New to the hobby

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by hondo, Mar 16, 2006.

  1. hondo

    hondo New Member

    Hi, i'm getting ready to get into the model train hobby now that i'm retired.
    Since i have an eye problem i'm thinking about getting into o-scale or on30 i like the bigger tracks of the o-scale but it seems like the 0-scale is targeted more towards children unless i'm looking at the wrong sets.
    I'm leaning toward this set does anyone have this set or is there another set that anyone can recommand?
    Thanks Bill
  2. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Well,Bachmann Spectrum series makes ON30..This of course runs on HO track but,uses O Scale structures,figures etc.
    However..Atlas make O Scale 2 rail..
  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Bill: there is a fair bit of O scale out there, but it does get eclipsed by the toy train stuff (often called O-gauge). There is some convergence, with a few manufacturers offering both2 and 3-rail versions.
    As for children, even Lionel has locos that cost over $1000. Possibly for the child in the middle manager's body.
  4. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    Lionel offers sets geared for children but the majority of it is geared (and priced) toward adults. That looks like a nice set for getting started. The main thing is to have some idea what you are after, get a set that gets you a step or two in that direction with an appropriate locomotive and cars, then add whatever else is necessary. Starting off with a set is a nice idea because usually the retail price of the track and transformer included in most sets (when sold separately) is $125-$150 anyway.

    If you give us some idea what you like--eastern railroads, western railroads, steam or diesel, freight or passenger--we may be able to steer you towards something you'll like better.
  5. hondo

    hondo New Member

    Thanks for the replies
    I like Union Pacific and Santa Fe steam locomotives.
    I was thinking about 1950's coal or Sawmill theme the layout is 8' by 12'.
    It doesn't matter if it's two rail or three rail.
    Also if the set comes with fastrack should i stick with that or buy different track?
    Thanks Bill
  6. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    There's no shortage of either UP or Santa Fe in 3-rail O gauge (Lionel and otherwise). Even if it's not in the current catalog, there's still a lot of stuff that was produced in the last couple of years still in the channel. You'd easily be able to do a coal or sawmill theme using what's available.

    An 8'x12' layout will be a bit tight for 2-rail O gauge (a plain old circle of 2-rail track is 8' in diameter), although it could be done. But there's a much larger selection and lower prices in 3-rail. A lot of 3-rail is designed to be able to operate on tighter curves. It's a little less realistic, but more practical, since most people can't build layouts that take up entire basements.

    With track, it all depends on what you want. For ease of setup, the Fastrack is hard to beat. It looks good, it snaps right together, and it works well. I have a circle of it that I use for Christmas tree duty. If you want more realism, you can get Gargraves or Atlas track (both are aftermarket; you can't get Gargraves in a set and I don't think Atlas makes any sets either) and ballast it yourself. If you want a nostalgic-looking 1950s-style layout, the traditional tubular track is still available too.

    It's less expensive to buy a set with whatever track system you intend to use whenever possible. But if you get a set with Fastrack and decide you don't like it, you'll have no problems selling it and you'll probably get a couple of dollars per track section.

    I like the old-fashioned tubular track, but I'm biased because I had a couple of boxes of it off my dad's childhood layout. My opinion might have been different if I hadn't had that.

    Feel free to keep the questions coming. We love talking about this stuff.
  7. hondo

    hondo New Member

    Dave,thanks for the help
    I think i will go with the 3 rail i have been looking online and it seems most O-gauge locomotives are for 3 rail.
    What curves would work best for an 8"x12' layout 072 or other?
    I'm still not sure weather i'm going to get a set or buy a better quality locomotive and track from what i can tell i like the looks of the tubular track more.
    If you people where just starting out what would you get to start with in O-scale?
    Thanks Bill
  8. webmaster

    webmaster Member

    You will fit more into the space you have with On30 & depending on the length of the stock you will want to run you can reduce the radius of the curves.
  9. hondo

    hondo New Member

    Yes,i'm leaning towards on30 since looking at people's on30 layouts on this site.
    Should i buy Atlas 83 flex track sold for HO scale if i do go the on30 route?
    Thanks Bill
  10. webmaster

    webmaster Member

    Well I'm no expert on On30 Bill, I'm just starting out down that road myself, more for the diversity & artistic licence than anything else.

