Kids are a great excuse to get back into trains...advice needed

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Se4b4ss, Nov 19, 2002.

  1. Se4b4ss

    Se4b4ss New Member

    First off, hello to you all and thanks in advance for any advice you may have. I appreciate it.

    I played with HO trains when I was a kid and now have two youngsters of my own. They are 2 years old and 3 months old. Yes, I am buying a train for myself, but hoping that they may enjoy it too. :p

    I want to start by putting a train around the Christmas tree this year. We don't currently have the extra room needed for a permanent setup, but hope to soon.

    My first concern is that the HO scale will be dwarfed by even a modest 6-foot Christmas tree. What are your opinions on this?

    Secondly, assuming you think the HO scale would be fine around the Christmas tree, I would like to hear your opinions on some starter equipment. I have been checking out the Bachmann Baldwin 2-8-0 Steam locomotives and really like them. Are they a quality product? Is $120 overkill for this type of application? Is there anything else I should be checking out?

    I am also confused by the transformers. What should I be looking for as far as features and are there any you would recommend?

    The Bachmann EZ-Track says that it will work fine directly on carpet. How do you feel about running it like this? If this is a problem, is there a solution besides plywood that would stabilize the track on carpet?

    I'd like to buy some holiday themed cars to tow around and can't seem to find an abundance of them like there are in the O-scale trains. Can you recommend some?

    Thanks again for your input,
  2. Railery

    Railery Member

    Hi Steve ! This year my partner bought a Xmas train set. i found out that it is made by Bachmann. Its an On3 engine. Which means its an O scale set that runs on HO track. The track that comes with the set is the EZ- track. i don't think it would be a problem set up on a rug, as long as it isn't a shag carpet ;)

    u stated that u want to build a layout someday so if u are going to buy any equipment , $120 for an engine is good. But with steamers u have to be careful for your curve. Steamers do not like to run on 18" radi. They can but it is small for them. Your track radius should be a minimum 24". Diesel engines are different. 'B' truck units are okay for 18"r and 'C' trucks for 24"r.

    Also go to your train hobby shop before ordering any equipment and talk to them, they should be able to get u started too.
    Best to ya :D
  3. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hi Steve and welcome aboard.:) At the risk of sounding like 'Ol Scrooge or the Grinch I have something that you might want to consider.

    The children sound to be just a bit young for any kind of scale train. Its not that they wouldn't have some interest now and develop more later on its just that scale trains are just a bit much for youngsters of that age. Scale trains set up on the floor can be mighty frustrating and at their ages they really don't understand " look but don't touch" and by golly you really can't blame them for wanting to:)

    Now if I didn't have a solution to this delima I wouldn't post this :D Why don't you get the children one of those big battery powered trains to go under the tree (New Bright is one brand that comes to mind) They're pretty tough and have a good deal of "play" value built into them. They're not expensive and it could be "thier train" exclusively until they get a little more age on them.
    Meantime since "Dad" has probably been a good boy this year I'm betting that Santa might just bring him a scale trainset to get started with and to build upon while the youngsters are building their interest in model trains.:)

    Just a nickle's worth on killing two birds with one stone:D

    Best to you and your family for the Holidays!:) :) :)
  4. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Steve, Welcome to the Gauge!
    You got questions...There is a bunch of great people(being politicaly correct) on this forum that would gladly help you out.
    As far as Xmas trains. IHC puts out Xmas trains almost every year. You can see their adds in most of the model railroading magazines, if your starting out, maybe a subsription to one would be a good idea, but asking questions here, looking at other peoples works through the pictures they post is better.
    If you're looking for a transformer, for running trains around the tree, Bachman sets as well as other sets, usually come with one that is good for small layouts. As you start your "Dream" layout, bigger and better ones as from MRC are in order, which would probably lead to DCC(Digital Command Control).
    But, lets not get you confused........
    Hope this helps
    Oh...And watch out for the On30 conspiracy....They'll try.....but you have to resist.
  5. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    I've never had a train around the Xmas tree, but I seem to recall when I was a little squirt, the tree was always topsy tervy and would fall fairly easily. What I would do is make a plywood disk with a tree stand bolted to the center, stabilizing the tree, then lay flex track around it. Just a thot...:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
  6. TomPM

    TomPM Another Fried Egg Fan

    What ever scale you feel will work is the one you go with. It is your Christmas tree.

