A newbie

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by ntg, May 26, 2005.

  1. ntg

    ntg New Member

    And I do mean newbie. To the whole business of model railroading. Let me tell you a little bit of my story. I have 3 kids that love trains. We were in Kansas City, Mo, last week for vacation, and visited Union Station. In the Science City area, they have what they call the train spotters roost. A lot of trains went buy there in the short amount of time we were there. The kids absolutley loved it. Well, I've have always in the back of my mind thought about getting an HO scale train set, but have never really pursued it. Well now I want do, but feel overwhelmed at all the different manufacuters out there.

    I want a set that we can take out of the box,set up, and be running in a few minutes, or however long it takes. But I also want to think towards the furture and expanding the set and adding scenery and other details. Now I've searched on E-bay for train sets, and have seen Atlas, Athearn and Bachman, just to name a few. In the humble opinion of the members here, what manufacturer can we get the best bang for our buck? This is going to be a low budget railroad, named after us.

    I've seen such things as a 1998 set from Bachman with the E-Z track system and 130 pieces. to newer sets from other companies. Are all the trains and tracks interchangeable? I want something that looks real, not toy like.

    Like I've said, I'm very new to this, and know very little about trains in general, and modeling in particular. Thanks in advance for any and all help

  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Athearn and Atlas are all good trains, Bachmann is a mixed bag. Bachmann Plus and Spectrum are good trains, the standard Bachmann trains are toys and really not very good. Get a NMRA gauge while you are at it, then if you have any derail problems, you will have the tool to check track gauge, wheel set gauge, and anything else that might cause problems.
  3. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Welcome to the Gauge Mike. If you need to know, or need help, this is the place to be.

    There have been debates as to the value of buying a "train set", and you can see the merits of either side. Buy a basic set and you have everything out of the box to get started, the other side says no way, that sets are the cheap end of the product line and the money is better spent on one good engine or a few good cars.

    When I found I had enough time on my hands that I could take on a hobby, I tried a few things like buying a few airplane kits, but I was really interested in model railroading, so I did indeed buy a "train set" in HO to see if it was really what I wanted to do. It was, but I had limited space to work in, so I bought another set, this time N scale to see if my hands and eyes were still good enough to get by working that small. The experiment was worth it, since I didn't have too much money invested before I made a decision to go with N scale. I still have all the stuff that came with the set and use the ez-track on a small Christmas display, and I gave the HO stuff to my grandson, although I don't think he ever set it up.

    If you do go the set route, you don't have that many choices since not too many companies put together sets, but it is a quick way to get started with little knowedge. It's a fun hobby, and can be addictive, and it seems like you and your family are well on their way to having a great time together. Good luck, and keep us posted on what you decide.
  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Hi Mike,


    There is a middle ground to the set vs no set debate. You can buy an engine and/or cars, and run them on "track packs" from a variety of manufacturers. Atlas makes a decent roadbed track called "Tru-track" (or something like that) which would be easy to set up and take down on the floor or a table. The advantage is that the track is removable from the roadbed when you want to move to a more realistic looking layout.

    Good luck with your new hobby, and don't be afraid to ask questions and let us know what you've been up to!

  5. DWP

    DWP Member

    After you get a train up and running or even before look into the Roundhouse kits.
    I have two kids "helping" and the most fun we have is sitting at the table building stuff.
    The MDC kits are easy to find at shows and Ebay. After that add some some other simple stuff. Woodland Scenics Tree Kits are A lot of fun for the kids. Don't forget to add some Paint to the fun.
  6. Zman

    Zman Member

    Welcome to the Gauge, Mike. The other guys have pretty much summed it up already. Train sets have come a long way since I was getting them as Christmas presents 30 years ago. Atlas has a number of really nice ones that you can easily expand in the future. I second Dave's recommendation to build things - scenery and buildings. Kids love to do that, and it can make for a lot of time together. Most train sets only give you enough track for a simple oval, and once it's set up, there's nothing really to "do" except watch the train go round and round.
  7. Chessie6459

    Chessie6459 Gauge Oldtimer

    Welcome Aboard The-Gauge Mike. :wave: :wave:
  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Mike: Supposedly, all HO trains will operate together. (The german firm of Marklin is different.)
    The sticking point on cars (and locos) is couplings. Most train sets have had what are called NMRA/X2f/horn-hook or ^%*&(^&@. Recently, they have started providing a variant on the Kadee coupling which looks more like a real coupling. Kadee makes couplings that fit on almost everything. Avoid sets where the couplings are mounted on the trucks (the rotating thingy that holds the wheels).
    Most tracks work together. But there are a lot of tracks that include roadbed (Bachman EZ track is one of these, the Atlas mentioned above is another) and these won't join to each other.
    The track from a train set will do for some time. Larger locomotives won't go around it.
    Try to get everything up on a table; bits of rug will ruin you trains.
  9. XavierJ123

    XavierJ123 Member

    I purchased a Model Power train set recently and the transformer that came with it was a lot better than the one that came with a Bachmann set. The train itself is heavy metal which is nice too. The set comes with Bachmann EZ track. I know it's hard to make a decision but you have to start somewhere. They're all fun.

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