My first train set...........

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by masphx, Nov 6, 2006.

  1. masphx

    masphx New Member

    I'm new and just went to a train show in Phoenix, AZ. I met some people from this forum there and also bought some stuff. I'm not totally new to HO trains but was never fully into the hobby but I hope to change that over time. For the time I will only beable to run the trains on a flat floor so no layout table yet. Any suggestions would be a big help becasue I really had no idea what I was buying at the show besides the code 83 track.

    Here are some pics of what I bought.
    The track..
    I bought all of this from one guy and about 20 flex track peices. I think it was a good deal.

    DC comtroller.....
    Cost $1, I just wanted something cheap to test the train. This wont blow up the engine or something like that in the future will it??? Sould I buy a better one? I'm waiting to see if I want a DCC contoller.

    box cars........
    I belive they both have the metal wheels and coplers. What are the benifits of these?

    The engine......
    Wow, alot of pictures!!!!!
    OK, I had no idea what I was buying at the time but have learned that the company who makes it is very good and that the model itself is nice. I would like any information on it since I have very little. The person who was selling it said he only tested the train. How can I tell if this is true? Will the engine show some ware if it was used alot?
  2. masphx

    masphx New Member

    Some more questions......
    For the most part the seller didnot glue any pieces on besides some little stuff. Should I upgrade the couplers?
    For weathering should I first glue everything I would like on and then weather later on or is it better to first weather and then glue the little stuff on?
    I'm looking for real life pictures of the train so if anyone knows of some please tell me.
    Thx for reading and helping out
  3. AndyWS

    AndyWS Member

    The nearest coupler visible on the boxcar is a knuckle coupler, the main advantage of those is that they look more realistic than the horn-hook couplers that for a long time were default on factory-new rolling stock and locomotives, although that is beginning to change. All of the couplers on your locomotives and cars will need to be that type (although they can be different brands, such as Kadee and McHenry) in order to be compatible.

    Your power pack looks like a low-grade train set offering (probably Bachmann). I have several of those, one of which is almost 15 years old and still works. They will certainly not "blow up the engine" unless it is damaged somehow, but they do not offer very precise speed control. It should be fine for testing out the engine, but if you want more prototypical operation you should upgrade later.

    By the way, your engine appears to be an EMD FT A+B set, with the B-unit a dummy. The A-unit will connect to the B (cabless) unit with a metal pin and drawbar, while you will need to install knuckle couplers on the front of the A-unit and rear of the B-unit to haul other cars.
  4. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I personally like Kadee's #58 couplers. Knuckle couplers are designed for magnetic uncoupling so you don't have to touch your trains. The standard knuckle coupler is actually's S-scale (1:64)...this was for reliable coupling on curves. Kadee #5's have been probably the most popular coupler for 40yrs or so. Kadee also makes an "old time" sized coupler #711 and the #58s which are closer to scale...they work fine with McHenry, accumate, and kadee #5s.

    Metal wheels typically roll better than plastic ones...and they'll provide electrical connectivity with the track if their are electrical pickups (wires or wipers) on the wheels/trucks. Typically you want every wheel to pick up power so dirty track and turnouts don't interfere with the electric being supplied to your engine.

    You'll probably want to upgrade that transformer fairly soon. If you want something that isn't DCC temporarily...I'd recommend an MRC Tech 2 or Tech 4 transformer.

    I encourage you to look carefully into the different types of engines and cars on the market to find what era you'd like to model.
    late 19th century? 4-4-0s, 2-6-0s, small 2-8-0s, shays, 50' wooden passenger cars and 36' wooden freight cars.
    1900-1915? 4-4-2s, 2-8-0s, 4-6-0s, athearn's MDC/Roundhouse same freight cars but slightly longer passenger cars (Southern Pacific and Union Pacific used to be perfect for this due to the availability of MDC Roundhouse (now athearn) harriman steam locomotives, 60' passenger cars, 36' freight cars).
    1950s? possibly the most common era to model...huge steam locomotives such as C&O 2-6-6-6s (the heaviest & most powerful engines ever built), UP 4-8-8-4s, N&W 4-8-4s...early desiels such as E & F units, PAs & FAs, early GPs, SWs, RS, etc...streamline passenger trains, 40' freight cars...2 bay hopper cars...wooden & steel cabooses.
    or more recent...
  5. alexander

    alexander Member

    OK, lets see

    all i can say is good deal.

