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Author Topic: Where to start with HO (premade sets, E-Z lock, compatibility)  (Read 3267 times)
JRB13

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« on: December 27, 2016, 10:42:12 PM »

Hi all ~

I'm seriously contemplating starting an HO train table in my attic sometime next year. I just cleaned it out and my 3 year old is currently having a blast with his motorized Thomas tracks on a makeshift train table on some cinder blocks. I figure he'll be out of Thomas in a year or so and after a few years of Thomas exposure, my inner child wants a real train set too - maybe he'll keep the interest maybe he won't  Grin

I've decided on HO due to space limitations, but I'm at a loss on what actual train sets to start with. From internet searching it seems like Bachmann has better quality that that other manufacturer (L) I see all the time. But I'm seeing these all-in-one complete sets for sale around Christmas and the fine print says that the tracks may not work with standard tracks. And the E-Z tracks don't look like what I think is "standard" track either. Do the E-Z tracks work with the old-school two-thin-metal-rail pieces? Or is there an old-school rail set by Bachman I'm not seeing. It's obvious that the E-Z tracks are the big push on the website.

Mainly I just want to start with a set that I know will be compatible with wide variety of HO rails and HO engines and cars out there. I don't want to get locked into one specific specialized or proprietary rail type that isn't widely available. 

Any advice would be appreciated, thanks!
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Flare

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« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2016, 12:49:16 AM »

You don't need to use the same track that comes with the set, any brand of HO track will work.

I'm partial to Atlas' Code 83 track, it comes with brown ties that are more accurately sized and spaced than Bachmann's and has a large variety of pices available.

Also, HO model trains these days have knuckle couplers that are usually compatible with each other.
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jbrock27

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« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2016, 08:46:45 AM »

JR, how hot does it get in the attic at the height of summer?  Something to consider if you have not already.

Of any HO track you select, do not buy anything other than nickel silver track.

Are you wanting to go DC or DCC?

Bachmann are not the only quality sets out there.   For DC, Athearn makes a good set and it comes with Bachmann nickel silver EZ track and a quality power pack.

Atlas is the standard in non-roadbed nickel silver sectional and flex track.  They also make switches ("turnouts").  There is also Bachmann non roadbed flex track too.

EZ track is Code 100.  Atlas also makes Code 100.  Difference between Code 100 and 83 is the height of the rails.

Keep asking away Smiley
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JRB13

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« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2016, 11:45:58 AM »

Many thanks for the info!

I was concerned about the train and track compatibility so it's a relief to know that the couplings are mostly common and I can mix-and-match engine and cars manufacture if needed. Good to know that "HO" track is "HO" regardless of manufacture. There are enough varieties to choose from it's a bit confusing. I've read references to n/s track as well, so you just confirmed them.

After reading these posts now you've got me thinking more about the track manufacture. Are there any real issues connecting E-Z track to Atlas or vice-versa?

Didn't know about the DC/DCC issue before. Looked into this after reading these posts - mostly likely will start with DCC. I do like having two or more engines running and if my kiddo decides he wants to play drums instead of trains then it would be good to have more versatile control without a second person helping.

The 'mostly finished' attic does get hot in summer, but I'm working out a few ways to get around that. Even if I don't get a full train up there, my kiddo could very well want to move into the attic for more space and privacy in years to come.

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Len

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« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2016, 01:35:24 PM »

It's fairly easy to connect Atlas, or Peco, Code 100 track to EZ-Track, you just need to put some type of roadbed (usually cork) under the Atlas track to get it to line up with the EZ-Track. You could even use 'transition rail joiners' and connect Code 83 track to EZ-Track.

Len
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Trainman203

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« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2016, 03:03:48 PM »

With a little kid, Bachmann EZ track would be really good, stays lined up
better under hard preschool use than adult- directed track products.

Bachmann has the toy train market figured out.  Bigger scale might be better for a little kid though, HO takes a certain amount of finesse to put onto the rail and keep on the rail.
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Terry Toenges


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« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2016, 03:39:13 PM »

If you are just laying the track on a flat surface, another way to connect the regular track to EZ Track would be to use a piece of Woodland Scenics "incline/decline starter" to bring the regular track up to the level of the EZ Track.
They come in 2%, 3%, and 4% grades. They are 24" long and 2 1/2" wide.
The 2% one rises to 1/2" so you would need to cut and use a 15" piece of one since EZ Track measures 5/16" high. That would give you a gradual transition up.

