Model steam engines continue to be popular as both collectables and toys.

They can provide people with lifelong hobbies and can be picked up at any age whether it is by a child wanting to learn more about steam or an older person wanting to have a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Produced in either complete models or kit form, these models can become a long term project for people, whether that be building or simply collecting them.

When starting out a collection there are many things to take into account. Model engines, including Mamod, come in either mobile or stationary versions both providing ways which highlight how steam works. The mobile models can come in the form of trains, steam rollers or traction engines while the stationary models can be put together to create a fully functional workshop.

So what do you need to consider when creating your very own collection? Here is Mamod's buyers guide to steam engine models.

Do I have a workspace?

One of the key questions you need to ask yourself before making the plunge into steam engine model collecting is do you have enough space for them? Whether they are mobile or stationary, pre-assembled or in kit form you should set aside a workshop of sorts where you can build and maintain your models.

Working on steam models can be a messy business so it could be ideally suited for the garage or spare room, the last thing you to be doing is changing the oil on a steam train on the kitchen table. Once you have set aside a working space to suit your needs, you can then look at which models you want to collect.

Readymade or kit?

Model steam engines generally come in two forms – kit or readymade. The former can be the basis of a long-term project and will require some basic assembly before they can be properly used. Building an engine is a highly rewarding experience and can you look back once it is complete and think "I made that".

One of the key aspects to kit form models you need to be aware of is whether they are pre-milled or not. Often referred to as "machined" it means that the parts have already been drilled and threaded, turned and milled. Pre-milled basically means that the parts can be put together using simple tools such as screwdrivers and spanners as opposed to more high tech equipment such as workshops.

Readymade is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin and means you can get on with powering your engine which can either form the base of a collection or even an expansive layout.

What is the right engine for me?

When it comes to picking an engine there is really not a wrong answer. It really comes down to personal preference. Both kit and readymade products are popular and it depends on what you believe is right for you. Make sure you do your research but at the end of the day it is simply down to your own taste.

So what else is there to take into consideration? Well once you have made a designated space for your steam engine models you need to remember aspects such as the availability of parts and accessories such as rolling stock. Identifying specific vendors can ensure you always have an outlet that will be able to replenish all the components you need.

When it comes to purchasing locomotives they all comes to specific gauges. For example, zero (0) gauge is the smallest and have major focus on detail thus are not widely available. Other scales such as 00 gauge are more readily available in the UK as collectors like the durability and affordability of the products.

Look at accessories that can boost your collection. If you are investing in locomotives then why not complement this with some track and other more subtle pieces such as scenery and a tunnel? This can help you create your own unique layout which the train can run on.

Maintenance of the models is key so having plenty of spare engine cowls, wheels, canopies and decals is important and can help to personalise your engine.