starting up

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by John Sneed, Dec 1, 2001.

  1. John Sneed

    John Sneed Member

    I read with interest Sideslip's question about old trains. My problem is close, but not the same thing. I have some HO and N gauge Altas stock that my son and I built 20 years ago.Thats another sad story but not my problem now.I would like to start modeling again now that I have the time and money to do it.Where do I start? Go hole hog with DCC or power pack even though i know nothing about DCC.Or do i start simple and build up to it?
    I really enjoy the pictures and the work some of you do. IT kind of males me wonder if I can do half as good as you do.They are great:confused:
  2. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member


    I faced pretty much that same question about a year ago. I was all ready to build a massive shelf layout with DCC and the whole nine yards. But I started tinkering with making a small layout, just to try out some of the techniques, and realized that I should probably set my sites a little lower until I figured some things out.

    I chose N scale because I am very limited on space. (HO scale has a much greater variety of engines and structure kits.) I tried to come up with a layout plan that could run point-to-point AND in a continuous loop, have a decent-sized yard and still fit somewhere in my house. One day I was browsing through Atlas' Nine N Scale Railroads and found N-11, the Unhinged and Horizontal. This layout is built on a hollow core door, which provides a very rigid, but light foundation. It has all of the features that I was looking for, too.

    I had decided to just go with regular block control to save money. I'm glad I went that way because I found that I still had a lot to learn about tracklaying and engines! The Next Big Thing will be DCC and use flex-track, but for now I'm going to stick with doing it the old fashioned way until I can afford decent engines on which I don't mind shelling out the bucks for the decoders.

    My two pennies!

  3. IMRL393

    IMRL393 Member

    Don't worry about it, John!

    If I had to do as good as Shamus or some of the others, I would give up the hobby!

    I collect RI locos and rolling stock, and am making a simple (by some of the standards here) layout for the pleasure my family and myself. As Black Hawk says, "Just do what you do what you do what you do" ... "your less might be more - that's just about right" !!!!!!!!

    If you can't decide about DCC yet, no biggie - go ahead and get a good MRC power supply - you can always use it for accessories later if you DO go DCC. Or sell it on e-Bay !

    Have some fun, already !!!!!!!!!

  4. John Sneed

    John Sneed Member

    starteing up

    thanks for all the good advice.Room is not a problem. I have a work shop in my basement with lots of room left over.I have leave room for the wife to do the wash.As I'am going to be doing this alone,I want to keep it something I can do with a simple as possible.You don't use flex track.Why, wouldn't that be easier?I do think I'am going to go with HO gauge.Easier on the eyes and fingers All help will be greatfully exceped.
  5. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Hi,John.I will make the following suggestions,again these are only suggestions. to keep my past layouts as simple as I can, I have used atlas controllers and selectors,as this is as simple as I can get. For my small layouts, I have model a short line or a branch line. I perfer a round the walls point to point layout in a U shape. The biggest problem is you can't just watch the trains roll,so, this type may not be for you. I have also had a 4'x 16'(2 4'x8's butted end to end) with a double track main, main yard,engine service area,and a large industrial area, with town.This layout gave me hours of operation enjoyment. To tell the truth it may have been one of the best layouts I ever built. Going back to the branch line,it was a branch line of a larger road(The C&O 1950) I had a small engine house, small turntable station, small yard,and 14 industries to switch. My train was usually 8-10 cars long and a combine as a caboose, a mixed freight. turning the engine at the end of the branch was done by buy a "Y" track also wired by atlas controller for a "Y".All of my layouts was powered by MRC power packs.As I said, I like to do things the simple way as I am not much of a electrican.Even if I was,I would still keep my layouts as simple as possible. Why cause undo hardships,by having alot of wires to worry about braking or shorting out? But this is just my way. Now, in your frist post you said you wonder if you could model like some of the guys.Well let me say this,I use to count every rivet,nut,bolt and what all,tell I found out something was missing from the hobby.That was the fun I use to have.I then realize I was modeling for what others thought and not for want I wanted this hobby to be for me.yes, I still detail some but only what is needed to make a engine look right,but not overly detailed.You must decide what you want this hobby be to you and what gives you the most fun. As the editor of Model RailRoader said, There is no wrong way or right way to pursue this hobby. Welcome aboard!! sorry, I got long winded.:D :D
  6. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    The are advantages to both sectional and flex-track. Sectional track is easy to work with and you can get the clickity-clack effect, but it's difficult to make it look realistic in curves. You can make realistic easements with flex track because you can more precisely control its placement. Also, because there are fewer connections to make, flex track can give more reliable electrical conductivity. I've heard of people cutting notches in their flex track to get the clickity-clack sounds, but I'm not sure how they did it.

