new to model trains

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by blurrc2002, Jul 15, 2002.

  1. blurrc2002

    blurrc2002 New Member

    I need some information on how to get started in model trains
    and which scale is best.
  2. PennRailRoads

    PennRailRoads Member

    Chose a scale which best fits you, alot of scales out there ya know. My best advice is to get a starter kit, complete with track, power pack, some buildings, loco and cars.
  3. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    Like Penn said, scale is a very personal thing. Depends on the size of items you're comfortable working with, the space you have, etc., etc.

    Once you've decided scale, the next thing would probably be to decide on a railroad (or 2 or 3). Rather than buying a set, though, I'd recommend buying individual pieces, they're usually better quality. Pick up a loco, a caboose (if modeling pre-1980), maybe a couple freight cars, a power pack, and some track.
  4. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Welcome to the Gauge blurrc2002! If there is a hobby shop in your area ask them if there are any clubs or private layouts that they could put you in touch with. Alot of things will determine what scale a person finally decides on. There is a old saying that "If you want to build railroad models go with HO, but if you want to model a railroad go with N-Scale". This isn't always true of course but the point is that it's easier to do fine scale modeling in a larger scale and you can get more railroad in a given space in a small scale. HO and N are the cheapest and have the widest selection and availability, however you may not like either one. An other big thing for those that have the space and $$$$ is outdoor or garden railroading (usually in G-Scale). I would suggest you start small to get your feet wet in this hobby. A 2ft. x 4 ft. in N or a 4 ft. x 8 ft. in HO maybe. That will be big enough to try a little of everything. There are a lot of excellent magazines at the hobby shops and a lot of news stands like, Model Railroader, Railroad Model Craftsman etc. that would be helpful also. I also would not recommend a train set but buy the items you need individually (unfortunetly most, but not all train sets are of poor quality IMHO). Once you decide what scale you want to try come here and ask away!!!! Don't be afraid to ask about everything, from locos to power packs to track and so on. No matter what the scale is there are plenty of very knowledgeable people here who will be more than willing to help you! What ever you decide Good Luck! :D
  5. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Hi blurr,
    Absolutely go to a hobby shop or two or three and look at the trains.
    There are several different Atlas books which are inexpensive and have good info on track, layouts, wiring, etc. Those were my first purchase.
    Look through their Walthers catalog- it has almost everything.
    Have a ball!!

    (oh yeah, HO)
    :D :rolleyes: :D
  6. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hi Blurr and Welcome to The~Gauge. Ditto on what the others have said about choosing a scale. You're gonna have a million questions so feel free to ask away and we'll do our best to answer them:)
  7. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    Another book I liked was "HO Railroad from Start to Finish" (Kalmbach) by Jim Kelly. In one book it talks about benchwork, scenery, trackwork, even weathering locomotives and rolling stock. An excellent beginner's manual.
  8. hoyle

    hoyle Member


    If you got more than one Hobby shop in your area please go to all of them every one is different.Find one you can trust.Shop around it pays I been in this business a long time and have learned a lot .Find the scale that you will like.
  9. PennRailRoads

    PennRailRoads Member

    Above all, have fun with your trains! Fun is the most important and educational expierence you can have while model railroading.
  10. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Welcome to the-gauge !

    I agree with all the previous responses, also, you are not the first here to ask. Check out the the older threads here for a sample of answers.
    If you can find; club openhouse events,or model railroad shows in your area, attend and, try to find what's most appealing to you,
    in the way of era, setting, size, etc. Once you have identified what you want to do, you can go back to those displays, and ask the people there about starting up, availability of locos/rolling stock/buildings/etc..
    Good luck, and have fun.
  11. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I don't think that anyone's mentioned that there are dozens of different aspects of medel railroading that you can try. There are some people that excell at many of them and some that excel at only a few and pay for or avoid the rest (or do them anyway and don't care!)
    You need to decide which aspects of model railroading you like. It divides into building, operating, photographing, reading, pontificating (my specialty), ...
    Try all the aspects moderately to start with. You don't need a full machine shop to make locomotives any more, but if you have one you can.
    One of my friends finally decided that his interest was one class of diesel locomotive, and he sold off everything else and and now has them in several scales including one big enough to ride. (7 1/2" gauge)

    Check the threads here for pictures of what everyone's doing. You can see the differences in how they look and what people do with them.
    You can try various scales; buy a kit in each one and see how you like it(try for something compatible in skill levels). If you do it well, you can sell off the spares or put them on display. Definitely look at your first tries as first tries.
  12. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    When you visit a hobby shop,be sure to take your time and look around.Talk to the shops owner,9 out of 10 are hobbiest.

    There are something you should keep in mind,like everything else you must use caution.

