Another newbie, so be gentle!

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by n-scaler-dude, Nov 23, 2002.

  1. n-scaler-dude

    n-scaler-dude Member

    Hello all, I'm fairly new to the hobby of model railroading. You could call me a "born-again model rr'er. I tried my hand at the hobby as a youngster but never stayed with it (too many other hobbies and distractions). Now, I am much older and am going to try it again.

    I've always liked trains, so the seed has always been planted waiting to be re-born. I started out with HO, but now I lean towards N. There just seems like there's so much more that can be done in the same space. I've read some of the threads here and have occasionally picked up copies of Model RR'er, and others, just to see what's happening. I must say that things have changed quite a bit since I was a youngin'. I don't see alot of people using plywood profiles for mountains anymore, with wadded up newspaper and strips of newspaper dipped in soupy plaster concoctions. I think this foam scenery, using a "wand cutter" (correct?) is a fabulous thing that I will have to try myself.

    As for my layout, it doesn't exist yet. I have a spare room I will eventually use, but the room itself needs some re-modeling before it can be planned. Since I would still consider myself a beginner at this I think I'm going to keep it simple this time around, and learn as many of the techniques as I can before trying a really ambitious layout. Instead of trying to come up with a layout plan on my own, I will utilize an existing one. There is a small one in a book I have called "The N Scale Model Railroading Manual" that I think I will model mine after. It's a pretty small layout though (20" x 48"), and I reeeaallly like large steam engines, so I am planning on using the basic design and enlarging it to a 4' x 8' (Yeah, I know.....booring!), so I can have bigger radii. Possibly, another smaller board coming off one side to form a yard, as well. Not sure yet, but I have time to get it right before I start construction.

    Unntil then, I have decided to try my hand at scratchbuilding structures, bridges, whatever. Most of these probably won't even be used on the layout, but it'll keep my interest high, and I've never done it before besides. I am currently working on my first structure, which is a water tower. The plans are out of an old Model Rialroad Craftsman mag. I had laying around. So far, so good, but this first item is really just a test to see if I can even do it. Luckily, I am pretty dextrous and have had model car building experience in the past, so the tools and raw materials are not unfamiliar to me.

    If this first structure comes out to my satisfaction, I'll post a picture here for constuctive criticism.

    I will probably post a lot of stupid questions here, so be patient with me. Ihave a lot of years to catch up on.

  2. billk

    billk Active Member

    Welcome, N-scaler-dude. Another thing you might try just to keep your interest is to make a small (6x18" maybe) diorama. You can put your structures on it, try your hand at different landscaping methods, maybe even get a loco and a car or two to pose on it.
  3. n-scaler-dude

    n-scaler-dude Member

    Thanks for the welcome! Didn't think anyone else was up this late besides me.

    Your idea of a diorama is a terrific one. I've been reading all kind of manuals and I've been dying to try some of the techniques I've read about. I've also been hanging out at th local train shop and bugging them with my questins.

    It's suppose to be getting pretty cold here starting this weekend, possibly even see our first snow, so it'll be a great time to try and get something started.
  4. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Welcome nsd ! billk's idea is a good one. Don't worry about posting questions, everybody here will be more than glad to help. :)
  5. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hi N Scaler Dude!
    Welcome to The Gauge!
    In addition to the good advice you've already gotten here, I would suggest that you just read as much as you can get your hands on, talk to other modelers (this forum is a good place to do that), & if possible, go to a train show, or somewhere where you can see a layout in operation. This can really give you some ideas about what looks good to you ( & what doesn't).
    It sounds like yu've already got a sound plan in the works.
    Keeping it small & simple is the omly way to start!
    Good luck to you!
    Stick around, & keep us up to speed on what you're up to!
  6. Catt

    Catt Guest

    Hey NSD,welcome to the Gauge family.Don't worry about asking stupid questions ,"There ain't no such thing".
  7. WM-N-fan

    WM-N-fan Member

    Another idea is a 2 by 4 loop with some spurs and a mountain (or hill) in the middle. Then you can do some operations as well and practicing skills needed. After the layout is done you will have a sense of awareness for future layouts. Then you can build a big one (or what ever suits your needs). The thing about a 2 by 4 is, there isn't a lot of space for large things, but you can practice your skills and do a lot of little things in the space (Kit building, Mountain carving, ballasting, soldering, tree making, water making, and even practicing operations with an engine or so. If I were you the first thing I'd do is get a "Small Model Railroads You Can Build" magazine, and search for a small layout that fits your needs. Then maybe you can get a Lifelike Train set. Be sure to get one with a SW/9 1200 switcher. They are good runners and are cheap and last a long time. Then you have about 4 or 5 extra cars. It includes a few buildings, track, trees, track, and a transformer. Then all you do is get the board, maybe AMI instant roadbed (Very good) a few switches, and a walthers kit (for your industry). Then you come back a few times for ballast, trees, and turf (about $25) and get some foam at Home Depot or Lowe's. You can have a 4 by 4 layout for about $125 if you shop cheaply, which is pretty cheap for a layout. Just my 2 cents worth.
  8. n-scaler-dude

    n-scaler-dude Member

    Thanks for all the greetings people!

