Queston on getting started

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by ript73, Aug 10, 2005.

  1. ript73

    ript73 New Member

    Hello all. I recently became interested in model trains when my wife bought our 8yr old son an N-Scale train set. After doing some searching, I found this forum and have been looking at some awesome work done by some of you regulars. I've selected HO as the scale I want to build in and haven't decided on era or anything like that.

    I found the following set for sale on ebay and want opinions on whether or not this would be good to start with and if it will expand nicely with additional tracks, cars, etc.

    Thanks in advance!

    • 1 GP38-2 Diesel Locomotive with Working Headlight
    • 1 F7 Diesel Locomotive with Working Headlight
    • 2 Lighted Coach Cars
    • 1 Lighted Observation Car
    • 1 Tank Car
    • 1 Bi-Level Auto Carrier with Six Cars
    • 1 Caboose
    • 2 U.L. Approved power Packs with Forward and Reverse
    • 2 Set Plug-in Terminal Wires
    • 2 Curved Terminal Rerailer Power-Loc Track
    • 18 9" Straight Power-Loc Track
    • 22 18" Radius Curved Power-Loc Track
    • 1 Operating Crossing Gate
    • 1 Snap-Together Passenger Station
    • 18 Snap-In Elevation Piers
    • 1 Belvedere Hotel Building Kit
    • 1 Police Station Building Kit
    • 1 National Oil Building Kit
    • 1 Fire Department Building Kit
    • 1 Blinking Light Storage Tank
    • 6 HO Scale Automobiles
    • 1 Bi-Level Auto Carrier with 6 Autos
    • 19 Street & Highway Signs
    • 1 SceneMaster Used Car Lot Scene
    • 2 Grass Mats
    • 12 Utility Poles with Transformers, Call Boxes & Street Lamps
    • 1 Sheet Lake Paper
    • 1 Bag Brown Earth Material
    • 1 Bag Gray Road Material
    • 1 Bag Lychen Shrub Material
    • 1 Bottle White Glue
    • 2 Pair Extra Couplers
    • 32-Page Beginner's Guide to Model Railroading
    • Illustrated Assembly Instructions
    • Lifetime Limited Warranty
  2. hummerdaves

    hummerdaves Member

    Hello ritp73, That type of set is good for start's , I think your thought's should be with what is your end result goal's, How indepth do you want your lay-out?What happen's in most case's is that people buy a starter set and add to it only to discover that they prefer a higher quality lay-out. That lead's to a higher replacement cost. I would recommend you, 1 visit a local H.O culb, 2 Ask anybody's advice on starting a lay-out. [​IMG] And just wait till you try to pick a era,[​IMG] Boy the question's the answers[​IMG]
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Hi ript73,

    Welcome to The Gauge!

    While there is a tendancy to want to jump right in, you might bear in mind HummerDave's comments about deciding what you want to do first. Selecting an era, prototype railroad, location, etc can help you stay focussed.

    Having said that, the stuff you listed sounds like not a bad way to get started. There are a lot of "extras" in there that can find a place no matter what you decide to do.

    However, LifeLike "train sets" have a reputation of being bottom of the barrel. They are really toy-like, and performance is not always the greatest. Depending on the cost of the eBay lot, you might be better off taking the cash to your local hobby shop and buying some track, a power pack, and a decent engine (Atlas, Kato for diesels, Proto2000 Heritage or Bachmann Spectrum for steamers) to get started.

    What kind of space do you have? Do you dream of running a great empire or do you like the model building part better? Answers to all these questions, plus those above will really help in the long run. Let's hear your thoughts!

  4. ript73

    ript73 New Member

    Thanks for the comments! I really have no idea what I'm doing and this board is definately the place to learn.

    I want to go with a diesel engine but I'm still not sure on the era. I don't know anything about real trains either :(

    The detailing I've seen in posts on here is what really interests me. TomPM's layouts and pictures are just awesome and that's what I'd like to strive for.

    As far as space limitations, I haven't measured yet, but I may have enough room for a 4' x 8' base with possibly another 4' x 8' section wrapped around a corner to make an L shaped base.

