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It's been a little over year since I started building my layout-in-a-box and I'm still very much enjoying the hobby despite a few setbacks and the occasional frustration. I've learned sooo much, largely due to the help I've received here, and that leads me to my first point.

THIS forum is hands down the best model rr'ing site on the net. It's not the only one I look at-sometimes the manufacturer's forums can yield useful info-but it's devoid of the infighting and just plain snide behavior that happens at some of the others.
I'm thick-skinned so that sort of thing doesn't bother me much but it gets tiring scrolling through pages of bickering. Biggest plus for me is none of that holier than thou bs-I can freely admit I have no idea what I'm doing knowing no one here will rub my face in it.

And, I'm old. Ok I haven't been around as long as some of you dinosaurs, but I'm old enough to remember when people had more respect for each other and possessed something called MANNERS.

Plus I like the Vbulletin format. (it is still Vbulletin isn't it?) Full featured and easy to use and navigate, and not limited to one particular scale is GREAT because I love seeing what you guys are doing in other scales.

More specifically to N scale....

Yup, it's finicky. That's a common theme I ran across when I first dived in and it's kinda sorta true. One day a particular consist will run flawlessly, the next it's wreckage city. No particular reason why, it just happens. To be completely honest I enjoy the challenge. I think I'd get bored pretty quick if everything always worked perfectly every time.

Another common perception is that multiple feeders, the more the better, are an absolute requirement especially for N.
I was a lineman for years, chasing faults on long runs over everything from 24 gauge to C wire so I know a little bit about resistance and conductivity. I had my doubts but decided to follow the common wisdom and installed feeders everywhere-until the rats nest of wiring drove me crazy and I tore it all out. I now have exactly one and it works just fine, and I get to keep all my hair!

Something else frequently recommended to noobs is that N scale track MUST be spotlessly clean and laid perfectly, or as close to perfect, as you can get. And that temp related expansion/contraction conditions can cause havoc. I don't doubt the merit behind this but so far I'm finding neither to be such a big deal. My layout sits uncovered in an unheated/uncooled garage in temperatures ranging from below zero to over a hundred. If it gets a little dusty I'll blow it off with the compressor, or vacuum it if I'm not feeling too lazy, but most of the time I just throw on a train and run it. So far, so good!
The only thing that seems to make a difference is oxidation. If things get a little herky jerky a quick wipe down with a rag and I'm back in business.

There is no "best." There's "better," and there's "not so great," but as of yet I've found no particular thing that stands head and shoulders above the rest. Take couplers for example. Most of what I've read indicates people prefer and consider Micro Trains couplers to be the gold standard. "Kato couplers don't play well with others." "McHenry's suck." Yadda yadda yadda.
At this point I've found none of them to be 100% reliable.
Same goes with engines, although I can't claim to have a lot of experience in that arena-I've only got Kato, Atlas, MTL and Bachmann, and until I can try the other manufacturers I couldn't possibly guess which is the "best," which of course is subjective anyway.
I will say I like Athearn the best for rolling stock. They are weighted to standard and roll far better than anything else I've tried. Is their detail the best? Who knows, I'm not a rivet counter. I'm more interested in function over aesthetics.

I can't remember where I saw this but I'd read somewhere that N is the second most popular scale after HO. Which seems odd to me considering something like O for example has been around so much longer. I realize space requirements have something to do with that, but nonetheless it leaves me scratching my head over why there isn't more variety.

Steam's my thang but discounting Bachmann you can count the available offerings on one hand. And forget about residential structures! I mean, unless you like Barb's Bungalow. Or the cape cod house. Or Barb's Bungalow. Or the cape cod house....

I get it. Railroads revolve around industry. For me though that's a real bummer about N as I've no intention of reproducing the grimy grubby filthy dirty industrial "scene." I don't have time to scratch build everything so the direction I wanted to take originally has changed. Disappointing, but not a show stopper.

I really do enjoy the scale and I'm having a lot of fun. Someday I'll do layouts in O and HO but for now these little buggers fascinate me.

Perspective from a noob looking back on a lazy Friday.....

Have a great weekend!
 

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Gimme30, what a nice writeup! I appreciate that you admit your limited experience, yet share those experiences and your thoughts about how you've arrived at them. It's great to read the perspective of someone who doesn't have that massive background. Thanks for telling it as you've seen it so far. Good luck as you move forward. :smilie_daumenpos:
 

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I think there is much more residential offered in the overseas brands than the American based brands.

Some of those might be able to be adapted for use on a US based railroad.
 

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Great post!

