I'm new here

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by gerbs4me, Nov 11, 2002.

  1. gerbs4me

    gerbs4me Member

    I'm the new guy here, I'm really thinking about getting into model trains. I was thinking of N scale. I haven't got any train sets yet. I think I'm really going to enjoy model trains. I always loved trains. So I have a few questions:)

    -How much does a starter set cost?
    -what is a good brand to start with?
    -is there any way I could make my own buildings?
  2. WM-N-fan

    WM-N-fan Member

    Sets cost anywhere from 40 to 110 dollars.
    Your choices are Lifelike, Bachman, Model Power, and Kato. Kato is the best, the engines last for years without any work, the etrack looks good and snaps together, the cars are top quality and you get a good controller. The couplers are knuckle couplers, clearly the best. You will save money by not converting.
    Prices start at $100. Lifelike's sets are the next best... You get a couple cheap freight cars, a pretty decent engine that will work, an oval of average Atlas track, even a few buildings, and an average transformer, They can be had for about 50 bucks. The Bachman and Model Power sets are cheap, but they are bad. The pieces are low quality, and the engines are loud, jerky, and don't last.

    NOTE: Microtrains makes collectors sets, but they are overpriced sets with no track or transformers, and have lifelike engines.

    NOTE: Stay away from Bachman, and Model Power... Bachman Spectrum isn't as bad, but still bad.

    If I were you I'd start from Kato, because 1, they have the best stuff, and 2 the stuff will last, there will be few problems, and they require minimal work.


    If I were you, I buy a few model power kits first that are built up to observe. Then buy one of the Depots by John, a simple kit. Then go to Walthers kits. Then build a laser cut wood cut. Then try to scratchbuild from styrene.
  3. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    Hi Gerb....

    Welcome to the Guage. You picked the right place to get info about the hobby, The folks here are great.

    While I agree with most of the prior post I would suggest that you look around at the material available before going out and buying a "train set". Go to a local hobby store and get a couple of magazines and one of the Kalmbach basic layout books and see what you would like to do with your model railroad.

    Around this time of the year many model railroad clubs also host open houses where you could go and see some good model railroad equipment, scenery and operations as well as talk to the modelers about the things you want to do.

    In N-scale you have several choices for equipment listed by WM above. While the Kato is excellent, it is expensive and may not be right as a starter for you. I have 4 of the Bachmann Consolidation Spectrum 2-8-0's and they are very good runners, quiet and good hauling power. If you are into diesels Atlas is making some good engines also, I just purchased 2 of the GP7's. They, too are quiet runners and look good also.

    Another event you might watch for are the Trainshows or trainfests that happen around the country. Greenbergs has them in major cities as does the Great American Train Shows. Check the Model Railroader Magazine add for times and locations. These are good places to see a lot of different aspects of the hobby - from train equipment to scratchbuilding. lots of helpful people there also to answer your questions and show you trick-of the trade.

    As a result of your looking you may find that you want to just pick up a good engine and a couple of cars and a caboose to get started. Atlas makes good "snap-track" that you can set up on a suitable base to start you on your way. The kits that WM mentioned will help you also. You might also look at the DPM structures. They are relatively easy to put together and also give you some practice on painting and weathering if you care to get into that end of the hobby.

    So take a look and enjoy your experience:)
  4. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi gerbs4me and welcome to the gauge. All the above are correct, you won't go wrong with that advice friend.

  5. kettlestack

    kettlestack Member

    A hearty welcome to you gerb4me,
    As a trainset will provide you with an oval of track, why not go a stage further and start on a proper layout by examining the N-gauge 3ft x 5ft oval depicted in http://users.iafrica.com/c/ca/caroper/tutorial/ . This is an expandable layout with a wealth of detail not just on it's expansion, but also how switching operations are done.

    It's well worth a visit to this site.

    I wish you well on your new hobby venture.