    i'd get some extra freight cars tho

    just my advice
  6. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Looks like you have a good start.
    Glue the detail parts down then weather. the instructions that came with the locos. Looks like you have a DCC decoder. Better to find out now whether its dual mode(DCC or DC)decoder or just a straight DCC.(Don't know if Stewart installs dual mode decoders or not).If its straight DCC(Digital Command Control), you'll have to get a DCC system to run the locos. If its dual mode, you can run it with a power pack like the one you bought, but like mentioned above, get a better one.
    Save that one for lighting structures.
    Also...Here's a good site to see pics of your loco in real life.
  7. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Hi Mason. It looks like you have more switches that the rest of the track put together.
    Be careful running the train on the floor; dust and lint will get in the mechanism.
    The FT was the first production streamlined diesel. I think it can out right after WWII. They were sold as 2 unit locomotives permanently tied together; the railroads eventually replaced the drawbar with couplings. The spotting feature is the B unit with one truck farther in than the other.
    Weathering is best done after the model is fully assembled and detailed; otherwise you can't match the dirt properly.
  9. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    I'll second the running of your train on the floor. Lots of lint and gunk, especially on carpeting. Also, if you intend to use the track that you have, it will need to be temporarily attached to a base of some kind, since it has no roadbed and will tend to pull apart at the connectors. I would suggest a piece of plywood at least 1/2 inch. to operate on. You could then stand it on end in a corner or behind a door when not in use. Have fun. It's a great hobby.
  10. masphx

    masphx New Member

    Hi guys,
    Thanks for all the tips.
    I’m starting too really like this engine because of all the detail and ease of putting it together and taking it apart. Most of the pieces will click into place and I will most likely not glue them down until I have done some more research and finally decide on how I want to weather the train. I will upgrade the couplers when I feel ready to the #58(this seems to be the popular one). Is there a better one and how much is the cost of each pair?
    As for running the train on the ground. At the time I'm living with my girl friend in a industrial size room. The floor is concrete and easy to clean. I first lay down the track and then with an air duster (the ones used for computers) spay the track down to get the dust off and dog hair away. I hope for the time this will work for the time. I will be moving into a house in Dec. and maybe might build a temporary board like someone suggested on the forum.
    I could not find a picture of the train in , could some one please help? Also any other pics would help. Thank you shaygetz for posting the road numbers and the pic.

    Ok, some more questions......

    What is this window looking thing on the side of the train below the four circle windows? it lights up. I understand some FT-A had this and some did not. In the directions its called a running board. Do I put the trains road number in it or something and if so how??

    Also at the front of the engine are small holes at the side which I guess in whare the running numbers are displayed. How do you put in the numbers?
    In the picture I saw of the running numbers where painted on the front of the engine. How could I put the numbers on like in the picture? Paint or Decal?

    Here are the clear parts which I need to put in these small side holes which also light up.
    Thx for reading and all your help
  11. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    Yep, to put numbers on the number boards, you use decals or dry transfers (the rub-on's). I don't think that can be painted unless you can find masking stencils that small.

    Anyway, don't install the windows and running boards until AFTER you have weathered the engine. Otherwise it will frost up the windows.

    Good luck.
  12. fsm1000

    fsm1000 Member

    What you have there looks very good. For a beginner layout it is more then most of us start out with. You did good :D
    As for running on the floor aarghhhhh
    Other then dust etc getting into the gears and motors you could also have ferrous dust as well. That simply means it is magnetic. If this gets inthere it can ruin a good motor permanently.

    I would recommend reading a ton of stuff. I have links on my site to dozens of websites that have free information for newbies.
    I also recommend the library. It might be outdated but may of the old techniques are still basic to what is done now.

    All in all I think you have a great start ahead of you there.
    Of course i personally would recommend you go into narrow gauge, but that's me :D LOL.

    Enjoy, I hope I helped. :)
  13. dsfraser

    dsfraser Member

    You scored big. Turnouts are expensive. i can't comment on the rolling stock without looking at it more closely — you will probably want to upgrade with Atlas or Proto trucks and Kadee couplers. Not at all familiar with the locomotive. I do think you might want to look at replacing the transformer with an MRC unit — it looks decidedly dated to me. In any case, you have what you need to get started.

    Next thing you need is a good trackplan and a place to put it. And a book — Track Planning for Realisic Operation by the late John Armstrong, published by Kalmbach. Read it through ten or so times, until you grasp the essentials. Keep it in the bathromm, and read it daily. There is so much to digest in that book, but it is worth the effort. It will save you time and money. Then take a trackplan and adapt it, or build your own.

    You'r'e going to have to figure out how to break the news to your wife that you need a train room, a big train room, the bigger the better. Make sure you don't knock down any load-bearing walls. It's normal to start out on a 4x8 sheet of plywood, but it's also normal to get bored with it very quickly. The 4x8 gets junked or incorporated into a much larger layout. 12x20 is a good sized room, so sell your pool table, put your TV in the living room, or start parking your cars on the street. Your kids can sleep in tents in tha back yard. LOL!

    HO scale seems small, but it's not. It takes a lot of space to pull it off if you want continuous running, with a few industries and staging and not have it look cramped. You really do need a dedicated room, or else adopt a switching layout or downscale to N-scale. I started out on a 4x8, but ended up moving two couches, a TV and a freezer out of my train room, and it's still not as much as I'd like.

    In all honesty, a good layout is going to cost you ten years and ten thousand dollars — that's something they don't tell you when you buy your first trainset. And there's a delicate balance to be found to see that it doesn't also cost you your marriage. For every hour you spend with your trains, spend an hour with your wife. Keep her closer than your hobby.

    That's my experience. I hope it helps.

    Best of luck. Enjoy.

    Scott Fraser
    Calgary, Alberta

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