Newbie yet oldie, needs advice

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by PsyGrad, Jan 1, 2002.

  1. PsyGrad

    PsyGrad New Member

    When I was a child my father built a HO gauge simple figure 8 trainset, throughout the years it was expanded slightly with some lights, and three engines (one of which I am fairly sure came from the original tyco set, because I still have the transformer too). Back then, I wired up the swtiches, addded another board with some more track. Recently I went to resurrect the set, none of the engines work, it looks as if I get some power to the tracks, switches, and lights. I really want to get back in to this hobby, no only for myself, but possibly for my daughter (1 year old). I have a few questions where do I really begin to deal with this, do I deal with the power supply first? Do I try to repair the locomotives if they don't work, or do I buy new ones, if so which ones are good now a days. Also I would like to make this realistic, and really expand on it. I would like to look at photos to get ideas, where do I get information on how to do that? Thanks for any help anyone can provide.
  2. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    So you're getting back into the hobby because of your 1 year old daughter, huh? OK. We'll go with that story! :)

    I think it unlikely that all three engines are bad. Check the wires, then check the power supply. I remember that the power supplies from those old sets would burn out if you left them plugged in too long. (It seems that "modern" power supplies are more forgiving.) If you have a voltmeter, connect or touch the leads to the DC terminals on the supply. Turn up the control knob and see if it produces power. You can also hook on a 12-volt lamp. (Don't connect the AC terminals to the track!)

    Another thing you might consider: go buy a new starter set. They range in price from $30 on up. In general, the more you pay the better the quality of the set. I got a collector's set from Eckerd Drugs for $20 (after a $10 coupon). It's made by Mehano, a company in Slovenia, I think. Anyway, it's not the best, but it runs pretty good and looked really nice running under the tree.

    Athearn and Atlas are popular makers of good quality locomotives. Bachmann also has a few good models, and I.H.C. makes some good ones for a reasonable price.

    Here are some links to manufacturers. Most of them don't sell from their websites, but I think they all have links to their vendors. (the site has been down for a couple of days)

    Here are a couple of vendors:

    I've only done business with Trainworld. They are really nice and carry A LOT of stuff.

    I also recommend that you pick up a copy of the January issue of Model Railroader. It includes a supplement this month of HO-scale track plans that fit in a 4' x 8' space. MR is also a great source of information on what's available, and it has lots of ads.

  3. IMRL393

    IMRL393 Member

    Hi, PsyGrad !

    Rory has already told you about Athearn (maybe the BEST loco to start with) and Atlas (their "Master" series is maybe the best loco made today in plastic). But you should also consider Life-Like's Photo 2000 models (P2K) - these are also top quality locos at almost the Atlas level (There are some here that would "flip" the order).

    P2K's web site is:

    "Genesis" is Athearn's top-of-the-line models - almost up there with Atlas and P2K, IMHO, and another line for you to consider.

    Stewart is another good quality brand.

    "Regular" Life-like trains, however, are another story altogether! They are cheap (in price and feature), but may be worth considering if you want a train set that you won't panic about when your daughter destroys it! As Rory says, a "starter set" might be a way to start. You can usually find Life-Like sets at Hobby Lobby and other "craft" stores.

    Athearn starter sets are of higher quality (and cost) than Life-Like, and may be found at your local Model Railroad store (if any), or at the dealers Rory gave you, or those I've listed below (especially Walthers).

    For starting (especially with a child), your best bet may be to get "regular" Athearn models (either in a set or seperate) - they are good quality at a good price. Save the more expensive Atlas, P2K, and Athearn Genesis locos and cars for YOU - with all those breakable small parts.....!


    (I Know you Know this, but Please watch out for small parts with your Daughter!)

    When you go shopping, here are some other internet dealers to consider:

    Walthers - they have EVERYTHING (but at the highest cost!)

    HobbyCircle - usually cheaper than Walthers. I've had good service for the one item I've got there (a boxcar). I also have have a loco on reserve with them (if Stewart EVER gets it out):

    If you want to go DCC (Digital Command and Control - it allows you to control each loco individually - and have sound, if wanted!), check out Tony's :

    They also have good prices on select locos (got my Atlas Master GP38 from them - great loco!).

    Have fun - it is a wonderful hobby for a family!
    MY daughter likes craft work, so is building some of the buildings on our layout - she is a BIT older than yours (She's 23 and in college!), so I don't have to worry about small parts anymore!


    - George
  4. Catt

    Catt Guest

    Welcome PsyGrad,to The Gauge.As you've allready discovered there are plenty of people here at Big Blue ready and willing to help you out with lots of good sound advice.:D

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