  6. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hello gerbs4me!
    Welcome aboard!
    I see you're already getting some good advice...& the really great thing about The Gauge is that, regardless of how far along you get with your modeling, you can keep coming here for more good advice!
    I've been seriously into the hobby now for about 11 yrs, & I sure do wish there had been something like this when I was getting into it.
    I'm just now starting a small N scalw layout...my 2nd one in the last 18 months or so...
    This one is a very simple oval track plan, & would be a great beginer's project. I've got a thread about it here in the N/Z forum called Poor Fork Mining Co. Layout Under Construction.
    Check it out, if you like, & like I said, if you need help with ANYTHING , just ask, & there will be lots of folks here, ready, willing, & able to lend a hand!
    Good Luck!
  7. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    All good advice above. But, being the type of person who likes to write long, drawn-out posts with lots of links, here's what I want to add:

    Consider building a layout and buying individual engines and freight cars instead of a "train set." Watching a train running around and around in a circle can get old really quick. Now if that train were running around and around through some woods, through a mountain pass, over a bridge or two, through a town...stopping every now and then to drop off or pick up freight cars...well, that's much more fun! :) Seriously, it will add interest to your project. The key is to pick out a plan that will be interesting without being too overwhelming for a first project...

    Atlas publishes a couple of books of N-scale plans: Intro to N Scale Model Railroading and Nine N Scale Railroads. These trackplans can be viewed online here. Ignore the prices for the track. You can get it a lot cheaper if you don't buy direct from Atlas. I highly recommend getting the books, though, because they also discuss construction techniques, tracklaying, wiring and scenery. Kalmbach also publishes excellent books on model railroading:

    (Click on Model Railroading, then click on Books for more lists.)

    As far as structures (buildings) are concerned, there are lots of kits available. Visit www.walthers.com and do an "advanced search." Walthers is a distributer, so they usually sell at MSRP; but they carry just about everything that is available.

    Here are some online stores that sell N-scale equipment that I have delt with in one capacity or another:


    Also, check out Spookshow International's N Scale Locomotive Encyclopedia. It's a good source of information on the quality of various locomotives. Plus, it has pictures.

    And finally, ask lots and lots of questions! There are a whole bunch of folks right here on The Gauge who are more than willing to help!
  8. WM-N-fan

    WM-N-fan Member

    Well, I agree that Bachman's aren't horrible, they require a lot of work to maintain. I started out with a Bachman F-7 and didn't clean it out. Now, a few years later, it sits in a junk yard. While Kato's aren't perfect, their best engines can be had for about $60 at MB Kleins in Baltimore. Kleins is said to be the best and cheapest shop in the land. On their clearance rack you can get new Atlas engines starting at $40! Did I mention that Atlas engines are as good as KATO, but can be more discounted. They look as good, and almost run as good. Retail price wize, you get what you pay for, with a few exceptions such as Con Cor. Just my $.02 worth.
  9. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    WM-N Fan

    Where is Klien located. I am not adverse to traveling on weekends to see a good hobby store. Are there any other good ones in our area. I am south of DC about 45 miles just south of the Quantico Marine Base. I just haven't found anything special in the DC area although I hear that there is a store in Springfield that is pretty good. Thanks:) :)
  10. gerbs4me

    gerbs4me Member

    Thank you guys for the help.
    Its very much appreciated.
  11. WM-N-fan

    WM-N-fan Member

    Kleins is on the corner of Gay and Saratoga downtown near 83... They have a phone number and you can order by phone. Just use 411. They are now in the process of building a website. It is a very famous hobb shop. You may be familiar with former Boston Red Sox player Bob Montgomery. He owns a few hobby shops in Mass. He went to Kleins when they were playing the O's. He spent over $6000 on HO stuff. Rumor has it that they usewd a truck to haul it to his house.
  12. WM-N-fan

    WM-N-fan Member

    BTW, I warn you that Kleins is closed on Sundays except around Christmas in December. I made the mistake on Sunday once.
  13. Matt Probst

    Matt Probst Member

    Baltimore's an hour from my house--straight down 83--thanks for the info Wm-n-fan!! I smell a roadtrip in the near future. Of course I'll have to tell my wife it's for a "family" outing to Inner Harbor...;) ("Hey honey, let's drive down Gay St. to see what's there. Look! A hobby shop!!"):D ;) :D

    (just kidding dear)

    Matt--Hershey, Pa.
  14. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    A weekend trip sounds great. We should plan a 'Kliens's Party" prior to Christmas. A little "wishlist" browsing, looking, into the shopping cart...:) :)
  15. Cowcatcher

    Cowcatcher Member

    Klien's is great and I am saying that from 3000 miles away in the other Washington! I have been to Baltimore a couple of times on business and always ended up bringing things home from Klien's!

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