Newbie Questions

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by DieselRich, Aug 20, 2006.

  1. DieselRich

    DieselRich New Member

    Hi guys, I've recently caught the model RR bug, and have decided to embark upon a long and enjoyable new hobby. I've decided on working with HO scale exclusivley, as it seems to have the widest range of products and the scale detail is attractive. I'd like to start out with a CN or CP diesel freight locomotive (SD40 or Dash 9 preffered ) with all the bells and whistles (functionality and sounds). I'd like to purchase good quality rolling stock as well.

    I find myself a bit overwhelmed to be honest, by the incredibly wide range of models and manufacturers. After many hours of googling and reading, it seems to me that the premier models are made by KATO, Atlas, and Athearn. I'm probably just scratching the surface though.

    Price really isn't an issue, as I'd like good quality even if it takes longer to accumulate my railroad. Unfortunately, there are no hobby stores near me, so most of my research must be conducted online. I'll probably end up buying the majority of the items online as well.

    Any advice is appreciated.

  2. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Welcome to the Gauge.
    The manufacturers you've mentioned are probably the best, in detail and running. All have great detail, though you may have to add some small parts(usually the Kato) such as grabs, and truck details.I have the Kato -9 and it is a smooth runner, if a little noisy, Dcc ready, just that the small details can be a pain putting on. Kato is also limited in rolling stock.
    The Athearn, Ready-To-Roll, is basically a "From the box to rails" model, no fuss, no muss. Good detail, smooth runner, Dcc ready. Athearn also has a great quantity of rolling stock, in Ready-To- Roll, as well as kits.
    Can't say much about Atlas, I haven't had any experience with them. I'm sure someone else can say something about them.
    Another one you might want to look at is the Walthers/Life-Like Proto 2000 line. Good detail, smooth runners. I have one that was a show "special"(loose in a box with other stuff) It sat on the shelf for two years before I ran it, and then, with no prep, it started right up and ran great.
    Of course, these are just from personal experiences.
    Hope this helps.
  3. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Hi Rich - Welcome aboard!!! :wave:

    I see you've made some excellent choices already (HO and CN & CP) :D :D

    The next one you will face is DCC or block control. Take it from another newbie, DCC is much easier to wire (and to understand).

    When looking for an engine to purchase, be aware that there is what you've described - all set up with sound and DCC, and there is what's called "DCC ready". That means you will have to install the decoders and sound card, and speakers yourself. :eek:

    Atlas and Kato are reliable with Kato being a little higher end, but they haven't fully jumped into the onboard sound, so be sure to check for that. LifeLike has recently been bought by Walthers and is increasingly offering engines with sound.

    I don't know anything about Athearn, but I think they are more for the budget minded.

    There is also Broadway Limited Imports, whose focus is decidedly on steam. Until recently ALL their engines came equipped with sound and DCC. They have set themselves up as a high-end product, but at times fail to deliver both in terms of quality control and customer service. Could be put down to growing pains though...

    Anyway, I'm sure you'll get lots more good advice from all the knowlegable folks here.


  4. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    :wave: welcome to the gauge :wave: another high end is Trix nice looking stuff and not having owned one I've been told there great runners too, since price isn't a issue there are brass locos and cars very high end stuff like Overland.
  5. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!


    Glad you could join us! I think you're getting a pretty balanced review of products here.
    I think your plan to research the hobby and be willing to wait to buy if necessary is a wise one. Best wishes as you get started!
  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Rich: you sound as if you've found out what you want.
    If you want all the "bells and whistles". you'll need to go DCC. This is a good time to start. Check out our DCC section.
    If you're going to sart with a big loco like that, start with big curves. It'll look nicer and be happier.
    Will you need suggestions for mail order hobby shops in Canada? Do you want western ones or will you consider the mysterious east?
  7. DieselRich

    DieselRich New Member

    Thanks for all the tips and encouragement guys!:thumb: It's nice to know I'm on the right 'track' (I know, that's pretty bad). What's the general concensus on rolling stock from Bachmann and Model Power? There's a pair of MP hopper cars on E-bay that look pretty good.


  8. DieselRich

    DieselRich New Member

    Thanks Dave, there are a couple of places in Alberta I'm checking into, as they're closest to my residence. Probably cheaper too, as I would only be paying GST.

  9. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    As was mentioned earlier, you will need to have fairly decent radius curves on any layout to run those long locomotrives realistically. You have to be careful with Bachmann and Model Power. Most of their stuff was made for the toy train market, so the couplers are usually mounted to the trucks instead of body mounted. Truck mounted couplers will track to the center of the rails as they swivel with the trucks, body mounted couplers will swing to the outside of a curve. The locomotives you are looking at will have body mounted couplers. If you couple them to a car with truck mounted couplers, the locomotives may knock the cars off the tracks on curves. The best cars are made by Lifelike (Proto 2 Thousand), Lifelike also has a toy train line, Intermountain, & Red Caboose for the best detail. Athearn, Roundhouse MDC, Accurail, and Atlas make great cars, but most have cast on details instead of separate grab irons, ladders, & brake detail.
  10. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Don't forget about Bowser! I have buillt their open and covered hopper kits - the price is very reasonable and they're just a pleasure to build. Everything fits perfectly and they go together quickly and easily.

  11. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Thanks Val, I was trying to remember all of the manufacturers of good ho scale cars and I did forget Bowser.
  12. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    You only pay GST when the shop is in another province - doesn't matter if it's coming from Alberta or Ontario to Saskatchewan.

    There is a good little shop in Regina in the basement of a guy's house with his layout - the shop name is something like Model Trains for VIP...??? "Trainclown" is a Gauge member frmo Regina, and when I was out there on business, he very kindly arranged for a tour and visit. We also went to see (quickly) the old train station that is now the casino, and the old loco parked out front.

    Maybe try an email to him - are you anywhere near Regina?


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