buying advice please.

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by indy197905, Oct 27, 2006.

  1. indy197905

    indy197905 New Member

    I will be purchasing my first train set next month and I was wondering which brand and model is a good one to start with? I was thinking about getting a Bachmann set. I've looked for reviews of the different models but I can't find very many. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. slagpot

    slagpot Member

    Sure Bachmann is an OK set to start with,but if you show a major intrest in getting better in the hobby. Try to stay away from buying train sets as most are cheaply made including Bachamnn. Athearn has train sets,they are much better and cost more but you get what you pay for.Be sure to chose a scale that suits you,like HO is a very popular scale along with N scale,these are the biggest modeling scale by volume.

    The hobby has gotten better over the years including some of the starter trains sets. If I were starting in this hobby and didn't know how it was going to pan out,I'd buy a Bachmann train set to start out with.

    This forum has many great modelers ,who would be glad to help any way they could.Also be sure to pick up a model railroad magazine for more info.

    Enjoy your train empire grew from just such a set.

    Dragon River Steel Corp {DRSC}
    Modeling a HO scale steel mill
  3. wickman

    wickman Member

    For my first train set I would be going Bachmann spectrum for steam for the price . If I were looking at diesel probably like an Athern. Make sure you get dcc ready it usually is standarnd any ways now a days. Be sure to shop aound there are many great deals out there on the web.:wave: Then again you may want to skip the train set and purchase some flex track and turnouts and a power pack and a nice steamer and a few cars and and and ... but above all have fun:thumb:
  4. stripes

    stripes Member

    First off, Welcome to the forum!! Second, I agree with Lynn, check with your local hobby shops. Some of them can offer you a package deal on better quality products such as track, and rolling stock than you can find in a set. Also, think about what you want to model, a Bachmann set with a Canadian Pacific logo is not going to work out if you like the
    Burlington northern, Chessie line etc... I made that mistake! sold my CN loco`s on ebay!
    but kept the track and rolling stock. Take your time, plan ahead and have fun!!!
  5. alexander

    alexander Member

    actually, i've heard Bachmann have really lifted their game (they've ditched that pancake motor)

    8 wheel drive, decent detailing, i'd say go for it
  6. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    I basically agree with the above, and would like to "cast my vote" in favour of Bachmann. I have two Bachmann locos and they're very good. Rob
  7. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    BUY an Athearn RTR locomotive and rolling stock, EZ track with terimanl track, and either a DCC system + decoder, or a DC power pack.

    problem solved. you can't go wrong.
  8. EngineerKyle

    EngineerKyle Member

    consider this;

    1.) Decide on track, code 83 or 100 and make a simple layout you can tack down to a board. Include a turnout or two. Power the turnouts with snap switches.

    2.) Power the track with Bachmann's EZ Command. It is an all in one DCC system. I got mine for $50 online.

    3.) Get a couple decoder EQUIPPED Altas Loco's

    4.) Put together some Athrean cars, don't forget the caboose! Upgrade the rolling stock with metal wheels and Kadee #5 couplers. Get a magnetic ramp for uncoupling, also from Kadee. (You could also use RTR cars like Altas' Trainman series)

    5.) Power the track with a bus, 18 gauge wire, like speaker wire, that loosely follows the track, and feed the track with smaller wire, every 6 feet or so.

    6.) Order this stuff online. Much cheaper!

    4x8 board and framing materials 25
    Track, joiners, wire, turnouts and switch motors 200
    EZ Commander 50
    Two DCC EQUIPPED loco's 225
    Rolling stock (5) and upgrade items 50

    Now start playing with the trains..... keep things clean by wiping down the rails with alcohol.

    This is kinda how I jumped in with both feet. You can play with a layout like this for a year while you read up on a bigger and more versatile CPU, like Lenz. You will also study up on reversing loops and wyes, and the Auto Modules that make them possible. Learn maintenance and other tricks from forums like this. You may get into the history of a particular era, industry or road name.... and read and practice landscaping and the creation of structures.

    Others may say to study more first, but I personally like get started, then learn by doing.

    FUN! :D
  9. Stuart

    Stuart New Member

    Stop... I would suggest you do a heap of re-search before jumping in.. Find the local Model railway club, Join, spend some time talking to people and after a short time you will be offered a drive of they trains. Ask questions, It don't matter how silly the question ask..

  10. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Train sets can be a chancy thing. I've seen train sets in hobby shops that were years out of date with current technology. I think the same could be said for the mail order companies also. Atlas got good reviews in MR magazine a couple of years ago for one of their starter sets. As someone suggested above, why not build your own set from components? Bachmann started out with steel rail on their early easy trac system. (Black roadbed). Their newer stuff is nickle silver rail. (Grey roadbed). Much better. Those are the sort of things that you have to deal with when looking for a boxed set of trains. I suggest getting some help from an experienced modeller who isn't trying to sell you something.
  11. shark

    shark New Member

    I just purchased my first train and it was a set. I did do a bit of research and asked around a little bit and ended up going with the Bachmann Spectrum Frontiersman steam set with the 2-8-0 loco. I've heard that this loco is at least decent. I think it was $193 shipped from cchobbies. I probably would have benefitted from more research, but really wanted to get something in house to start playing with. I am hoping it shows up Monday. Good luck!

