How do I get started?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by spitfire, Nov 26, 2002.

  1. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Hi everyone!

    I'm considering moving beyond the diorama stage, which worked out pretty well, to an actual working layout. I would use flextrack I think, cuz it's fairly cheap and easy. Space is not a problem, and I think I can come up with a reasonable track plan with one continuous run (for trolleys) and a switching yard and some sidings along the way for trains.

    My problem is I am kind of overwhelmed by the idea of blocking, wiring, switch controls, control panels, signals and such, and am wondering where is the best place to start learning about this. Video's? Books?

    I wish there were an HO club in my area I could hang around and pester with my beginner questions, but there is not.

    What would you suggest I do to inform myself?

    Thanks in advance!

    :confused: Val
  2. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Val, why don't you get the atlass freeware and draw out what you want and post it on the track plan forum. Wiring has got to be the easiest part. Save your money and we(shamus)'ll talk your rat tharu it! :D :D :D
  3. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Wiring Easy?!?

    Jon - thanks a bunch! I'm going to be using a different software, called Empire Express for the Mac, since Alas! doesn't make a mac version and doesn't plan to (I asked).

    This may take awhile......

    :D Val
  4. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    I forgot you were non-conformant to the MS Regime! I wish they would port it to Linux, so I can run it on my slakwared laptop!
  5. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Val, I suggest you visit some of the Hobby shops in TO. There are usually one or too folks that like to talk railroading.
    By any chance, did you take in the Train Show at the International Centre last weekend? They were showing a video on how to create a model railroad. Very helpful
  6. cpr_paul

    cpr_paul Member

    Where abouts in T.O. are you Spitfire? There are a few HO clubs around. I agree with Matt - talk to someone at your local hobby store. And hey, we're all here too )just don't ask me about wiring!

    If you've got experience with dioramas, it shouldn't be that hard to move up - plan a layout "scene by scene" so to speak.
  7. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    We all learn differently, so I guess the first thing to determine is, how do you learn? I learn by doing, so have had to make a lot of mistakes before reaching a point where I can do something. There are those who can learn by reading, they read it, and then do it, no problem.:mad: Then there are those who learn by watching, they can't pick it up by trying, or reading about it, but see it done and poof! there it is.:)
    "Wiring is the easiest part" ??, maybe, but soldering can be tricky for someone who hasn't soldered before. The biggest secret here is keeping the soldered joint clean, and letting the "work" melt the solder. (without melting the ties :D )
    A wiring diagram can be very useful for keeping track of what and where to wire. Wiring is much simpler if you're using DCC, instead of block control DC. Unless you intend to centrally control turnouts, there is no need for a "control panel" with DCC.
    Signals can be added at a later date. With DCC, or DC, if the signaling will be "automatic", you just have to leave enough length in the feeders to the rail, to be able to put in detection circuits. Optical detection (using a light beam, and detecting when it is broken) can also be added later. If you choose this method, you don't have to disturb the feeders, and don't have to leave extra length.
    Hope I haven't confused the issue, or allowed "common knowledge syndrom" to creep in.
  8. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Sometimes I thank. I can't help it, it jest happens. I'll be sittin there mindin my own business and my mind starts thankin all on it's own.

    Oh, ya, you can get some wiring basic here:

    NMRA Beginners pages
  9. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member


    I heartily agree with Pete on the learning things. If you are a visual person (which I think we can assume because of your great diorama and camera work) you will probably be able to read and learn and then go and do.

    I also endorse the DCC claim. Wiring is so simple, No block switches, and the multiple wiring feeds that they entail. And no real necessity for a control panel whichputs the throttle and engine control in your hands not on a board removed from where you are working. You need to develop some soldering skill if you have not done that before but it is not a hard to do and with your eye for detail it should be a snap.

    There are many "how-to" books in the hobby shops. A couple that I started with are the "Basic Model Railroad Benchwork" and Basic Wiring for Model Railroaders" from Kalmbach (Model Railroader Magazine. In fact the December issue on page 134 has a big list of books that they publish. Your LHS will also have some not listed here. (If you do opt for DCC you should also get the "DCC Handook" from Digitrax). And as Pete and Jon have pointed out before, you have Shamus, Tyson, Casey, Pete and the rest of the super guys (and gals) at your fingertips.

    Look forward to seeing a plan:) :) :)
  10. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Val,
    Don't get worried about any part of it, just get the basic benchwork done and some track down, then ask questions about the part you want to do next. We won't be far away us little lot.:D


  11. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    See, I toldja we(Shamus)'ll talk you through it. I'll bet we(Shamus) could talk you through rebuilding a steam engine! :D :D :D
  12. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    There are two model railroad clubs in your area that are having OPEN HOUSES this weekend. (Dec. 1)
    York Rly Modellers, 5 Oakland Ave (off Wilson E of Weston Rd @ CPR tracks)
    Scarborough Model RRers, 17 Jeavons Ave.

    There should be no wiring problems with the streetcar line as long as you use the overhead wire. There are a couple of tricks for multiple car operation using DC that we'll share when you get to it.
  13. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Oh, ya, you basically got three wires with traction, so you can run two trains independantly on one track without DCC. You can play Adams family!
  14. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Val listen carefully, here's the plan. You invite Shamus, Casey and Pete over for Thanksgiving and you don't let em' leave till the layout is done! :p :D :rolleyes: :D See how easy that was? :D :D :D
  15. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Thanks everyone! What a great response. This is why I think this is the BEST of all the forums. I'm going to get busy on my trackplan right now. I should have said before that I am planning to use DCC since it all seems so much less complicated, and in a way, more prototypical since you're actually driving your train - does that make sense?

    David (aka 60103) thanks for the open house info. I will definitely check out at least the York one.

    Matt - I meant to get to the show this past weekend but couldn't.

    Tyson - I like your idea the best! You, Shamus, Casey, Pete, Jon, David, Matt and my friend Chris (for the overhead wiring) are all invited to my place! I'll supply the food and beverages of choice - you supply the expertise!

    See you all Friday!

    :D Val
  16. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    hello hello sombody mention TURKEY??????:D :D :D

    I`m there in a flash.
    Hey Val, Looks like you have a BIG winter project:) :) :)
    Are computers good or what??
    Listen get out the measuring tape and put down a drawing of room avalible, write down the "must have " and lets see were they will go on the Drawing .
    Is`nt it fun OOOOOOO the sleepless nights.

    Talk to you soon

    PS are we having cranberry??:D :D ;) ;) :p
  17. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Val: next door to the York Rly Modellers, at 7 Oakland, is one of the oldest HO clubs in Toronto, the Delaware and Rutland. I think they model a Steam/Diesel era while York is fairly modern.
    (I thought one Open House in the southeast and one in the northwest -- one would be close enough.)
  18. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    OK, I'll supervise the peanut gallery and make sure the beer doesn't get warm while the others do all taht experts stuff you mentioned :D :D :D
  19. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Raht on Jon!

    :D Val
  20. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    While Jon does the MAIN supervising, others can do the woodwork, track laying and sceniking but just give me a pile of empty cereal boxes, some white glue and thos $1 acrylic paints and I will make some buildings for you

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