It's been a little over year since I started building my layout-in-a-box and I'm still very much enjoying the hobby despite a few setbacks and the occasional frustration. I've learned sooo much, largely due to the help I've received here, and that leads me to my first point.

THIS forum is hands down the best model rr'ing site on the net. It's not the only one I look at-sometimes the manufacturer's forums can yield useful info-but it's devoid of the infighting and just plain snide behavior that happens at some of the others.
I'm thick-skinned so that sort of thing doesn't bother me much but it gets tiring scrolling through pages of bickering. Biggest plus for me is none of that holier than thou bs-I can freely admit I have no idea what I'm doing knowing no one here will rub my face in it.

And, I'm old. Ok I haven't been around as long as some of you dinosaurs, but I'm old enough to remember when people had more respect for each other and possessed something called MANNERS.

Plus I like the Vbulletin format. (it is still Vbulletin isn't it?) Full featured and easy to use and navigate, and not limited to one particular scale is GREAT because I love seeing what you guys are doing in other scales.

More specifically to N scale....

Yup, it's finicky. That's a common theme I ran across when I first dived in and it's kinda sorta true. One day a particular consist will run flawlessly, the next it's wreckage city. No particular reason why, it just happens. To be completely honest I enjoy the challenge. I think I'd get bored pretty quick if everything always worked perfectly every time.

Another common perception is that multiple feeders, the more the better, are an absolute requirement especially for N.
I was a lineman for years, chasing faults on long runs over everything from 24 gauge to C wire so I know a little bit about resistance and conductivity. I had my doubts but decided to follow the common wisdom and installed feeders everywhere-until the rats nest of wiring drove me crazy and I tore it all out. I now have exactly one and it works just fine, and I get to keep all my hair!

Something else frequently recommended to noobs is that N scale track MUST be spotlessly clean and laid perfectly, or as close to perfect, as you can get. And that temp related expansion/contraction conditions can cause havoc. I don't doubt the merit behind this but so far I'm finding neither to be such a big deal. My layout sits uncovered in an unheated/uncooled garage in temperatures ranging from below zero to over a hundred. If it gets a little dusty I'll blow it off with the compressor, or vacuum it if I'm not feeling too lazy, but most of the time I just throw on a train and run it. So far, so good!
The only thing that seems to make a difference is oxidation. If things get a little herky jerky a quick wipe down with a rag and I'm back in business.

There is no "best." There's "better," and there's "not so great," but as of yet I've found no particular thing that stands head and shoulders above the rest. Take couplers for example. Most of what I've read indicates people prefer and consider Micro Trains couplers to be the gold standard. "Kato couplers don't play well with others." "McHenry's suck." Yadda yadda yadda.
At this point I've found none of them to be 100% reliable.
Same goes with engines, although I can't claim to have a lot of experience in that arena-I've only got Kato, Atlas, MTL and Bachmann, and until I can try the other manufacturers I couldn't possibly guess which is the "best," which of course is subjective anyway.
I will say I like Athearn the best for rolling stock. They are weighted to standard and roll far better than anything else I've tried. Is their detail the best? Who knows, I'm not a rivet counter. I'm more interested in function over aesthetics.

I can't remember where I saw this but I'd read somewhere that N is the second most popular scale after HO. Which seems odd to me considering something like O for example has been around so much longer. I realize space requirements have something to do with that, but nonetheless it leaves me scratching my head over why there isn't more variety.

Steam's my thang but discounting Bachmann you can count the available offerings on one hand. And forget about residential structures! I mean, unless you like Barb's Bungalow. Or the cape cod house. Or Barb's Bungalow. Or the cape cod house....

I get it. Railroads revolve around industry. For me though that's a real bummer about N as I've no intention of reproducing the grimy grubby filthy dirty industrial "scene." I don't have time to scratch build everything so the direction I wanted to take originally has changed. Disappointing, but not a show stopper.

I really do enjoy the scale and I'm having a lot of fun. Someday I'll do layouts in O and HO but for now these little buggers fascinate me.

Perspective from a noob looking back on a lazy Friday.....

Have a great weekend!
gimme30;

Great post!

N-scale is very popular in Europe, and Asia, where houses are smaller, and space is more limited. I've heard that in Japan not only is N-scale the most popular scale, but HO is considered "large scale" somewhat like G-scale in the US.
Yes Lionel has been around for a long time and has it's devoted followers, but it needs lots of room, and lots, and lots, of money! It's not an easy scale for many to afford. Not that any scale is cheap, but HO and N are quite a lot cheaper than most other scales. You say you want steam? Well try out the really big scales of "live steam." If you thought N-scale or HO-scale was expensive, or labor intensive, just talk to a live steam enthusiast about how many thousands of both dollars, and man-hours, he has invested in his ONE locomotive!

