Where Do I start?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by MSP Tuner, Apr 20, 2004.

  1. MSP Tuner

    MSP Tuner New Member

    Hello Everybody:

    I'm a newbie to the model train scene has you can tell. I'm trying to figure out where to start. I've thought about the Z scale but those things are to darn tiny. So I've decided to go with N scale but don't know what company to go with. So I'm basically looking for any help possible.
  2. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    Hi MSP Tuner,, Welcome to the gauge.

    Give the folks some idea of operation you want to achive, also time zone (era) Steam? Diesel? or dare I say it Electric?:eek:

    Also your avalible space .
    I am sure you will soon have a lot of help:wave:
  3. MSP Tuner

    MSP Tuner New Member

    Thanks for the Welcome:thumb:

    I'm thinking of going Diesel. As for a space I live in apartment so nothing to outrageous. Maybe a 4x4 area but I can go a little bigger if needed. I was thinking of going with the Z scale in a 3x3 area.
  4. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    I see you live in the Apple. I bet you there is a ntrack or ttrak club that you could join and build a module for in N for and add it to others at meetings to make a big display layout. How I sometimes wish I lived in an area where I could do that. Check with you Local Hobby Shops or here a link to ntrak site that lists several clubs in NYC http://www.ntrak.org/connections.htm#usa.world Enjoy and welcome to da gauge. FRED
  5. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    Welcome MSP.

    I too live in an apartment. I was able to take an alcove in my living room (11.5' x x6.5') and turn it into a train room. Our living room is 11.5' x 18' total.

    My choice was Southern Ontario (where I grew up) 1880-1900 so steam.

    For Deisel, the guys at my Railroad Club will say "Athearn, Atlas or Con-Cor".

    Hope this helps.
  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Wat do you mean by company -- is it RR company to model or company that makes the model trains?
    The first is purely your choice. I always suggest the local company from when you were 8-12 years old.
    For the second, you con't usually limit yourself to one manufacturer. In N gauge, they're all compatible. Some of the tracks don't clip together properly, and there are two types of couplings. Other than that, there are differences in quality (usually reflected in the price) and some locomotives will run at different speeds than others.
    Read the threads on the gauge and see what everybody enjoys. We all have aspects of the hobby we like and aspects we don't like. Usually, you can bypass the bits you don't like by paying a bit more money :wave: or by finding a friend to trade skills with. Remember, it's all supposed to be FUN.
  7. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    welcome to the gauge:wave:
    you might think about narrow gauge ;)
  8. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    :wave: :wave: :wave: welcome to the gauge :wave: :wave: :wave:

    It's usually (highly) recommended to stay away from "train sets" as they tend to be toy quality, and plagued with problems. My LHS (Local Hobby Shop) refuses to carry them or even order train sets.

    In my limited N scale experiance, Atlas track is inexpensive and high quality. As far as loco's and rollin' stock, you might read some of the posts inthe N scale section and/or ask what are good brands.

    Gennerally, MT brand couplers are considered the best, and can be retrofitted to loco's and rollin' stock after purchase.

    And now you know all I know about N scale :D :D :D
  9. MSP Tuner

    MSP Tuner New Member

    Thanks for all the replies.

    I'm trying to decide between N scale and Z scale now. Any info on Z scales?
  10. zeeglen

    zeeglen Member

    Think carefully b4 getting into Zee scale. It is highly addictive. Once you start you will be forever hooked into being a ZedHed.

    Z scale is experiencing a rapid growth in popularity and available materials. The big manufacturers are Micro-Trains, Marklin (the Z originators), and American Z Lines. Many smaller suppliers are jumping on board with all sorts of new product. In the last 2 years the growth spurt in available Z products has been amazing. Z is beginning to go through what N went through 20 years ago.

    Check out the N / Z scale section of this forum. Here are some more links to get you started:

    http://www.ztrack.com - Ztrack magazine

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/z_scale - a Z scale forum

    http://www.texasandbeyond.org -a Dallas RR club both N and Z

    These links will direct you to many more Z scale links. Enjoy!

    Yes, i am a Z modeller (and N too). Luvitt! My next layout will be Z.

    Even Z scale can be fitted with the latest in DCC. The photo shows a Digitrax DZ123 squeezed into a Z scale Micro-Trains F-7. Yes, the shell does fit over this.

