Were to start ????

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Tim K, Dec 30, 2005.

  1. Tim K

    Tim K Member

    Hi everyone

    I am new to this forum and was looking to get my son into this wonderful hobby that I enjoyed with my Grandfather for so many years.

    Is there any starter sets out there that are better than others and what brand name should I be looking at ?

    I have a large basement that is perfect for a good size layout so the set must
    be expandable.

    I am sure you see theese questions all the time but thankyou in adavance for all your help.

    Tim K
  2. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    Walthers Trainline sets are great. They have good track, good cars, and a decent locomotive. Same goes for Bachmann Spectrum (they are in black boxes, unlike standard Bachmann) The Power packs are not bad either. However, don't buy Life like or Bachmann standard stuff. they are toys, and won't be that great.

    Make sure you get Nickel Silver track, as its generaly better than the other track types. If you want to make a table mounted layout, Atlas Snap track is probably more what you are looking for. If you want to be able to put things on the floor, then i suggest you get Bachmann EZ track.

    I Highly reccomend just buying your own combination of cars and locomotives. That way you get what you want.

    The best locomotives a begginner could buy is an Athearn Blue Box kit. Some assembly is required, but just make sure you get an easy one. I reccomend getting a GP7 blue box kit. they are exceedingly easy to make. all you need is some plastic cement to mount some parts. They are also super rugged. It can take a beating.

    Avoid larger Blue Box kits, as they fail to have an skill level chart on them, and as i found out for myself, the AMD-103 isn't the greatest locomotive kit to start out with. You should be able to tell by looking at it if you can make it or not

    Blue box freight cars are just as durable as the GP7. they also look fine. they need to be built a tiny bit as well, but they are easy. you don't even need glue, just a screwdriver to put the trucks on.

    Finaly, make sure the coupelrs match. go for the knuckle type couplers. avoid horn hook/X2F type couplers, as they are unrealistic and a pain when it comes to switching.
  3. Tim K

    Tim K Member

    Great stuff Green , thankyou :thumb: .

    Tim K
  4. Tim K

    Tim K Member

  5. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    Not sure of which Bachman set you are asking about. But the advice given by Green is very sound. The Athern Blue Box F7 & GP7 are indestructable. They will run forever with very little maintenance. I recomend using Kadee couplers the are tough the other brands of knucle couplers are plastic and break easily. I recomend flex track because it is very .............flexible, you can put it like you want it instead of how they want it. Start with shelve around a wall if possible. No deeper that 30 inches. If not use 4X8 plywood. when you first start out make nothing permanant. I have a neighbor who is just starting he has changed whole thing numerous times in the year he has been working with it, I enjoy seeing what he is doing because his layout changes almost daily. He is experimenting to see what works, what dosen't work, what he like , what he doesn't like. His is a shelf around the wall about 16 X16 room. Most important is HAVE FUN and let you son do it. My 7 year old grandson love to run trains and he has an area that is his to do as he pleases. He learned that trees can be glued too close to track.
  6. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    yes, it is pretty much toy train quality stuff with a DCC system with it. And to be Perfectly honest, I think it would be much better for you to spend extra on a MRC Prodigy express or something if you want DCC.

    The Bachmann EZ command can only control 2 trains at a time, and has 10 adresses. it has limited consisting (how many locomotives can run in a group) and doesn't support accessory decoders or anything ( so switches and building lights would still need a regular power pack.

    It was basicly designed as a cheap DCC set to go with its toy trains. It probably wouldn't make a bad gift for your kid to have his own trains, but for an actual layout I would start with something different.

    While you are searching Ebay, put Bachmann Spectrum. Spectrum is Bachmann's model quality trains. These are the good ones. they come DCC ready, Which means you could easily install a Decoder Chip.

    Here is a great starter set from Bachmann Spectrum on Ebay, although i'm not sure the price is right: http://cgi.ebay.com/Spectrum-Patriot-Amtrak-Train-Set_W0QQitemZ6025432637QQcategoryZ19132QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem


    Another good set as i said before is Walters Trainline. if it says trainline its great! This one pictured has a GP9 that runs on the same components of the before mentioned GP7, great quality freight cars, out fitted with kunckle couplers and everything. It has a good power pack and atlas snap track.
  7. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    they are indestructible. I once brought mine to summer camp (i really don't know how it got there! seriously!:confused: ) and it made it through fine despite the constant rain the and the rest of the elements. I don't see how it couldn't survive anything else:D
  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Tim: Check out the place where you buy your trains. If they don't have extra parts for expansion, look somewhere else.
    Train set track has developed some incompatibilities in last decade. There are now at least 3 different types of track with roadbed that are incompatible and cannot be made compatible without surgery. Basic Atlas and Peco are universal. I have been in stores which sold Bachman sets but LifeLike track, and those two don't mix. (A large, nationally-known chain of toy shops)
    Fortunately, all currently made HO is compatible (except for couplers, and those can be changed). Larger items will require larger curves.
  9. Tim K

    Tim K Member

    Thankyou everyone for the great advice , I will be heading to the local hobby store today to see what they have to offer but the knowledge on a forum like
    this one is priceless.

