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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, Tom here. Just registered. I find myself drawn back into the hobby after many years away from it. I never did get too far in the past due to so many distractions in life, and too many hobbies on the go. But I just became a grandpa and find myself with a renewed interest. Funny thing, I never threw out anything from the past, even after many decluttering sessions over the years. I guess I was waiting for a reason to start again. Anyway, I expect to find a trove of helpful information and inspiration on this forum, and perhaps I may be able to help someone else down the road.
 

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Welcome Tom. Tell us what scale you'll be working in and what you have for equipment. :smilie_daumenpos:

Congratulations on the grandchild!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I will be working in HO. Space is limited. So is my eyesight, therefore N scale is not an option. This will basically be a brand new start. What I have left over from the past in boxes is more or less some track, a few cars, and a few buildings in need of some restoration. Much has changed in the hobby over the last 25 years. Most notably how DCC has taken over. I will definitely have to acquaint myself with that. Currently I am in the planning stage of designing a layout. I have subscribed to Model Railroader (to go with the boxes full of old MR issues...LOL), and I have ordered a copy of the last 10 year archive of MR on DVD. Included is a copy of 103 Track Plans as well as some other added goodies on the DVD. So I am waiting for those things to arrive and then I can dive into a more serious phase of designing. Thank you for welcoming me! I will add that I am 66 years old and live in Welland, Ontario, Canada. Just near Niagara Falls.
 

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Tom

We are glad to welcome you to our fun...

There have been so many good changes for those
of us in the HO scale.

One is track. Most likely what you have saved is
brass...it works and was the mainstay for years
but it required a lot of maintenance to keep the
rails clean for good electrical contact. Now, we
use nickle silver track that is easily cleaned with
a rag and bottle of alcohol every few weeks.

Some like to use the track on roadbed systems...it's
easy to work with and looks neat...but you must buy
the turnouts and other track accessories offered by
that maker. Many of us prefer flex track that comes
in 3 foot sections that you bend and cut to match
your track plan. It is also readily available and
compartible among brands for turnouts and the like.

As you have noted DCC is the 'star' of the track power
world now. It is way more simple to wire and to use.
Your one controller sends digital info to decoders in
each loco...you can have 2, 3 or more trains running
at the same time each indidvidually controlled by
a device not that much different than a TV remote.
Two wires to the track, no blocks, no multimple power
packs...no panel of switches or rats nest of wire. That
is DCC. The most popular makes of DCC are Digitrax,
NCE, MRC and Bachmann. You would be happy with
any one of them...all are full featured with the exception
of the Bachmann which does not have the capability of
fine tuning loco decoders as some like to do.

You might enjoy perusing our Layout design forum where
you'll find posts of layouts of our members and other
layout plans from all over. The best way to use these
is to note each time you see a certain layout idea, then
study how you can use the best in your layout.

Don
 

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Welcome aboard!

Hi, Tom here. Just registered. I find myself drawn back into the hobby after many years away from it. I never did get too far in the past due to so many distractions in life, and too many hobbies on the go. But I just became a grandpa and find myself with a renewed interest. Funny thing, I never threw out anything from the past, even after many decluttering sessions over the years. I guess I was waiting for a reason to start again. Anyway, I expect to find a trove of helpful information and inspiration on this forum, and perhaps I may be able to help someone else down the road.

Tom;

Welcome to the forum, and back into a great hobby! You can probably restore your old buildings and railcars to use on your new layout. How much space do you have available for your railroad? Do you have a particular railroad, geographic area or time period that you would like to model? I model a small part of the Milwaukee Road's trackage near Seattle in the 1920s. My layout is a bookshelf type attached to two walls of my garage. My layout is N-scale and made up of sections 4' long, 16" high and 16" deep. I have bigger 3' x 4' sections at the ends to hold return lops and a six-track passenger station yard. My scratchbuilt model of Seattle Union Station is the centerpiece structure for my layout (see photos )

The files below may give you some information that will help you in planning and building a new model railroad.