  12. alexander

    alexander Member

    i must dissagree

    I'd start with code 100 track. much more compatibility

    yes, turnouts are a must. i find that 4 industries is ok for a small layout

    I say no to the dcc sugguestions, its not needed to start. if you feel like it, tho an Atlas is a good loco, but athearn is ok for its cost

    Just use the 2 wires for starters, i say, and maybe add 2 at the furtherest point.

    andm, no, for starters stay off the internet. find a good, knowledgabble hobby shop, and stick with it

    thats pretty much my 2 cents
  13. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I agree, find a good knowledgeable local train shop if possible. The problems with train sets are not just that some of the trains themselves are substandard, but often the track will be steel instead of nickle solver in trainsets. Then the power pack is usually sized just big enough to run the train, so if you want to add another locomotive to double head a train, or add power accessories, you need another throttle. You can put together a much nicer model railroad by buying your train in individual pieces, and getting the exact size throttle you will need. If you can't find a train shop and need to order by mail or internet, find a local railroad club or local model railroader who will have experience and can help you get it right the first time.
  14. EngineerKyle

    EngineerKyle Member

    Russ and Alex,

    We agree to disagree... If you read my post, you'd see I did not recommend a track code. I said 100 or 83 needed to be decided apon. I use 100.

    I think someone starting out should certainly go with DCC. It is so simple and powerful. as I stated, you can run multiple DCC locos, just like the big boys... with a Bachmann EZ Commander very economically. If you choose to upgrade to a system that is programmable, you are not out that much... and the experience gained with your hands on a DCC system is invaluable.

    I'm guessing that if you have no experience with DC, you would not miss it by going right into the DCC world.

    Your DC recommendation (in my humble opinion) would be like suggesting to someone who wanted to buy their first PC to get a abacus.

    I was gonna use the EZ Commander for a while then upgrade to Lenz and a stationary decoder to control my turnouts. The turnouts winded up getting analog switch motors and toggles, and the stationary decoder still sits in the box. I doubt I will upgrade from my EZ Commander for a long time.

    The advice you get in forums like this is most always better the the Local Hobby Shops.... LHS are for picking up an emergency item quickly. Other than that... I think this industry is one of the best for online service.
  15. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    As far as DCC its not needed when a modeler first starts.Why? How long will he remain in the hobby? My suggestion is he buys a QUALITY train set from Athearn,some extra cars,some extra track,some switches build a "beginners" layout and progress from there adding DCC IF he wishes after all around 33% of the modelers use DCC.
    I even caution any beginner about buying at hobby shops.Why? Suffice it to say I seen newbies sucked into buying things they didn't really need to get started just like on forums.:curse:

    Here is my suggestion.
  16. abutt

    abutt Member

    Since you've given yourself several weeks before you "buy your first train set", I'd do some soul searching with that time and ask yourself some important questions. Answering these questions will save you a lot of grief in the near future.
    First: Why are you buying your first train set? Do you just want to see the train run around the Xmas tree, so to speak? Or do you want to model a particular railroad and time? Railroads were and still are in existance to move people and goods from one place to another. A model railroad, to have lasting interest, should really do the same thing. Many modellers love the complexity of making up trains and sending them on there way. Therefore their layouts consist of a large complex yard or several yards. Mine is a model of a small New England RR that served an area across the state of Connecticut in the 1950s...and so on.

    Ask yourself, and answer as honestly as you can, why do I want to get into this wonderful hobby. Your answers will guide you, and enable you to ask all the specific questions of this hobby that we're here to help.

    Good luck and welcome to the Guage and hopefully to the hobby.
  17. dsfraser

    dsfraser Member

    Personally, I'd avoid a train set. They're for kids, and usually have el cheapo components.

    Stuart had the best advice — hook up with a local train club, spend some time there and ask lots of questions. You'll know very soon whether this is the hobby for you.

    Then, find the best train store in town, introduce yourself to the owner, and ask him to point out some good components. If he tries to sell you a $300 locomotive, you're in the wrong store. If he tries to set you up with a locomotive, half a dozen cars and some track for that price, you're in luck.

    Research and planning are very important. As a hobby, model railroading has become very expensive hobby, so you want to be sure you're spending our money wisely. Most manufacturers today are producing quality, but there are some to steer clear of — including Bachmann, until recently. Their Spectrum line has been very well received.

    Something that has not been mentioned is your track plan. Much of your enjoyment will hinge on how good a track plan you run on. I recommend John Armstrong's book "Track Planning for Realistic Operation" (Kalmbach). Read it, several times, before even thinking about laying track permanently. It's fine to put some track down on a sheet of plywood and run trains on it, but a good track plan required much careful thought and planning.

    Acquaint yourself with the NMRA site, and follow their standards and practices for reliable operation. Things like how steep grades should be, minimum clearances between adjacent tracks, turn radius, overhead clearance, etc.

    There's a ton of information on the Web, and many good forums. Remember, the only stupid question is the one that never gets asked.

    Get started on the right foot, and have some fun with this. Above all, remember that this is your hobby, and that you are the only one who can judge what is right for you.

    Scott Fraser
    Calgary, Alberta
  18. KCS

    KCS Member

    I agree with Brakie. DCC is not really something for someone starting out. To say the least, a beginner starting with a single loop with a couple of siding's, a locomotive or two and a hand full of car's wouldn't need DCC anyway because there wouldn't be enough room to run more than one train anyway therefore DCC would just be a waste of money. "Why buy something if your not going to use it for what it was really meant for?"-Me :D DCC is just better for larger more sophisticated layouts and advanced modeler's. Just my $.02's
  19. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    It depends on the situation.. If you are a kid getting into this hobby with your parents for instance, it would be great to start off with DCC.. Junior would be able to control a train independently of Dad. That does a lot in keeping things interesting. :thumb:
  20. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Sorry Tom I don't buy that because there are far more important things to learn then fooling with DCC..After all DCC can be over whelming in some areas including programing and addressing a locomotive.How about the first time a engine takes off at light speed? Unit consisting can be troublesome..Nope better to let the newbies learn more important things like good track work,converting to KD couplers,buying a NMRA gauge etc.:D Smooth operation means far more then a gimmick that won't help anything..

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