    1) Watch out for the words GOTTA HAVE .
    you will need a power pack,track,few switches,cars and engine.
    you will also need wire for the power pack.
    The books that was mention in other replies.
    that is about all you will need to get started.
    2) For the time being you will not need DCC.That can come later after you learn about the hobby if you choose to use DCC.
    3) Very simple,after looking over the items in the hobby shop,go home.Sit down,relax and think of what you saw in the shop,look over the books,and catalog(s).
    4)Check your space for your layout and then decide what scale you need base on your likes/dislikes H.O. or N Scale.(the 2 most popular scales.)
    5) Now you are ready to make the return trip to the hobby shop and make purchases being armed with what you know you want and will fit your layout area.
    6) Have fun and enjoy the"Worlds Greatest Hobby"

    Stay away from the cheap train sets,they will cause you problems.In this hobby cheap is not always best.
    Start with a small layout as a way to learn the hobby.You will be building that dream layout some day.
    As stated above by the others always feel free to ask questions.We are always glad to help a new comer (newbie) in the hobby.
  13. blurrc2002

    blurrc2002 New Member

    scale size

    I went and looked at some model trains this week and seen the different scales. I was wandering if the N scale is harder to work
    with than the bigger scale like HO and O scale? The sets I seen
    was around $150. I am going this weekend to the chattanooga
    choo choo in Tennessee this weekend, they say they have lots of different trains down there. The only hobby shops in my area
    are like hobby lobby and hobbytown which I have not went to hobbytown yet to see if they have anything. I have done a lot
    of business with Tower Hobbies on the net. I appreciate all the information from everybody.

  14. billk

    billk Active Member

    Here's my $0.02 worth regarding what scale to use.

    Everything else being equal, go with the largest scale you can. Only trouble is there are a lot of "everything elses", and they're usually not equal!

    The first consideration, mostly because it's the one you can do the least about, is how much room you have available. The larger the scale, the more room you need (duh).

    Also consider the cost. HO and N are the lowest cost, with the $$ going up as the scales go up or down from them.

    Another consideration is what's commercially available in the scale. I'm assuming, for someone just starting, you don't want to have to build too mauch from scratch. Go to somewhere like, for example, and take a look at what's available in HO scale. When you see something that's neat, interesting, gotta-have, or whatever, then see if it's available in the other scales. This will usually eliminate everything exept HO, N and maybe O scale.

    So let's say, after the above considerations, both HO an N are still in the running. If using HO would cause you to really cram things together, use tight radius curves, grades over 2 or 3%, etc, I'd say go with N even if you could squeeze it in with HO. You'll have a lot less operating problems and be a lot happier with your layout. But if using HO won't cause these problems, go with it instead.
  15. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    Two more cents worth . . .

    Totally agree with 'brakie' on the small layout thing. I started out with a small 'yard-like' layout that fit on my desk in the home office, then started on a 1' x 7'5" layout that stretched across one wall of the office (all HO).

    I dismantled the larger one, and am about to dismantle the yard one. I learned ssssssooooooooooooo much, and I know that my larger layout in the garage (7x12) is at least 200% better than it would have been otherwise.

    *THAT*, without a doubt, was the best tip I got from anyone here.
  16. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Another thing blurr,
    Several guys on this site do more than one scale.
    So your first layout doesn't lock you in for life or anything.
    I'm working on HO now, 4'6 x 8'6, but there's a BNSF yard down the road from me that's just crying to me to build an N-scale model, I can hear it from here!!
    :D :D :D
    from Olive Branch
  17. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah


    Someone once said that the cost of a model railroad per square foot was independent of the scale -- Bigger scale boxcars cost more but you don't need as many of them.
    There is a breaking point -- it seems to take as much manpower to make an N gauge car as an HO one and the saving on material is negligible.

    If you build your own, you can get away with less detail in smaller scales. In O you can put in working brakes, in N you can't even see the brake shoes.

    Working in N scale is a bit harder, depending on what you do. N seems to have fewer kitbuilders and more collectors/runners. After you work in N scale for a while, it seems normal, and you start to wonder where the O gaugers find big enough motors for their locos.

    What may make all the difference is that you find a totally irresistible piece of equipment and it looks so nice in one scale (or only comes in one scale) that you just have to have it and all your modelling revolves around it.
  18. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    I can't add too much to all the wisdom that's been given out here...maybe just to touch on a few things that have occured to me...
    First of all, digest as much info as you can by reading, going to hobby shops, train shows, etc...
    Although I had some train sets as a kid, I didn't get seriously hooked until about 10 years ago, & I can cite one thing that triggered my obsession with this great hobby...I bought an HO train set, & chanced to pick up a magazine that featured an article about George Sellios' Franklin & South Manchester, a spectacular HO layout.
    Well, that did it...I was done for! That's what I've been striving for ever since. I've built layouts in HO, & N scale...I can't really say I prefer one over the other...they each have their own qualities...sort of like wine, or food.
    Ok, I know I'm starting to ramble here...sorry...
    Start out real simple...get yourself a starter set in a scale you like the looks of. I think HO & N scales are the best for beginers, because they have the most products commercially available. Get some books with track plans, & try to determine what you can do in the space you have available, & keep in mind, that bigger doesn't mean better. You can get a lot of enjoyment from a small layout, & you can always expand later.
    I think the most important advice is to look at the work of model railroaders...books, magazines, the internet, clubs & shows...find something that grabs your imagination, & go for it!
    Good Luck, & stop in here, & let us know how you're coming along.

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