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Discussion Starter #1
Recently retired and wanting to get into N scale. I've read and watched so many articles and videos I'm beginning to blubber to myself. Could use some awesome advice. The plan is to use 3-4x4 modules on half inch plywood. Don't want to buy a set but start out piece meal. Really need advice on track,turnouts and locomotives. I believe I'm going to stay with 1960"s theme in Texas. More industrial than passenger. Thanks so much for any help.
 

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Don't let it overwhelm you. There is a lot of information to take in about any scale model railroading. It's not exclusive to any one scale.

Small bites.

Traction Fan has a slew of .pdf's for you to read. He'll be along shortly to post them for you.
 
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OK, advice on track,turnouts and locomotives.
Kato.
You don't NEED to know anything else.

Note: I did NOT say there is nothing else to know, just that you can get along fine without knowing... :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO:
 

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Pretty soon you'l be asking for advice on DCC.
I got no one-word answer there... :ROFLMAO:

But, Welcome to the Forum, Ronnie!! I guess you're in TX?
It's a big place! Which part??
 

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Recently retired and wanting to get into N scale. I've read and watched so many articles and videos I'm beginning to blubber to myself. Could use some awesome advice. The plan is to use 3-4x4 modules on half inch plywood. Don't want to buy a set but start out piece meal. Really need advice on track,turnouts and locomotives. I believe I'm going to stay with 1960"s theme in Texas. More industrial than passenger. Thanks so much for any help.
RonnieC;

Welcome to the forum! I've been retired six years, and an N-scaler for forty years. The one thing that struck me in your post was 4' x 4' "modules" (technically sections, but I get your meaning) That would work OK, if you have access all the way around your layout. A 4' x 4' section won't be as hard to move as a 4' x 8' layout but it's still a bit bulky.
If you don't have easy access on all sides, then I strongly recommend going to something like 2' x 4' sections. Four feet is a near impossible reach across a table. Track back there will need cleaning and maintenance just as often as track in the front. Per Murphy's law, trains will derail back there, and you will not have any fun at all trying to get them back on the track! 😕

My own railroad is made of sections 4' long, 16" deep ad 16" high. The height dimension comes in because the sections each have a shelf on top, and because it's a two-level railroad. I do have deeper sections at each end, ( 3' x 3') to hold the loops needed for continuous running, my major station, and other large features. The files attached below should answer many of your questions. If you have others, feel free to ask them here.

Again Welcome;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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I’d buy a couple of nice Kato starter sets, set em up on the kitchen or dining room table and play with the. Kato unitrack is some of the best track if not the best track on the market. Once you get going then you can start planning your layout. Go with Kato, you will be happy you did
 

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I’d buy a couple of nice Kato starter sets, set em up on the kitchen or dining room table and play with the. Kato unitrack is some of the best track if not the best track on the market. Once you get going then you can start planning your layout. Go with Kato, you will be happy you did
I agree. I am very pleased with the number of things I can do with Unitrack. I went ahead and got a 2' x 4' folding table (from Staples), and laid down eight 1/2 inch thick self adhesive cork squares (Amazon). In my case I used AnyRail software with the Kato track objects, and ordered the turnouts and pieces of track I needed for my initial concept. With the cork and some small wire nails, I've been able to refine my ideas, especially since I started working with some footprints from building kits. This photo is of the second perimeter track I tried -- which I'm still using. But I have made several changes with the tracks inside as I worked to fit the two kits I purchased. In the picture you can see two plans; one as-built in the photo, and one that shows the 2' x 4' integrated into a 3' x 6' layout (both of which, by the way, have changed -- based on experience).

And here is what the small plan and layout look like today...
Kato-N-24x48-4c.jpg
And how they might fit into the larger layout...
Kato-N-36x72-4c2.jpg
 

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Instead of train set plastic track I would go with Peco track and switches, cork for roadbed. In 30 years I haven't had a single problem with Peco. Atlas makes the most locos that would be used in the 1960s, they run great and have very good slow speed running. I would also go with DCC, I use and really like Digitrax, there dual hand held throttle is the best IMO..
 

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Have not heard any more from RonnieC... BUT, I should interject, I think that no one here would really consider the Unitrack,
supplied with the Kato sets, to be "train set plastic track" from a quality standpoint. IMO
 

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I have been in N-scale for almost 50 years and plastic road bed track no matter the quality has always been consider train set track.
 

