Getting started

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by meander, Jul 25, 2004.

  1. meander

    meander New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2004
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Sorry i took so long to get my first post up, but i wanted to make sure that i had everything that i wanted to say :)

    well anyways i have LOTS of questions, considering i dont know very much if anything.

    so ill just start asking:

    My friends father had this really cool layout, either ho or n, but im pretty sure it was ho... they used an air compressor connected to tiny holes under the track to slow the trains down. is this a common thing?

    I also would like to know how to build a layout, dont know if im gonna be able to build anything now cuz of limited space and budget, but i like information.
    What kinds of track, where to get it, how to put it on the board, where to get the stuff to power it (im good with electronics) and other things down that road

    also how does this DCC thing work? what can you do with it? expensive?

    OK thats all ill plague you with for this post and ill save the other Qs for later...:thumb:
  2. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2003
    Messages:
    3,877
    Likes Received:
    0
    My friends father had this really cool layout, either ho or n, but im pretty sure it was ho... they used an air compressor connected to tiny holes under the track to slow the trains down. is this a common thing?

    First, Welcome to The Gauge :wave: This would be an air layout, probably homebuilt, as few were ever made comercially.

    I also would like to know how to build a layout, dont know if im gonna be able to build anything now cuz of limited space and budget, but i like information.
    What kinds of track, where to get it, how to put it on the board, where to get the stuff to power it (im good with electronics) and other things down that road

    Check out what Robin (Mathyro) does with his Corn Flakes when he finished with the box. http://www.the-gauge.com/showthread.php?t=10347

    also how does this DCC thing work? what can you do with it? expensive?

    DCC is basically digital commands transmitted to a chip in your locomotive to control it independent of an outside throttle. There is really no limit to it. You can even control signals and turnouts from your trottle if you're set up for it. As for expense, there is a high initial one but it's easy to swallow after that. My club has it so I only need to buy chips for my locos $15-45 depending on the bells and whistles. For A small layout, I really would not consider it myself.

    OK thats all ill plague you with for this post and ill save the other Qs for later...:thumb:

    Newcomers are no plague to real modelers... :thumb:
  3. Lighthorseman

    Lighthorseman Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Messages:
    1,387
    Likes Received:
    0
    Welcome Aboard!

    Hey, Meander!

    First off, welcome to the Gauge. You'll find all sorts of useful information, and friendly folks to dispense it.

    No question is stupid, and no-one here is ever "bothered" by someone starting out and looking for information. We all start at the same line, and some of us are only a single pace ahead of you! :D As you stand on that start line, look over to your right. Yep, that's me. Nice ta meetcha. :wave:

    Okay, you're pondering a layout. First things first...Choice Of Scale Might sound silly, but have you had a look at what's out there in the hobby stores? Usually you'll find HO (1/87) and the smaller N (1/160) scales. Both are very popular, and best off, you can pick up stuff for these scales in virtually any hobby store. These same hobby stores will likely carry some informative books on getting started in whichever scale you like.

    If you're looking for a wonderful scale/gauge input opportunity, try to catch a trainshow in your local area. Not only will this probably get you hopelessly hooked, you'll get a chance to have a look at almost everything from Z scale to garden railways. Generally, the folks at the shows are there because they love interacting with the public, as well as their MRR hobby, and are very approachable. Likely, they will often tell you all you ever wanted to know about "their" scale.

    Once you've come to a scale decision, you'll be wanting to buy something. Gaugers excell here, as they will offer sound advice on locomotives, rolling stock, kits, and so much more. When you get there, be sure to ask away. We'll be right here. :)
  4. meander

    meander New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2004
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think im gonna go with N for this, not too much space around here.


    Stores like Michaels? or are there any other chains or will i have to find a non-chain store?

    Yep, Ive been. One around here every year. I started out going to see my friend, since he went with his father with their layout and then i started looking around at all the really cool stuff...

    Whats rolling stock?
  5. screwysquirrel

    screwysquirrel Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2003
    Messages:
    711
    Likes Received:
    0
    N is a great scale. I use it myself in a dorm room :)

    You'll have to look for domething local, or a small-local chain. Train stuff is _not_ available at Michaels.


    Rolling Stock is anything that moves on a railroad that isn't a locomotive.
  6. Roger Hensley

    Roger Hensley Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2002
    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    0
    For construciton tips and other beginner info, you might want to take a look at the NMRA's 'Introduction to Model Railroading' page at: http://www.nmra.org/beginner/

    Find a good model train hobby shop near you if you can for equipment and parts. Also, there may be NMRA division meets nearby of independent model railroading swap meets. Look in Model railroader or Railroad Model Craftsman for locations.
  7. rcwatkins

    rcwatkins Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2003
    Messages:
    468
    Likes Received:
    0
    Find a small local chain. But try to find a non chain store. If you're situtation is like mine and there are no LHS's in your area then go to a quality site. Sites that many recommend are 4nscale.com, blwnscale.com, wig-wag-trains.com, and nscalesupply.com. The last one has a sale going on so you can get you're hands on some rolling stock. meander, now that we know what scale you're in, feel free to ask questions in the N/Z Forum here on The-Gauge. Or you can send me a PM to ask more about N scale. And welcome aboard to The-Gauge. :wave:
  8. Freelancer

