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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

Completely new to the hobby. I'm looking to begin to build a Christmas set for my kids. I would like to add a car to it each Christmas and display it under the tree and then potentially in it's own space down the line. I'm not in a big space now, so I am very interested in something quiet. I have been recommended G Scale Piko or LGB because they are supposedly quieter, but the are just so big for the space I have. That in mind, here are a few things I'm looking for and I was wondering if you can steer me in the right direction. I'm so up in the air with scale, brand, etc that it's a little overwhelming

1-Quiet
2-Expandable
3-Classy- Some of the new Lionel is great, but they look a little cheap compared to LGB and Piko. I realize they are cheaper, but they just look a bit plasticy
4-Affordable- Under 300 would be great


Any help you can offer is greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!
 

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Railroad Tycoon
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Hello all,

Completely new to the hobby. I'm looking to begin to build a Christmas set for my kids. I would like to add a car to it each Christmas and display it under the tree and then potentially in it's own space down the line. I'm not in a big space now, so I am very interested in something quiet. I have been recommended G Scale Piko or LGB because they are supposedly quieter, but the are just so big for the space I have. That in mind, here are a few things I'm looking for and I was wondering if you can steer me in the right direction. I'm so up in the air with scale, brand, etc that it's a little overwhelming

1-Quiet
2-Expandable
3-Classy- Some of the new Lionel is great, but they look a little cheap compared to LGB and Piko. I realize they are cheaper, but they just look a bit plasticy
4-Affordable- Under 300 would be great


Any help you can offer is greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!
Welcome to our site.
If you don't have the space G scale is not the way to go.
O scale a bit smaller, but you still need room.
HO might be the way to go for you. Though HO is really not good for young kids hands.
Depending on the kids that is.
HO has a lot to offer you in what is available.
There is N scale, quite small, but quiet.

If you get O there are ways to quiet the noise level some.
But compared to HO or N you need more space.

There is also S scale it is a little smaller then O.

548188



Since no one answered yet this is a start. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you! This is very helpful. I loved the colors and themes of the G scale, but they are so large. I was looking at HO and S. Should I be looking anywhere other than Lionel? Lionel seems to be the only S scales I can find, but no Christmas beyond polar express

I would like to maybe move it from under the tree to a village one day when we get more space, which also brought me to the HO.
 

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Go to our S forum, ask the S men where and who sells the S scale.
I don't know, but they will know what is available and from who. I know Lionel does.

A member Flyernut there sells starter sets of S, he goes over them first. You can trust buying from him.
But they are not new but older ones. But like I said he goes over them before he sells.
Can you paint?
Make your own Christmas train.
Not hard to make up some Christmas type cars and load them with goodies
.
 

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If you don't mind more toylike in nature you may want to look at the old three-rail toy trains. They have tight curves but large equipment and lots of weird and wonderful moving parts like cattle cars that unload themselves. I know nothing about expense.
 

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My wife puts up a very nice Christmas village every year.
We run 0n30, a little bigger train size running on ho track
It works well with the scale of the Christmas houses.
We still run G scale around the tree mainly because
kids love it, and I am a G scale guy.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Looking at a Bachman HO set, but the one I am looking at doesn't smoke. Is there a really great smoking locomotive by Bachman that would make a good add on?
 

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Gaboon, a few more things to consider: 1) Will your train set run on the floor or on a table/platform? On the floor, it can easily pick up dirt, dust, pet hair, carpet fuzz, etc., so would need to be on a plywood/styrofoam base for protection. 2) How old are your kids?...young hands can more easily break N and HO equipment, although HO is pretty tough. O scale is much tougher and easier for them to handle. 3) Even at the beginning stage, DCC (digital command control) is recommended over DC (direct current) as the electrical control system. DCC uses digital signals sent through the track to the engine to control engine operations, sounds such as whistle/horn, bell, steam sounds, etc., and lights. As you progress to a permanent layout, DCC makes wiring much easier than DC. Of course, as with all things better, DCC is more expensive. Good luck as you move along!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks! It will be on the floor around the tree for the time being, with maybe an eventual move to a table top Village if I get the space. The kids are newborns, so no touching for a little bit!
 

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The kids are newborns, so no touching for a little bit!
I can see their eyes at Christmas. :)
And bigger next year. :)
You can make a circle out of plywood, cut it in half for when your done using it. Better yet cut it in 1/4's.
You won't see the wood if you put a snow blanket down. ( watch on the snow products, beware of lint being picked up in your trains.)
So no need to make it pretty, just the wood.
But even then you could paint the wood. Paint in a road and paint other spots for where your other Christmas things will sit. ( I have no ideal on what you are planning besides track) :)
Plan on whatever you are going to add to the Christmas layout.
You know what I mean by snow blanket?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I do. We use a regular blanket, but that's a great idea. Wish the Lionel set was a little cheaper or the Bachman would smoke. Excited to get something set up
 

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I can see On30 as very attractive for a Christmas layout! Trainworld might be a good source. Not sure I would go with the smoke, but I guess that's a preference :)

Haha, Unitrack, of course!
 

