New to trains need help bad

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Irocian, Dec 20, 2002.

  1. Irocian

    Irocian New Member

    I have just started into the model train world and need some basic help to get me started. Do all HO tracks work together? I mean by that does flex work with non-flex? Should i only use a certain type of track? How many power units do i need to run say 4 tracks? I just bought the Monopoly Bachmann HO train set and also HO 36" flex track 10 pieces, and also soon more tracks but i think they're not flex track, is this a problem? Any help would be greatly appreciated. I bought this to get my 1 year old son involved att a early age as i always wanted a train set when i was a kid buit had to wait till now when i'm a big kid.

  2. Clerk

    Clerk Active Member

    I am no expert on this but I know some modelers have mixed flex with fixed track so I assume it can be done. Just don't mix code 55 with code 80 or 100. This is my opinion.
    Sombody else will probable come on here with better information.

    Good Luck
  3. pcentral

    pcentral Member

    Hello and welcome to the gauge,
    You have come to the right place my friend. While I do not currently model in HO, I can point you in the right direction. The flex track is the best as it allows you to do more custom track plans and less joints between tracks. Less is more in this case, less joints more electrical conductivity. Hopefully your flex track is nickel silver, this is better more conductivity and stays clean longer than brass track. You can use sectional (solid) track with your flextrack with no problems, just be sure you mount the track to something. I also would recommend using Atlas switches. They may cost a little more than some but I rarely had a problem with anything from Atlas. It is better to spend a few dollars more now than have to go back later and upgrade something, this includes the benchwork. I know someone here can help you in more detail but this , like I said, will point you in the right direction. Lastly, congratulations on joining the worlds greatest hobby! Steve
  4. Railery

    Railery Member

    Hi Irocian and Welcome to the-guage :D i'm sure your going to learn alot here. U can mix different tracks, flex and non flex. Usually u got to be careful because you cannot mix the snap tracks of different manufacturers.

    For a small layout u only need one power unit. U can only run one train at a time unless u block sections of the track or use DCC.

    Also get over to a hobby store or on the internet and find some beginner books to the hobby. Example, The Practical Guide To HO Model Railroading from Model Railroader magazine. Or 101 Track Plans For Model Railroaders by Linn H. Westcott.

    Hope this info helps and keep firing out the questions :D :D
  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Hi Irocian.
    I suspect that you have Bachman's EZ track. This is the black or grey plastic that's raised a bit to represent roadbed.
    This should join to the flex track or snap track IF you raise the other track to match and do something about the lock on the EZ track. If you run down from the track on roadbed to track just on your table, you'll need a bit of distance to do it -- look at some of our other threads.
    I don't think that it works with LifeLike Power-Loc or other raised tracks without a lot of fiddling.
    The trains set track should do you fine for a few years. If you stick with model railroads, you'll eventually want something better or buy some rolling stock that isn't happy on the sharp curves. I have a loop of EZ track that I keep assembled for testing and running in locos.
  6. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Hi Irocian,
    I think you could make a pair of adapters to mate the E-Z Track to the flex traxk without too much trouble by cutting one of your straights in half (use an Atlas saw from your LHS?), clean up the ends, and use rail joiners to connect the flex track. Like David said, you can use cork or other roadbed to get the rails to the same height. :) :)
  7. Railery

    Railery Member

    For power if u don't go DCC than u will need a trottle for each engine. Here is a diagram showing a dual cab system. If u go this route i would purchase a book called "Wiring Your Layout" by Atlas or check it out.

    Attached Files:

  8. Irocian

    Irocian New Member


    I want to run say 2-3 trains at once. I have alot of EZ track and flex track enough i thinking to cover my 4x8 table im building. I have many buildings from a iron works to kentucy fried chicken. I want to do a industry area and then a city area in my layout. I have over na dunder bridges, a pier bridge which i would like to have at least one track run over top of another. I need a real good layout which i could incorperate all these things, any suggestions?
  9. upguy

    upguy Oregon Western Lines, CEO

    Welcome to the hobby! It sounds to me (like most of us model railroaders) that you have a very loooong list of things that you want to do...maybe too many things for the area that you have on a 4' x 8' sheet of plywood. That is not to say it can't be done, but do you really want that or should you modify your plans according to your priorities?

    Do you really want to run 2-3 trains on a 4' x 8'? If you do, you may find that you will want to explore DCC. It simplifies your wiring and you won't have to buy three power packs and all the switches for block controls. etc. Yes, you will have to buy decoders for your engines and the power system will have a higher initial expense; but this will be offset by the increased flexibility and fun of running trains--not track. (I have both a DC HO layout and an DCC N-scale layout. I have hardly touched the HO layout since I started playing with my N-scale.)

    Unfortunately, you have already started buying Bachmann, HO which may not be the most reliable or DCC friendly equipment. (Not my choice, but I've already been there and done that.) This is, however, a start in the hobby and you will learn a great deal from the experience you will get working with it. Everyone learns a lot building that first layout, and you won't be an exception. Many things will change (and improve) with each layout that you construct.

    You have a young engineer to think about, so HO is a better choice than N at this time. That being said, you may wish to consider N scale for the future because it will allow you to do more of the things that you mentioned that you want to have--and on a 4' x 8' piece of plywood.

    What should you do? Only you can decide what is best. Ask questions, read books, and try to have a plan before you get too financially committed.

    What would I do? Since you have already begun, I would hold off on buying much more until you have weighed all your options. Buy only what is necessary to make a basic oval with a couple switches for industries and keep this first 4' x 8' layout VERY SIMPLE. Keep this first railroad for your little one's enjoyment. Teach respect for the equipment, but don't get upset when something gets will; and accumulate items of quality for the NEXT layout...the one that you both can enjoy. The one that you have both planned for when you outgrow the original.

    Enough rambling. I have tried not to appear to be too opinionated--even though I am. :D Hope this has helped. I'm sure others here will also want to bestow on you their "pearls of wisdom."

    Have fun,
  10. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member


    upguy just provided you with perhaps the best advise that you can get here. You have a lot that you want to do but your existing resource (space) is going to limit what you can actually accomplish. The K.I.S.S. approach for the first shot is the best. Look at a few of the Basic planning books and get an idea of how the track that you have will look on that 4x8. You might even put some of your snap track and flex down on the board to see the effect of your wants with the reality of the track radii and your building foot prints will allow. On a 4x8 sheet of plywood you are probably going to get 1 and maybe 2 parallel tracks with the curves at either end and maybe a couple of spurs (sidings). The radius of your curves should be as large as possible to prevent your locos and cars from derailing. I use 18" radius as a minimum guide but even that is tight in my opinion. I model n-gauge so some of the HO folks could better advise the radius minimums.

    Don't try to cram too much track and too many structures into a little space as it will limit your ability to (1) enjoy constructing a nice layout, and (2) effectively run and enjoy your trains. In this hobby sometimes a little bit is enough.

    But what ever you do enjoy your trains. The Gauge folks are here to help you do that.:) :)
  11. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    Here is a link to another thread about the same thing you are asking.:) :)

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