All it needs is a train!

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Josie, Jun 8, 2005.

  1. Josie

    Josie New Member

    Hi everyone. :wave: This is my first post to The-Gauge but I've been lurking awhile, trying to soak up all your creativity and knowledge, because I am COMPLETE newbie.

    I've decided to stop waffling and do N-scale so that I would have lots of room for stuff. (I like stuff, my wallet doesn't!) I like doing scenery and I've collected tiny houses and stuff for years. I like the idea of finally picking a place, time, and scale.

    What my layout doesn't have is a... what do you call it... oh yeah, a train. ;)
    I think I like the 50's, so that I can have steam and trolleys and diesel, and I know I like the Delaware Valley as the place, because I'm a Philly girl. What kind of steam engine am I looking for? And who sells it?

    Unfortunately I am a poor college student, and can't buy anything that's a 1000 dollars and brass, no matter how awesome it may be. So I'm hoping there is something cool for way less than that. Or should I just run a couple Bachmann trolleys and give up steam?

    Thanks in advance,
  2. who_dat73

    who_dat73 Member


    Its nice to see another newbie to the gauge My first thought as I read this is read read read search the web and look into all the web sites you can find I bought a lot of good books on the subject on ebay for fairly cheap and if you are a reader like I am they help alot.
    and look at your local Wal Mart for Model Railroader magizine or look into the e zine if you cant find the paper version they have a lot of articals for the old timers but I also get a lot of good knoledge from them.
    Sorry for the spelling
    but thought I might put my two cents worth in.

    Most of all have fun and rember a model railroad never ends it just fades into the future:)
  3. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way


    Welcome to the Gauge.:wave::wave: You're in the right place if you need information, support or just want to talk to some really nice people. To me, N scale is a good choice because you can get so much more stuff (and you do like stuff) in a much smaller space. Doing scenery is kinda special and I enjoy that too.

    Where do we start? Well, there's lots of free stuff on the web that has the basics. Try the NMRA which has a ton of information for getting started. That's one of the first places I looked when I got into model railroading. There is a lot on basics there, and even has a few layouts that they take you through a step at a time. I downloaded all that stuff to use as a reference. As far as spending a lot of money that you don't have, you can take that a step at a time as well. Life Like has some N scale diesels that sell between $20 and $30 that run just fine. I went to a local hobby shop and found a Bachmann steam engine that was like new for $20. I have found some used cars there as well. You can also check and see if there's any train shows or swap meets in your area and pick up some inexpensive stuff there.

    Just some stuff to think about.:)
  4. shortliner

    shortliner Member

    Josie - Hi!, and welcome. Can I suggest a quick side trip to <>
    which will serve you well. Depending on how much room you have, for some layout ideas Google up "NMRA Gateway" and look at the project layouts - they are HO scale but will fit into an area of about 5/8 the original size. Hunt around and please take a look at the small layout design group on Yahoo
    [color=#008000][color=#000000]- in that and the 2 sister overflow groups you will find a lot of info - above all, ask, ask, ask! There is no such thing as a silly question as far as a newbie is concerned[/color]
    [color=#000000]Shortliner(Jack)away up here in the Highlands[/color]
  5. grumbeast

    grumbeast Member

    Hi Josie,

    Welcome to N scale!!!! (its the only true scale, but hey I'm totally biased!). As everyone has said there's a whole bunch of information on the net. Try going back through the posts on the N&Z scale section of the gauge, there's a bunch of relevant and interesting stuff plus lots of pics to inspire you. I've found the gauge to be the most encouraging and friendly of all of the forums I've ever used and we have people of all skill ranges from newbie to absolute artist.

    In terms of locomotives and trains there are a few decisions you need to think about first, especially since finance is an issue (as it is with many of us). I would suggest that your first layout be quite small, this keeps the cost down, makes it achievable and lets you learn a whole bunch of stuff before investing too much.

    The main financial issue you'll need to consider :

    How you'll power it
    What track to use
    First locomotive and cars

    In comparison scenery can be very cheap

    So.. No.1 how to power it?

    There are two ways of powering trains,
    DC = The traditional way with a controller that changes the voltage to the track making the train run faster or slower. This is cheap an easy can require complex wiring on a larger layout

    DCC = This is newer, and stands for Digital Command Control, basically your locomotives have a chip (which makes them a little more expensive) that the controller can address independantly. What this means is that you can run many trains at once with one controller, even two trains running towards each other on the same piece of track

    A DCC controller is a lot more expensive, but one option (that I used) is to use DC and buy locomotives that can have the chip fitted later when you get the money. Modern Kato and Atlas locomotives are good for this. This way you don't have to spend too much but can upgrade when you can.

    2. On to track.

    There are some good discussions on this on the gauge. The two main manufacturers seem to be Peco and Atlas. I personally prefer Peco, its a little more expensive but is pretty indestructable. Find the discussions and give them a read, it explains things way better than I can.

