Can anyone offer a newbee some tips and ideas?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by BorgarSig, Sep 3, 2004.

  1. BorgarSig

    BorgarSig New Member

    Hi there gauger's

    I´m a total newbee here and i was wondering if anyone here could offer me some tips and useful info.

    I´m 23 and a few days ago I was helping my family cleaning out some stuff from our storage space and I came across an old train model my parents gave me when I was young:thumb: , back then I had big dreams about creating a cool layout but as things go I forgot about it.

    Any ways, now I want to get into this train model buisness. But of course I live in Iceland , and with a population of only 280 thousand there is not a single shop in the whole country that sells model trains.:cry:

    So I went online and after a few days of browsing the web I bought a Atlas 8-40c CSX disel train with DCC. I also bought the Grand Valley track pack for a easy beginning. I also bought a few buildings and a couple of hoppers, a box car, a gondola and one tank car. I bought one standard Atlas power pack and some things like steel, timber and coals for my gondola and hoppers. All this was about 283 dollars, which I think was a pretty fair price for the lot.

    Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone had any tips and ideas for a newbee like myself, all I know about model trains is what I have read in the past few days. I dont even know if i need anything else than the power pack to run my layout, wich will arrive in 2-8 weeks hopefully. I picked the HO scale because of the amount of things offered in that scale and I will probably have enough room to set up a big layout.

    So if anyone here would be so nice and tell a newbee what he needs to get started, and if i forgot to buy something critical. It really sucks to be stranded on an Island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean without a single hobby shop. So you guys will be my life line so to speak:cry:

    Thank you
    Sölvi Borgar Sighvatsson, (the guy on the rock in the middle of nowhere surrounded by sea)

    p.s. Sorry about the typos and misspellings, I´m icelandic.
  2. Gavin171

    Gavin171 New Member

    good start

    I reckon you have made a good start allready Solvi, HO is a good scale to work with lots of choice I'm new to this forum too and my nearest model shop is hour's drive with not much to chose from and no american stuff the internet is great for collecting all sorts of information use this forum to ask questions and take it one step at a time ie: biulding the base, laying track, making your scenery and what to use, also magazines are a great help you could proberly mailorder them british railway modeler, continental modeler. & US model railroader they all will give you loads of advice every thing is pretty much the same when it comes to laying track and wirering up and biulding scenery what ever railroad you chose in the world the basic's are the same, good luck and wellcome:wave:
  3. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    :wave: :wave: :wave: Welcome to the-gauge Sölvi! :wave: :wave: :wave:

    I always thought we should have an icelandic member :)

    It sounds like you have most of what you need to get started, with some additional local materials.

    I would go get free atlas software and begin learning it and planning your layout while you are waiting for the goodies to arrive. then click RTS. It's totally free, but you have to register. Windows only :(

    Then when you get your stuff, you might just assemble the track on a flat surface and play with it a bit. Just for fun. Then we need to talk about mounting it and on what.

    What is the the layout room size?

    Can you get foam insulation sheets to use as a platform to mountthe track? It's currnetly the material of choice here.

    What type of railroad are you interested in? Prototype or freelance? Logging? Mining? Industrial? Urban?

    You don't need to answer all my silly questions, but you might think about them and look around at some of hte work people have done here.
  4. vanda32547

    vanda32547 Member

    First let me welcome you to our won't regrete it.


    If the Grand Valley track pack is a DCC system then you are set. If you have a Atlas Power pack DON'T put your DCC train on it. Regular power packs do not play nice with DCC. (That is my understanding) I agree with the others about playing with your layout ideas with RTS.

  5. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    Welcome to the Gauge. As stated ask away. Fred
  6. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Welcome to The Gauge, BorgarSig :wave: :wave:
  7. jmarksbery

    jmarksbery Active Member

    Welcome Home BorgarSig. The Gauge is for you friend. :) Jim
  8. Roger Hensley

    Roger Hensley Member

    The Gauge is a great place to be, but you might also want to take a look at the NMRA 'Introduction to Model Railroading' pages at for some basic information.
  9. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    Hi Solvi:
    Welcome aboard.

    I'd suggest getting a copy of the Walthers catalog. I like looking for things on line but sometimes i just like to sit on my favorite spot and look through a catalog. This thing is so BIG and has a large number of items in it. You can then go out on the web and find your best deal.

    I'd suggest you check out our operations forum and look through the books on railroad operations. One of them might be of use to you in understanding the way railroads work, and so how you want yours to work. Also, since you're in the middle 'tween the old world and the new, which continent do you wish to model?

    Look through the archives for some good tutorials.

    Have fun:
  10. BorgarSig

    BorgarSig New Member

    Thanks guys, you sure know how to make a person feel welcome:thumb:

    I will surely have many more questions when my model arrives, but I have one question now thoug, do all HO models run on all tracks, like for instance will Marklin models or any other for that matter work on Atlas track, power and DCC, and vice versa?
  11. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    In a word, no. Marklin is three rail AC and built accordingly. The equipment as built would create a dead short because the wheels are not electrically isolated. Three rail power makes for a very easy layout to wire. I have Marklin and am guilty of posing them on my two rail DC set-up---with the power turned off.

    DCC and DC can work together...sort of. There are glitches that are annoying to work around at best and thought to cause damage to equipment at worst. Our club has banned decoderless equipment on run nights outright.

