Noob Alert: Xmas Villiage and Train Q's

Discussion in 'On30 Forum' started by HeadRusch, Nov 16, 2005.

  1. HeadRusch

    HeadRusch New Member


    First off, my apologies to those of you who have tacked these questions at this same time every year when another newbie finds these forums. :)

    My only experience with model trains has been the HO scale stuff from Markline that my father got into the late 70's and early 1980's. While he had aspirations of buying major layouts, I dont believe they ever went anywhere.

    Now, with kids of my own, its fallen on my shoulders to consider doing the Christmas Villiage. I can tell you up front, I wont be dedicating myself to this as another full time hobby, but I do have a passing interest in setting up an interesting yet simple Xmas Villiage that gets added to over time, starting with a train.

    It looks like if I want to go the more simple route, the 0-scale villiages that abound are nicely mated to O-scale or On30 scale trains. Is this correct?

    If so this means I can buy and use HO scale track for use with a train that is On30 scale. Is that correct as well? O is a larger scale train running on narrower track (HO)...uh..right?

    I was going to do something in a smaller scale to make 12" radius turns (I have some furniture that would be ideal for this but its only 15" deep, but then I learned that most of the villiages out there (Department 56, the Hawthorne stuff) would make those really small trains appear too tiny.

    Now when I say Xmas Villiage I mean purchasing items (probably not modeling them, painting and detailing them but rather the pre-fab ceramic type items) and adding things like plastic trees, and white cotton for snow.
    Not building mountains, adding forests, bridges and the least, thats how I'm going into this. I know modeling can be an addiction (having done some 1/64 scale WW2 stuff back in the 80's).

    Bachmann looks like the sets to buy, and if I want to get really pricy I can go with Hawthorne's "licensed trains" that appear to be modified Bachmann sets? Is that about right?

    Are there other things I should be considering that I'm not? Is On30 big enough to be under a tree with some village components and not be "lost".....and whats the tightest radius I can do with on30 (HO?) track?

    I've been thinking of a bachmann starter xmas set and maybe adding to it with other ON30 cars (perhaps repainted by me in an xmas theme) over the years to go with the Hawthrone and Dept56 style villages and diorama accessories.

    Comments appreciated, and thanks for your patience.
  2. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    The Bachmann On30 stuff was basicly designed for use with Dept. 56 villages. It's us model railroaders who turned it into another branch of the hobby. :D
    The Bachmann train sets come with an EzTrack oval, the curves are 18" radius, I'd not go tighter than that.
    We had one of the Bachmann sets running in the store window. over 800 statute miles,(4,224,000 feet!) (679,930 times around the oval ) and it still runs!
  3. HeadRusch

    HeadRusch New Member

    I see, so I'm kind of buying into a pre-made hobby specifically for that purpose (Xmas Villiages). Since I am not PLANNING on becoming overly involved with doing a large or intricate layout, I imagine this is probably a good thing.

    I was looking at the G-scale stuff at first, but its just a little TOO big for just under the tree.
  4. HeadRusch

    HeadRusch New Member

    A followup if I may: Is ON30 more or less popular than 0 Scale?

    I see Lionel making 0 Scale holiday trains, and Bachmann making on30 scale basically it comes down to track radius and the ability to add-on cars?
  5. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    I believe O scale (as in Lionel) is still more popular, but On30 seems to be the fastest-growing segment of the hobby as a whole. Most of the low-end Lionel sets will handle a 13.5-inch radius curve (Lionel calls it O27) but all of Lionel's sets are shipping with 18-inch radius track these days. If you can find a local dealer who handles used Lionel, you can pick up an older Lionel O27 set cheaply--as in, well south of $100. Used Lionel rolling stock is plentiful and a lot of it is inexpensive. I know there's the perception that old Lionel trains are worth thousands of dollars, but for every item that's worth thousands, there are dozens that are cheap. I've paid as little as $5 each for Lionel cars of 1970s/80s vintage--and I'm talking at a dealer, not at yard sales--and there's plenty of stuff in the $10-$15 range.

    If you're looking to buy new, Lionel's Polar Express set is awfully nice, and although it comes with an oval of 18-inch radius track, I've run mine on tighter O27-type track and it does fine, so it would be possible to set up an interesting-looking route in, say, a three-foot by five-foot area with O27 track.

    So Lionel would be a viable option for you. You won't have much difficulty finding add-on cars for either Lionel or Bachmann.
  6. HeadRusch

    HeadRusch New Member

    Thank you for the information. It comes down to which Christmas Set I want to pick up right now, and it looks like I *really* like the On30 freight set by Bachmann.

    The Polar Express is nice by Lionel in O, but it seems a bit...stale to me. Beautiful engine however, the cars just dont do much for me.

    I think, for my needs since I wont be throwing myself into this full-bore (at least not yet, I know how hobbies can be alot like drug addictions..I'm a 1/6 scale military figure guy myself..and I've paid more for custom 1/6 scale clothing than I've paid for 1:1 scale clothes for *ME*. :) ).....

    I think my best bet is to go On30 right now and stick with the HO scale track. There might not be as many options for on30 add-on cars but realistically, this is a holiday thing...not a full time "make a layout" thing, so i should be alright.

    Incidentally, one of the things that really got me thinking about this is there is a show on Railroads (model and full size) on PBS that runs in High Definintion, and seeing some of those layouts that people have in High Def has been really beautiful.

    I'm also one of those people who did 1/35th scale military modeling in the 1980's a bit so I can appreciate the detail work tha tpeople put into these layouts.

    Many thanks to all for the great information, I think I have found a starting point to get into things.

  7. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    I see custom built On30 models that will knock your socks off selling on Ebay for 30.00 and upwards.
    A very nice Combine just sold recently for over 80.00. It was very well done and had been stored by its owner for the last 10 years.

    I guess i'm saying that IF you are willing to LOOK once in a while, you will find intersting additions for your On30 Layout, Many of them already weathered and looking like they belong in a Museum :)
  8. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    You have to go with what you like, so if the Bachmann set does the trick for you, go for it.

    One other hint in regards to Christmas villages in general: Both Dept. 56 and Lemax figures are way oversize for the buildings. The cheapie Cobblestone Corners figures at Dollar Tree (they come 5 or 6 to a pack for a dollar) and the equivalents that are sold at drug stores like Walgreens just happen to be about the right size for the pricier ceramic buildings. The adults scale out to believable heights for O scale.

    So you can get whatever buildings you like, and then you don't have to feel guilty at all about loading up on the cheaper figures because they're actually a more appropriate size.
  9. Grant B

    Grant B Member

    San Antonio Hobby Shop (Northern CA) is going out of biz and everything is 30% or 40% off. I was there last Friday and they had a lot of Bachman On30 locos & cars.

    Not sure about mail order but if you want to
    650 941 1278

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