Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Midnight, Dec 9, 2006.

  1. Midnight

    Midnight Member

    Alright, Christmas is almost upon us and I'm setting my wishlist. What I need to know is, what would be the best time period to start with? Which is the most available and the cheapest to get quality sets/cars/stuff for? What would be a good starter set for that era? And should I stick with one brand or does it matter I switch between, say, Bachmann and Atlas? And finally, what would be the best way to start out, as in a piece of plywood that wood go under my bed, or something else? I might use the garage, then I could have quite a bit of space. But, in the winter it's cold in there and in the summer it's cold. I want it as realistic as possible.

  2. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    I think in HO, the era with the most available stuff is 50s-60s. And if this is your first layout - my advice is start small. 4x8 is more than plenty. Also, don't try under the bed. There is not enough vertical clearance, and you will just wind up having it out all the time anyway. If you can requisition enough space in the garage, build a 4X8 tabletop layout that can be easily moved around. Just my advice, though.

  3. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    First, you didn't mention what scale you are interested in ? HO or N ?.
    I presume that if you talk about a 4x8 you want to go the HO scale way.
    Imho a 4x8 HO layout is just enough to see a locomotive chasing a caboose.
    For N scale ( half the size of N scale ) a minimum ideal layout is 3x8 that translated in HO is 6x16.
    The best era is the transition from steam to diesel, you can enjoy the best of both worlds.
    And as mentioned by nachoman don't try under the bed. During a "wild night" with my girlfriend, the bed collapsed. Can you imagine if there had been a layout under the bed .
  4. Midnight

    Midnight Member

    I'm using HO scale.
    BTW, I found a perfect spot for the train stuff. Above the garage. There's a huge space that no one uses. There's a few boxes up there but that's all. We just need to get me a little table, a few extra lightbulbs, and some paint, brushes and other stuff that I'll need.
  5. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Some things to look at before buying a train set and no, it isnt really necessary to buy a boxed set.
    There are alot of older train sets still on the shelf in hobby shops and other stores that are less than desirable. Plastic bodied cars and locos that are too light. Bad performing motors and inadequate power supplies. Track made of brass or steel.
    I guess the word that I'm trying to bring out is "research". Don't get in a rush to just get a train going around on the floor or a table. Get that attic set up. Make sure its structurally adequate to support you, your friends and the layout. A lot of garage attics were never intended as storage or living space. They just get used for that function. Two by four's are not really good floor joists, especially if they are on a twenty foot span.
    You can buy individual components to build your railroad empire and will have better quality than just jumping into a train set. There are some exceptions. Kato makes some good sets. Some Bachmann sets, but not all, are good. Atlas also makes some good starter sets.
  6. Midnight

    Midnight Member

    I found a cool hobby shop and I'm not quite if the prices are okay or not. I don't what anything costs so I can't tell if they priced fair or not. If someone could check it out, that'd be nice.
    Also, just made an account on Atlas Store and making list and checking it twice. What would be a good 50s-60s style loco to get?
    EDIT: One for $70 or under, prefferably...:)
  7. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Do you have a relative or someone who is into model railroading who would be willing to help you? Is there a model railroad club nearby where you could get advice? From the distance that most of us are, its pretty hard to give you specific information.
  8. Midnight

    Midnight Member

    No, none of my relatives/family would have time or want to. There's not a hobby shop for miles and the one that's an hour away has half an aisle of miniatures, horrible stuff too.
    Oh! Hold on, lemme look in the Yellow Pages real quick.
    Nope, I looked under Hobby, Miniatures, and Trains. There wasn't even a section for them. ::sigh:: I guess I'll have to get some measurements, pics, and other stuff of the upstairs. And a lightbulb. I'll do that tomorrow after church.
    Grr, I hate Sumter.
  9. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Most brands of HO are compatible. The places that aren't:
    2 types of couplers: X2f or NMRA -used to come in all the trainsets - and Kadee or knuckle which are becoming more common and getting compatibles. You can switch the one for the other.
    Track. Lots of makes of track that do work together, but for the ones raised on plastic roadbed each manufacturer has their own ideas and none of them connect to another.
    European stuff often comes with their own coupling. Marklin is 3-rail.
  10. Midnight

    Midnight Member

    I didn't really get that. I have now decided that instead of asking for trains I'll just ask for some money and then buy them myself. What do you think?
  11. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    I'm in N scale, but if I had to select a HO scale starter kit, I would go with a Life Like starter set their diesel freight set is $ 60.00 online. Life Like make high quality affordable price locomotives. I don't know about Life Like track.
    When building a home computer, I prefer to select the best manufacturer for any separete component : AMD processor, Antec casing and power supply, Nvidia graphic card etc...
    My N scale layout is built the same way: MRC 200 controller, Life Like loco, Atlas track ( it seems that Kato track is even better but at that time I didn't even know about Kato ), Intermountain cars etc..
    I have nothing against starter sets ( just received my HO Marklin starter set a few weeks ago ) because if you know exactky what you want, a starter set brings you some tracks , controller, locomotive and cars for the price of just one single locomotive.
  12. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    Beware of the Life Like starter sets, I got one last year from Wal Mart for my grandson to run thinking that if he broke it so what. The engine ran about 1 1/2 hour. The rolling stock was so cheap that I only kept one car to experiment with. I do have some Life Like Proto 1000 or 2000 stuff that is very good but I wouldn't buy another starter set that wasn't Proto with your money.

    Just my opinion.

  13. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    Sorry to hear that you had a bad experience with Life Like starter set oldtanker. Maybe the quality of what goes inside a Life Like starter set is not the same as their Proto 1000 , 2000 or N stuff.
    I own 2 N scale Life Like Proto N serie locomotives ( GP18 and SW9 ) and so far I'm very satisfied with the quality ( and price ) of them.
    Thanks for sharing your ( bad ) experience.
  14. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    That's the problem with Life Like train sets... They got sets from their low-quality toy line and sets from their good Proto line. One must be VERY careful buying a Life Like trainset.

    You have to make sure it says PROTO 1000 on it. Otherwise the trainset is from their toy line and is a waste of money as Oldtanker had the misfortune of finding out. :p
  15. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    See if this place is still kickin':

    341 Broad St
    Sumter, SC 29150-4152
    (803) 775-3192

    This one is great, if it's the one I'm thinking of, an OLD shop with lots of old stock and goodies. The grandma in charge, if she's still there, knew where everything was hidden!:D
    New Brookland Railroad & Hobby
    405 State St
    West Columbia, SC 29169
    (803) 791-3958
  16. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    I think you're on to something with the garage attic!! I gotta say, though, that the first thing to do will have to be walls and insulation! (If it's not already done, of course!) It might be a perfect spot, plenty of room and out of everybody's way!:) :) :thumb:
    How do you get to this space, a door, pull-down stairs, or..??

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