Where do I start?

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by Grampy, Aug 3, 2004.



  1. Lionel

    0 vote(s)
  2. MTH RailKing

    0 vote(s)
  3. Kline

    0 vote(s)
  1. Grampy

    Grampy New Member

    I'm planning my first O gauge layout. I concerned about getting equipment and track that is quality while still staying retired (and married). Can you recommend, or warn, manufacturers that offer quality and resonably priced merchandise. I'm currently looking into Rail King. What do you think?

    Thanks for your input.
  2. Greg Elems

    Greg Elems Member

    Well Ken, it depends on what you want to do. Some of the Rail King cars are full O scale in size. Others are shrunk a bit to work on the O27 curves. If you want full size, cars they can be bought from all three makers. If you like the old Lionel semi scale equipment, like the 6464 series box cars the all makers offer them. There really isn't any reason to avoid any of them. They all have couplers that look the same and work together pretty good. I'd pick and choose the cars that interest you and go from there. Engines are a bit different, but MTH does offer Rail king semi scale engines that are basic engines with minimal electronic gizmos in them. The MTH engines run great and are better priced than Lionels. K-Line has nice semi scale steamers that run great also. Another maker that you might take a look at is Williams.

    If you have anymore questions, I'd be happy to try and answer them.

  3. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    I agree with Greg: Since it's possible now to pick and choose the best characteristics of several manufacturers, it's a shame to pigeonhole yourself by just choosing one of them.

    The only thing to concern yourself with is if you want electronic controls. MTH's DCS isn't compatible with Lionel's TMCC, which K-Line also uses under license. So there, it's much simpler if you pick one.
  4. Danny

    Danny Member

    If starting a new layout, why choose O Scale, when you can go G, so much more to choose from and no squinting, big trains! Regards, Danny Sheehan in Oz.
  5. 3railguy

    3railguy Member

    First question is budget. You can start with decent quality Lionel 027 or railking for around $250 and expect to spend $600 building a 4 x 8 layout with switches and accessories. Lionel 027 track is by far the cheapest but much of Railking equipment is designated 031 curved track mininum.

    As one poster noted, G scale is a good start but it takes up a lot of space indoors.
  6. Greg Elems

    Greg Elems Member

    I think O guage has just as much to offer as G, maybe more. There is also Williams, which has rugged basic O gauge trains. There is a lot more to pick from today than 30 years ago.

  7. Anozira RR

    Anozira RR New Member

    The real question is . . .

    I chose O-guage due to the third rail and no reverse loop complications. Next, I selected Lionel's TMCC system because it's a breeze to operate via remote/radio control and I thought there are more selections within the TMCC system. I purchased Lionel stuff initially and PAID, what I now believe to be inflated prices compaired to the competition. I now think that Lionel is over priced in part due to its long standing in the industry, which has created a overly inflated view of its self. I have also requested assistance of them due to their reluctance to write complete instruction manuals for their TMCC accessories and power equipment. The Technical Department would not elaborate or try to fill in the gaps not covered in the instruction manuals and referred me to books that were written prior to TMCC, ergo no information. I finaly found answers to my questions in a book that I recommend to anyone contimplating the leap into the new age of train control with TMCC or DCS. "Command Control for Toy Trains" by Neil Besougloff, Kalmbach Books, copyright 2003.

    Consquently, I have FOUND K-Line and I am impressed with their offerings, detail, run-abiliity, and approach to marketing. They are reaching out to their consumers. Check out their Collectors' Club. Check out the new operating cars that are radio controlled. One is not restricted to operating these cars only where Operating Track sections are installed. Get Cruise Control on a K-Line loco and it operates just as smooth as its Lionel counterpart. AND, they underprice Lionel for what I can see, an equal product. Sure, some people remark, "They back order for months." Well, hey, I still have Lionel stuff that is on back order. Try getting the current catalog offering called (6-29800) TrainMaster Command Control Crane Car for example.

    Anyway, that's my soap box and opinion as advice to anyone contimplating getting into the hobby. There are so many decisions for the new entrant AND the commited also. One must do the research. Some or a lot of hands on observing and track side questions sure do help also. As an old Arab friend would tell me when we were faced with a new challenge, even as simple as it would appear, "Sadik, NOTHING is easy."
  8. Oldmax

    Oldmax Member

    "O" or "G"

    :wave: Grampy

    If you don't want to spend money don't get in to trains "Is like Boat" but if enjoyment is greater than money spent "Go for it". If you are inside "O" Gauge is the way to go for less money. That $250 you spend for whole train set will not buy one good "G" Scale engine. The $600 you spend for train layout will be money well spent "G" scale Track about $2.80 A Lin. foot for track, Switches $50 to $100 each. That is for Brass S.S. is more. If I was going to build layout inside would be "HO" Gauge "Smaller Dia curves."
  9. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    Hi Grampy:

    Welcome to the Gauge. Have you modeled before? What types of layout/detail/operations are you interested in modeling? Are you interested in a "classic" Lionel layout with old fashioned "cast iron" steam engines and lots of operation accessories, a hi-rail layout with more detailed equipment and scenery or are you shooting for scale? All the manufacturer's you mentioned are good. I have Lionel, MTH/Railking and K-Line accessories and Lionel and K-Line rolling stock, although i model in S-Gauge. All have performed well. I have read many good things about Williams equipment, especially that they stick to the basics and do them well. My one experience with Lionel's repair department was a positive one, they told me how long it would take, it took that long, and it was correctly repaired.