    I'm using Peco O-16.5 flexi-track and turnouts which is all code 100. I suppose it really comes down to cost & availability.
  11. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    On30 or O standard gauge?

    I got into On30 because I'm a logging enthusiast and like you, getting a bit "older" and the ol' eyesight ain't what it used to be. I use Peco On30 track because the tie sizes look better with On30 than using standard HO track. If you like code 70 or 55 rail, Micro Engineering makes excellent On30 flextrack. Unfortunately they don't make turnouts. With On30 you will be limited to older, steam era equipment, with the exception of some small diesel switchers. No modern prototypes. On30 will probably fit into your room size better than standard gauge O scale.
  12. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Back Again

    Forgot to mention that O scale two rail is alive and well. Atlas has agood selection of equipment.
  13. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    8'x12' is big enough for O72, but inside your outer oval you'll have to step down to O54. If you're planning on getting a UP Challenger and/or a Big Boy, you'll need O72 because I don't think those will run on O54 curves. I could be wrong though. The biggest locomotive I have is a Berkshire, which is perfectly happy on my O34 track and can even handle O27 without much protest, so I don't have any personal experience with the really large ones.

    Well, that depends on a few things. First, see as much stuff as possible in person. Is there a hobby shop anywhere nearby that deals in Lionel and/or MTH trains? (MTH is Lionel's biggest competitor, although there are others.) Visit, click Model Train Shops, and punch in your zip code to get a map with the nearest shop, or, hopefully, shops on it. It doesn't list everything, but Mapmuse had two or three shops near me that I didn't know about.

    Are there any train shows in your area? One place to start looking is here: The list isn't comprehensive but it'll track the major events. Going to Google and typing "train show" and whatever the closest major city is can also turn up some stuff.

    I would visit a shop and/or a show with the intention to look a lot and buy very little. The goal is to find out what's available, but also to get an idea what you like. The mistake I made starting out was buying everything in sight that I could afford. I had set aside about $100 a month to spend, and by golly, I was gonna get the most I could for the money! It's better to have a few things you like than a lot of stuff you only kinda-sorta like. Get a good look at the different types of track that are available and take a look at a couple of different types of locomotives. Let the shop owner know you do intend to buy but you probably won't be buying a lot today (and if a shop is helpful, do buy from it, because you want it to still be there next year).

    Also take a look at some layouts online. is the site of a professional layout builder. I think building the layout myself is part of the fun but it's nice to steal ideas from the pros. He has a little bit of everything there. Most of the O gauge layouts are 4x8 or smaller, but you can get an idea from those what you can do. I like his site because he does both extremes--take a look at the 3x6 O scale layout to see a traditional 1950s-like layout using tubular track, Plasticville buildings and dimestore plastic cars (a scale modeler's nightmare, but my dad, who grew up in the '50s, would have loved it), and take a look at the other layouts that are more scale-like.

    Then, either design or find a track plan that suits you (we can help you out with software), build the tables if you don't have them already, then start getting track and start building. 8'x12' is a good size because it's big enough to be interesting but not so big that it'll be years before it looks like anything.

    If you don't have any shops near you, the next-best thing is to look at as many different layouts online as you can. It's not as good as seeing the stuff in person but it helps. Take a look at the caboose thread here at the pictures Spankybird and others have posted. If you see something you like in a picture, feel free to ask who made it and where to get one. One of us is bound to know.
  14. hondo

    hondo New Member

    Thanks, for all the help everyone
    I went to a train store today and played around with on30 and O-scale train sets that they had on display and i decided on the O-scale 3 rail.
    I'm working on the bench work and should have the trains running in about two weeks and i will post a picture.
    Thanks Bill
  15. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    Wow. That was quick! Well, good luck and have fun, and if you have other questions, feel free to ask!
  16. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

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