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I would never recommend a new person just getting into the hobby to use Peco track and cork roadbed. The goal is to capture their imagination and get them interested in trains and the hobby. Peco track is advanced model railroad track not beginner or entry level stuff. You set them up to fail by recommending such complicated things right out of the gate. Kato unitrack is extremely high quality, very affordable, inifintly versatile and the best product for beginners to develope their skills and find a love for the hobby.
 

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You got to be kidding, laying cork and flex track is fairly easy. You end up with a much better layout with flex track, less joints = fewer problems. He's not doing a train set, he stated 3-4x4 modules. Lots of information out there on how to do it. If you can't lay cork and flex track you might as well find a easier hobby. Starting out with sectional train set track is IMO a waste of money. Do it right the first time!
 

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You’re entitled to your opinion and we are entitled to ours. Kato unitrack is some if the best track on the market. He’s gonna want to run trains and watch his ideas evolve and change as he learns the hobby. Kato unitrack is fat and away the best way to go for a new person starting out. I’ve also seen some incredible layouts built with unitrack so your statement that is train set track is false.
 
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The important thing here is to get a new member up and running and being successful in the hobby, so that he will continue to enjoy it for years to come. It's fine to recommend alternatives, but once you start belittling choices and options as somehow not worthy of the hobby, then you're not being helpful. We all have to obey the laws of physics, but "right way to do it" stops there. Just because you wouldn't do it a certain way doesn't make it wrong. It sounds like the OP has already gotten some bad advice in this respect, because his initial plans for a layout sound very ambitious, probably too much so.

So let's consider something here. Why does plastic roadbed track continue to exist? Because it is intuitive -- people instinctively understand how it goes together. And because the roadbed hooks together as well as the track, it helps to eliminate alignment issues that are often the bane of early attempts at building a layout, and finally, through ease of setup and elimination of variables (what roadbed to use, how to fasten down, etc) it makes taking that first step much less daunting to a beginner. For someone who, by his own admission, is already overwhelmed, simplicity may in fact be exactly what the doctor ordered.

For the OP, should he return: the best advice you've gotten was from MichaelE in the very first response. It sounds like you're trying to learn everything there is to know about the hobby before doing anything, and that's a recipe for failure. Eat the elephant in small bites. Figure out track. Then move on to locomotives. Digest each part and make some decisions before you move on. You will make some decisions, especially early on, that will turn out to have been bad ones later, and that's fine. No one, and I mean no one, in this hobby gets everything right the first time. So don't worry about it. Get your feet wet and build from there.
 
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Well put CTValley
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks everyone, great info. I've decided going with unitrack and cork is best for me. I have a cheesy cheap loco in order to check track. My plan hopefully is to develop track plan and look at room available for the dioramas I want to make. Very slow process and trying not to get ahead of myself,lol. Again many thanks for responses.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
There is a hobby store in Houston that the fella's there have been extremely helpful. There is a huge n-scale setup in back of store that has answered alot of my questions just by looking at it. Only think bad is having to drive into Houston and I'd rather paint a house than drive there!!!
 

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Thanks everyone, great info. I've decided going with unitrack and cork is best for me. I have a cheesy cheap loco in order to check track. My plan hopefully is to develop track plan and look at room available for the dioramas I want to make. Very slow process and trying not to get ahead of myself,lol. Again many thanks for responses.
RonnieC;

You're welcome to the advice, that's what we're here for.
If by cork you mean covering your table with large cork squares, like LJClark showed in his photo, that would work fine.
However if you mean cork roadbed, unitrack has its own plastic roadbed attached, so it wouldn't need cork roadbed. The Unitrack roadbed is also hollow underneath so cork roadbed might be "swallowed up" in the open cavity at the bottom of the unitrack. Perhaps you're going to use the cork roadbed for sound deadening. That might work, if the cork roadbed was wider than the bottom of the unitrack, or you mean covering the whole table with cork.
In any case, it's your railroad, so you decide.

Good Luck & Have Fun;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Soooo I guess I'm on my way. Have 4 modules built,2 ft wide by 4 ft long. (Wife only knows about 2 of em) . I'm going with kato 80 flex track. My question is whats a fast drying glue. Putting a hobo in open boxcar door and fella on back of caboose and mighty tight place to hold them while glue dries. Again many thanks
 
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