good starter set

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Geoffery, Nov 15, 2007.

  1. Geoffery

    Geoffery New Member

    Hi, I am new to model railroading. I have decided on the HO scale and am looking for a good starter kit. I am more interested in steam engines the diesel. I only plan to start with a small layout at first, and maybe expand it later as I go. I can see in the near future of only running 2 to 3 trains at the most. I have been looking at some of the Bachmann and Lifelike sets but I am not sure of the quality of any of them. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    If you are in Canada, or near the border, you might consider picking up the latest (Christmas 2006) President's Choice set at Loblaws, Superstore, or Independent Grocer. Currently on sale right now for CAN$50.

    This set features a 2-10-2, 4 ore cars, and a caboose. It has an oval of nickle silver sectional track, and a small power pack. It will certainly get you started.

    Your other option is to forgo the set all together, and go down to your local hobby/train shop. There are lots of different choices to get you started. Talking with them, and/or picking up a book or two about "getting started" may help you decide/focus on what you want to do.

    Welcome to The Gauge!

  3. CRed

    CRed Member

    As mentioned the Presidents Choice is your best bet for a starter set and even if you are not in Canada You'll find them on ebay,,,,

    PRESIDENT'S CHOICE BIG 10 EXPRESS HO SCALE TRAIN SET - (eBay item 320183053749 end time Nov-22-07 03:04:01 PST)

    Good quality at a decent price.You'll need to get track and a power pack for it I believe,but it's worth it.

    Otherwise I'd do as Andrew mentioned and go to your LHS or whatever and get seperate pieces.I'd skip LL and Bachmann starter sets altogether as the quality of them is dubious.You can find Bachmann Plus/Spectrum and Rivarossi Steam Engines for decent prices on ebay also and if you're planning on doing this for a while you might as well get decent stuff from the start.

  4. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I'm going to presume that you live in the US...

    First, do you have a favorite railroad? Do you like the 1950's? 40's? 20's? 1890's?

    Mainline or branchline?

    Will you be building a layout immediately?

    If you will be building a layout...or have a favorite prototype...I'd recommend picking up the stuff individually...

    I really like Bachmann/Spectrum's passenger comes with an N&W J (a large passenger engine) and a couple cars...the other has a 2-8-0 (a very common branchline/secondary mainline engine) and a few nice passenger cars.
  5. brakie

    brakie Active Member

  6. Geoffery

    Geoffery New Member

    Yes I am in the united states. I plan to start with something like a 4x8 layout and get buildings etc as I go. I would like to so something around the late 1800's early 1900's, maybe a small freight run from a mine and/or logging village to a large town, with another loop with a small passenger going between a couple towns. Thanks for the help. There is a Hobby store not terrible far from my location that I am thinking of visiting and there are several model railroading clubs in the area.
  7. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    That is a wonderful era. Here are some things to be aware of in that time period...
    In HO scale...some of the old time trains that are labeled "HO" are not really HO scale...they are OO scale and run on HO track. This means that they are too big...a . Mantua's old time trains, IHC's, and Rivarossi/AHM all fall into this category. MDC Roundhouse and Bachmann's stuff is true HO scale. This might not bother it doesn't really bother me...but it is something to be aware of.
    In that time period...pre-WW1...I don't think that there are any good trainsets available. You'll find that MDC Roundhouse is the best source for rolling stock...36' freight cars, their old time tank cars, and 30' flat cars. For motive can pick between MDC's and some of the Bachmann/Spectrum locomotives...namely the 4-6-0, the shay, and their new 4-4-0 (not the Jupiter or 119).


    MDC Roundhouse is now owned by Horizon Hobbies...and they are slowly re-releasing their old line. They used to have a nice assortment for modeling the Harriman Roads (UP, SP, and IC) during the early 1900's...including the 60' passenger cars.


    Since you explicitly mentioned mining/ might want to check out On30. It is 1:48 trains which run on HO track...which scales to approximately 30" gauge (while the previously mentioned OO is 1:76...49" gauge). On30 offers a wide variety of appropriate power...but the layout can fit into the space needed for an HO layout.

    [​IMG] don't have to combine all of your interests into a single layout. You could build some small dioramas to practice your skills...and join a local HO club to have a place to run the trains that are out of place on your layout.
  8. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    The other thing to consider is that if you build the layout on a 4 x 8 board, you will need 2 feet on each side of the table to get around it or a space 8 x 12 to fit the table in. If you try to put the table against the wall on one or two sides, you won't be able to reach all the way across to rerail cars or locomotives. In the same space that will hold a 4 x 8 table you can fit an around the walls shelf 18 inches to 2 feet wide that would be 32 feet or longer mainline run. You can do a duck under or a draw bridge or lift out section to get into and out of the center of thelayout where your operating pit would be.
  9. trainz_dude24

    trainz_dude24 Member

    A URL that you might want to visit to get your starter pack

    :thumb: Why not go to and buy a model train set that has sidings, rail yards, and ambient traffic. That's pretty good right there! If you like steam engines, why not get a polar express model. To create ambient traffic, sidings, and rail yards, all you have to do is buy sevaral sets and create your own train world. Try that!:mrgreen:
  10. wkehr

    wkehr New Member

    I decided to build a small train layout which I would take to the grand kids (a good excuse to build a train). I am still working on the design of the layout. Because I will need to move the layout, I need to restrict the size of the wood used to build the layout. One of the earliest layouts I tried working with was done by having two 4 X 8's cut as 4 X 5 to give me a 5 X 8 layout. Having the extra foot made it much easier to create a layout because curves take up so much space. On a 4 foot wide layout, a 22" radius curve takes up almost all the width.

    Your choice to model 100 year old trains is a good choice for a small layout because the equiptment will be short and allow you to use charper curves.

    In limited space it is very hard to design a loop to turn the train around. You can probably add a turntable and a run-around if you want to reverse directions of the train.

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