Also Lionel, American Flyer, Williams, and others, made/make primarily toy trains rather than scale model trains. Not a blooming thing wrong with either type of miniature train, but there are differences.
I haven't seen all that much about O-scale DC two-rail on the O-scale forum here. It seems to be mostly three-rail AC fans over there.

N-scale has enough selection to keep me happy. Sometimes you have to look a little harder, but think what the Z-scale, S-scale, and TT-scale types must go through trying to find the right items! As for N-scale houses, I thought I had sent you this file. Maybe it was someone else, I'm old and I forget a lot.

View attachment N-scale houses.pdf


regards;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Fire21, thank you. And for the link as well. It contains many of the houses available in TF's list. (Yes you did send it to me TF! Sure hope that bicycle incident didn't affect your memory:laugh:)

Not to sound ungrateful, but I'm looking for something a little less plain vanilla. I guess what I don't get is why, as a manufacturer, you'd choose to model a box with doors when there are so many beautiful and creative alternatives! Even in Colorado, where we're not exactly known for architecture, there are many drop dead gorgeous houses in styles from classic Victorian to as-modern-as-it-gets. Seems to me it wouldn't be that difficult to take one of those boxes with doors and add a little gingerbread and a couple of bay windows to replicate something like San Fran's painted ladies. (I've built the HO version and it looks great!)

I went ahead and bought the cape cod house and Kate's colonial with exactly that intention in mind, but so far I'm having trouble finding appropriately sized trim.

MichaelE, I may very well wind up going the route you mentioned. In fact I've completed the "Vampir Villa" that came with my little layout as well as Faller's Haltingen water tower. (which has FAR more style than that stupid smiley face thing you can get for virtually any scale) Thing is they both seem a little big. I only needed a very small station so I picked up Woodland Scenics' "The Depot," and it is dwarfed by the vamp villa. Granted I'm comparing a single story bldg. to a 4 story mansion but still....

Isn't most of the Euro stuff 1:150?

My layout's purely fictional so I suppose it doesn't matter much, but some semblance to reality would be nice.:)

I noticed Walther's has released a couple new residences, which is great but again they're amazingly bland. Sure be nice to see something like this:
 

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Another nice structure!

Fire21, thank you. And for the link as well. It contains many of the houses available in TF's list. (Yes you did send it to me TF! Sure hope that bicycle incident didn't affect your memory:laugh:)

Not to sound ungrateful, but I'm looking for something a little less plain vanilla. I guess what I don't get is why, as a manufacturer, you'd choose to model a box with doors when there are so many beautiful and creative alternatives! Even in Colorado, where we're not exactly known for architecture, there are many drop dead gorgeous houses in styles from classic Victorian to as-modern-as-it-gets. Seems to me it wouldn't be that difficult to take one of those boxes with doors and add a little gingerbread and a couple of bay windows to replicate something like San Fran's painted ladies. (I've built the HO version and it looks great!)

I went ahead and bought the cape cod house and Kate's colonial with exactly that intention in mind, but so far I'm having trouble finding appropriately sized trim.

MichaelE, I may very well wind up going the route you mentioned. In fact I've completed the "Vampir Villa" that came with my little layout as well as Faller's Haltingen water tower. (which has FAR more style than that stupid smiley face thing you can get for virtually any scale) Thing is they both seem a little big. I only needed a very small station so I picked up Woodland Scenics' "The Depot," and it is dwarfed by the vamp villa. Granted I'm comparing a single story bldg. to a 4 story mansion but still....

Isn't most of the Euro stuff 1:150?

My layout's purely fictional so I suppose it doesn't matter much, but some semblance to reality would be nice.:)

I noticed Walther's has released a couple new residences, which is great but again they're amazingly bland. Sure be nice to see something like this:
Gimme30;

You might like the mansion on the hill in these photos. Tha model has been around long enough to be offered under several brands. It's N-scale gingerbread glockenspiel coo coo clock architecture at its finest! :D Or, you could discover the wonderful world of scratchbuilding!

regards;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:

Clif & mansion 1.jpg

Clif & mansion 2.jpg

terminals poor focus.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #9
How'd you know I'm fond of glockenspiel coo coo clock architecture?:)

That looks like the Faller Villa?
I've considered that one.....but it looks like it might be a little big.

