Complete and total Newbie needs lots of help.

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by ajsbigdawg, Jun 8, 2006.

  1. ajsbigdawg

    ajsbigdawg New Member

    Hi everyone my name is Kevin and I want to get started in this hobbie with my 6 year old son Aaron who has turned me on to trains. Now I have no clue where to start I am planning on permanent structure. Is it best to by a set or seperate pieces I am looking at HO scale starting off with one train but then adding more as we go along. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
  2. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    Train sets are good for quick-and-dirty running, i.e. if you want to temporarily throw a circle of track around the Christmas Tree to run a train during the holidays while your relatives are over.

    But for a permanent layout I suspect you will probably need something more, such as Digital Command Control (DCC) if you want to run two trains independently, which you can't really get in a train set. So you will want to buy the pieces separately..

    Locomotives: Atlas, Proto2000s, Athearns, and Katos are nice... And you can get them DCC-equipped too.

    Rolling stock: P2K, Kadee, MDC, Athearn, Atlas, etc.

    Track: Nickel Silver. Never, ever get any other kind of track (i.e. brass or steel) because they tarnish too easily. Atlas makes good nickel silver sectional and flex track, Peco makes nice turnouts, Shinohara/Walthers makes nice slimmer-profile (more realistic-looking) Code 83 and 70 track, etc. If possible, keep your curve radius at 22" or larger if you want to run big locomotives.

    Power and Control: Get yourself a good DCC setup.

    Good luck!
  3. abutt

    abutt Member

    Read first!

    Model railroading has more aspects than any other hobby in the world. So start slow and careful is the best advice I can give.

    I highly recommend some reading before you even pick up a pencil to start your layout design. I feel one of the best on the market is Allen McClelland's "The V&O Story". Kalmbach has recently re-issued it. It's the story of one of the best layouts in existance today. Don't let the size of the model railroad throw you. Allen goes deaply into the theory of how his railroad developed. Why it exists in the form it does, and how it operates. You will learn some of the most important aspects of designing your own layout, plus have the pleasure of viewing his scenery, how he made it...just about every aspect of the hobby.

    Check the back of any Model Railroader magazine where Kalmbach sells their books. believe me, it will be the best dollars you ever spent starting off, and you'll continue to refer back to the book long after you're a master model railroader.

    Much luck, and welcome to a hobby you and your son will have for the rest of your lives.
  4. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Hi Kevin!:wave:
    If it was me, I would get a small IHC steamer (4-4-0 or such), a caboose, and 2 or 3
    boxcars. Don't spend too much to start, you'll find out what you really like later on.

    Atlas has several small books available at your Local Hobby Shop (LHS) or on-line.
    They include topics on wiring, layout design, etc., and don't cost an arm and a leg. :thumb:

    To start Aaron out I would just tack down a loop of flextrack (probably on cork)
    depending on how much area you have negotiated. Use a small MRC power pack or
    whatever else you might come across for cheap. E-bay is a good resource for used
    train stuff; so are some of the train shows around. Check out the magazines at the LHS
    or the bookstore. They are about 75% ads (maybe not quite:rolleyes: ), so they're perfect for
    learning what's available. And reading is "fun-damental" for this hobby:D
    Have a Blast!!
  5. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    :wave: welcome to the gauge :wave: I'l go along with Allan read read read and start small
  6. I am new to this site too. However I have been enjoying trains my whole life. A starter set is always a good way to start of someone little, I got my first set when I was 3. I would suggest maybe a larger gauge for someone young, however. Maybe o gauge or s or even larger, that is if you havent already decided on HO. It is just better to have larger stronger trains for smaller hands. Well, good luck.
  7. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Kevin: Most of us have found that train sets may come with all the bits you need, but they often scrimp on quality. Of course, you can also buy cheap items separately!
    If your son got you interested, are you looking at this as a joint venture or your own? At 6, he may be less fussy about which trains he runs, or may be very specific. Most of us, at one time, have had a large conglomeration of trains with reasonable pattern to them. You may have a picture in mind of what railroading is about; mine is influence by what I knew between the ages of 6 and 12.
    In general:
    buy nickel-silver track; avoid brass or steel. Sectional track may get you up and running, but you'll want to go to flrxible track and larger switches eventually.
    Avoid cars where the coupler are attached to the trucks (the contraptions that hold the wheels) except possibly on passenger cars.
    Buy from a local hobby shop, if you have one. It's worth a little extra to be able to ask questions or to take it in if you have problems.
    Read the gauge! we've covered almost all the variations!
  8. ajsbigdawg

    ajsbigdawg New Member

    Thanks everyone for the information now I know where to start and that is by reading.
  9. Joepomp

    Joepomp Member

    No Comment!

    No Comment!:D
  10. abutt

    abutt Member

    Big boo-boo!

    I made a big one! The book "The V&O Story" was not published by Kalmbach. It was published by Carstens Publication, Inc., the publishers of Model Railroad Craftsman. So that's where you've got to look to get The V&O Story. The ISBN is 911868-47-X

    My humble apologies. I've got to get another on anyways. Mine is falling apart.

    To attone for my sins I have looked up Carstens. Go to the Book Depot at and you'll find Allen McClelland's V&O Story for $19.95.
  11. zedob

    zedob Member

    That's how you can tell if a railroad book is good and has lots of pictures:D
  12. Iron Horse

    Iron Horse Member

    You might want to look at Click on Layouts, then HO. There are a bunch of layout plans on that site. Something might inspire you. There are two types of track you might want to start out with. Atlas calls their brand of track "snap track" i believe. These are standard track pieces (track only, with plastic rr ties). They come in curves, straits, and turnouts. Those plans will tell you what you need and how many pieces. Now, they will have to be attached to cork, plywood, foam, or some other material, but if you do it right you can also take the track apart and change it.

    The other type of track is appears to be called true track by atlas, I think bachmann calls it EZ track and Kato Unitrack. This is track pieces with plastic underneath used to form a roadbed. They snap apart and back together easily. You can also set them up on carpet. I have never used these (they are made for beginners, though). The main disadvantage to more serious modellers I think would be that it is not very realistic and it is expensive to build a large layout with. But It might work if you are still learning. Alot of the new train sets come with this type of track. Good Luck and keep asking questions.
  13. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Lifelike also makes a similar product, just keep in mind if you want to use this track that none of it interchanges from one manufacturer to another. Whichever one you start with, you have to stick with track from that manufacturer only. The third option is to use flextrack. It comes in 3 foot lengths that can be bent to whatever radius you want for your layout. Because the lengths are three feet, instead of 9 inches, you don't need as many connections so you don't have as many places to risk a bad connection electrical or mechanical.
  14. ajsbigdawg

    ajsbigdawg New Member

    Thanks again for all the information me and my son are going to our local train store today to look and ask questions.

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