    3. The trains.

    This is a bit of a contentious one, everyone has thier own opinions, the main manufacturers are Kato, Atlas, Lifelike, Bachmann and Model Power (none are brass.. Diesels seem to cost between CDN$90 and CDN$150, Steam is quite a bit more expensive, at my LHS its about CDN$200 + for a steamer)

    this is my opionion.. so you can start somewhere! :)

    Kato and Atlas -- Excellent, good DCC upgrade
    Lifelike -- Excellent but DCC upgrade is difficult
    Bachmann -- Recent steam loco's are good
    Model Power- -- OK

    I'd start with a diesel the kato, atlas and lifelike stuff runs beautifully.

    This is getting a long reply.. so I'll finish with one more thing. Couplers. Old N scale stuff used big hook like couplers called Rapidos, most people try and use microtrains which look far nicer. Most new cars and loco's use microtrains, so I'd always go that route if I were starting. If there is something you *have* to have with rapidos, there are conversion kits but start the better way.

    Whew,... hope that helps Josie and welcome to the Gauge!

  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    You probably have a good choice of railroads in the 50s in that area. Is that the boundary between Pa and NJ? The obvious RR is the Pennsylvania but there was also the Reading. Pennsy was a nice colourful line and a lot of equipment comes lettered for it (even cars that they never had). I'm not sure what all they ran in that area: the mainline from NYC to Wash was electrified and so was the line to Harrisburg, but I expect they had some steam/diesel lines.
    Have you been to the museum in Strasburg? All sorts of gorgeous hulks there, plus loads of information, and a concentration of train shops and railroad items.
    I'll check some maps to see what else ran in that area.
  7. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    PRR is an obvious choice. Trolleys would be kind of a challenge in N scale, but I think they have been done--Bachmann makes a Brill, although a PCC would be appropriate for Pennsylvania.

    One model to consider--not a steam engine, but very Pennsy:
    The fabulous GG-1 electric locomotive!

  8. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Or, if you like steam, here's a very nifty Pennsy steam locomotive--the T1, a personal favorite for its streamlined appearance:


    There are plenty more, though...does anyone make a T1 in N? I know there is a GG-1 model...
  9. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Jetrock, have pity on the poor girl! She's trying to pay for college as well.
    My N scale GG1 was expensive when I bought it 30 years ago.
  10. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Hi Josie!! :) and welcome to the Gauge.... Are you really in Phila or just using the city as a reference??? :D

    I live right across the street from the old Baldwin Works In Eddystone... :)

    Tom PM & Rich M are also Local to us :) Ask whatever questions you want - there are a bunch of great people here :D :D :D

    I started out in N gauge - but migrated over the years up to G.. :) Somewhere along the line - I was also asked to Admin The Gauge :)
  11. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Mikey - whispers to Jetrock:

    I wonder how long it's going to take Ralph to see that PC GG-1???

    :eek: :D :eek: :D :eek: :D :eek:
  12. grumbeast

    grumbeast Member

    I think there has been an T1 done, but it was brass by Key imports and I'm afraid to think of what it costs. But you could start PRR and get something a little less flambouyant to start!

    take a look at this layout (sadly sold now) that was build by Jim Cullen, its not too big and based on the PRR (although some of his locomotives seem to be pretty custom)

    I'm not sure why but I really love this layout.

  13. Josie

    Josie New Member

    First of all, I want to thank you all for your replies. This is a very friendly board and I appreciate it.:wave:

    60103, it is the area right next to South Jersey and Delaware. Reading's about an hour away. Since I'm just getting started, I really like how they have all kinds of Pennsy cars. Makes it easy for somebody who doesn't quite know what they're doing yet.

    N Gauger, I'm right on the Philadelphia/Cheltenham line in the "Norfeast!" :wave: Happens to be right near Elkins Park train station on Regional Rail.

    I'm working my way through the N/Z Board's archives and the NMRA's website... I still have a long way to go, but you guys are awesome and there's a lot of inspiring stuff on The-Gauge.

    who_dat73, rest assured that now there's a newbie in town who will make you look all kinds of experienced/sophisticated. :D

    P.S. Jetrock those are great pictures but I don't think I'm ready for that level yet. :eek: ;)
  14. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Only one hour and 50 minutes! :)

    I SEE IT AND I LOVE IT!!!!!!! :D

    Welcome Josie!
  15. Zman

    Zman Member

    Hey Josie, the rest of the guys have covered it all, so I'll just say welcome to the forum!
  16. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Welcome to the Gauge.
    Everyone here has seem to have it all covered.
    I too...started in N scale, and became "misguided" and switched to HO.
    Again..Welcome to the Gauge!
  17. Papa Bear

    Papa Bear Member

    Welcome to The Gauge, Josie. I built my first layout when I was in college. Just start small and build it up a little at a time.
  18. Josie

    Josie New Member

    If you don't mind me asking and risking derailing my own thread, what encouraged you to make the switch? I've been waffling, picked N to fit in more stuff, but I haven't really bought anything yet.
  19. who_dat73

    who_dat73 Member

    I might have made a switch also

    Josie I have thought about it over time and my two bits are that I think I might have gone with N scale also if I had my druthers as I havn't alot of space to work with
  20. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer

    Space was my problem too. I figured out that for two 180' turns, a dogbone etc., that wouldn't derail the entire train I wouldn't be able to even get int the room! :( :eek: :rolleyes: :D If I had the available space I probably would have gone with HO, for the simple reason that there are more options and generally lower costs. But to do a layout like I wanted, N was the only way to go.

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