Again Welcome;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:

View attachment WHERE DO I START rev 4.pdf

View attachment 1 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment 2 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment 3 & 4 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment 5 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment 6 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment All AboutTurnouts rev 5.pdf

View attachment Improving Atlas turnouts pdf version.pdf

View attachment MODEL RAILROADING ON A BUDGET.pdf

View attachment Model Railroad Terminology 3.pdf

Seattle Union Station concourse end 2.JPG

Seattle Union Station side view.JPG

Cape Ripiculous end view 2.jpg

Black River town view.JPG

Garrison creek trestle good view.JPG

Wooden road bridge at Black River Junction.jpg
 

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I understand "drawn back in"

It happened to me.

Welcome. This is agreat forum!!.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
North Carolina, eh

Thanks Lee. Seems you can walk away from this hobby but you're always looking back over your shoulder.

North Carolina, eh. I am near Niagara Falls, Canada but interestingly enough, my daughter married a nice American fellow 5 years ago. She is now an American citizen, and with that grandson I mentioned, living in Holly Springs NC. Indeed, not such a big world, is it. I have been to the Raleigh area many times and really enjoy the area, as well as my drive through 4 other states on my way to NC (NY, Penn, W.V. and Virginia). I notice a lot of rail history along the way.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Actually, I found these files soon after I joined the forum yesterday afternoon. I downloaded and saved them to a folder. After being away for such a long time it's a good idea to treat it like being totally new to the game. When I was last involved in model railroading, I got as far as completing benchwork and laying out some track. Then other aspects of life got in the way.

I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do. I grew up in an industrial area. Welland, Ontario, Canada. The City motto used to be "Where Rails and Water Meet". You may be aware of the Welland Canal? Basically right now I am looking at something along the lines of a 4'x8' in a corner, with an extension down one other wall. If I could evict my wife from sharing the room, I could expand...LOL...or, I could sell my '65 Mustang that I restored (another of my hobbies), and move into the garage. But the garage is not heated. Not a good idea where I live. Anyway, I will start modestly and see where things go. I am interested in industrial urban rail. That's what I am used to growing up here. The very end of steam was still alive when I was a kid, but I will try to stay with diesel in the '50s and '60s era. Nice photos of your layout!

Oops...this was meant to be a reply to "traction fan". Bear with me. I'll get the hang of this.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
First of all, I want to thank all who have replied with advice, logic, and encouragement. I have come to realize, that HO is just not a reasonable choice for the space I have.

I have done a lot of homework...watched a lot of YouTube, and read a lot of articles on N scale and have decided that this is indeed the direction I need to go. And I look forward to it. I will begin with benchwork soon, even though I haven't landed on an exact trackplan yet, but the L shaped space I have is not going to change, and I do have a pretty good basic plan in my head.

In the meantime, I am researching the various brands of locomotives and rolling stock. I want to have as much detail as possible, especially with locomotives, so I will be comparing the different brands. When you look at the photos of products on an online store, you can't always get a good view. They don't always use a very sharp picture. I have found that on YouTube there are some crisp, clear, videos which show much more detail. Obviously there are some brands that offer a better product, and of course you have to pay for that. I think the key will be finding those better brands at the best possible price by looking at several retail outlets for comparison.
 

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Welcome to N-scale

First of all, I want to thank all who have replied with advice, logic, and encouragement. I have come to realize, that HO is just not a reasonable choice for the space I have.

I have done a lot of homework...watched a lot of YouTube, and read a lot of articles on N scale and have decided that this is indeed the direction I need to go. And I look forward to it. I will begin with benchwork soon, even though I haven't landed on an exact track plan yet, but the L shaped space I have is not going to change, and I do have a pretty good basic plan in my head.

