Starting out in N

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by MammaGehl, Aug 21, 2007.

  1. MammaGehl

    MammaGehl New Member

    Hello Folks,
    I am sure you all get tired of newbie questions, but I have a few more for you. I did a bit of searching but could not find threads for my questions (although the amount of searching I can do is limited by my one year old pounding on the keyboard...) Anyway, last year I bought my husband a Lionel O-gauge set and he loved it -- and so did my mother! She kept talking about how fun model trains are and how much she would love to have one. I think the best fit for her would be a nice table N set. This way she could keep the grandkid hands away, but still let them sit on a chair and watch it go. She loves beautiful things and would appreciate a good quality set, but I can't break the bank on this. Since this is for my mom who has no train experience i would like to keep it simple, just set up and run.

    So, my questions are:
    -Most stores around here only carry Bachmann sets, are they worth it, or would I be replacing the loco in a year?
    -What are the best websites to get a reliable deal from a trustworthy seller?

    If anyone can help me out with my questions (or point me to the threads that are already out there!) I would really appreciate it! I am trying to beat the Christmas rush and get this bought within the month, unless there are seasonal sales that I should be aware of :thumb:

    Thanks so much!
  2. ddavidv

    ddavidv Member

    The concensus is usually that you should not buy a train 'set', as they are built to a price and the contents within are usually the bottom of the barrel. It can make for a frustrating experience if you have poor quality equipment. As usual, you get what you pay for.
    For a beginner with no experience I would recommend Kato. It is the most expensive, but it is easy to assemble and totally reliable even if all you opt for is their track. I don't think they have sets in a box pre-packaged though.
    Bachman Spectrum locomotives are generally decent. I would not buy any non-Spectrum labelled engines.
    You can often piece together a decent 'set' via Ebay for less than buying everything new.
    I realize my recommendation is more work and expense, but having a poorly operating, trouble prone train set is a fast way to turn someone off to the hobby. I quit the hobby for 30 years because of a Tyco train set in the 1970s.
  3. thumsup

    thumsup Member

    :wave:Hi MammaGehl,

    ddavidv has some good input. I have the Kato unitrack and find it easy to use and reliable to run my trains on. Go to Kato's site and check it out Kato USA: Precision Railroad Models . Lots of good info there.

    :thumb: Joe
  4. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

  5. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    I agree with Grewsome. Wholesale Trains is a good dealer.

    Also Discount Model Trains Online Model Railroad - Railroading is fairly reliable. I've ordered several things from them as well as Hobbylinc Hobbies, Save up to 60%

    If you are going for steam, definitely go with the Bachmann Spectrums.
    I suggest the Baldwin 2-8-0

    If you're looking at diesel, you can go a little less expensive. The mid priced Life-Likes are good diesels. (At least I have always liked mine)

    Look for Bachmann Silver Series freight cars. Model Power has a few good cars but avoid anything with plastic wheels.
  6. MammaGehl

    MammaGehl New Member

    I definitely want steam, I am looking for a B&O engine, but so far I can only find a spectrum for Western Maryland (which is a cool looking engine, so may work out).

    Thanks for the links, that is just what I was looking for!
  7. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    Hope you can find what you're looking for.
    If nothing else, you can get an unmarked Spectrum and get B&O decals.
  8. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    I have several Bachmann engines (all diesels though) and if they're "Spectrum", the fit/finish/quality IMHO is better than the "regular" engines. I don't know for sure if the Spectrum engines are made to different standards and are truely better than the regular Bachmann engines, but they do seem to work and look a bit better. That being said...most Bachmann engines have motors that don't allow the slow speed creep that a Kato or Atlas might give seems like they always need much more power to get the started than other engines and therefore don't MU well with other (straight DC) engines. (Granted, if my layout was DCC, I could "fix" this problem and find the perfect power setting for every engine and match them well for multiple unit running.) If you're in the engine market...LifeLike Proto-N engines are very good, InterMountain and Athearn engines are very good too. But let me throw this out too...if you find a Bachmann set with a power pack, track, some cars and an engine you like, I say go ahead and buy it. You'll gain some track, an ok but not great power pack, and an engine that you can play around with. Maybe you won't use a "snap track" like the Bachmann EZ track, but you'll have some that already has the roadbed attached and with some easy and simple weathering - looks great sitting on a shelf as a display track for an engine to rest on. And at the cost of the'd pay as much for just the engine as you do for the whole set at most retailers. (I know at my LHS, they're sets are priced lower than what some online retailers charge for just the engine.)

    Hope some of this helps!
  9. umtrr-author

    umtrr-author Member

    There are Bachmann sets available with the Spectrum steam locos as the motive power as well. I believe (though I'm not completely sure) that there is the better "Spectrum" power pack included as well. I don't think that the freight cars match the time period of the steamer, though.
  10. ddavidv

    ddavidv Member

    I have that exact loco. Those are probably some of the best Bachmann locos ever made, so it's a safe choice. B&O partially owned, and interchanged with, and crossed over/under the WM so you're pretty close. :mrgreen:
  11. zachary

    zachary Member

    if your looking for a desiel i would try the kato amtrack starter set or the santa fe starter set
  12. MammaGehl

    MammaGehl New Member

    Hmmm, that may have just made the decision for me. I think I am going to nab the one I have been watching on eBay tonight. Thanks!
  13. MammaGehl

    MammaGehl New Member

    got it :thumb:
  14. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Congrats and good luck on the rest.
  15. thumsup

    thumsup Member

    :wave: Get ready for the ride...sign1

    :thumb: Joe
  16. Dave R.

    Dave R. Member

    I bought a couple of Bachmann sets just to get started: the 4-8-4 Empire Builder and the 4-4-0 old timer set. I've only one complaint; the transformers get extremely hot. I bought some HO B-mann e-z track for my Grandson and a 0-6-0 loco and some rolling stock so he could keep model RRing at home but I will upgrade the standard B-mann controller before I allow him to take it home.
    Dave R.

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