Newbie trying to come up to speed on wot's hot...

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Spongemike, May 7, 2006.

  1. Spongemike

    Spongemike New Member

    and wot's not...

    Kia Ora from NZ

    Well, after a hiatus of around 22 years I've decided to get back into model RR, and am sticking to the same scale/gauge that I started with as a lad - American HO. Of course, since then many products have either disappeared or changed an improved beyond recognition. One thing that seems to have stayed fairly constant is Athearn products, some of which I had back then - they still seem to be pretty good, and good bang for yer buck.

    Aside from everything seeming to be DCC now, are there products out there that one should avoid like the plague, or conversely ones to recommend? It appears that Bachmann have made giant leaps forward in terms of quality and useablilty, so I'm quite tempted to get some of their stuff now.

    I won't be building a mega-sized layout that's for sure, more like something modest and easy to build, but I would like to build something that offers a little more than round and round running (but reverse loops are out,as my son will be using the layout too) - are there any websites out there that have track plans on them? I'm after something no bigger than 1.2m x 2.4m (4' x 8')

    Any, sorry for the long post, I'll try to keep them short inthe future!


  2. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    :wave: welcome to the gauge Mike :wave:as to what to avoid price be your guide if the price sounds cheep then so the product for a track plan there many to fit that space search for old threads here.
  3. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    Unless you are planning on someday having a larger layout you probably don't need DCC. Although you can now get sound in any DCC but only a few non DCC. All of this costs more of course. By the way welcome back to the hobby. If you desire more than just going around a circle there are lots of track plans available in magazines and as Jim said look through the threads here. May I suggest looking under Technical information. "Track Planning for the future" and "Technical Q & A". Most important thing to remember is Have fun:thumb:
  4. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    Bachmann Spectrum and their silver series rolling stock is what you want to go for. The standard line apperently isn't much different. I wouldn't take their DCC system though.

    In general, Athearn stuff is still good, all though they seem to be phasing out kit locomotives in favor of RTR equipment. they still sell many car kits though. Atlas stuff is pretty good to. As everyone says, what you pay for is what you get. if the MSRP on a locomotives is lower than $50, it might not be the best out there. the horn hook couplers should be avoided.

    I make track plans sometimes, what are you looking for?
  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Hi Mike. Where in NZ are you? I knew a few people out there.
    Athearn is now owned by another group, as is Roundhouse/MDC, but still sold under the old name.
    Bachman and Lifelike have come out with better quality lines at higher price.
    Lot of companies making sectional track with roadbed pre-attached; none of them are compatible.
  6. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    altought you can mix up atlas true track with regular roadbed-less track ( i think the track even detaches) as well as EZ track, as long as you have somthing supporting it, with some minor modifications.
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Welcome to The Gauge!

    DCC will allow you to have "no-brainer" reverse loops via the magic of autmated electronics - so there should not be a worry about your son operating a reverse loop.

    Don't worry about the size of the layout when trying to decide whether to use DCC or DC control. Count the number of engines - the more you want to run simultaneously, the more attractive DCC will be. This is because of the electrical blocks required for separate train control in DC. You need at least twice as many blocks as trains (one for each to operate in, and one ahead of the current position of the train). With DCC you can run engines at different speeds, in different directions in close proximity (in fact it is even possible to run into each other...!).

  8. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Welcome to the Gauge Mike :wave:

    For trackplans, there are lots of sources in print and on the net, but to get you started, try
    The site uses frames so I couldn't give you the direct link, but just click on the Layouts tab up top, then HO then have fun. The cool thing about the Atlas plans (aside from the fact that most fit your 4 x 8 size) is that they provide you with a full list of track and turnouts, and will even sell them to you as a package if you want.

  9. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    I still say for a 4X8 layout DCC is overkill unless you are planning to enlarge. Go to to see opinions on going to DCC. I have a rather large layout have been doing this for 15 years and just now getting into DCC because of sound.
  10. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    DCC for 4x8 is not overkill, again depending on how you want to operate. The key to the discussion in that other thread is that the member will be operating one loco (or series of MU-ed locos) by himself.

    If you and your son want to run trains at the same time on the 4x8, the easiest way to do it is with DCC.

  11. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    Mason Jar, can we agree to disagree?
  12. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Agreed... :)

  13. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Don't take the debate too seriously... As you are probably well aware, there are several (sometimes dozens of) right answers to every question in model railroading! ;) :D

  14. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    On a small layout that you and your son will operate together, I think dcc may be more important than on a big layout. On a big layout with a lot of blocks, you can reasonably keep a block between the train you are running and the one your son is running. On a 4 x8 your trains will be in much closer proximity, and there isn't enough track to cut it up into enough blocks to keep separation. If you and your son don't intend to run two trains at the same time, dc will be fine. If you decide to get dcc, one of the small starter sets will probably be perfectly adequate for your needs. You probably won't have enough room on a small layout to put on enough trains to require a big system to operate it.

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