Railyard Rookie--help wanted

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by bgibsy, Mar 1, 2004.

  1. bgibsy

    bgibsy New Member

    Hello all

    OK where do I start?

    I haven't ever had a trainset before but I've always thought they were great. I remember seeing an "N" gauge set many years ago and thought that was the coolest! I really like the small size. Recently (where have I been?) I saw "Z" gauge on Ebay or some website and thought THAT is what I would want. Now, after finding this forum and reading much on websites, I find the variety of US Trains is very limited. I prefer the Steam Loco's so I am leaning towards "N" gauge. I want something reliable. Having the engine suddenly quit working can't be much fun! So, I gather Atlas or Kato might be the way to go? I'd want a line used in Alaska (1st choice) or the Pacific Northwest.

    Should I look for a set "ready to run" or find the engine, cars, track, etc. separately? No doubt I will add on later.

    Also, what does "light" mountain and "heavy" mountain mean?

    I am sure to follow with other questions and appreciate any info. Gotta love the internet eh? What a great source for so many things!

    Thanks in advance,
  2. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    :wave: :wave: :wave: welcome to the-gauge bgibsy!!!:wave: :wave: :wave:

    Right here! On the-gauge :D :D :D

    I'm glad you had enough forsight to ask some questions before jumping into a "train set".

    IMHO, HO and N are most practical for most modelers. Since you are interested in N, I'll leave most of the questions up to our talented N scalers. I'll just say for now that the quality in a starter set leaves room for improvement. My LHS (Local Hobby Shop) refuses to carry them or sell them.

    It seems you have a line all picked out to model. Don't be discouraged if you can't find the Alaskan roadnames, because rollin' stock was meant to be painted! :D :D :D



    Steam may be a little more finicky and a little more expensive than diesel, but if that's where your heart is, go for it! It's a great hobby, enjoy!
  3. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Hi and welcome! :wave: As someone who has been in N-Scale for a number of years my advice if you want a steam railroad is to go with HO scale. There have been some improvements in N-scale steam in recent years but HO still has a MUCH greater selection and on average the HO will perform much better. However if you are a "runner" you might be happy with the N stuff if you can find the type you like. There is alot of rollling stock and locos out there that are already painted for the Alaska and Pacific Northwest railroads in both N and HO. Good luck and keep us posted. :)
  4. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Hi Bill,
    I would visit a hobby shop or two and look at a few locos, etc.

    Also, Atlas publishes several very inexpensive books on
    wiring, layouts, etc. The hobby shop should carry these.:) :)

    I'm greatly prejudiced toward HO, but N-scale can accomodate
    much more equipment in a given area. Actually, I wish S-scale
    (1/64th) had the selection that HO has!!:D :D :D

    Good Luck!!
  5. bgibsy

    bgibsy New Member

    Hi jon, Tyson, Cid

    Thanks for your welcomes and replies!

    I am planning to look at my LHS to see "in person" what's available. I thought I'd rather go in having some knowledge of what to look for. I know I'll see Loco's that I like but would hate to come home with something I find out later that many have problems with.

    Space is a concern and I do like the small sizes. So, I think I will start with N gauge. I would go for Z if there was a better selection.

    BTW I hope the term "trainset" didn't offend anyone!:eek:

    Perhaps I should ask around in the N/Z forum? I'd like to know which models people like and don't like. Along with brands of track, etc. Reading through the old posts is exhausting! but well worth the effort.

    I'll be in touch

  6. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Bill,The best N scale locomotive made imho is the Kato Havey 2-8-2. Model Power also makes N scale steam locomotives as well.A 4-6-2 and 2-8-2.There are other brands as well.
    This is a picture of the Kato heavy 2-8-2.

    Attached Files:

  7. Climax1880

    Climax1880 Member

    railyard rookie - help wanted

    You mentioned about reading the posts. That is a wonderful way to start. All of us started out without knowing much and gaining knowledge by reading what other folks were doing either in the mags or on forums like this. Those of us who have been in this hobby for a long time gained a lot of knowledge from the mags and specialty books on how to do things. Even if you don't read about or see a particular subject ASK!!! Remember the only dumb question is the one that is never asked..

    I have no special preference in gauge. Except for specific facts directly concerning gauge and/or scale, everything is applicable such as weathering, landscaping, structure building etc. etc. etc. It's just a matter of size.

    Happy modeling and enjoy.

  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    About light and heavy Mountains, that's just what they were. The light loco was smaller and easier on track and bridges, but couldn't pull as much. If you get them side by side you can see the difference. Even big railroads would buy light locos for easier duties.
    We don't mind the term "trainset", if you use it to describe a box of trains that contains all the parts you need. Once you get it all set up, call it a "layout" or a "pike" or a "railroad". And among ourselves we even talk about "playing with trains". ;)
    Buying a train set is usually discouraged because most of them are put together from stuff at the cheap end of the range.
    For selecting a scale, you may want to go with something that your local dealer handles. Of course, you may not want to go to your local dealer at all.
    Z scale is probably the most expensive scale on both a square foot basis and a per unit basis -- smaller market and more intricate. N and HO are probably comparable but N a bit more expensive per square foot. O and HO may be comparable on a square foot basis.
  9. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Absolutely no offense taken by any of us, I'm sure! :D Like David said, the prepackaged sets have a bad rep for low end quality. If that is realized up front, they may have their place in some cases, buying a set and updating some of it's equipment after the new pike earns some revenue :D

    I sure wish the z scale stuff were less expesive too! I'd love to build an HOn18 loco out of one!
  10. billk

    billk Active Member

    One of the first upgrades you should consider if you get a 'train set' is to the power supply/controller/power pack/whatchamacallit.