    Thanks Tim
  10. Tim K

    Tim K Member

    Is the track that comes with the Walthers trainline set compatable with the flex

    track found in hobby stores ?

    Tim K
  11. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    As long as the track in the trainline set does not have a molded-on roadbed. it and flextrack are compatible. Just make sure you buy extra rail joiners, as you never seem to have enough when you're track laying.
  12. Tim K

    Tim K Member

  13. Tim K

    Tim K Member

    I have now ordered a Walthers trainline kit with the Atlas track so its off to the lumber store for some building materials.

    I plan on a simple 4x8 set up that my son and I can change around and add to until we find what we like , the nice thing is my basement is fairly large so are only limitations will be our minds and of course my wife:D .

    Thanks to everyone who helped ,I will keep you posted.

  14. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    I will chime in with a little humble input - I was at the LHS the other day, and a man stopped in and was having problems with a loco he bought. He had just begun in the hobby about 2 weeks ago, and as he claimed, he hasn't been able to think about much else since :). The employee of the store was very helpful in telling the man where to get his locomotive fixed under warantee, and then the man stayed for a half hour or more just to learn things about the hobby - what products were good, what certain things were, about dcc, etc.

    My advice for beginners - look for a local hobby store that specializes in trains, stop in, say hello, ask advice, and buy a few things. I know they are becoming harder to find these days, but they are invaluable for people starting off. In my opinion, shopping ebay is a poor choice when you have little knowledge of the products you are shopping for. I see many items on ebay sell for more than they are worth, because people don't do their resarch. Also, go the hobby store and look through the selection of books and magazines. When I was younger, model railroader was a very inspiring source for new ideas.

  15. Tim K

    Tim K Member

    I personally have found forums such as this a far better resource than
    my LHS.

    On a forum like this one you have many years of experience and plenty of different opinions plus I have found most people are very willing to help out a new person in there hobby.

    I have been racing model boats for over fifteen years and belong to a related forum that offers more insight and information to newcomers than any hobby shop ever could.

    Plus in the model boat hobby the local hobby shops generally charge a lot more for items than on line stores .

    That said I do believe the LHS is still a wonderful place to purchase items and gather information but in my humble opinion the internet is by far the greatest resource tool we have.

    Tim K
  16. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    I agree about the resource tool from the internet. But i still insist on supporting LHS as it is a place where I can go with a problem in my hand not on screen. Such as a loco that will not run or a car that will not stay on the track. This is very valuable to new comers to the hobby. I have been doing this for many many many years, most of the time I can solve my problems my self in fact many times people call me to help them. But I still value LHS bacause when I need a small screw or an Athearn clip to hold a coupler the internet is not the best place to look. I am a firm believer in LHS even if internet seems cheaper except in extreme cases. Because LHS has no shipping & handling charges and when there is a problem with it the will usually take care of you TODAY.Also I meet other modelers there and have made many friends through LHS.
  17. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member


    This is a curiosity question that may, or may not help someone.

    Background: I bought a 30"X75" N layout from a friend w/Bachmann loco and 3 cars for $20, 2 remotes and 2 manual switches. I just wanted to dabble in N while my HO got boring. It had EZ track. Now, with 2 more locos and a bunch of cars that $20 has got to well over a $100.

    I tore it down an rebuilt. To use the switches with flex track, I found out that the connectors on the EZ track pulled off just like regular ones. I carved down into the foam just deep enough to set the switches into, then used regular connectors to join flex to it sitting on the foam. Works perfect. So the question is, If one uses EZ track, couldn't they make a real slight grade to the level of flex to make their own curves?

    Just curious, but I wanted someone to think about it. :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :D :D :D :D

  18. Tim K

    Tim K Member

    I realy did not intend to turn this into a debate between the LHS and the Internet I firmly believe both have positive and negative aspects about them and I will continue to enjoy both.

    Tim K
  19. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    Sounds like you've got a great LHS Lester! Yep, there are definitely advantages to both the hobby shop and the internet. I've found things online for myself but I do appreciate the face to face assistance from my hobby shop guy.
  20. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    Not meaning to debate sorry. I just lost LHS and very good friend to death about 6 months ago. I now reallize the value of a good friend, knowledgable person and LHS so I tend to jump on the soap box whenever the subject comes up. I feel they are not appreciated.

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