Train set?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by aslan, May 24, 2006.

  1. aslan

    aslan Member

    Thanks to everyone who responded to my "newby" questions. I'm going to HO on a track a little larger than a 4x8 (6x8??). Anyway, my question: Being a beginner, would it be better to purchase a set or buy individual pieces?
    Stan :confused:
  2. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    For the best "quality" buy a good locomotive - Atlas, Kato, Bachmann Spectrum, to begin. Buy a few good pieces of rolling stock and equip them with Kadee couplers as soon as you can. The prepackaged sets do not, as a rule, come with great materials. They tend to run rough and and noisy. They can be good learning tools if you like to tinker to make them run better, but you will enjoy the quality pieces a lot more. As you grow into the hobby you will see and learn which manufacturers produce the kinds and type of locos and rolling stock that fit your situation.

    Read as much as you can. Go to train shows such as Greenburgs, or GATS if it is still arround. Watch the ads in Model Railroader or RMC for a show near you. If you know of a model railroad club in your area, go to a meeting to see what they use and build.

    But the real thing is to enjoy the hobby.

  3. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    Train sets are good for quick-and-dirty running, i.e. if you want to temporarily throw a circle of track around the Christmas Tree to run a train during the holidays while your relatives are over.

    But for a permanent layout I suspect you will probably need something more, such as Digital Command Control (DCC) if you want to run two trains independently, which you can't really get in a train set. So you will want to buy the pieces separately..

    Locomotives: Atlas, Proto2000s, Athearns, and Katos are nice... And you can get them DCC-equipped too.

    Rolling stock: P2K, Kadee, MDC, Athearn, Atlas, etc.

    Track: Nickel Silver. Never, ever get any other kind of track (i.e. brass or steel) because they tarnish too easily. Atlas makes good nickel silver sectional and flex track, Peco makes nice turnouts, Shinohara/Walthers makes nice slimmer-profile (more realistic-looking) Code 83 and 70 track, etc. If possible, keep your curve radius at 22" or larger if you want to run big locomotives.

    Power and Control: Get yourself a good DCC setup.

    Good luck!
  4. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Bachmann has really upgraded their basic line and dropped what used to be the basic line of trains. What is standard now is what used to be Bachmann+. They offer decoder equipped locomotives now for under $30.00, I think. You want to buy quality rolling stock, Athearn, MDC, Atlas, Accurail. Athearn and Accurail make the easiest kits. The kits are a bit less expensive than ready to run. MDC isn't bad, but they use diecast underframes that need to be painted black and need flash trimmed off. Buy cars with body mounted couplers. All of the cars I mentioned have body mounted couplers. Cars wth body mounted couplers can be backed easily through switches, around curves, etc. The typical train set cars have truck mounted couplers; and, if you try to back through a curve, the coupler will push the car off the track. You will need a good powerpack/throttle, or dcc. You can get a good throttle for under $50.00, I think basic dcc set ups come in at around $100.00-$150.00. The advantage of dcc, is you can program an address into the decoder of a locomotive, and then assign a throttle to that locomotive. That way you can run one train independent of others on the layout. If you get a locomotive with the decoder installed, and don't have dcc, they will run on dc. The decoder looks for dcc on the rails and if it doesn't see the dcc signal, it defaults to dc. If you are only going to have or run one train, dc is fine. If you are going to design a layout that will allow the running of two or more trains at the same time, dcc is really the best way to go. I would also reccomend flex track. It comes in 3 foot lengths, and you can bend your own curves into it as you put it down. If you get cork roadbed to lay the track on, it will quiet things down a bit. I take a wooden yard stick and drill a hole right at the 1 inch mark to provide clearance for a drywall screw. I then drill holes at any radius I want to run up to 35 inches. Remember that because the pivot hole is at 1 inch, you have to add 1 inch to each measurement, ie-18 inch radius is at the 19 inch mark. I screw the drywall screw into the plywood at the curve center, and use a pencil through the hole at the correct radius to trace out my curves. The cork roadbed comes in precut pieces that are split in the center. If you split it apart, you get the tapered shoulders for the ballast. I you lay 1/2 piece of cork down on a curve with the radius line along the vertical edge, and the tapered edge to the outside. Then put the other half of the cork against the first half, the center line of the cork will correspond to where the center line of the track should be. It is easier to do than it is to write instructions. If you get started, and have questions, just put up a post here, and we'll chime in and help you out.
  5. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    First what do you want?

    Haul coal, people or frieght?

    And where, around a city, a town, the woods the desert or a combination?

    Next what time period?

    Steam or diesle?

    Do some home work and you will be happy and save unwasted money,
  6. aslan

    aslan Member

    Thanks. . .

    David, Tom and Russ for the information.
    Stan :)
  7. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    I would say: go for a set, the most expensive one you can afford.
    Why ? because if you purchase the components separatly, it' ll cost you about twice the price of the starter set.
    In my case I purchased the Fleischmann digital 2005 starter of the year set , it includes 1 locomotive, 3 wagons, some track, 2 turnouts, the DCC controller ( throttle ) for the price of a single DCC equiped locomotive.
  8. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    Nah, you can get good stuff ( better than trainset stuff) for just as much. you can get an Athearn blue box locomotive for $35-$50, and thats already good stuff.

    I would reccomend investing money in a good locomotive instead of a starter set, except for a few starters. Athearn and walthers used to make good starter sets, and athearn in particular sold "train sets" where you got a whole train with high quality stuff, but no tracks or power pack, allowing you to get ther kinds of controls and track you want.

    its best to make your own custom set, instead of buying any old set.
  9. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member

    I think everyone has told you right. I believe the most important part of the "train set" is the locomotice. Most train sets has a poor locomotive in it. In time you will get fed up with the poor performce and get out of the hobby. Another part is the transformer or power pack. They are for the most part, ver low power. You can only power one locomotive and a few lights.

    This is what I would do as a first timer:
    1. By a locomotive from a respectiful, Athearn, Kato, Bachmann Spectrum Series.
    2.MRC power pack (unless you are going to DCC)
    3.Atlas Track
    4.Rollying stock of your choice.

    Even though you will spend a little more money. I think you will be alot more happy!

    Good Luck,
  10. Agamemnon

    Agamemnon Member

    You can't go far wrong with one of those, especially with a company like Fleischmann whose stuff is universally high-quality. It's only a matter of finding a starter set that comes with a loco you like (in my case it was a small DB diesel switcher, a beaut piece of work with excellent low-speed performance).
  11. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Aslan: As a long time modeller. I'll admit to buying a few train sets along the way. Usually these were because I wanted a certain train (DeWitt Clinton, Turbo train, Harry Potter) that didn't come any other way. The track usually was stored away, the powerpack put to running accessories.

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