    In addition to the manufacturer's you mentioned, you also need to consider Gargraves track. They make a good range of track and accessories for O-Gauge, and many folks use it on their layouts. Lionel has several different track systems available. You need to look at each and decide what “look” pleases you. The original Lionel “tube” track is compatible with the K-Line track and the Gargraves track.

    Our club uses a lot of accessories. We are a modular club that runs our layouts at GATS and other “shows”. Our engines and rolling stock usually run continuously for 2-4 hours a shift. We’ll be visited in a weekend by 500-1000+ folks who push the accessory buttons all day long. We have found the K-Line units to be a good value but they require more maintenance. The MTH units that we have are mostly copies of old Lionel or Flyer units. They run well and require a little less repair. The Lionel accessories have been the most reliable. They use a little more metal in their assemblies and the gearing is generally more robust. An exception is the repro Flyer sawmill, the nylon gearing is fragile. It’s worth the time to do a little research on each thing you plan to buy. I wouldn’t hesitate to consider any of the aforementioned manufacturer’s for my home layout, if the accessory fit into my plans.

    Hope this helps.

  10. vinwarlock

    vinwarlock New Member

    also mth dcs can work with tmc engins with a few parts runs about $100 for the parts to run lionel with dcs
  11. Chief Eagles

    Chief Eagles Active Member

    I have all manufacturers' rolling stock [Lionel, MTH, K-Line, Weaver and Williams; well no Atlas yet]. I have DCS and TMCC. I went with DCS first and then added the TMCC Command Module. Now I can run PS2, PS1 [MTH engines] and TMCC from the DCS remote. I have a CAB1 [Lionel] and really love to run my TMCC engines by that. I have more Lionel TMCC engines that MTH PS2. I love them both. I usually run my conventional engines with the transformer like the old days [but can run them from the DCS remote]. Have not purchased any K-Line engines as I have mostly NS diesels. As suggested above, don't restrict yourself to one manufacturer. I am presently running on carpet in a spare bedroom on tublor track. Building a layout in another spare bedroom and using RealTrax. Good luck.
  12. cnw1995

    cnw1995 Member

    Welcome to a great hobby - not only with the history and 'nostalgia' factors - but with models that are hefty and easy to work with (in general). I started a few years ago with a Lionel 027 train set I got on sale - the Ballyhoo circus train - and just kept on adding to it. You really can't go wrong with any of those manufacturers's offerings. Rail King items are great. As are K-Line and those from Lionel. I run the few trains I have conventionally - and try to follow the 'rule of thumb' to not buy anything I can't park on the layout - that keeps me solvent.
  13. Dr. John

    Dr. John Member

    You've already read some good answers to your question. I also agree - you will probably find something from each manufacturer that you would enjoy using.

    I probably own mostly Lionel, followed by K-Line with MTH following that. I like post war equipment, so Lionel wins by default (if I want the real thing). For reproductions, I usually by Williams.
  14. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    That all depends on what you want to do. Used standard O is the best bang for the buck

    Fast Track and Real Trax are neat but the Lionel is so much easier to pull apart and not break. Atlas is the very best.

    You have traditional 0 27 and heavier 0 31 and then the new stuff with the plastic road bed/ballast afixxed.

    Atals and Gargraves look real and are flexable.

    Look at pix of others layouts and decide what looks neat to you..


    below MTH Real Trax, very similar in apperance.

    Atlas track, looks abouth the same as Gargraves.

    and last but not least is tubular..


    I found this great web site that will help you a lot....
  15. dry58

    dry58 New Member

    Hello, Ken.
    All of the above posts make valid points. I have stuck with Atlas O for all of my track and turnout needs, simpley because I had used Atlas products in my N & HO life and felt the reliability factor would carry over the the Atlas O products as well. I also like K-Line. I don't own any Lionel yet but I think their QC issue have been addresed and so I may purchase some of their locos and rolling stock in the future. I don't run any MTH because of the incompatability of TMCC with their products. I don't need more thain one operating system and I choose TMCC because it is offered by Lionel and Licensced to Atlas O, K-Line and Weaver. Start out slow and see what you like best. If possible, visit some layouts and public shows in your area and ask questions.
    Everything in O costs, it's just a given. I learned early on to limit myself to an era and not go hogwild and try to buy everything I see as I (and others, i'm sure) did in the smaller gauges. What ever you decied to go with, I know you will have a ball. Good Luck on your new adventure.
  16. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    I didnt address the issue of engines and transformers.

    None of it is cheap. As Always you pay for what you get.

    You may or may not want remote controll. I like it and have Lionels as it is simpler.It is also a little less costly but TMCC or DCS adds to the price of you engines at least $100.

    K Line has a new system to be released in the future that will operate TMCC equiped engines.

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