Starting a Model Railroad Tips?

I want to build a model RR, about 2'3" by 3'6". I have several questions.

Do I need switch machines, or can I hand throw them?
Can I use Testors model paint on a loco? (I want to use this and possibly some leftover decals from a boat model I am building)
Would a plywood sheet atop basic benchwork suffice?
Where can I find cheap brick industrial urban buildings, rolling stock, and oner supplies?
Also, any modeling advice would be welcome.

I would post a track plan, but the printer isn't working properly, so I can't scan it.
An old hollow core bedroom door is a great N scale platform ... 2 of them is a great HO scale platform.

Some people use pink 2" foam insulation board, bonded with liguid nails adhesive to a 1/4 luan plywood 4x8

Painting locos with a brush is an absolute NO NO ... even spray painting with Testors cans, takes talent, not to paint a heavy coat resulting in drips and runs.

Electric switch machines eventually burn out ... miniature manual ground throws are expensive, and break easily

Train conventions are a great place to pick up broken buildings for $1.00, for kitbashing

Flex track can be cut with a metal zonna saw, and soldering the railjoiners takes practice, as even with a heat sink alligator clip @ 6 ties get melted, requiring replacement.

Sectional track often loses electrical connections at loose or corroded railjoiners.

Special snap-tracks have better fastener clips.

I like Trainz because it does not require tools
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Well said Cascade, ... I know what you are thinking about.
Thirty years ago I built an 18 foot x 12 foot HO gauge layout under my house and it took me 13 years to complete it. When I started, I knew nothing about model trains or electricity, but when it was finished I had a great sense of completing something that I was proud of. However, when I added up the overall cost to build it, it came to many thousands of dollars, which I never had the nerve to tell my wife. It was big enough to run seven full trains at any one time. But before I could even run any trains on the layout, it took me more than an hour to just clean the 500 feet of track - what a pain.

Then, when "TRAINZ" came along it was a weight taken off my shoulders, no more soldering, repairing burnt out turn-outs, laying plaster bandage, sawing bits of timber, or repainting where the kids had spilled their coke,... now I had it all on my computer where I can safely create whatever my brain thinks of.

The joys of modern technology - it's nice to think back but it's easier today.

PS: Meow,... If you are thinking of building a model railroad, check out the various sites such as ... ; then have a look on YouTube on how to cut-in flexi-track, and in particular how to install turnouts/points/switch machines, and then decide whether you need some electrical knowledge. Check out the current prices on your locos and rolling stock. (Visit local railway exhibitions and look for the 2nd hand stalls where cheaper rolling stock may be available) Weigh it all up, it takes time and money.
Cheers, Roy3b3
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