    Freelancer Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2002
    Messages:
    321
    Likes Received:
    0
    Meander, I would highly recommend DCC not sure what company said it, but "it allows you to run your trains, not your track. Especially since you are good with electronics, I don't think that you will have much of a problem. I like to look at DCC as a computer network so to speak. The track is like the CAT5 cable ect. and the engines are like moving computers. With DCC you can operate more than one locomotive without having to worry about blocking the track. (is that the correct term?) Yes it is quite expensive when you add it up, but I find it very rewarding. (when it all works) I don't mean to go against shaygetz's suggestion, but I think that it can add a lot of fun and operating potential to any layout, even a small one.

    Also a site I would recommend would be ebay. You can find some great steals, but be aware of who you are buying from. Hope this helps.

    Freelancer
  9. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2004
    Messages:
    503
    Likes Received:
    0
    As far as national chains that have N scale and HO scale stuff, Hobby Lobby is your best bet. But a local store will have a better selection. The quality of some of the starter sets you'll find in a chain can be questionable at times.

    The last time I was at Toys R Us, I found some supercheap HO and N scale sets. They probably aren't good for anything but kitbashing fodder, but if you're on a supertight budget, one of those sets could provide you with a few cars to run. (I'm into Lionel myself, so I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the cheap Toys R Us sets other than to glance at them long enough to answer my girlfriend's "Are these your scale?" question.)

    As far as eBay, it's tempting to go there to save a bunch of money, but make sure you've shopped around a bit before going there. I went there first when I was getting back into this after about 15 years out of it, and ended up paying too much for too little. Learn a few things first before going there, even if it means you pay retail for your first few items. In the long run you'll save more.

    Probably the best free resources for you are forums like this one and your local library. My library has tons and tons of books on model railroading. After I dug out my old Lionels, my girlfriend (her again) surprised me one day by going to the library and checking out every book on model railroading she could find. Lots of it was irrelevant, but you quickly learn how to sift out what's relevant and what isn't, and it's much better to find out a bunch of library books are irrelevant than a bunch of books you bought at Borders.
  10. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2003
    Messages:
    3,877
    Likes Received:
    0
    I second Dave on Hobby Lobby. While not a true train store, they do carry enough to get you started. Keep your eyes peeled for their 50% off sales around Father's Day and Christmas.

    As for Ebay, yes it's a great place for deals, I buy and sell regularly on it. For a newcomer it is most definately "caveat emptor"---let the buyer beware. I have a large store of old Model Railroader magazines that I use for pricing references. Old Walther's catalogs help too. Just remember you don't need it THAT bad, another will surely come up sooner or later. My $28 Rivarossi GG1 and my $25 4-8-8-2 Cab-forward remind me of that every day.
  11. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    I love the Hobby Lobby's half price sells after Christmas. They carry Woodland Scenics and Classic Metals and getting them at 1/2 price with Christmas gift cards is great, you get what you want and twice as much!!!

    www.trainland.com is another good online supplier that Jon turned me on to. Their sales are great.

    SALE ALERT... Walmart has white glue on sale, 4 ounce bottles of Elmers is 33 cents and Ross is 20 cents. Ross works fine so I purchased 40 more bottles to replenish my stock. Since last year I had used 36 bottles, and saved 48 cents a bottle buying in bulk during back to school sales. That's enough to pay for a few kits. :) Fred
  12. meander

    meander New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2004
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    ok i went to those sites but i have no idea on brand, and there wasnt just a track link.
  13. screwysquirrel

    screwysquirrel Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2003
    Messages:
    711
    Likes Received:
    0
    Track

    for Track, you have to look at individual manufacturers
    For sectional track, your choices (in north america anyway) are:

    Kato Unitrack, Lifelike Power-Loc, Bachmann Ez-Track, and Atlas Snap Track.

    Atlas is the only one not in a plastic roadbed, and is thus the least expensive.

    Lifelike and Bachmann track isn't very realistic looking -- but some paint can improve that, but Kato's Unitrack looks very much like urban mainline track, and has the widest variety of sectional curves.

    In addition, Peco and Shinohara have N-scale turnouts and flex track.

    For a first layout, I reccommend using the sectional track rather than flex track, as its easier to assemble a track that way.
  14. Roger Hensley

    Roger Hensley Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2002
    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    0
    Meander, don't you have any hobby shops near you? How about individual modelers or clubs? If you buy from the Internet without seeing the merchandise, you can get BIG surprises. You need to have seen some of these choices first.

    You don't say where you are. If you drop me an e-mail, maybe I can suggest someone near you that you could visit.