    Attached Files:

  12. BorgarSig

    BorgarSig New Member

    Sorry, I meant do european models run on american tracks and power and vice versa, are there no problems working a european made train on a american track with DCC? Just to be sure so I wont buy something that doesnt work on my atlas track.
  13. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Just make sure your European equipment is rated for 12-16 volt DC. Fleishmann, Roco and others make equipment that run on our track. Hope that helps :thumb:
  14. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Another possible snag. Fleishmann makes fine models, no doubt, but the flanges are huge. Runs fine on standard HO code 100 wich is probably in your kit, but I would guess there would be problems with code 83.

    BTW: this code stuff is the height of the railhead, in essance hte rail weight, and code 10 is called so because it is .100 inches tall, 83 is .083 tall and so on.
  15. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    That is true. One of the reasons our club has used C100 rail is so that all types and makes of equipment can be run. It's the reason I use it on my layout as well. We affectionately refer to the deep European flanges as "pizza cutters" ;) My IHC/AHM/Rivarossi equipment has these deep flanges.
  16. Isambard

    Isambard Member

    Hello Sölvi:
    Since a number of modellers in the UK and continental Europe prefer to model North American railroads due to the wide variety of equipment available you will find a number of stores there that handle such stuff - if you haven't already found them. As a recent re-newbee, having been away from the hobby for 45 years, I would suggest you also sign up with Model Railroader Forum (via WWW.Trains.Com) as another great source of information and help (it too is free and a very active site, with many experienced modellers participating, as well as newbies like ourselves).

    In case others haven't clarified it yet, or you haven't found out yet, DCC (Digital Command and Control) is based on a square wave form of alternating power at a constant voltage, which is continuosly supplied to the track, together with coded pulses that a decoder within the locomotive interprets to determine the required action e.g. go forward, go backward, slowly, faster, blow horn etc. This compares with DC (direct current) where the voltage supplied to the track is controlled up or down, or reversed in polarity to determine the locomotive actions.

    I have a Digitrax DCC system to power my little test track until I can build a proper layout and although my Bachmann HO locomotives are not yet equipped with decoders they operate satisfactorily in basic mode (start/stop etc). At the same time I also run these locomotives at a local club where the layout is DC only. I have been told by the "experts" that once I install decoders in these locomotives I will still be able to run them on DC as well as DCC. In your case you should confirm the characteristics of your equipment with the suppliers if in doubt about what you can do.

    I assume your domestic electrical power at the wall outlet is 50 Herz alternating current at 220 to 240 volts or thereabouts (as compared with 60 Herz alternating current at 110 to 120 volts in North American homes). You should verify that your Atlas power pack can be plugged directly into that wall outlet without an intermediate transformer. My Digitrax system includes a transformer plugged into the wall outlet, which then feeds low voltage power to the Command Station/Booster. If you do need a transformer check with your supplier as to what current rating it should have for the number of locomotives you plan on operating eventually.

    The above is probably more than you wanted to know at this stage but I thought it might be useful. In any case don't be discouraged by the learning curve you experience as an entrant to this hobby, take the time to read, ask lots of questions, start slowly, but get something running early even as simple as loop on a piece of plywood. Don't be alarmed or discouraged by the fantastic photos of layouts and equipment that appear in the magazines or on-line. All those guys started knowing very little and most have been in the hobby for a long time, some with very substantial resources of various kinds.

    Above all, the idea of this hobby is to have fun!


  17. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    My biggest fear is to scare a newcomer off with my work. I hope you see a likable yankee fuzzy wuzzy that knows how to hide his mistakes with well placed paint. Have fun, there isn't a modeler on this board that won't share their skill and knowledge with you.
  18. petey

    petey Member

    We have always needed an Icelandic member, eek.
    As "Shay" said, you go with Marklin's three rail, or ---the preponderance of adherants using two rail DC, better choice. You have a start now with two rail DC.
    You should move along rapidly, it's always winter there , isn't it?
  19. A note on the Grand Valley Track Pack

    The Grand Valley is one of the Woodland Scenics 'layout in a box' setups. the track pack is a set of atlas track to match this setup. Its basically an oval with a figure 8 inside on 2 levels.

    you can buy a pack that contains woodland scenics risers, plaster cloth, and related materieal to build the board in the picturee, but its not necessary

  20. pjb

    pjb Member

    NEM wheel standards

    Standard 'HO' gauge rolling stock (as opposed to finescale), made for sale by continental European manufacturers are currently made in what is known as the NEM standard wheelset.

    This includes all the firms alluded to earlier here in this thread.
    These are not the same as the RP25-120 or RP25-80 commonly used in the western hemisphere and Oceania.
    However, virtually everything built in the last decade for
    non U.K. (or Japanese) use is to NEM standards , and it will operate upon code 83 rail without difficulty.

    You can buy , and adapt other wheelsets if you desire, to replace wheelsets found , for instance, on RIVAROSSI
    models imported by AHM/IHC years ago. If you have some
    form of metal cutting hobby lathe, those desiring so; can
    buy preshaped tool bits from FROHMANN , the large
    hobbyist supply house, to reshape wheels to either RP-25, or NEM contours. They are easily GoogledUP, and have their catalog on-line.
    Good-Luck, PJB

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