    As a side note, I still have a 'train set' controller (Atlas I think). It's been in a crawl space for 15+ years, plugged in, turned on, and powering our door bell!
  11. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    The power pack, along with the sectional track, can also be later used for a loco test loop, once there is a large empire in place which can not be botherd by a loco under test, break in, or having it's drivers cleaned.
  12. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hello Bill, and welcome to the gauge my friend. There are among us some really talented modellers in N-scale-HO - and 0n30. Just ask as many questions as you like, they will all be anwered in a professional way amd nobody here will mis-lead you.
  13. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    billk , yer killin' me!!

    I didn't really think about it, but it would be a real good variable
    low voltage DC testing power supply!
    (battery charger, light dimmer, what else??)
  14. DanishKnight

    DanishKnight Member

    Uh oh!

    Shame on you, Bill! "The best" loco made, albeit in your humble opinion, is the locomotive that suits the modeler! And, as you very well know, not all modelers like a 2-8-2.

    Now, I hope everyone, especially you, Bill, will understand that I am merely teasing. I have enjoyed your stories about railroading.
  15. bgibsy

    bgibsy New Member

    Thanks everyone

    My feeling was right then that buying components would be better than buying a "set" in the longer run.

    I'm not sure what components make up a system.

    Any recomendations for the "power supply/controller/power pack/whatchamacallit." thingy. Are we talking about one single unit? I am picturing a transformer plugged into wall with wires up to a controller, then wires to track. I really need to have a look at my LHS !

    Track? I see there are "codes" for track. Is one better than the other or is it a compatibilty issue? Should I be looking for Flex-track or separate pieces or both?

    Larry (Brakey) I've looked around online for a Kato Havey 2-8-2 and can't seem to find any. Are they still available? How would it compare to a Kato Mikado (which seems to be popular)?

    Heavy/Light Mountain...I understand why this is important in real life trains. Track wear, Fuel, etc. In model trains though, is there really a weight difference or is a model train just modeled AFTER a real-life "Light" or "Heavy" train? That make sense?

    What I am really looking for is a reliable, better than entry level system that isn't junk. A good start to an inevitably larger system. That IS what happens right? No one can eat just one?

    BTW I am so amazed at the many pics of your lines here on the Gauge. Incredible work you guys do! The logging stuff really appeals to me. Way too cool :thumb:

  16. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I'll try to address some of your questions.
    A minimum system is train, track and controller. You should also have someplace other than the floor to run it on (lint in the mechanism).
    The controller usually is a single box. It would include a transformer (reduce voltage to reasonable level < 16V), a rectifier to produce DC, a speed control and a direction switch. You can but separate parts, usually a transformer in one unit and the other 3 bits in another. There are fancy ones with transistors and circuitry in them. (There is also DCC, but I'll leave it there.)
    The "Code" for track is the rail height in 1000ths of an inch. For HO code 100 is the starting point -- comes in all the train sets. That's 100/1000" or 1/10". Sectional track (the type in train sets) is almost always code 100. I think for N gauge it's code 70. Larger rail is sturdier, smaller is usually more to scale.
    A mikado is a 2-8-2. It's a nickname they got because the first ones were shipped to Japan. Most wheel arrangements have a nickname (or two). The 4-6-2 is a Pacific. The model heavy and light mikados may have the same pulling power or not. Depends if they used the same motor and if the filled the bigger boiler with more lead.
    Yes, it's like eating peanuts -- you can't stop with just one. Most of us have more cars and locomotives than we could possibly justify. One of our club members has a large attic filled with layout and he has at least 5 different sets of trains that he can unbox (5 different railroads, not just trainsets.)
  17. billk

    billk Active Member

    MRC (Model Rectifier Corp.)

    Track is available as flex, as you mentioned, or "sectional". As far as I know, train sets generally come with enough curve sections to make a full circle and a couple of straight sections to make it into a simple oval. Some brands of sectional are better than others, some come attached to a roadbed and ballasted, etc., but I'm not up on the brands. I assume the radius of the curve sections provided in train sets is 9-3/4" for N scale, although larger radius curves are available and preferred - 9-3/4" is about the bare minimum you should use under most circumstances.

    Most "serious" (no offense to anyone intended) tend to use flex track for permanent layouts because of economy, flexibility (duh) of use, etc. It comes in 30" to 36" lengths, and is cut to fit. Usually roadbed is put under it, and ballasting is done after you have it installed and debugged.
  18. bgibsy

    bgibsy New Member

    OK Flex Trac and MRC it is. I like the idea of being able to control a radius as I like and not be limited by "curved" sections.

    It occured to me that Brakey may have meant "HEavy" 2-8-2 and not "Havey". That might explain why I can't seem to locate a Kato Havey 2-8-2 A typo?

    This is nice active forum. It's frustrating to see no replies for days on end. No problem with that here! Thanks

    Bill G
  19. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    You might notice that there is an abundance of what has been called "Gauge-speak". Posts from certain members (you know who you are ;) ) often contain such gems as "removable eoads", "bug brushes", and so on. Check this link for the complete (or nearly complete) history of Gauge-speak. ;)

    It is all part of the appeal and charm of The Gauge. And you're right - this is a great place to be. :) :D :thumb:

  20. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    And here I thought this forum was rather slow. FRED

Share This Page