In the meantime, I am researching the various brands of locomotives and rolling stock. I want to have as much detail as possible, especially with locomotives, so I will be comparing the different brands. When you look at the photos of products on an online store, you can't always get a good view. They don't always use a very sharp picture. I have found that on YouTube there are some crisp, clear, videos which show much more detail. Obviously there are some brands that offer a better product, and of course you have to pay for that. I think the key will be finding those better brands at the best possible price by looking at several retail outlets for comparison.
TommyB;

Given your space limits, I think you made the right choice in N-scale. The other possibility is Z-scale. There is less available, and the per unit cost is a good deal higher in Z-scale. You also say that detail is important to you. In Z-scale, I'm not sure what, if any, detail parts are commercially available. Also because of its smaller size, details may be harder to see.

As far as N-scale locomotives and cars, I strongly recommend Kato locomotives, and Micro-Trains cars. Katos are all high quality, smooth runners. They are now offered with optional factory installed DCC and sound. I have heard their detail level criticised here, but I've always thought their detail was very good. Yes, it's virtually all molded in, but the detail in the castings from those molds is very impressive, in my opinion. I have added free-standing grab irons to a few N-scale locos using .006" steel wire. While they looked good, to me, they weren't worth the effort. You may feel differently.
Gold Metal Models makes photo-etched brass detail parts for both locomotives and cars, as well as structures.

You may find that you will need to be a bit creative when it comes to detail parts. There simply isn't so huge a selection that everything you might ever want is made commercially. I doubt that's even true in HO-scale, and it has many more detail parts than N-scale. My model of the little train order station at Black River, Washington has a couple of examples of the sort of creative approach I mean. While the model is almost entirely scratch-built from basswood, (structure) and brass (semaphore) there is one commercial detail part and two improvised ones. The "wood box" is a commercial casting of a dumpster. The smokejack pipe on the roof is a repurposed Atlas track nail, and the shingles, with the distinctive diamond pattern shown in photos of the proto type, are made of the sawtooth edges cut from common brown lunch bags.

Micro-Trains come from the factory with excellent detail. I've never had to do more than weather any Micro-Trains car. An additional benefit of the brand is that all cars come with Micro-Trains excellent couplers and trucks factory installed.

Have Fun!

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:

Black River Sta. 2.JPG
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for the info on locomotives and rolling stock. And nice work on that scratchbuilt structure.

One thing with N scale locos, it seems, is unless you are looking for the more well known road names ( in Canada it would be Canadian National and Canadian Pacific ) it is almost impossible to find the lesser known lines. I am very interested in the TH&B ( Toronto, Hamilton, & Buffalo ) railway that operated throughout my area. I can find the odd loco or railcar if I am working in HO, but in N scale I have yet to find anything. The good news for me, though, is that we always had many other road names operating here, besides CN and CP. We had New York Central, Penn Central, Wabash and a few more. So I do have these to go with, and as far as the TH&B equipment goes...well that's where a bit of "engine"-uity will have to be used. I hate to have to spend $250 on a locomotive only to strip it down and re-paint it. However, I imagine I can find unpainted and undecoarated locos in N scale. I have also been looking at the idea of making my own decals using my home printer and decal paper, to use for any TH&B stock. There is usually a solution for anything. Just requires some thought and practice.
 

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Thanks for the info on locomotives and rolling stock. And nice work on that scratchbuilt structure.

One thing with N scale locos, it seems, is unless you are looking for the more well known road names ( in Canada it would be Canadian National and Canadian Pacific ) it is almost impossible to find the lesser known lines. I am very interested in the TH&B ( Toronto, Hamilton, & Buffalo ) railway that operated throughout my area. I can find the odd loco or railcar if I am working in HO, but in N scale I have yet to find anything. The good news for me, though, is that we always had many other road names operating here, besides CN and CP. We had New York Central, Penn Central, Wabash and a few more. So I do have these to go with, and as far as the TH&B equipment goes...well that's where a bit of "engine"-uity will have to be used. I hate to have to spend $250 on a locomotive only to strip it down and re-paint it. However, I imagine I can find unpainted and undecoarated locos in N scale. I have also been looking at the idea of making my own decals using my home printer and decal paper, to use for any TH&B stock. There is usually a solution for anything. Just requires some thought and practice.
Tom another option is buy the loco you want then get another shell to paint that way you have the original if it goes wrong. There are undecorated shells out there also. I have seen somewhere in the posts in this forum a guy that does custom locos.
 