    I don’t know how old your kids are but I found with mine seven and four O scale works the best right now under the tree. G and HO seem to be too delicate for handling by my four year old. In O scale there are a large number of Holiday theme cars along with Hershey, Coke Cola, Budweiser theme cars.

    In HO Bev Bel makes holiday cars from Atheran kits. They are a bit pricey and you have to assemble them. Their website is

    Someone else mentioned IHC and their holiday sets. Their website is

    Now a couple words of caution. Do not use any “snow blankets” around the train set. The blankets tend to pull apart very easily and the fibers get wrapped around the wheels of the trains. They also get stuck in the drive rods of steam engines. The same can be said for icicle tinsel.

    The Bachmann E-Z track is great for placing on carpet. I have done it in the past with success. I do recommend however placing a plywood board on the floor and mounting the track on that. You can also secure the tree to the board. It gives everything a much more stable base.

    Most important of all enjoy the trains with the kids and have fun. Before you know you will have a year round layout for you and kids.
  7. Se4b4ss

    Se4b4ss New Member

    Ok, I think at this point I have decided a few things. I have decided to go with the Lionel Winter Wonderland Railroad set. I have decided that picking a model train is harder than picking a new car. I have decided that you guys are very gracious and helpful. Thanks.

    My reasoning is that the O scale is bigger and therefore easier for the kids to handle and less likely to break in the process. I think the O scale will look better under the tree and the abundance of Christmas-themed cars might give me an excuse to take the girls to the hobby store at least once a year.

    When we move, I will see if there is space in the new house to set up my dream train yard in the HO scale. My pop has worked for Conrail/CSX since before I was born and will be retiring next year, so I'll probably go with a Conrail-themed HO scale implementation when that time comes.

    Once again, thanks for your input. Happy Holidays!

  8. billk

    billk Active Member

    Sounds like a plan - the Xmas-themed O scale for under the tree and HO (or N, depending on available space?) for your future layout. Even at the age they are, your kids should enjoy watching, if nothing else, and (through osmosis?) should also enjoy more active participation when they're older.
  9. Lighthorseman

    Lighthorseman Active Member


    Watch out for that stuff. It'll grow on you. It is also really quite tough, much more so than HO and On30. With track made entirely of metal, and the heavy rolling stock, it is really well suited to small hands.

    I would, however, highly recommend a large-scale plastic battery operated type, as suggested earlier by Vic. These usually have noise and lights, always a hit with kids...and most adults, too.
  10. JeffGerow

    JeffGerow Member

    I totally agree with your choice to go with O scale for the kids at their ages. I have an HO layout at one end of the Christmas Room, but when my kids were small, I was lucky to find a box of old American Flyer O Guage trains (with metal cars!) at an out of the way junk store. What a great Christmas treat - and they could run them themselves (what a feeling of control!) without me worrying about details breaking off (plus all the wonderful accessories that are available in O)

    I saw a great article in a recent Toy Train magazine about setting the tree on the floor and cutting a two-piece "do-nut" of 2" foam to circle the tree and serve as the train (and town) base. You can attach the track to the foam and join it together around the tree. Paint it white, adhere some "snow" product, place some ceramic houses and you've started a tradition.
  11. t. alexander

    t. alexander Member


    My ol' Marx train makes a noise, It goes WHAM! when it runs into it's own caboose That mysteriously came uncoupled from the rest of the train, hmm.. now how did that happen;) :D

    Steve, I picked up my 0scale (027) "Christmas tree train" , made by Marx way back when, at a flea market for 13 bucks including track and transformer. With a little cleaning and lubeing it ran great. It's tough as nails and a blast to play with.


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