New to Train Modelling + Need Advice

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by frenchtoast, May 17, 2005.

  1. frenchtoast

    frenchtoast New Member

    Hi everyone. Im new to train modelling (im only 22) and i need some advice on a few things.

    After researching ive decided the most balanced scale for size and affordability for myself is N-scale. I have done a bit of looking around but havent decided exactly what i want to model. Im from Australia, so either an australian setting, steam from any continent or japanese bullet trains. This isnt such a big deal. I'll have to decide on whats available to me. My main questions are as follows.

    • What brands should i be looking at for locos, rolling stock and track? From what ive seen in forums and websites Atlas and Kato seem to be the best to go for if you want quality. Should i stick to this or does anyone recommend
    • Would there be any compatibility issues if i were to mix different brands of model together?
    • For those people in Australia (specifically Melbourne), where are the better hobby shops to buy N-scale from? And where do people buy from off the internet that they trust.

    If theres anything else that anybody could help with it would be much appreciated. I have a few projects in mind and i cant wait to get started.
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Hi frenchtoast (or is it bonjour?)...

    Welcome to The Gauge. There are a number of Australian members here who can probably help you with local shops and so on.

    I am in HO scale, but from what I have read, Atlas and Kato have fine Nscale offerings. Most model railroads are a mix of brands, so I would not worry about that. You will have to be sure that, for example, your couplers are compatible on rolling stock, or that the track of different brands matches up, but generally there should not be a problem.

    Anything else - look through The Gauge! There is a lot of great information here, and the search function can be your best friend. ;)

  3. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    Morning Mr Toast,

    As it happens, I was in Melbourne a few months ago. The shops in the city seemed a bit rubbish (or non-N-scale). The one under the big brick station was hopeless, but a little one in the twee touristy arcade in the centre of the pedestrian part of the mall was pretty good -- lots of stuff upstairs.

    By far the best for N-scale though, was Rail N'thusiasts (or something similar), in Sunbury (sudbury?) -- about 10 stations out on the commuter train as I remember. I was only a tourist so have no idea where it was by car. That was my first trip on a train in about 15 years -- I didn't bother with a rental car as we were staying right in the centre of town... Very nice bloke there, say hello from me...

    Of course, every USD-based internet site is dirt cheap (for you and I) at the moment :D Of the ones I've used, Tony's train exchange and 4NScale have both been good, and have the easier websites to use. Most of the websites are a pain in the arse, and include all sorts of products that are out of stock for an unknown period of time... Shipping via USPS air tends to be about 4-5 days and cost around NZ$6-12 for most things.

    For rolling stock I like Atlas and MT, for locos Kato. I know there are lots on the site who like the Atlas locos (and of course they have a much bigger range), but every Kato I've bought runs ten times better than every Atlas I have (most Atlas need to be in pairs to even get round reliably), and the few Life-Like locos I have are pure unusable junk. Just my experience, nothing personal.

    For couplers, don't worry about what the cars come with -- buy a stack of body-mount MT couplers and put them on everything. It's the only sure way to reliable remote coupling and uncoupling that I've found.

    Have fun!

  4. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Welcome to the Gauge FT. Hope you find what you are here looking for.
  5. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Hiya French Toast.I cant disagree with the above except perhaps on the Atlas Loco's.Ive had great luck with them and the newer models I have are as good or better than my Kato's.If we are talking older Atlas equipment,I agree the Kato's are much better.

    If you are considering a Bullet Train,Kato has a set that comes with unitrack that might be a good jumping off point.Kato's track adds up but is of good quality.
    Peco also has good track and will cost only a bit less once you consider the extra roadbed and misc.needed.
    Atlas track is probobly the most affordable and does a fine job if care is taken laying it. Cost ends up being about 70% of Peco and 60 % of Kato aprox.

    Lifelike and bachmann track also ran ,(just not very far :D )

    Good luck and welcome aboard.

    I am selling off a large portion of my N scale collection and going to On30 for my main layout.(my eyes are going bad)
    I have structure Kits listed in our buy and sell forum now and will be listing loco's rolling stock etc over the next few weeks.Perhaps you'll find something that will interest you and that will save you some money :)
  6. Zman

    Zman Member

    I've had good luck with Atlas engines - I have couple of 2-6-0 Moguls.

    I use Peco code 55 flextrack and motorized turnouts. It looks great.

    Welcome to the Gauge.
  7. ddavidv

    ddavidv Member

    For a beginner, even Life-Like can be satisfactory for locos. I've been pleased with mine considering what they have cost me (and less than retail if you shop Ebay). Atlas is better and quieter, for certain. Kato is the Rolls-Royce of N locos, nice but you pay for the privelege. I recommend buying locos new, and rolling stock second hand if you're on a budget.
    Atlas track is fine (I encourage flex track where possible) but I'd avoid their turnouts and go with Peco, they are vastly superior for the price difference.
    Buy a good power pack, not a 'train set' one. Again, these can be found on Ebay for less than retail.
    Consider availability of items before deciding on what kind of trains/time period you wish to model as it is sadly more limited than HO, but you can pack so much more into a smaller face I feel it's worth the struggle.
    Last tip: whenever possible, watch your trains run at eye level...makes them look more realistic. :)
  8. Eye Level

    While I'll agree about Eye level, I'm a lazy SOB, and so I *sit down* while playing trains. a table at the usual 30-40" height will let you sit at it just fine.
  9. frenchtoast

    frenchtoast New Member

    Thanks everyone for the suggestions and ideas. I'll be looking at getting some gear quite soon. Just have to find some stockists of N scale.
  10. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Possible areas of incompatibility:
    Couplings. Basicly 2 types Rapido (the big ones) and Kadee. May be some others on Japanese stock.
    Track: 2 sizes code 55 and code 70. (code is rail height in .001") Some wheels have large flanges that may not like code 55 track. Peco cheat on code 55 and make it as code 70 but sink it down into the ties. Other problems may be minor differences in tie height. And the track with roadbed is something else.
    Locomotives: different locomotives may not double-head well together. This can even happen with the same type loco from one manufacturer.
  11. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    Actually David, in N Scale, it is Rapido and MT or Atlas. I don't think Kadee makes anything in N.
  12. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Will: apologies. I still think of them as Kadee; last time I bought any they were still Kadee. Now you can tell me how long I've been out of date. (I have a Kadee souvenir boxcar in N.)
  13. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    Hang onto it David, it will be a collectors item soon. :D
  14. Dorcas

    Dorcas New Member

    I too am from "Down Under" (Gippsland) there is a small but very helpful place in Stradford just out of Sale.
    I cut my teeth by reading Model Railway (US) and bought a lot of gear from the US.
    I would agree with all that Tillsbury has said.

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