New to hobby

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by plbab, Mar 21, 2002.

  1. plbab

    plbab Member

    Hello all the last child has gone and I now have a room to myself. This is all new to me had a old 027 Lionel 35/40 years ago that was my dads. I had thought about N scale because of size but after seeing them i am not sure very small and we have 3 grandkids. So my question is where does one start.? how do you decide on a layout? We live 100 yards rom a very busy BNSF track with 50 to 75 trains a day on them but very straight and boring . I want to be able to do more than run them in circles. Can layouts be built with expansion in mind like a module unit? So many questions here thanks in advance.
  2. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    Welcome plbab. My heart's in HO, but I'm not going to try and convince you one way or another where that's concerned. As for a layout, whatever will fit in the room - start small, and yes, modular is the best way to go.

    Check around the web for some examples of various layouts - I would recommend a donut layout (or around the walls in this case) as opposed to an island layout - much better bang for the bucks. Less harsh curves for starters.

    No reason why you need to emulate the tracks behind your house. Make curves, make tunnels, make bridges, whatever you'd like. Whatever you'd like. Again, start small and work your way up.
  3. RI541

    RI541 Member


    Welcome aboard The Gauge.

    I think that the amount of room you have and how much you want to do should determine your scale.N-scale is small so you can do more in a smaller space than HO.The down side of N-scale is that every thing is small as the average box car is 3 to 4 inches long.But you can run long trains.

    HO is the most popular scale to date with N-scale catching up real quick,But HO takes up alot more room.It also has lot more to offer in terms of loco's,rolling stock and structures.

    N-scale is catching up to HO as the market demands it. The quality has come along why in the last 4 or 5 years and people are finaly taking it seriously.

    I do the Rock Island in N-scale on a ficticius layout as room is limited.But when the kids move out I might do an HO lay out or just enlarge my N-scale.

  4. BDC

    BDC Member

    **Whoop! Whoop!** (The N-scaler trespassing in the HO forum alarm is going off)

    This link has several nice trackplans ranging from 2'x4' to a "door" layout (an layout using an interior door as a base:p ). They are in N scale but can easily be converted to HO (I'll try not to hold it against you!). N is not the best for small kids to try to handle, but the small size of the whole layout makes up for that. I'm presently working on a 6x6 layout on extruded polystyrene that weighs about 35 pounds and can be taken down and leaned against the wall. Let's see HO do that! Nyaah!
  5. scoobyloven

    scoobyloven Member

    sorry ho fans no hard feelings n scale i a good scale like any one would tell you you can do alot in the same space of a small ho layout well for starters their is a book out called 101 track plans for model railroaders it's form model railroader and all the plans are for any scale from n to o i've done ho three layouts and now i'm on my fourth it's in n scale the room i have wouldn't let me do a good ho layout ho is a good start if kids r in mind it is bigger for them to see and some of it is cheaper but the frist thing it to pick a time for your layout then a railroad and place then any lyout would do for that and any layout can grow just plan it in before you lay track it's alot easier that way and cheaper .... ohhhh welcome to the geuge
  6. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member


    Welcome to The Gauge!

    Asking other model railroaders how best to start in the hobby is like asking people what is the best flavor of ice cream. You'll get different answers from each of us! :)

    But if I may be so bold... I'd start out small. Pick a scale and go with it. I had many reservations about N-scale when I first started, but decided that I wasn't going to be able to do much in HO with the space that I had available. I'm pleased with my choice, although I have been tempted at times to switch to HO.

    N lets you do more in a less space. HO has a greater variety of Ready-To-Run (RTR) locos and rolling stock, and more structure kits. Plus, HO is easier to handle.

    But whatever scale you decide on, start out with a small layout. It doesn't have to be a major project--just something where you can learn and experiment. Maybe make something that you can easily disassemble in case you don't like the direction that you started off in. (I say this from experience.)

    There are some pre-fab layout boards you can buy. These are modular systems that can be mixed and matched as your layout grows. BUT they are rather expensive.

    Another idea is to build modules using the NTrak, HOTrack or other modular standards--or make up your own.

    Here are some links that might be useful: <-- National Model Railroad Association. They have a beginner's guide to model railroading. <-- An N-scale modular standard. <-- HO-scale modular standard. <-- This web site has an excellent tutorial on building a model railroad. The author starts with a simple plan, then adds on more features. This may be a good way for you to get started. The plans are for N-scale, but they could be easily adapted to HO. <-- Pre-fab modules in HO- and N-scale. <-- Pre-fab modules in HO.

  7. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Welcome to the gauge, and back to the hobby !. One of the "greats"of model railroading, John Allen, started with a small layout, and eventually expanded it to completely fill the basement of his home.
    Scale? What are you comfortable working with? Is it too small to handle, or see? Do you have enough room? Probably, the most popular scales are HO,and N. O scale, and G scale have a good following also, but require large spaces. G scale is really nice if you like being outside, and have a yard big enough to accomodate a garden railway.
    We are all going to recommend the scale we have each chosen to model in, but in the end it all comes down to what you are willing to compromise.
    The smallest scale,Z, will let you have the biggest railroad possible, in a given space. The detail is not the greatest, and it is difficult to work with if your hands shake or your vision is less than superb.(like mine) As the scale gets larger, the size of the railroad gets smaller for the same given space, the detail gets better( and the reproduction of detail, if you want to build models gets more demanding), and is more visible. This is true for the trains, and the scenes they pass through. Detail that is missing in Z scale, hinted at in N, and HO, becomes required in O, and G.
    It is a balance of how much detail, how much railroad, and how much effort, not me telling you that HO is the way to go, that should determine the scale you choose.
    Whatever you choose, have fun with it ! If you haven't already, check out the photos posted here on the Gauge. There is a large group of excelent modelers here who have posted their work. There are great links to other sites where you may find many answers.
    Finally there is this forum. You will get a variety of answers here, and, in most cases you'll find the one you're looking for.
  8. billk

    billk Active Member

    Hey, welcome. I don't have much to add, except:
    - Like everyones been saying, start small. It's OK to dream big, but live the KISS principle.

    - As far as grandkids vs. scale, what are you planning on "allowing" them to do on your layout? Drive the trains? The controllers are the same size in N and HO (and all the rest, for that matter.) Handle the rolling stock? Up to a certain age it'll all get treated as toys. I have never been able to see the connection. If you work at my rate, they'll be 21 years old before you have a layout anyway! Now as far as scale and ones failing eyesight and decreasing dexterity, that's a whole different thing!

    - One thing no one mentioned (I think) is READ. Go to your LHS (local hobby shop) and find some intro level books (and get to know the shop owner too!) You'll find a lot of answers that way, especially to questions you didn't know you should be asking. Not exactly introductory, but one book I would recommend is John Armstrong's Track Planning for Realistic Operation.

    It's a great hobby, and welcome again.
  9. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Everything has been said, "Welcome to the gauge"


Share This Page