    Charlie - I have, over the years, collected many manuals such as Primer's, layout books, wiring manuals, manuals for scenery, bridges, etc.. I also have a few big boxes full of back issues of magazines, some as old as the 1930's. It seems like I've always read these things, in preparation for future use I guess. There is a magazine that I see that I don't believe was around when i was trying this in the past. It's called "N-Scale", and I might take a subscriptino to it.

    I did find a "Train show/swap meet" on Nov. 30 that I am planning on going to. Not sure what it's all about, or if there will be any layouts in operation, but I will go and have fun. It's the only thing I can see from the lists in this current RMC that is within driving distance (about 130 miles).

    The 2 local shops both have operating layouts, not very big though. One is under construction and you can watch them working on it on certain nights of the week (while I'm at work of course).

    WM - I've actually got quite a bit of "things" to get me started on a small RR, that I acquired back in the days, and along the way to the present. I've got several steamers, diesels and and a handful of of cars. I've also got 20-30 lengths of flextrak, lot's of curved sections and probably a dozen or so turnouts. Unfortunately, readiong some of these posts all this stuff doesn't seem to be exactly the highest tech stuff. All the track is Atlas product, and bought over the years at yard sales, and swap meets. The engines are all Bachmann (Sorry for saying the "B" word here!), whih I gather are not the best on the market. All in all though I think I've got enough stuff to get me started and running on a small layout. I'll probably just use what I have rather than upgrade, since turnouts are, if I remember right, pretty expensive.

    Right now, I'm off to the big city to pester the guys at the local shops again. I can't seem to get enough!

    Question for the day - Do any of the manufacturers make a good running "Big Boy"?

    I asked one guy at the shop and he looked at me like I was daft! Not that I plan on ever being able to use it on a small layout, it's just something that I've always wanted.

  9. rich maiorano

    rich maiorano Member

    welcome n-scaler-dude will find alot of help around here and theres alot very good modelers on here and have gottin alot of info myself to the point where all I have to do is start bulding my layout hopeful after the holidays I have posted my track plan in track planing for the so have fun I do :D :D :D :D rich
  10. n-scaler-dude

    n-scaler-dude Member

    Just got back from "the big city" where I saw my first n-scale BIG BOY run. It's so cool, and soethhing I've got to make room for in my future budget.

    Also, I kind of figured out what road i would like to model when I get that far. I've chosen the Frisco line as a basis. Apparently it was the line that ran through my neck of the woods before it became the BN&SF (I'm not originally from here, but from the west coast).

    I even picked up a couple Frisco boxcars and a gondola to get me started, although they didn't have any steamers.

    Another question:

    They had a book there called "Frisco Power: Locomotives and Trains of the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, 1903-1953", which I thought might be a good source of information on the Frisco line, is anyone here familiar with it?? Is it a good read?? The copies they had were all shrinkwrapped so I couldn't peruse them.

    They were also rather expensive ($54), or so I thought until I just looked on and saw the same book for $100. Maybe I should have bought one?
  11. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    scratch that itch

    Well, dude, you seem to be getting in faster than you expected.
    For your scratchbuilding, just remember not to be afraid to throw out something that doesn't turn out right if you think you can do better on the second (or tenth) try. Also, keep your first building even when you can do much better -- it will remind you of your progress.
  12. n-scaler-dude

    n-scaler-dude Member

    Yes, I must calm down or I might get discouraged before I get very far. My problem is that I live a good distance away from any shops and the only time I get to go is on the weekends. So, if I run into a roadblock and cannot proceed on a project because of something I may need, I have to wait until at least the weekend to try and find it.

    But, I'm already learning some things building this simple little water tower:

    1. Because I'm working in a smaller scale than most plans are drawn for, it's OK to make concessions on some fine details and fudge a little.
    2. I am more ingenius than I thought. Lot's of common things around the house can aid in building things. I even wound up using the drinking straw from a soda that I got today, because I didn't have a dowel.

    Whatever works, if it gives the illusion of scale representation, that's how I look at it.

    This first structure I will probably remake eventually only because I didn't read all the instructins first and wound up having to add things afterward that should have been added in earlier steps. I would also like to find more tru-to-scale planks for the tower tank. I had to compromise with some paper thin scraps of wood I found, that I cut strips from.

    If anyone is interested in these paper-thin wood strips, I believe they are linings from cigar tubes. They can actually be cut with scissors, small paper cutter, razor, whatever.

    I don't smoke cigars, I just found these at a flea market one day. I think I have 10 lifetimes worth of the stuff. I knew I would use them someday.:p
  13. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    You are taking us back to our youth, when there were articles on making X out of a cigar box, except we were too young to smoke, and didn't know anyone who bought cigars, let alone by the BOX.
    There was a magazine on streetcar modelling years ago whose motto was "Scrounge". Sounds like you got the idea.

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