    - ZeegleN

    Attached Files:

  11. MSP Tuner

    MSP Tuner New Member

    Whats DCC?:(
  12. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    Digital Command Control.

    One of the main advantages is that it allows you to control multiple locomotives on the same line.
  13. MSP Tuner

    MSP Tuner New Member

    I was just browsing the Micro Train Line homepage. I notice that you can get the MTL with Marklin couplers. I’ve decided to go with Marklin track and get a F7 Locomotive. I again ask for you help in where to order Marklin and MTL products. Also what else do I need in terms getting the Loco moving on the track.



    EDIT: What do you feel is the best Z scale track?
  14. zeeglen

    zeeglen Member

    There are 2 ways to wire/operate a model railroad.

    Block wiring uses the technique of electrically breaking the tracks into many individual and isolated sections (blocks), each of which can be independently powered through electrical switches and multiple power packs. This allows running of several trains at once, but only one train per block at a time. Also much electric power routing to have to think about as well as train routing and turnout settings (the electric power must be switched to follow the train). Operation of more than one train at a time gets complicated (but develops skill and character).

    DCC involves a small electronic 'decoder' circuit placed inside each locomotive that controls the locomotive motor (and lights etc) and responds only to it's unique pre-programmed digital address. The power to the tracks is heavy-duty digital signalling - enough 'oomph' to drive the loco motors but also contains encoded data packets (from the main DCC throttle controller system) that address and control each loco decoder individually. Thus wiring of the railroad is greatly simplified, and operation too - each throttle controls only it's addressed loco, and power switching as the train crosses into adjoining blocks (now un-necessary) is no longer a worry.

    The opposite side is DCC systems require some programming and setup. Not a big deal if you read the instructions CAREFULLY and have a basic understanding of computereese.

    See http://www.digitrax.com for more info. There are many other DCC manufacturers also.

    One caveat for Z scale - it does demand precision work. Tracklaying etc can be critical, a slight mis-alignment of a rail joint that barely causes a hiccup in HO can play havoc in Z. It is a challenging scale, but very rewarding when everything finally works. Also the MTL locos may need some tweaking and after-market enhancement to get them to work slowly and smoothly.

    Personally i prefer the MTL knuckle couplers to the Marklin couplers - they look far more prototypical.
  15. zeeglen

    zeeglen Member

    A MRC 1300 or 1370 power pack works nicely. You want to keep the voltage down to 8 volts max with any power pack (even at this the locos race far faster than prototypical so as long as you keep the speed realistic no problem).

    Z scale flex and sectional-fixed-radius track is available from sources such as Halwa, Peco, Marklin, Micro-Trains. I believe Halwa makes both European and North American tie spacing. Peco and Marklin use European tie spacing, MT is NA tie spacing. When the ballast is applied tie spacing is not very noticable anyway. I like the MT flex track, except that it is available only in 12" lengths and thus requires more rail joints. Peco track is available in 3' lengths.

    Rail joints should be soldered and filed/sanded smooth. When mating different brands of track/turnouts rail joints need extra finishing attention as track widths are slightly different between brands.

    Marklin makes insulated plastic rail joiners (for block wiring isolation) but better results are obtained by filing/Dremeling/razorsawing a gap into an existing rail section.

    Z scale turnouts are made by Marklin, Peter Wright (UK), and Halwa. Maybe others now. FastTracks of Calgary, Canada has just released templates and materials for making hand-laid Z scale turnouts. Their website is


    One tool you will find very handy is a visor (head-worn) hobbyist magnifier available in craft shops.
  16. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Can you speed it up Glen, so I can get a cheap Z mechy for doing some HOn18 Lokeys??? :D :D :D
  17. zeeglen

    zeeglen Member

    There is a gent in New Zealand doing HOn30 and HOn20 -


    using the Micro Trains F7 Z scale loco mechanism for his HOn20 locos.

    Actually Z scale at 6.5mm gauge is 22.26 inches in HO scale, but the eye is easily fooled at these tiny dimensions. 18" HO is really 5.255mm. There is a company in Europe (Switzerland?) recently started making Z scale narrow gauge track. Will try to find out the specifics if you would like more info.

Share This Page