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I definitely do not like smoke from my trains! Smoke = trouble in my estimation. Besides, those new kids (and you and spouse) don't need to be breathing smoke, even if they claim it's harmless. JMHO...
 
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This actually makes me feel better about the Bachman! Thank you all for your help. I also thought I could always get a smoking cabin or something, as well.
 

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I definitely do not like smoke from my trains! Smoke = trouble in my estimation. Besides, those new kids (and you and spouse) don't need to be breathing smoke, even if they claim it's harmless. JMHO...
I know we have a thread on the smoke ingredients somewhere.
I think it was that smoke was made out of Glycerin or Propylene glycol.
Both of those products you eat or drink, or use in soaps. Food grade.
The old pellets I don't know for sure.

When I was young I wandered down to Dad's train room in the basement, besides the cigar smoke was the train smoke too.
It was sort of like walking into a London fog. :giggle:

But, I guess your right, best for little people to not breath it.
 

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I'm going to take a slightly different tack and suggest "traditional" 3 rail O Scale. It's far sturdier than HO and it runs on a circle of track 36" or less in diameter which is the same or less than HO.

It is cheaper and far more available (new and used) than On30 or S scale.

The downside is that the trains are compressed (especially in length) to run on those small curves but its a great classic look for a Christmas display and much more visually notable than smaller scales.

My son and I work on our layout in HO but for Christmas display we do traditional O. A Lionel starter set is a great way to begin and Menards is a great source of affordable rolling stock to expand your collection. My son received a set for his first birthday and we've added to it every year since.
 

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Thanks! It will be on the floor around the tree for the time being, with maybe an eventual move to a table top Village if I get the space. The kids are newborns, so no touching for a little bit!
"On the floor" (that is directly) is a problem for anything smaller than G-scale or O-gage. (Lionel) This is especially true if the floor is carpeted. Carpet fibers, dust & dirt will be taken into the engine's gears, and get on all the wheels & track, making electrical conduction poor to none. At a minimum, put a clean white cotton bedsheet between the floor and track. In keeping with your christmas theme, the sheet can represent "snow.' Better yet would be a permanent, but stowable, base for the track, and possibly the christmas village structures as well. For the base, it's hard to beat extruded foam insulation board. It's very lightweight, rigid enough to glue track to it semi-permanently, and it can be carved to make streams, rivers, underpasses,etc. below the track, and glued in layers to form hills or tunnels. It can be painted with latex house paint, and it accepts model train scenery materials like "dirt" or "grass." You could cut the foam into two pieces with a half circle cutout in the middle of each piece to leave room for the christmas tree stand. The track sections bridging the cut edges of the foam section would be all that would need to be taken apart to stow the layout.
This is the hard pink, blue, or green foam board sold at home improvement stores. Do not use the white styrofoam " "beadboard" that is sold at the same stores. Yes, beadboard is white like snow, and yes it's cheaper than the pink, blue or green, extruded foam, but beadboard is also incredibly messy! The little white beads will come off with handling, or cutting, and get everywhere! They are so lightweight that it's difficult to sweep them up with a broom. A shop vac works better. The extruded foam also produces dust if/when you actually cut it, but nowhere near as much as beadboard. Foam comes in 4' x 8' sheets, but sometimes smaller sheets are available, and you may be able to have the store cut it for you.

You will also probably see "Roadbed track" like Bachmann's "EZ-Track", and Kato's "Unitrack." They have a rigid gray plastic piece fastened to the bottom of each track section. These track pieces also lock firmly together, which is an advantage for temporary layouts that must be taken apart and re-assembled each christmas. The plastic roadbed piece also raises the track up about 1/2" above the floor. You would think this might help with the carpet fibre/dust issue, but I'm not at all sure that it does. Even if you use roadbed track, I would still put a bed sheet, or a piece of extruded foam, under it.
One big disadvantage of roadbed track is that it is noisy. The plastic piece makes an effective "sounding board" that amplifies the sound of the passing train. The extruded foam, or the traditional piece of plywood, under the track can also act as sounding boards, so since you want things quiet, I recommend regular, non-roadbed, track glued on top of separate foam roadbed. Another possible base material, and something that has traditionally been used as a "sound deadening" material on model railroads, is a pressed paper product called "Homasote." It also comes in 4' x 8' sheets, and I would definitely have the store cut this stuff. The dust produced from cutting Homasote can get into your lungs, and cause serious problems. I wouldn't want you, or your young children, breathing it.

Good Luck & Have Fun;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Gaboon512, you say newborns, as in more than one, and a train on the floor. If they are not crawling yet that train will provide the motivation. No matter what size train you go with, I suggest O or bigger, please set up a video camera and record when them crawlers see train on floor for the first time. That would have to be the best train video yet.
Get ready to chase. LOL
My best.
 

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With our Christmas village we run the 0n30 on styrofoam. You can get a 4x8 sheet at home depot or lowes
It is used as building insulation and inexpensive. You can cut it with a serrated kitchen knife to any shape you want
and can also use it to build with, and safe for kid, (or wife) projects.
We can't hear the train at all. Also as previously suggested you can cut in sections and it as light to store.
 
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