New to N

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by ctmpwrdcamry, Mar 30, 2005.

  1. ctmpwrdcamry

    ctmpwrdcamry New Member

    My layout and I are together again for the first time. I started to get into ho when I was younger but could never get a ride to the hobby shop or Home Depot to get wood, so I gave up. Now that I have means of my own I am looking at getting back into it. However, when I put the Ho stuff on the plywood I realized I needed a smaller scale or more room. I have decided to go with N Scale. Being a beginner, where should I start? I do not want to invest a bunch of money at this time, but I also don’t want junk. Any ideas or tips that I should keep in mind or be aware of?
  2. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Welcome to the Gauge Sean. There is an old adage that says you get what you pay for. If you get the chance, go and visit your hobby store and talk to them about your needs. Some of them have a test track set up so you can see different locos in action. They may also be able to put you in touch with other modellers in your area.
  3. ctmpwrdcamry

    ctmpwrdcamry New Member

    Thanks for the welcome.

    I have already stopped at the bigger train stores in town and neither were all that helpful. It appears that the larger gauges are more popular in my area. One place did give the advice about which brand locomotive to go with, but when i asked about the track they didnt say much.
  4. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Those hobby stores don't sound too helpful do they!! I use atlas flex track and Peco switches. There is also code 55 track available but I have not used it. It looks great but I have too much invested in code 100 already. There are other switch makers but I have no experience with them.
  5. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way


    Welcome to the Gauge. You're on the right track ;) by choosing the Gauge, since I know you will get a lot of help from other modelers here. If you're not getting much help locally, there are a lot of dealer and manufacturer's sites on the web that has a lot more information about products. You should also visit the NMRA website and review the information they have. When I got started, I printed as much of it as I could, and used it as my guide. You will also find many links to other websites here in the archives and other posts that are extremely helpful. The NMRA link is here, so check it out. Keep in touch and keep asking questions. We all learn something when you do.:thumb:
  6. ctmpwrdcamry

    ctmpwrdcamry New Member

    Do you have a recommended list of dealers that i should look at? Also for my first track should i use the quick connect stuff or the cork and track. How hard is it to set that up so i wont have issues.
  7. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Here is one good place to look for N gauge stuff. It's Gauge member Mike Fifers hobby website:
    I have never used the quick connect stuff and always used the cork and flex track method. I imagine the quick connect stuff is great but also more expensive.
  8. Muddy Creek

    Muddy Creek Member

    Hi Sean,

    If youthink this could be a long-term hobby, I would suggest starting small but with some good quality items. The only thing that will discourage someone faster than the slow progress of starting a large layout is the low-quality of a lot of entry-level products available. As was said above, Peco turnouts, though more expensive are excellent performers. Atlas makes good track, both sectional and flex. Lifelike makes a good, affordable switch engine in the SW9.

    Rather than buy the sectional track right off, I'd invest a little time in experimenting with some flex track. Atlas makes an inexpensive track saw. If you have a soldering gun or iron handy and have a little experience using it, I'd suggest getting a few lengths of flex track from somewhere (maybe someone has discards) and practice cutting the track and soldering the ends together. There are a few online tutorials that I can't put my finger on right now that will help you learn the art of cutting & soldering track. The tricky part is getting curves consistant. But it is not hard to learn and if you master it right away, you've skipped the limitations of the whole sectional track step. If working with flexitrack doesn't work for you, then all you've wasted is a little time and the cost of a length or two of track. Get the sectional track and start railroading.

    Set small goals that you can complete and you'll be hooked. The big layout will grow from the series of small accomplishments.

  9. seanm

    seanm Member

    I so confused...another Sean. (grin)

    Welcome!! You need not spend a LOT of money, but as others have mantioned, it is far better to get quality items then quantity. Make a nice small layout and details the heck out if it!
  10. cpr_boy

    cpr_boy Member


    Welcome to the Gauge and the world of N scale. Like you, I started in HO 12 years ago. I've recently got back into the hobby and due to my lack of space, I'm currently modelling in N scale. I'm still somewhat HO at heart, but the products available to N scale now are amazing.

    My best advice is to start small and learn as you go. I started with a simple oval on a 3'X4' piece of plywood. Add some switches, scenary, and before you know it you have a wonderful layout. You'll learn lots of valuable skills in soldering, wiring, etc. Don't be afraid to experiment and most of all...have fun!

    I've learnt alot from the many people on this forum. It's a great community

  11. ctmpwrdcamry

    ctmpwrdcamry New Member

    Thanks guys, this has given me alot of good reading. I might try my hand at flex track. However, which should i get? 80 or 55 if i am going to use pleco switchs?
  12. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    If I was in your shoes I would go with code 55 as it just looks so much better. You will have to compare costs though to see if it is affordable.
  13. Zman

    Zman Member

    I use Peco Code 55 flextrack and turnouts. Peco makes a good motor to drive the turnouts, and I would recommend getting the optional capacitance discharge units for them. There's nothing more annoying than having to tear up track to get at a bad turnout motor.

