really new N-scaler

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by Agatheron, Nov 8, 2003.

  1. Agatheron

    Agatheron Member

    I'm perhaps an even newer newbie to N-Scale model railroading. At 34 yrs old, I am just looking to get into the hobby. I have related skills in scenery, modelling and dioramas, so the prospect of doing a highly detailed layout is rather appealing. Being a Canadian, and living about 200 metres away from the main CN Montreal-Toronto-Windsor cooridor, doing a CN/Via Rail layout is rather appealing. I've recently acquired a locomotive... and I don't have any track yet... I picked up Kato's new P42DC in the new Via Renaissance Paint Scheme... No passenger cars to go with it just yet... I don't think anyway. The close proximity to that gives me lots of ideas... Recently I actually saw a switcher engine (not sure what type), hooked up in a consist with a Dash-9 and one other locomotive (I'm still new to locomotive identification). They occasionally park on the track near my place in London.

    I've been doing a lot of reading on the hobby in general. While I've not made any purchases in the realm of equipment, rolling stock, track, etc., my library is beginning to build. I am pretty technologically minded, so things like DCC doesn't scare me. In fact, I find it quite intriguing. So here are my questions:

    For entry level in N-Scale, what am I best to look at? I'm not afraid of technology and am quite willing to go for DCC right off the bat. My space and budget considerations are limited, so I won't be able to build anything so spectacular as SD90's layout (most impressive).

    I recently downloaded Atlas' track planning software, which is pretty basic, but does serve what I need for the moment. I decided to take an existing track plan, their "N9" from their site:


    I then modified it to this variant using elements from the other track plans:

    I then turned the yard slightly:

    All of this is supposed to fit on a 32"x80" door. My spacial considerations won't allow for anything else. I would love to be able to take over a room, but my wife and I live in a modest-sized townhouse, with a LOT of shared space. A room for dedicated railroading is not in the cards... not yet... However, that can always come later ;) I still have to learn a lot of the skills...
  2. Agatheron

    Agatheron Member

    I should also add that I'm looking to do model around the prototype that I find in and around the London area, specifically CN/Via rail. There is a CP Line, but there are far more CN trains that seem to run through here... The industry mostly seems to be either based around auto manufacturing (parts cars, auto-racks, chemical containers), and cement (covered hoppers, I think). I've done a bit of follow-rails to see what sorts of industries they lead into. That's what I've found so far. There a bit of intermodal, but it seems to be on its way somewhere else...

    Anyway, any thoughts for this eager newbie would be great.
  3. rguyett

    rguyett Member

    Welcome to the gauge forum. I'm also new so I will let the others give you the advice. They helped me a bunch. There a great bunch of people.
  4. Agatheron

    Agatheron Member

    Hey! Calgary's my home town... I grew up there... :) Are there a lot of Canadian modellers on this forum?
  5. Cinnibar

    Cinnibar Member

    Maybe a Short Line?


    DCC would seem a good choice since it certainly cuts down on the wiring side of things, no “blocks” or complex control panel. However I have no personal experience with DCC other than running some trains at various shows I’ve been to over the last few years. The other thing I gather is that DCC will be a bit more expensive, what with decoders and all. Personally I kind of like flipping all of the my DC block control switches, makes me feel more involved. Since you are a “technical” kind of person you may even enjoy wiring up a nifty control panel - green LED - power ON......Red LED - power OFF! The one thing for sure is you are approaching the hobby the right way - READING. There is so much information out there to be had that will make your first layout an enjoyable project rather than a frustrating pile of track on a chunk of plywood. In my humble opinion, since space is at a premium, you may want to consider a short line that interchanges with the CN. That track plan has a dandy spot along the lower edge that would make a great interchange area. Or that siding on the upper left would work also. In that manner you can use smaller power instead of trying to “bend” SD-90's and “double-stacks” around 11" radius curves. Those are my thoughts, welcome to the hobby and have FUN!
  6. rguyett

    rguyett Member

    Yes there is quite a few of us for sure. Even SD90 is in Calgary
    Her's a pic of my layout

    Attached Files:

  7. SD90

    SD90 Active Member

    Agatheron, welcome to the Gauge, how long ago did you live in Calgary? I like your track plan, it will give you lots of operating options and a good start to learn more about the hobby. This is a great place to learn too. Have fun!