    I grew up with model cars and loved the detail and putting them together. Even put together a model pirate ship once with sails and whatnot. Operating the train isn't all that important in the end, but having the track laid out and the train actually stay on the track and having a realistic layout is my goal.

    Thanks again for the comments!
  5. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member


    My first question would be what is the cost, includind shipping? If not too much, building kits, passenger cars, etc. could be a great asset. Also, inexpensive stuff is perfect for an 8 year old to start on.

    As far as era and prototype, I have to go off on a tangent from that. I start out with only a track plan that fits and go from there. My only thought after that is: "what will I enjoy doing the most?" Consequently, my advise is to bond with your son in any way that is constructive. A cheapie set that can eventually tear down after gaining much knowledge and experience may, just MAY be the way to go.

    This is only a thought, a way to consider. Not many go this way, but I'm wierd and different and this is what scratches my ears.

  6. ript73

    ript73 New Member

    The cost of the above item is at $82 right now including shipping. The N-Scale train set that is for my son is what he'll start with and once I get my set, he and I can both work on that, however it won't be a "toy" and probably won't ever get torn down unless we move or I want to start over.

    Right now I'm leaning towards getting this set to play with and practice on and then move on to better equipment once I get my feet wet.
  7. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Welcome to The Gauge :wave:
  8. ScottyB

    ScottyB Member


    Welcome! If you have a local hobby store in your area, it would be well worth a visit. Look around a lot. Look at locomotives, freight and passenger cars, buildings and kits, and scenery. There will likely be something that will spark your and your son's imagination.

    The Life-Like kit would be a great start, but like others said, if you get REALLY into the hobby, you will find yourself replacing all that stuff "eventually".

    I received a lot of Life-Like and Tyco stuff when I was a young kid, then packed it all away when I went off to school. Now that I am older (the big 3-0 next month...) and have a house of my own, I'm looking to replace all of it with higher quality materials. So my "eventually" took 20 years or so.

    My advice would be: if this is for your son, go ahead with a boxed set to get it set up quickly. Kids seem to like instant results. You can always add to it later with better locomotives and cars. If it is really for you ;) check out your hobby store for good stuff right off the bat.

  9. ript73

    ript73 New Member

    I would say the HO scale train set will be mostly for me.

    I live out in the boonies far far away from any big city, so going to a local hobby shop isn't really an option. I'll look to answers from you guys and gals ;)

    So here's another question. Is there any starter set out there that you would recommend or do I just have to buy the engine, cars, track, etc. separately?

  10. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    First welcome aboard!! :wave:

    I fully agree with Scotty..Visit your local hobby shops and look around and see what you like..Now,while at the shop pick up some books on layout planing,scenery,operation and any other book that might interest you on the hobby or better you could check your local library for the newer books on model railroading.
    To save time,money and frustration you could start out with a quality engine and cars instead of buying one of the cheaper train sets..2 quality brands come to mind that has train sets Athearn and Atlas.These would be your best start.
  11. ScottyB

    ScottyB Member

    Your choice. Do a search for some online hobby stores (you can even search The Gauge). Obviously, buying things independantly will be more expensive, but you won't be stuck with items in a starter set you may not want. Depends on what you want to do.

    As far as recommending starter sets (I think you said N scale), some of the Bachmann Spectrum sets are nice and even DCC-ready if you ever wanted to get into that aspect of the hobby.

    And brakie is right as far as picking up a few books. My opinion, cheapest place to find them is at Well below list price, and cheap shipping. Keep in mind there is a TON of info online on every subject matter. Just a matter of finding it.


    -- edited cause I can't spell...
  12. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member


    The biggest advantage of getting a cheapie to start with is that eventually it will need lube, wheel cleaning, etc. Use cheapies to learn the inner workings rather than learning what makes things tick on the scary expensive ones. Matter of fact, that's about the only advantage of a cheapie.

  13. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    While I wouldn't normally suggest it, I can't help thinking that for $82 you can't go far wrong. Obviously you'll want to improve things later -- the set is the bottom of the barrel (what do you expect for that price?), but $82 isn't an unreasonable amount to spend on a single loco.

    You'll get a lot of entertainment between yourself and your son, easily $82 worth I would have thought! If you're seriously into modelling you'll probably end up with none of the original stuff, but that might take a few years!