    The flextrack takes some practice to lay, especially if you want small radius turns. But don't make the turns any sharper than 7 1/2 inches radius. That's more or less the minimum.
  14. hswn

    hswn Member

    Hi Welcomb to the gauge and the hobby.
    I've read through the other replys and agree buy quality. The other advice I'd give is take a look at motive power, deside if you have a preferance for modern deisels or steamers. You don't have to make a hard and solid desion, but keep in mind that you don't want to buy half a dozen modern desiels and then deside you want to run all steam.
    You may want to buy one or two transition area desiels ie: RS1, RS3, GP7, GP9, F3, F7, F9, FA, SW9, SW12. Some can still be found today and if you deside to go with steam they can run with them as well. I'd advise that you look at Kato, Atlas, Life Like. I have a Model Power steamer I'm happy with but I don't know off hand what they offer in desiels. I also have a Spectrum dodle bug and some steamers but don't know if they ofer any good transition area desiels.
    Find out if what you are buy is DCC friendly. I not adviseing that you invest in DCC now, but that you make sure that if you want to go that route in the future it is easier to do so.
    See if you can find a club or modual group in your area. I'm in a modual group, we are internet based (Easternbenders Yahoo group) as our members live in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick,we get together once in a while.
  15. Bikerdad

    Bikerdad Member

    Muddy Creek suggests a track saw, but frankly, the Xuron Rail Cutters are soooooo much better, simpler to use, and also safer. (If you've ever snagged yourself on a saw, you'll know what I mean.) I would steer you towards the Kato F3 set, its really the only set in N scale that is all quality components. Get that, a powerpack, and you're on your way. Otherwise, stick with Atlas and Kato locomotives for your first couple of locos, and Atlas or Peco track.

    Pay close attention to the couplers on the locomotives that you buy. Basically, there's three types. The old, clunky looking Rapido couplers that don't look anything like real railroads use, "dummy" knuckle couplers that look like real ones, but don't actually open and close, and finally, operating knuckles. Try to stick with operating knuckle couplers only when buying new equipment. With the exception of older stock on the shelves, there is very little quality equipment today being produced with Rapidos for the North American market. (Spectrum Steam and the Atlas Mogul are all I can think of....)

    Most important thing: dive in and have fun. With anything that you "build", i.e. track, structures, scenery, just go slow, accept that you'll make mistakes because there's a lot of different skills that come into play with Model railroading, and don't worry that what you're doing isn't ready for the cover of Model Railroader's Great Railroads 2006. Sometimes the fun is in learning to do something, doing it again, and again, then looking back at your first effort and seeing how far you've progressed.

    As Nike says, "Just Do It!"
  16. ctmpwrdcamry

    ctmpwrdcamry New Member

    I keep looking at the kato sets as well as the atlas track sets, however i like the idea of making my own with flex track. I havent decided. The problem with kato is cost, the local hobby shop wont even stock their switches. Due to fact alone i keep looking at flex track and pleco switches. However, in the 55 they only have a few switchs and from my reading they appear to be harder to wire up.

    As for the type of locos i want to run, i want to run a few of each, if that isnt bad. :oops: I grew up watching trains in sacramento and really want a daylight on my layout some day. :thumb:
  17. ddavidv

    ddavidv Member

    I have a slightly different approach. ;)
    I wouldn't spend the money on code 55. 80 is just fine unless you tend to be a real 'rivet counter' worried about the utmost in accuracy. The selection in 80 is much better and less costly. Flex track really isn't that hard to work with, though cutting it with the Atlas type saw isn't my favorite thing. Sectional is really easy, but the more joints you have the more potential problems you will also have if you're not careful. I bought all my sectional track on Ebay from about 3 or 4 seperate auctions. Just look for auctions with lots of pieces--you can usually score a lot of track inexpensively. Turnouts I would only use Peco as they are vastly superior. I bought Atlas turnouts and they are okay, but a couple have problems and they are just ugly. Kato is just waaay to expensive.
    I would buy your locos NEW. I've got Atlas, Life-Like and Kato. They all run well, some are just better than others. Like was said, you get what you pay for.
    Rolling stock I bought a lot of used or inexpensive older stuff on Ebay. This got me a good selection to run quickly. Rapido couplers stink, but if you're not doing a lot of switching (now) you won't care. You can either change the couplers/trucks later or upgrade to better equipment and sell off the cheap stuff on Ebay. Aside from swapping a few trucks and wheels around I've had no issues with the rolling stock.
    I also bought my MRC power pack on Ebay, still in the original box, for probably $15 less than a new one.
    If you local hobby shops aren't helpful with N scale, you can usually find what you need via online shopping. There are a few places on the net that specialize in N scale.
    Start small and inexpensive on the stuff that doesn't matter, but spend money where it does count. This way if you decide it isn't for you, you're not out a lot of green. If you do decide N is the way to model, then you've got a great start. :)
  18. ctmpwrdcamry

    ctmpwrdcamry New Member

    Well, i just got home from another local shop. Nothing impressive, alot of large scale stuff. However, they had a hand full of flex track for a dollar and a running engine for ten. So, i got both and am going to try my hand at sodering. Anyone find a link to a "how to"? The only one i found was for garden scale. Im sure the basics are the same, but maybe a few hints for the small stuff.
  19. Muddy Creek

    Muddy Creek Member

    Here's a photo tutorial on HO flexitrack. Click through the series of photos. The text is below each picture.

    There are 3 main things I've learned about soldering.

    1. Protect your home from fire. Don't allow the soldering iron to contact flamable materials or leave it unattended.

    2. Protect your brain cells. Work in a well-ventilated area and don't breathe fumes.

    3. ..... Hmm... I know there were 3 things.... Oh, well, re-read number 2.


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