  8. billk

    billk Active Member

    Welcome, Agatheron.
    I'm more of a "minimalist" when it comes to track plans, I guess. I'd rather leave spaces open for scenery, industries, etc. than have a large or even medium sized yard. The making up and breaking down of trains then need to occur mostly off-stage, so an interchange, as Cinnibar mentioned, is used.
  9. Agatheron

    Agatheron Member

    Born at the Foothills Hospital in 1969, lived there full time doing school and work until I went out to do my M.Div in Vancouver... As ministry goes, I've been hopping about the country since then. London is now my home base. Both my parents and in-Laws currently live in Calgary...

    Thanks... I appreciate other comments and suggestion about my existing idea for a track plan. I am still a ways off before I actually put track to board so to speak, so there is a lot of flexibility with what I am trying to do. While the door plan is what I am aiming for at the moment, there's the possibility of future incorporation into a larger, more permanent layout (gotta have a 10-25 year plan, right?). As a result, suggestions are much appreciated. The current track plan is all sectional... I was planning to do some limited industry as well as a switching yard to get a handle on operations... It'd be nice to have as much space as SD90 for a full uber-scale operation as such... :)

    I'm pretty much tabula rasa at the moment... a blank slate... In all seriousness, my only hardware purchases for railroading at the moment is one package of 6 pc Atlas Straight track, 1 package of 2 bumpers, and a single Kato P42DC Via Rail engine with the Renaissance paint scheme. All the rest of it is books and magazines. I picked up the Canadian Trackside Guide so I can at least get a handle on what sorts of locomotives are hauling what kind of material around here....

    Interestingly enough, I've seen several CN GP9s being used as switchers. Is this common?
  10. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Welcome to the Gauge Agatheron.
    I haven't been to London in a long time now but GE used to and may still have a large Locomotive building plant there. Quite a lot of industry around to keep your layout busy.
  11. Clerk

    Clerk Active Member

    I wish to extend my welcome also. I have been to London UK but not London Canada.
  12. jawatkins

    jawatkins Member

    Let me also extend a welcome. I'm not much on track planning, but I do love doing scenery. You'll find many great modelers here with plenty of help and ideas.
  13. Agatheron

    Agatheron Member

    General Motors Electro-Motive has a plant here. They manufacture a number of different locomotives, but most notable is the SD90Mac... There's about three in production over there right now... they kinda look like an Undecorated version of the model...

    Thanks for the encouragement everyone. I'm still a ways off from doing any serious layout... but it's a good way to learn from those who are already in it...
  14. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Hi, Agatheron.
    My wife grew up in London, and I've been to a number of events there.
    There are several London clubs. The O-gauge club is worth a visit; there's a British group called The Buffers, and I think there's a general group as well. Ask at the hobby shop and you could probably get directed to them. I think there's a N scale group.
    There are also home layout tours. London has one; Kitchener has one in April and Hamilton has one next Saturday! These are great for seeing a wild variety of what the hobby offers. (These are drive yourself tours; you need a navigator as well.)
    Don't limit yourself in what you look at; you can pinch ideas from any scale and any prototype.
    The electronics of DCC are no bother; the hard work's been done for you. Your major problem will be stuffing a decoder in between the motor and the bodyshell.
  15. Agatheron

    Agatheron Member

    I heard that Hamilton was having a layout tour next Saturday... The question is, where to meet and when... I actually won't be working next Saturday... surprise surprise...
  16. Cinnibar

    Cinnibar Member



    As SD90 pointed out Life Like may soon accommodate you and they normally produce moderately priced fine running locos. One of the guys in our club has a LL SW and it’s a great runner. By the way - cool looking Geep SD90. GP-7, 9, 20, 38, 40's and the like would be perfect for the size layout you are planning. Now if we talk Atlas Geeps, they have plenty in CN colors & markings. You may want to check out their web site, definitely will make you drool, Alco's, GP-7's, Gp-38's and more!
    < >

    I would have posted pictures for you but I didn't want to get into copyright problems.

  17. Cinnibar

    Cinnibar Member

  18. Agatheron

    Agatheron Member

    Where's the new release information on the GP9?? I tried Life-Like's site, but it doesn't have a new release section... not that I could see anyway... ;)
  19. Agatheron

    Agatheron Member


    DROOL!!! They even have an SD75I! That seems to be the most common lead loco on the prototype around here...

    Are these for sale? Or just to make us less-common prototype modellers drool?? :)
  20. Cinnibar

    Cinnibar Member

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