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Author Topic: New Guy--need help please  (Read 3073 times)

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« on: September 11, 2008, 05:56:23 PM »

Hi Everyone,

I'm new to this and was wondering if anyone can recommend a god starter set for me. I want something decent but also something I can handle, preferably HO scale. Also is DCC something I should get right away or just go with DC for now to start? I have fairly limited space right now so right now I'm going to start with a 4' x 8' sheet but want to expand as space becomes available.

If anyone can help me out here I would greatly appreciate it, also if there's anything I left out

Pacific Northern

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« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2008, 09:31:31 PM »

What era are you interested in?

There are a few trainsets available but for the most part be careful. A lot of trainsets are of minimum quality items.

I would check a few of the larger on-line model railroad suppliers and see what is available.

I alway start any search with a vist first to MB Klien.


Pacific Northern
Yampa Bob


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« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2008, 10:48:27 PM »

Since you found this forum, you have obviously already done some research. 

If you plan to stay in model railroading for the long run, starting out small then expanding later, my advice is to stay away from packaged sets. Many of the Bachmann sets come with steel rails on black roadbed, the recommended track is nickel silver on gray roadbed EZ Track.  Locomotives in the sets are usually of lower quality, the cars are often leftovers that aren't selling. 

On a 4 X 8 sheet of plywood, you can build your own basic set with only 20 pieces of EZ Track, a DC controller, a DCC equipped locomotive (which will run on DC power until you are ready to switch to a DCC controller), then selectively add cars of your choosing.  Even if you switch to DCC power later, you still need a backup DC pack for breaking in DCC locomotives.   

For Bachmann locomotives, stay with Spectrum DCC equipped for steam.  Their standard line of DCC equipped diesel locomotives are very high quality, I have 8 and have had no problems with any of them. For about $45 or less street price, they are an excellent value.

Many modelers bought DC locomotives earlier before DCC, now they are having to install decoders which can be a daunting task.  By buying DCC equipped now, your investment is protected and you won't have to install decoders later.

Some are adding sound to locomotives.  That's a decision you have to make, I'm not judging the size of your wallet.  But if you buy non-sound DCC now, you can always plug in a sound decoder later and add a speaker. 

If you want to try a DCC controller, the Bachmann EZ Command is an excellent entry level for about $80.  I have the EZ Command, and it's perfect for my small 4 X 8 layout.  I have no desire to run 3 or 4 locos at one time, but it's nice to be able to park one in a siding, then run another one.

The road name (Union Pacific, Santa Fe, etc) and era (early steam, transition period, or modern diesel) is entirely your preference.

Just a few things to consider, other members will add their comments, including sources.  My favorite source is Caboose Hobbies for their selection, pricing and customer service.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2008, 11:18:43 PM by Yampa Bob » Logged

I know what I wrote, I don't need a quote
Rule Number One: It's Our Railroad.  Rule Number Two: Refer to Rule Number One.
Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.

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« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2008, 02:24:24 AM »

Welcome to the wonderful world of model railroading.

I agree with Bob - if you are interested in steam trains, have a close look at the H0 sets that include Spectrum locomotives.  These are Bachmann's high quality offerings designed for the person who wants to take up model railroading as a hobby.  These sets cost more, partly because of the Spectrum locomotives and partly because they come with nickel-silver tracks.  If you plan on using diesel locomotives, then Bachmann's standard series will do.  Diesels are less finicky, thus a good running diesel is cheaper than a good running steam locomotive.

As far as DCC is concerned, do you plan to run more than one train at a time?  Then DCC is THE way to go.  Even if you run only one train at a time you may still want DCC for the convenience of being able to quickly and easily select which train you want to run (virtually all model railroaders acquire a second train or at least a second locomotive within a year of starting out.)  You do not have to buy a DCC controller (like the E-Z Command) right away because all Bachmann's DCC On Board locomotives run just fine on dc as well, but I would suggest buying DCC equipped locomotives so that you are ready for DCC.

If you want something just a little bigger but still want to run it in the same space, have a look at 0n30.  These are 0-scale trains.  Normally 0-scale would be twice as big as H0-scale (which stands for "Half 0".)  But these are models of smaller prototypes, so most of them are only about 50% bigger than H0 trains.  The "n30" means that these trains are models of Narrow Gauge trains that run on track with the rails spaced only 30 inches apart.  In 0-scale, that works out to about .650" between the rails, which is H0-gauge tracks.  Most of these models will run on 18" radius H0 track quite nicely.  The comments about quality and DCC apply equally well to 0n30. 

Growing older is mandatory but growing up is optional.
Terry Toenges

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« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2008, 11:56:10 AM »

While the other folks offer some great advice, don't be afraid to go out and buy a standard Bachmann train set.
They're usually cheaper and will give you something to play with while you're designing your layout. The standard (as opposed to Spectrum) locos run just fine for a beginner and they and the cars just don't have as much detail as the Spectrum models. You can always buy the high dollar stuff later as your layout progresses.
When it comes time to actually start laying your track, buy the gray roadbed with nickel silver rail as suggested.
You can use the black roadbed track for test fitting and planning or sit it on a shelf to display your equipment or put it on a dead end spur somewhere.
If you buy a DC set, you can always go to DCC later. With Bachmann's  EZ Command DCC, you can run one DC loco so you're original loco won't be wasted by buying it.
Have fun! Sometimes, the planning and building is more fun than the running.

Feel like a Mogul.

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« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2008, 02:17:50 PM »

A guy who knows a lot more about model railroading than I could ever learn in several lifetimes once told me:

"Your layout is only as good as your engines, otherwise all your work is only a diorama"

I've found it wise to spend my money on good locomotives, the Spectrum line is great, but be sure the one you pick will work well on the tightest radius you'll be laying down.  I learned a difficult lesson when I bought a fine Hudson to pull scale length passenger cars on 22" radius track and the whole thing derailed.  Until I could expand my layout to broader curves, the Hudson and its consist served as scenery on a straight in my passenger station.  A beautiful diorama.  Even now it can only run on my outer circuit. So, to start. I'd pick shorter quality engines and, for really tight curves (15" or 18" radius), truck mounted couplers.
Good luck.  Welcome to the obsession!   

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« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2008, 07:20:06 PM »

LOL Bob- i though this was funny >.> it made my day! Rule Number One: It's Our Railroad.  Rule Number Two: Refer to Rule Number One. LOL i find the reffering part especialy funny.... Cool Cool Cool
Yampa Bob


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« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2008, 08:33:10 PM »

My rule number three is the same as Jim's rule number three.

I know what I wrote, I don't need a quote
Rule Number One: It's Our Railroad.  Rule Number Two: Refer to Rule Number One.
Joe Satnik

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« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2008, 07:44:43 AM »

Dear MPS,

Welcome.  You've got a lot to digest here already.

I'll add that if you can start with a 5 foot wide table, do so.  (Old ping-pong tables are 5' wide.)  This will allow you up to 28" Radius curves. 

If you are limited in your room, build it with casters so it can be pulled out from a wall to gain access to the other side.

Normally I don't point out people's typos, as I make enough of my own, but yours was interesting:

You wrote:  "I'm new to this and was wondering if anyone can recommend a god starter set for me."

That would be the "Big Bang Express".
The set comes with 2 locos and a circle of track 20 miles in diameter.  Locos are wired opposite polarity of each other (right rail positive, left rail positive) so one goes clockwise, the other counter-clockwise.  Both have excellent acceleration.

Hope this helps.


Joe Satnik 


If your loco is too heavy to lift, you'd better be able to ride in, on or behind it.
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