You have cut the tab and connector off the end of the EZ Track.
They come 8 to a package though. You could always save the rest for future expansion. With my grand kids, when I built a layout, they wanted it to go "up up up" so it could come "down down down".
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JRB13

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« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2016, 03:56:48 PM »

With my grand kids, when I built a layout, they wanted it to go "up up up" so it could come "down down down".

Hah! Had to laugh at that, I have the book "Are You My Mother" still memorized from reading it wayyy too many times and the kid used to laugh at those lines each time.

Sounds like one of these E-Z ready-to-run tracks by Bachman that I've seen on sale post-Christmas may be worth picking up after all. Would be nice to have something handy after he gets out of the motorized Thomas stage which may be in the next year. I didn't want to spend too much for something that I couldn't expand upon later. Thanks, everyone!
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Trainman203

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« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2016, 09:58:53 PM »

You'll never regret the extra $$$$$ for DCC / sound.
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jbrock27

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« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2016, 08:49:10 AM »

Debatable.

For certain though, you will never regret the extra $$$$$ for nickel silver track.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2016, 07:51:33 PM by jbrock27 » Logged

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Trainman203

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« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2016, 11:23:17 AM »

Everyone I know who's switched to DCC/sound says the same things:  1.  Why did it take them so long to do it.  2.  Running a train without sound is like driving a corpse.  3.  They'll never go back to silent trains.

DCC/sound may be debatable somewhere, but not in my experience.  The hold outs I've seen are often long time model railroaders with dozens of engines than can be, in the case of brass steam engines, difficult to covert as well as costly.  One of my friends constructed his newest layout with DCC after years of silent running with DC. He bought a few engines with sound, but is slowly, one by one, converting selected DC engines, and will sell the hard cases.

My advice to the OP, which is as good as anyones, is to find a club or and individual modeler running HO with DCC/sound and at least try it out.  Or look st the Bach Man's DCC/sound train set videos.  They sell themselves.

The kid will go nuts with the sound.  That is not debatable.  Of course, the wife may go nuts with the sound too, but in a different way.😅😂
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Len

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« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2016, 11:45:05 AM »

And if you want to have some fun at the club, bring a DD40AX you've loaded a 2-6-6-2 sound file into.

Len
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jbrock27

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« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2016, 08:42:48 PM »

Everyone I know who's switched to DCC/sound says the same things...

I am sure; just as everyone you know only finds junk at Yard/Tag/Garage Sales and Flea Markets, etc and shys away from buying on Ebay.... Roll Eyes  Once again, this is what you know to be certainties.

No one said your advice was bad or anything less than anyone elses.  Wink

The kid will go nuts with the sound.  That is not debatable.

Can't disagree, but that's not what you had said, you said "You'll never regret".... LOL

Have to say, not a big fan of the Club scene myself; too many knobs telling you what has to be and what is right and what is wrong.  I thing the influence rubs off on the folks who are around them as well...
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Trainman203

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« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2016, 11:04:45 PM »

I only know what I know and who I know Brock ..... just like you.  No one here is any more an expert than anyone else.... although we do have a few self appointed critics and overactive hall monitors.

The only reason I mentioned clubs was as a place to watch sound equipped engines in action....... I'm not in one any more for all the reasons you mentioned.

You don't  have to like DCC / sound engines , but you don't have to denigrate those who do.  The OP will make his own decision.

Why don't we return to the subject, and let this guy learn something.......  good idea, right?  I'm not good at snipping and regurgitating, wears me out and frankly bores me.
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Modeling the New Iberia and Northern 1945
tiebreaker

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« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2016, 11:30:59 PM »

My first DCC sound engine was the ALCO 2-6-0 and I was impressed with it. Not a Spectrum but just as good in my opinion.
I purchased it from The Favorite Spot which has excellent prices.

I don;t belong to the club by me but I will say they are very helpful and I love to watch them run their trains on the club's layout.






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