    I used flex track in a few places on my layout, but most of it is sectional. Next time I'll definitely use more flex!

  7. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hi John, welcome to The Gauge!
    I see you've already gotten a lot of good advice here, & I probably can't add too much that hasn't already been said.
    My advice to anyone starting out is to keep it small & simple. That way, when you decide to make changes (&don't worry, you will), it won't be an impossible task. Also, before you cut your 1st piece of lumber, or lay your 1st piece of track, READ, READ, READ! this forum, books, magazines, anything you can find. This will give you lots of ideas about what you do, & don't want to do with the hobby. I've been in this hobby for a number of years now, & I still feel like a beginer. I'm constantly inspired to try something new, & much of that is due to all the cool people I've gotten to know on this forum!
    Lots of luck, John, & keep us up to date on how things are going.
    Like the great Red Green always says, "Remember, we're all in this together!"
  8. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member

    Hi John, and welcome aboard. Most everything to be said has already been said. I've got to give some kind of idea just to make sure I have a reason for living.

    I don't use DCC, and never will. Reason: I'm so old that by the time I learned how, it would be outmoded. Now, if I don't get smoked too bad, it seem to me that many have problems, channel this, and channel that, and adjusting, etc. Also, I have so much pleasure keeping it simple, and work on scenery detail, that I really have no interest in DCC. Actually, reverse loop I won't use because of more complex wiring.

    The reason for telling you this, is, if this is the way you decide to go, you have lots of company. If you are OK with more complex, GO FOR IT. It would be great, but is not our bag for some of us.

  9. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    You sound a little like me, Lynn!
    My personal philosophy is that wiring a layout is right up there with going to the dentist, & filing taxes! :rolleyes:
    For some people though, wiring projects are the part of the hobby they enjoy the most. They're installing decoders, lighting up streets, structures, rolling stock, running switch machines, & signals....whew!...I get a headache just thinking about it!
    We electrically chalenged folks need to be grateful to them though. All those technical advances they've helped to create have made the hobby better for all of us.
    Me? Well, I tend to do enough soldering that I can get the trains running, & I'm done! :)
    One thing I've learned though, is to never say never!
    A few years ago I remember asking my kids, "A computer? What would I ever need with a computer?" :D
  10. John Sneed

    John Sneed Member

    The reponse I've recived on my post is great.I've got lots of advice and good ideas, most of I really need.Ido belive I won't try DCC yet..Maybe later.This has got to be the greatest web site for hobbist on the web. I thank all for their advice and suggestions.Once again thanks for and the help. I won't feel too bad about come back for more advice.
  11. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member

    you've got it Charlie, me lad. If I have to strain myself by thinking, that's out. All the minute detailing, DCC and all, I'd never knock it as long as they have fun. My prime objective is to have a nice running pike, with continuous running, and lots of good scenery. Also work in time to scratchbuild like Shamus and Phil Marsh. I said LIKE them, not as GOOD as them I think that is what is going to be fun if and when I start

  12. shamus

    shamus Registered Member


    Hello John, and welcome to the gauge.
    My advice is to keep your first project simple, make it as a learning project, and ask 100's of questions, they will all get answered here in the gauge. With all the guys here at the gauge, there is a vast amount of knowledge available to you, not just from me because I am a moderator, but many others as well.
    So feel free to ask. Now for some questions,
    1 - Do you have a trackplan in mind, if you have can we see it.
    2 - How big an area are you going to use?
    3 - Do you know what wood to use in the building of a railroad and also the top surface you will use.

  13. John Sneed

    John Sneed Member

    Shamus thanks for your interest in my question to answer yours, I'am looking at Atlas book 11 minimum size twice around fo a layout. I think i could make a few changes to make it a little more interesting, like a yard or something along that line. It looks like its going to be 4'X7' or more. I'am going to keep it simple be using 4X8 plywood deck covered with some blue board left over when we resided out house. Cork roadbed with the radius listed in the track plans.The plans give a listing of products given. If you have any other suggestion to ofter, i would like to hear them. Once again thanks for your input on this project. John


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