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yeah they are out there I’m not sure what locos you like but here is an example.
32 bucks for a undec shell<img src="http://www.modeltrainforum.com/images/smilies/eek.gif" border="0" alt="" title="EEK!" class="inlineimg" />! that's absurd
That is a Kayto there are other ones out there. I see them on eBay every now and again cheaper than that.
 

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Road names

Thanks for the info on locomotives and rolling stock. And nice work on that scratchbuilt structure.

One thing with N scale locos, it seems, is unless you are looking for the more well known road names ( in Canada it would be Canadian National and Canadian Pacific ) it is almost impossible to find the lesser known lines. I am very interested in the TH&B ( Toronto, Hamilton, & Buffalo ) railway that operated throughout my area. I can find the odd loco or railcar if I am working in HO, but in N scale I have yet to find anything. The good news for me, though, is that we always had many other road names operating here, besides CN and CP. We had New York Central, Penn Central, Wabash and a few more. So I do have these to go with, and as far as the TH&B equipment goes...well that's where a bit of "engine"-uity will have to be used. I hate to have to spend $250 on a locomotive only to strip it down and re-paint it. However, I imagine I can find unpainted and undecorated locos in N scale. I have also been looking at the idea of making my own decals using my home printer and decal paper, to use for any TH&B stock. There is usually a solution for anything. Just requires some thought and practice.
TommyB;

It's not just Canadian railroad names that are hard to find. There are plenty of US short lines, and regional railroads, that can't be found on finished cars. Sometimes this extends even into the larger, class 1 railroads too. Milwaukee Road is hard to find, and the earlier name of "Chicago, Milwaukee St, Paul & Pacific" nearly impossible, in any scale. The New Haven Railroad is another scarce road name.
Sometimes you will need to paint, and decal, cars & locomotives, in order to get what you want. With an airbrush, and some practice, its not that hard to do.

good luck, have fun;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Question....So if I can find undecorated shells, are they specific to a brand? Like Cousin Eddie's Kato photo. Is that specific to a Kato locomotive, or can they be used more generically, with other brands?

I see plenty of undecorated locos on retail sites, but they are complete locos except they are blank instead of painted. I don't see many that are shell only. I see they are out there, but not so common to find.
 

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Shells vs complete locmotives

Question....So if I can find undecorated shells, are they specific to a brand? Like Cousin Eddie's Kato photo. Is that specific to a Kato locomotive, or can they be used more generically, with other brands?

I see plenty of undecorated locos on retail sites, but they are complete locos except they are blank instead of painted. I don't see many that are shell only. I see they are out there, but not so common to find.
TommyB;

You're right, there are certainly more undecorated complete locomotives than undecorated shells available. The reason is that the undecorated locomotives are mass-produced by the manufacturer to meet a market demand from people who want to paint the loco in a scheme that's not available factory-painted. The manufacturer knows he can't economically offer the locomotive in every paint scheme that ever existed on real locomotives, only the more popular schemes will sell, and he'd be stuck with some un-sellable locomotives. However the manufacturer also knows that there is going to be some demand for less popular prototype paint schemes, and some demand from modelers who want to paint their loco for their own fictional railroad. Hence, unpainted locomotives are made as part of his production run.

Shells, on the other hand, are basically considered replacement parts. Just as you might order a window casting, or a motor, to replace a damaged part, you can custom order a shell from the manufacturer. There is no serious demand for shells as there is for locomotives. To get a shell you would need to either get one from the manufacturer, or get lucky on Ebay, or at a swap meet. The shell in Cousin Eddie's photo would be a replacement part, ordered from Kato. Like all things Kato, It's going to be an excellent shell, but also an expensive one! The folks at Kato know very well that you are not likely to be able to get one anywhere else, and so they charge all they can get away with!

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
 
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