtations.

Automatic Train Control – “operate digital command controlled locomotive across the Internet or North Coast Engineering, Wangro System One, Digitrax, C/MRI.”  Free.  OS: WinXP

CTI – “a powerful, user-friendly software makes it easy to control every aspect of your model railroad from your PC.”  Supplier of both hardware and software.  USD: $40.  OS: WinXP

JMRI – Java Model Railroad Interface – “The JMRI project is building tools for model railroad computer control written in Java.”  Open Source Project. OS: Java

KAM Industries

Model Railroad System – “is a software package that can help you run your railroad, from running trains to working your signals and switches. Software supports for a network of Bruce Chubb CMR/I USIC, SUSIC, and/or SMINI nodes and/or a network of Lenz’s XPressNet DCC nodes. Create switch lists for freight car forwarding and timetables.”  Free download, open source.  OS: WinXP and Linux.

PanelPro – is used for “creating schematic panels to handle the actual configuration for signals and Panel Editor providing exactly the appearance desired.” Open Source, OS: Java.  Integrates with and created by JMRI above.

ProTrak – “Operations, control and design software for your model railroad.” USD: $349, OS: WinXP.

Rocrail – “is an Open Source Project that can control a model train layout from one or more computers.”  Open Source Project. OS: WinXP

Comments 2 Comments »

GrimstadLine – is a English language blog covering the Norwegian Grimstad Frolands Banen (“GFB”) prototype with Fremo modules.  Modules have a very high standard of scenery.

FREMO-Italia – is a Italian language weblog covering Fremo module construction, and from the pictures, some North American models.

West Texas Joe Ramblings – a T-trak moduler weblog!

White River Southern – a sectional layout depicting a small New England area branchline.

Berrett Hill Trains – Covers the construction of Kevin Hunter’s 1 foot wide On30 sectional layout.

Eisenbahnstudio – “Railroad Modeling in Proto:87″ and the author is building a set of four (4) FREMO:87 modules

Motorized Dandruff – Bills itself as “The worlds first (and so far ) only NZ 120 blog”, and covers the NZ120 scale and module scene in New Zealand.

Ed’s Model Railroad Diary – Lots of info on Ed Harrison’s Free-moN Modules, including a staging module, leg brackets and corner module construction.

Confessions of a Model Train Geek – Musings on model trains, layouts, design and construction.

Bayside and Tidewater – Has information on module building, including the “module in a week” post.

Peter’s and Hope’s – Has a nice entry, in both German and English, on the family’s construction of several Bend Track modules.

the UMG – an informal group of model railroaders from the Canadian Maritimes based on Free-mo.

Ida-HO Model Railroaders – Located in Kuna, Idaho, USA, this blog covering HO NMRA style modules was last updated in 2006.

Comments 3 Comments »

Paul Templar is a U.K. modeller well known for his exhibition quality, narrow gauge, U.S. themed logging/mining layouts. Paul’s last HO scale layout was Red Fox Lumber in about 2003.  Since then, Mr. Templar has focused his attention on building On30 scale layouts.  Photo galleries of the earlier Cooncreek and Tumbleweed Springs and the current layout, the Badger Creek Lumber Co. are both available on the internet. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments No Comments »

There is quite a bit of information available on the internet about modular and sectional model railroading.  Much of the information, especially about lightweight modules, is English.  Hobbyists in Great Britain (and New Zealand, Austrailia) use slightly different terms.  Below is a partial list of US terms and their British equivalent that should be helpful in google searches. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments No Comments »