Total Newbie needs information

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by terencevs, Mar 9, 2006.

  1. terencevs

    terencevs New Member

    Hi All

    My name is Terence van Schalkwyk and I am from Cape Town South Africa. I have always been fascinated with Model Trains and it is time for me to start the hobby!

    Back in my day when I was still young round about 13 I helped build I steam engine railway around a dam in my local town. (Don’t have a clue what gauge it was, pretty big though) I can post some photos if you like... That’s where the interest started!

    I want to build a HO set-up. And that’s about what I know!

    Is there a website I can go to which will explain some basics to me?

    Someone can sell me something and tell me it is something else and I will believe them, as I am clueless!

    I have been reading this forum for the last two days non-stop and have become so inspired! So can you please help me?
  2. webmaster

    webmaster Member

    Hi Terence, welcome to the Gauge!

    Well you have decided on HO gauge, so really the next step is to decide what country & what period in time you would like to model. You don't have to be too specific in the time period, some people, myself included, like to model over a few decades. Eg. mine is 1970's - 2000.

    The continent if fairly important as this will dictate which manufacturers you use for your rolling stock.
  3. terencevs

    terencevs New Member

    Thanks webmaster


    Thanks for the quick response!

    I want to go with the 1950s, North America theme.

    I want to have a small town and leads out to a coal mine and also a lumber mill.

    I also want to focus lots of detail within the town and surrounding area.

  4. webmaster

    webmaster Member

    I'm not familiar with stock producers for that era, however, I know when our friends across the pond in the US wake up, they will be able to help you out.
  5. Roger Hensley

    Roger Hensley Member

    For a lot of information for the beginner, you can take a look at the NMRA's 'Introduction to Model Railroading' pages at:

    Welcome to the hobby!
  6. Dave Flinn

    Dave Flinn Member

    Welcome, Terrence. It's nice to see someone from South Africa. I was there back in 1987, and would like to go back now to see how things have changed; but that's not the topic at hand.

    I also plan to model North America in the 50's, specifically the New Haven Railroad (which would not be suitable for you), so I welcome you in that respect, as well. I'm sure you will get lots of useful information here on The Gauge. It's great reading, even if you don't act on everything. Hope to hear more from you as you progress.
  7. roenickrox

    roenickrox New Member

    From one person to another getting back into the hobby, welcome. I haven't had my trains set up for about 15 yrs and am just getting back into it (thanks to my son). I don't know if it would help but deals in model railroading. I can't be sure if they shipo internatinal though. Alot has changed since I last had my layout up, but you will find that there is always a load of info out there. Everyone here is very helpful on solving problems and helping you on your way. Good luck.
  8. Arizona Heat

    Arizona Heat Member

    :wave: Welcome to the Gauge Terencevs. When I joined this site I knew nothing about how to set up my layout. I asked questionsssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss!!! and got my ideas from the posts here on the gauge. All I had was a bare sheet of 3/4 plywood to start with. Here are a few pics of my layout so far so if you need answers just ask the gauge members and they will help you through it. Left click pic to expand it.
  9. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    :wave: welcome to the gauge :wave: there is a excellent modeler that lives in Alberton SA , Jimmy Beersa . there is a lot if info stored here. the only web site i have heard of is the NMRA pages.
  10. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    You haven't asked specific questions, yet; but here are a couple of general things to consider. How big is your layout going to be? If you are starting with a 4x8 plywood table like most people do, you will be restricted to a minimum radius of 18-22 inches. A small layout with tight radius will look and operate better with gp type locomotives (2 axle trucks) rather than sd type locomotives(3 axle trucks). Full length passenger equipment won't work on small radius, but you can use "shorties" made by Athearn, Con Cor, or MDC. These are passenger cars made to a scale length of 72' rather than 85', and they will work nicely on 18 inch radius curves. For passenger power, I would use EMD f units or Alco fa's since they are four axle power. You can use a 15 inch radius on industrial sidings and a gp7 or 9 or Alco rs1,2,3,or 11 will handle it nicely. If you haven't posted there, yet, don't forget the ho board on the Gauge.
  11. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    That's why I suggest you don't build a 4x8. What sort of room do you have?
  12. JAyers

    JAyers Member

    Several other sites to try are: - Home of a bunch of Railroad Magazines and books, some how-tos and a HUGE forum.

    The All Gauge site - Has a lot of beginner info and tons of track plans in all gauges.

    And my current fave - 2guyzandsumtrains - Easy going forum with a really big how-to section. The focus is on scratchbuilding, going cheap and having fun instead of fretting the details.

    Hope this helps.

  13. terencevs

    terencevs New Member


    Thanks for all your input!

    I have decided on a couple of things:

    1. I am going to go DCC... Do you think its a good idea?
    2. I am going to model late 90s and then I can always work my way backwards in time.

    I have two spaces in mind...

    My Garage - Hang the track from the roof and let the whole setup work with a pully.
    Buy a outside wooded cottage - What size do you think?


  14. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Hi Terence.
    Yes, I think DCC is a good idea for someone just starting. It is an awful thing for those of us with extensive collections of ancient equipment.
    I think we may have a couple of pictures of suspended layouts, but I'm not sure. You have to be pretty good with the cables to get it working; any snags and you have trains on the floor. You also need a structure for it to rest on while you operate.
    Modelling now and working backwards? possible. Put in some abandoned sidings (just a switch, or a spot where the switch was, and add an industry when you get around to it.
    We have a couple of other members in S.A.
  15. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I would reccomend the outside cottage building over a suspended layout in a garage. As far as size, how big is your garage? How much room do you have in your yard for the layout? Generally model railroaders want as big a l ayout as they can build and would still like ti to be a little bit bigger!

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