Getting back into the hobby!

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by kmackenz, Mar 24, 2008.

  1. kmackenz

    kmackenz New Member

    Hi All,

    I am just in the early planning stage of a layout. I am just getting back into the hobby. I did it with my father from about ages 9 - 25. Now as I have 9 year old and am older would like to get back in.

    I have a small room, about 11x7 that I am taking over. So a pretty good space to start.

    couple of questions, I have a lot of engines, 30+ that were my dad's. All about 20 - 30+ years old. Mostly Athern, Atlas, etc. Decent quality.

    So, I would like to do DCC. Should be new and exciting, hopefully, experience:rolleyes:. Thinking an MRC Prodigy Advance 2

    I also have a lot of old track. All nickel silver, i think Atlas stuff. Is that good enough to use? Flex track, turnouts etc... All kinds of stuff... Plus should I stay with code 100 with all the older engines. If I buy new I like the look of the code 83 better.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated. just found this forum and think I might be spending some time here
  2. sgtcarl

    sgtcarl Member

    kinda new,too

    I may not be able to answer many, (if any,) of your questions, but WELCOME to the forum!:wave:
  3. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    Wecome to the gauge. I could answer a few of your questions but the DCC question will have to go to someone else.
    The atlas and Athearn engines should work fine with a through cleaning. Athearns are basically bulletproof with a mechanism that just keeps going.
    The Atlas track should work just fine. The code 100 is what I run on my layout and the rail size doesn't bother me once it's properly ballasted. The best thing you can invest in if you are about to be tracklaying is an NMRA gauge. it can tell you everything from your turnout clearances to the spacing on your locomotive wheels.
  4. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    you may want to check if the track is NS or steel by using a magnet. A magnet will stick to steel. If you have NS track, there is no reason not to use it. It may need a little cleaning, but should work fine.

    Code 83 will work with almost anything. With code 70, you may have problems with some flanges. The only big manufacturer that may not work with code 83 are very old AHM (pre ~1980). I have run IHC and some AHM over code 83 with no problems, but not over code 70. I have heard of some AHM that will not do code 83. You can use the code 100 in tunnels and areas where it is not visible, and code 83 in more visible areas.

    Also, the atlas cusom line switches are okay. They "snap switches" I have found to be problematic.

  5. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I started model railroading in 1980. In 1980 all of the Athearn and Atlas locomotives I saw, new or old were built with rp25 wheelsets. Unless you have some Rivarossi with the typical European "cookie cutter" wheels, code 83 will work fine. The nickel silver track should be fine unless some of it has the old fiber ties. I'm not sure if Atlas was still making track with the fiber ties when nickel silver came out. If you have the track with fiber ties, you will need to either take the rail out of fiber ties and hand lay it with wood ties, or just toss it. By the way, don"t throw away old track. The rails can be removed from old track that is not up to your standards and used either for flat car loads, or for scenery elements. I've seen businesses use old rail for fences as well as barriers. The railroads used old rail bent up for stops at the end of blind spurs, and of course straight rail can be cut to flat car length and painted flat black and bundled into flat car loads.
  6. kmackenz

    kmackenz New Member

    Thanks for welcomes :wave: and the info! Nothing like fast replies... digging through books and working on plans! Hope to get going soon... if I can use the track I have that will save me some bucks which will help with the budget!
  7. Kanawha

    Kanawha Member

    Check out local swapmeets in your area for good deals on flextrack if you need more. Flextrack lasts forever and can easily be reused if it was removed gently. Older Athearn engines are amazing, its a shame they aren't made the same way anymore, hang onto them! Welcome back to the hobby!! :thumb:

  8. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Rail codes can easily be mixed. Either shim under the ties or sand the bottom of the ties so that the joints are at the same height. Atlas code 83 track has made their ties deliberately thicker so that the height matches their code 100 flex track. Because of this, it doesn't match as well with other makes of code 83 track.

    The prototype uses smaller rail sizes on less used track like sidings and spurs. Code 83 represents rail used post WW2 on class 1 main line track. Code 70 is appropriate for sidings, spurs, and yards in the diesel era. Code 100 is oversize unless modeling the NE Corrdior, but when weathered it is hard to detect with the eye. Unfortunately, photographs do tend to pick up the too-large size.

    The Prodigy Advance2 is a fine DCC system. The only drawback I know of is that the computer interface (when it's finally available) is slated to be quite expensive. You have to program the decoder CVs with your DCC system instead of a computer and Decoder Pro if you don't have the interface. Doable, but just not quite as easy.

    Converting the older locomotives for DCC requires isolating the motor from the frame. Also, make sure the locomotives are running fine on DC before you go to the trouble of converting them.

    just my thoughts

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