Introduction and first layout (update)…

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by josh0351, Oct 30, 2006.

  1. josh0351

    josh0351 New Member

    Hi All!:wave:

    Josh here – new to The Gauge. Great site :thumb: - I’ve been searching, reading and learning for a while now and just finished my first N scale layout this weekend (well, 85% finished – I still have lots of little detailing work to do yet). I’ll try to snap some photo’s this week and post them up. It’s a pretty basic layout though, so don’t expect anything too extravagant;) . I’ll give you all the details further on in this post…

    (A little background on me:) Some of my earliest memories include trains and my first Lionel train set (I think I was about 4 when I first started with trains and this Lionel set). My love of trains seems to be something that I was born with, as I’ve always been fascinated by them. I build onto my first Lionel set over the years growing up, and was a huge rail-fan growing up in the California Bay Area with CalTrain running right through my home town. We rode the train quite a bit, and I was particularly fond of the old SP EMD GP9 & EMD SDP45 ‘bloody-nose’ paint-scheme and passenger fleet.

    In the mid-80’s, CalTrain took over the San Jose to San Fran route with their updated fleet and the push/pull EMD F40PH configuration, which I was equally fond of. So from the onset, my love of trains and the hobby has revolved around passenger trains. I now live in the Midwest (Omaha, NE – UP territory and the city headquarters for UP), so my interests in the hobby, while still involving passenger trains, focuses more on freight. BNSF have a line that runs just behind my current employer, so every now and then on the walk through the parking lot to/from work I am privy to catching a pretty close glimpse of a GE C44-9W (Dash 9-44CW) or EMD SD70MAC barreling through. The drive in or home always yields good views of UP hard at work as well – I think I am somewhat fortunate to have trains in such plain view to satisfy my love of trains…

    I had a brief hiatus from the hobby during my high school years and up through my mid 20’s, entering back into the hobby during the late 90’s in HO scale. I built a fairly simple 4’ X 8’ plywood layout in HO scale in our (at the time) unfinished basement. I build this layout from a LifeLike starter set that I picked up, using LifeLike PowerLoc track and purely analog controls. I eventually upgraded locomotives and rolling stock, and at about the same time embarked on a smaller, 2’ X 4’ N scale layout in tandem. With my HO scale layout nearly complete and the N scale at 50%, we decided to finish our basement. Packed-up went all the trains for the next few years.

    Just this last year I decided to get back into the hobby, focusing on N scale due to space constraints. I previously totally dismantled both layouts and was starting from scratch. I decided to do a very simple, starter layout in N that is 1.5’ X 4’. My plan was to ease back into the hobby and perfect my skills, eventually building larger layouts. (*We are currently contemplating moving to a new home, which was another factor in building a relatively small module with compact and portable attributes.) No turnouts on this layout, but rather a fairly straight-forward oval with a mountain, sawmill, main thoroughfare and a few small town scenic structures. Most of my structures are kit-built, with a city park build entirely from scratch. (The park building was a great experience, and even though it was the most time-consuming and at times frustrating with many-a-start-overs, my wife and kids like it over all the other features/structures of this layout.)

    My primary intent for this layout was to become more proficient with scenery and the ever-important supporting features of a model railroad, which I think I have made some good progress with (learning by “trail and error”). I think honing ones skills and taking baby steps is key to not getting so frustrated that you end up giving up in this hobby. Like anything in life, there are going to be mistakes, errors, and things don’t always turn out like you initially envisioned them. Fortunately for me and this small layout, I can make corrections and overcome obstacles without going broke or without feeling like a TON of work and effort was wasted. I am hoping that by the time I graduate to larger layouts (4’ X 8’ +), I will have a good foundation of the fundamental skills for this hobby.

    With this layout nearly complete, I have a decent platform to run trains that is not hindered by space or a potential move. (*This aspect also appealed to me – the notion of having a decent, operable platform to run trains while I construct something larger that may not be ready for train-traffic for some time.) I’m really getting a great deal of satisfaction out of modeling scenery and watching my ‘little empire’ come to life with every session and coinciding project. I may even build a diorama-type protective display case for this layout, but that idea is still just that at this point.

    I’m also thinking about breaking out of storage some of my N scale turnouts and flex-track and building a shelf-switcher (another space-conscious venue). Eventually and once moved into a larger house, I’d like to try my hand at either a coffee table layout, or even a slightly larger 4’ X 8’ N scale layout (or even an N AND HO layout depending on space). In the meantime I think that I can really run with the shelf-switcher model.

    I run two different loco’s on this layout (UP of course): A Bachman Spectrum GE GE C40-8 (Dash 8-40C) and an Atlas GE U25B (“U-Boat”) with a variety of freight rolling stock. Both are excellent runners, and respond well at low, operational speeds. I’ve read a lot about Spectrums on the boards, most of which was not favorable. I can only add that from my limited experiences, my Spectrum runs on-par with my Atlas. I do plan on eventually picking up a Kato GE AC4400CW or EMD SD70MAC, but not before getting an Atlas slug for the anticipated shelf-switcher layout. (*I ran several Athearn’s on my HO layout without any complaints as well.) Detailing of the Spectrum is also very good, in my opinion. A little paint for safety rails, hoses, etc and it is ready for weathering!

    For power, I am running an MRC Tech 2 2500 (*but also have an MRC Tech 4 260). While I have thought about DCC, it remains just that at this time due to the size of my current and forecasted layouts. I can definitely see myself graduating to DCC eventually as my layouts grow though, but for now, analog does the trick.

    I’ve also learned quite a bit about outlets for supplies. Ebay is good, as is the web, and of course nothing replaces your local hobby store. I spend a good deal of time and money with HobbyTown, but have recently stumbled upon a small hobby store specializing in trains, and have found this to be a very good source for info and those hard-to-find supplies. I’m sorry to report that my last few trips to HobbyTown have not been that favorable. They (or the store in my vicinity at least) seem to have a limited supply of N scale goods, and even less expertise in this area:rolleyes: . Not knocking HobbyTown – God knows I love em and spend a mint there, but am finding a better outlet in the smaller, ‘mom-n-pop’ shops.

    Thanks for reading and all the insight everyone has provided – I look forward to many-a-good times back in the saddle! :thumb: train97

  2. Nazgul

    Nazgul Active Member

    Welcome to The Gauge...:wave:
    It was great to read your introduction and learn so much in so short a time:thumb: It seems that you have an excellent idea of where you're going and how to get there. If you go ahead and build the switching layout...maybe think about building it so you can incorporate it in a future layout:thumb: I'm (and I'm sure many others) are looking forward to any pictures and future posts you care to share...good luck
  3. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Welcome to The Gauge:wave:
  4. ejen34

    ejen34 Member

    Welcome aboard Josh :thumb:
  5. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    YAY, another Josh

    Welcome to the Gauge and welcome aboard. :thumb: :thumb:

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