  14. ript73

    ript73 New Member

    Here is the setup I have to work with. Can anyone suggest a good layout for this? The inside corner will be up against a concrete brick wall.


    Attached Files:

  15. zedob

    zedob Member

    Welcome aboard to the Gauge,

    Nice piece of real estate to start off with. Turn around room and plenty of enough length for towns in-between without resorting to curved turnouts to get a decent lenth yard.

    I'd say, go for the set to get started. I don't think you can get into the hobby for any cheaper. It's not going to be the best stuff, but atleast you can get it up and running quick. If it has brass rail ( I think the power loc track is nickel silver), you'll be wanting to change that later to nickel silver track. It (brass) is too much of a hassle to keep oxide free. Considering that, I wouldn't glue everything down too permanently.

    Kalmbach publishing has some excellent track planning books, which I highly recommend you purchase. Even if you are not into the operation aspect (neither am I, I'm a scenery kind of guy) you should consider following some general prototype railroad practices when it comes to laying track. It's scenery, too.;) But, there will be a day when you get bored watching the train go round and round and round... and you are going to want to do some switching, regardless if you use a car card sytem or not. Just as soon have your turnouts in a logical manner feeding industries. The books are your best bet. You don't have to use one plan exclusively. You can mix and match.

    The nice thing is, you have alot of real estate to build an interesting layout. I'd be carefull about the layout being 48" wide all the way down the wall, unless you plan on having liftout sections, or your arms are real long. Trying to re-rail a derailed train 4 feet away may...excuse me... WILL be dangerous to the scenery between you and that train. I'd go around the walls if it were at all possible, but I don't know what the actual environment is like where you are planning to build the layout.

    A "Dog-Bone" design is another possibility.

    Remember, nothing is etched in ston...err..plaster. It's your empire, do what you want.

    Oh yeah, most of all, HAVE FUN
  16. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Other advantages include -

    No loss when dog/kids/relatives/acts of God happen...

    Good for practicing painting & weathering

    Good for practicing detailing (cutting off molded details, etc)

    Good for "extreme" modelling/kitbashing - wrecked tanker, box car office, etc.

    Good for kids to play with

  17. zigg72md

    zigg72md New Member

    I currently own this set. I also own Life-Like double train express set. For me it was the best choice due to my not careing about prototypical and not being into a lot of scenery. I prefer to just run trains on a near empty board. However I don't think it sounds like a good choice for you. Power-loc track has some problems with de-railing and limits you on expansion. The building kits are of nice quality and easily made better looking with a little work. If you do buy it-buy it telling yourself that the track/transformer is disposeable. Get some better/better looking track that others more knowledgable than me will suggest, and after playing with it for a little while get a DCC system. But don't bother putting decoders in these toy quality locos. Btw the elevated piers that come with this set are not availible anywhere but the very occasional E-bay auction. I have been looking for 4 months for some.
  18. zigg72md

    zigg72md New Member

    Oh and I just remembered. You can still buy this set new from QVC and only QVC I think. Just do a search under toys for trains.
  19. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer

    Hi ript73, welcome to the Gauge. :wave:
    The only concern I have about that set is that N scale engines and rolling stock is awflly small for 8 year old fingers. A friend of mine recently traded a bunch of his N scale stock for some HO stuff that I had purchased for a layout that got put on the back burner. The reason was that his 6 and 8 year old grandaughters liked to help Grampa play trains, but would get frustrated trying to get the cars on the track, etc. I would say, start with HO till your son gets a little older and more adept at handeling the pieces. Then if you want you can graduate to N scale where you are able to put a lot more layout in the same amount of space.
  20. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    the life liek set is nice, but i would suggest getting a bachmann set ( liek the overland limited) or even better a Bachmann spectrum set (Amtrak Continental) set, becauset ehy come with EZ-track, which is good stuff for beginners,

    and even better stuff would be a Walthers trainline Power Pro deisel set, or any other walthers starter set, they are really nice. they probably cost more than the Ebay item, but it will be worth it.

    and if you want to go with a head start, MRC sells a DCC trainset, complete with freight cars, DCC equipped locomotives, and other DCC stuffs you need to run your train. (yikes it costs $299.98)

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