Help a newbie spend his money

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Snowbound, Mar 26, 2005.

  1. Snowbound

    Snowbound New Member

    Hi folks,
    I'm new to this forum & am returning to the hobby after a number of years. My dad & I used to model HO Marklin & we had a neat little 4x8 layout back in the day. I still have a number of the Marklin digital engines, but I think I will relegate them to the display cabinet & start a new layout. I was always frustrated with the lack of availability & cost of Marklin, although it was fun to run the trains at something like 500 scale MPH & they never derailed :D

    So, I have been reading much & have some thoughts & would love to hear some input on the direction I'm heading. Here are some of my thoughts:

    Operations: One of the disappointing things about our old 4x8 double-loop layout was that the trains just went around & around. My dad & I had never heard of "operations", but in what I've been reading, I realize now that is exactly what our layout was missing. I would like to model operations, ideally passenger & freight, with schedules, waybills, carcards, etc. I think this will give the layout purpose that the loop lacks. I might even go for a point-to-point layout with no loop at all, although a hidden loop in staging would probably add convenience.

    Location: I have an unfinished basement which I can pretty much devote to the layout. There is some other stuff down there, so I have about 20'x15' before I have to start relocating canoes, kayaks, oil furnaces, etc. I have considered finishing the basement, at least a drop ceiling, & I am sure I will be glad I did, & it would be a lot easier to do it before the layout is started... I haven't made up my mind on that one. I don't intend to fill the space initially, so whatever layout I come up with I will want to start small(ish) & be able to expand.

    Scale: HO? N? This is kind of a big deceision... how do I make it?

    Era & Location: I grew up watching Santa Fe trains in Kansas in the 80's, so that it my first inclination on what to model. That said, I was never much of a railfan, so I could really model anything. Maybe transition era so that I could run a wider variety of trains.

    I am going to read the following books:
    The Railroad, What it is, What it Does, by John Armstrong
    Track Planning for Realistic Operation, by John Armstrong
    Realistic Railroad Operation, by Tony Koester

    I am hoping those will help inspire me towards an era, a line & region, & a layout design. The other big things I am left wrestling with are the question of gauge, whether or not to refinish the basement.

    Anyone still reading? Sorry for the long post :sleeping:
    Thanks for any input you can provide.

    Snowbound in NH
  2. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Preping the train room would be the first thing to do. A drop ceiling is good to keep the dust down, and you can plan lighting, electrical plugs ect.
    As far as layout, era. equipment you want to run, and track plans would be more personal preference. There's a lot of good books that could help.
    Or...In my case...I like modern locos and equipment. Better Half like steam era. We have both eras on my layout.
    Compromise can be good!
  3. Hey, Snowbound...

    Sounds like you and I are going in the same direction with space and layout considerations. I have a space in my basement that is about the same size as yours. I put in a dividing wall and now have to put in a drop ceiling, wiring, paint, and get it cleaned up. From there I'll install cabinets, a model building counter top, book shelves, and lighting. THEN I can start building the layout. My whole model building operation and compure equipment will go into that room, too, so it will also be my home office and I want it to be clean, organized, and decorated well. My layout is essentially an 'L' shaped shelf-type point to point switching layout in HO scale. I'm still sanding sheetrock, but I'm gettin' there! :thumb:

  4. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    First of all, welcome to the Gauge. Lots of friendly people here that can help you, lots of how-to's as well. And yeah, I did read through it, that's how we find out about each other.:)

    HO or N? That's up to you, but I made my choice to go with N scale because of what I could do in a smaller space. Remember, twice the scale size, means four times to floorspace. Sounds like you have a lot of room for either scale, but I guess you know you're hooked once you start moving oil furnaces to make more room for your layout.:eek::D We have forums here for everything, HO, N, operations, track planning DCC and lots more, so jump in and ask questions. This is a great place for pictures as well.

    I'm sure there'll be other responding that can help you a lot more than I can, so good to have you around, let us know how you're doing.:wave:
  5. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    If your planned layout is for modern operating and you use deisel locos, N is a good choice because of the availability and the fact that in N you can run long trains. If you want to run steam locos then I would suggest HO because of the great availability of steam locos and at good prices too when compared to N.
  6. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    if I may add an old cliche - "don't bite off more than you can chew." I would reccomend starting with a layout size and track plan that operates reliably and is interesting, without going for the complex "dream layout" right away. Maybe start small and plan for future expansion. That way, if something goes awry, the investment is not that large, and it will help you from feeling overwhelmed. For me personally, I am entusiastic at the beginning of a project, but tire if progress is not quick enough. And if you have kids, plan on having kids, or have nieces or nephews - I reccomend a loop of some sort. Kids (and some adults) just like to smile and watch the trains go.

  7. toolman

    toolman Member

    Hi Snowbound, Either ho or n, pick which one is right for you. Design a layout that would give you hours of enjoyment. Running operation gives you alot of possiblities for industries. If you have the room then go for were you can run long trains, for me I am limited to space in my basement. Pick a time frame to model in. The main thing is to have fun.
  8. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    You have recieved alot of good information.
    I am going to give you a site that is going to really help give you a very good start.It is a site developed by the layout design special interest group and will help to answer many of your questions.Spend some time reading through the material,bookmark it because there is alot there.I found it to be very helpful and am very thankful to all of those in the LDSIG who took the time to put it together.
    Enjoy and cmon back and tell us what you think of the site and what you have decided.

    One thing, N scale has advantages and disadvantages.It is not as forgivving as HO and is challenging for those with vision problems.It costs a bit more but not so much as to be a factor to rule it out.Filling that area with N scale is a huge undertaking(believe me,i have been working for years with half that space) :)
  9. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    My advice on the space would be to do all the construction type work first. You'll be glad you did. Drop ceiling to keep dust off the layout, studs and drywall over the cement blocks if you don't have it already, painted floor. Once you have the layout in place, these jobs become very difficult (in the case of the ceiling) or impossible (drywall) to do. Think of it this way - either you will do it before you start the layout, or you won't do it at all.

    The other thing is, working on walls and ceilings allows you to feel you've started work on the layout before you've made those decisions about scale and track plans. :)

    As far as questions of scale are concerned it's always a trade-off, and it comes down to what is most important to you. I'm in HO because I love to detail everything - that's a lot harder in N.

    HO is easier to see and to work with because it's larger - tracklaying, couplers etc. are a lot more forgiving as well.

    N allows you to have double the RR in the same space - so it can be more realistic in terms of the lengths of trains. Of course, that means you have to buy more rolling stock! :)

    There are more products for HO although N is catching up.

    Sound and DCC - while DCC is migrating to N scale, getting sound inside those tiny engines is so far next to impossible.

    I know this has come out kind of weighted for HO - that's just because I know more about it. Bottom line is if you like long trains, long mainlines and big yards, go N. If you like highly detailed steam engines, sound, and ease of working, go HO.

    But whatever you decide, have fun and welcome to the Gauge!! :wave:

  10. Snowbound

    Snowbound New Member

    Thanks for all the great input. I have read everything on the LDSIG web page & it was immensely helpful. I think I will re-read it once I have read the three books I ordered & I have a better idea how I want to model operations. I am still wrestling with the basement situation... We have water seep up through the floor occasionally down there too. Not enough to hurt anything, but if I do drywall it'll mess up the bottom of the drywall. Maybe I'll just do the drop ceiling & paint the floor & walls. I need to figure out where my work benches & whatnot will go down there too. I am leaning more & more towards N scale. Money isn't so much of an issue & I want lots of operational potential which means I want longer trains, more track, bigger yards, more industries, etc. Also, I am more interested in modern diesels so the lack of steam locos is no big deal to me. I'll be around asking questions & learning as I go. Thanks.
    Snowbound in NH (although not for long, it's in the 50's today)
  11. ausien

    ausien Active Member

    welcome aboard the gauge, snowbound you get all the addvice you could posible need here, and we are the friendlyest place on the net. You entitled this thread, "help a newbee spend his money" I am very good at spending someone elses money, how many millions would you like me to spend?...
    ok jokes over, I modle in "N" gauge as you can get a lot in a small aerea,12x12, you dont seem to have that problem, so either HO, or N would suit you, also I like to run trains, and opperations, so I have incorperated both in my layout, but the most inportant thig is to have fun, fun, fun. and ask all the questions you want, as there are many here to answer them for you....have a good one..steve

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