As for scratch building, I don't mind doing the odd addition or modification to an existing structure but I just don't have time to build something from the ground up.:(

Until the Faery O' Special Buildings flies thru my window and places perfectly unique structures painted in exactly the right colors at precisely the right location on my layout......well, the hunt will continue!:D

Wicked Wanda's is on it's way to me now, and I'm hoping to find something at the Rocky Mtn. train show this weekend.

On the 'general observations' side of things, something else I've discovered but never seen mentioned is that trip pins can cause all sorts of trouble. Occasionally I'd hear a loud click that most of the time amounted to nothing, but sometimes would precede a derailment or even a complete stoppage of the entire train!

At first I thought it was a wheel flange hitting a joiner or catching on a small gap in the track but after going over the entire thing for the thousandth time I couldn't find anything. Then I noticed one of my freight cars had lost it's pin so I checked the rest and as it turns out most of them were cockeyed in one direction or the other, and interfering with each other or catching on the track!

I knew the pins needed to be a certain height and they all looked fine according to my highly calibrated eyeball but I had no idea they needed to be pointed in a certain direction.
 

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Trip pins aka air hoses, aka "dangling dingers"

How'd you know I'm fond of glockenspiel coo coo clock architecture?:) Grasshopper/smoker :smokin: we older ones are wise in the ways of model railroaders."

That looks like the Faller Villa?
I've considered that one.....but it looks like it might be a little big.

As for scratch building, I don't mind doing the odd addition or modification to an existing structure but I just don't have time to build something from the ground up.:(

Until the Faery O' Special Buildings flies thru my window and places perfectly unique structures painted in exactly the right colors at precisely the right location on my layout......well, the hunt will continue!:D

Wicked Wanda's is on it's way to me now, and I'm hoping to find something at the Rocky Mtn. train show this weekend.

On the 'general observations' side of things, something else I've discovered but never seen mentioned is that trip pins can cause all sorts of trouble. Occasionally I'd hear a loud click that most of the time amounted to nothing, but sometimes would precede a derailment or even a complete stoppage of the entire train!

At first I thought it was a wheel flange hitting a joiner or catching on a small gap in the track but after going over the entire thing for the thousandth time I couldn't find anything. Then I noticed one of my freight cars had lost it's pin so I checked the rest and as it turns out most of them were cockeyed in one direction or the other, and interfering with each other or catching on the track!

I knew the pins needed to be a certain height and they all looked fine according to my highly calibrated eyeball but I had no idea they needed to be pointed in a certain direction.
gimme30;

Hate to be the one to break it to you but, The fairy is never coming! :eek: I answered your "How did you know" question above.

Yes, trip pins* on magnetic knuckle couplers can cause some problems. A particular crowd pleaser is when a steam locomotive is speeding down a grade which has no easement at the bottom. The trip pin, "hanging ten" well out in front of the "cow catcher" snags on a tie like the tailhook of a naval aircraft grabbing one of the arresting cables strung across an aircraft carrier's flight/crash deck, and the loco then attempts flight.
With practice, and enough speed, you may be able to induce a full-on front somersault off the table with a one and a half gainer onto the floor! :D

Trip pins are only used for magnetic uncoupling. Many prefer manual uncoupling using a tiny screwdriver, or stick, placed between the knuckles
(of the coupler,dummy:smilie_auslachen:) and twisted. If you elect to use manual uncoupling, you can simply cut off the dangling part of the trip pin. Leave the top part to help keep the coupler together and functioning.

If you do want to use magnetic uncoupling ramps, and the "delayed uncoupling" feature that lets a loco push a car onto a siding without recoupling, then you will need to adjust the trip pins to the specified height, and angle. I think the height is .005" above the rail tops. Micro-Trains sells a coupler height gauge which sits on top of the rails to check coupler height. Included with that gauge is a thin steel shim plate. Placing this plate on top of the rails, you can measure trip pin height. The trip pin should just touch the top of the plate. Since, per Murphy's law, most pins will be either too low, or too high, you will need to bend the trip pin with needle-nosed pliers. Micro-Trains even sells specially-shaped trip pin pliers for this job, but I've always just used ordinary mini-needle-nose pliers.
The angle is a simple eyeball adjustment. The trip pin's lower portion should line up parallel to the main side part of the coupler. Directions showing a sketch of this alignment are included with Micro-Trains couplers, and probably their coupler/trip pin gauge as well. You can also check their website www,microtrains.com

*At my old club, trip pins were often called "low dingers, or "dangling dingers" The biological reference for a bunch of middle-aged guys should be obvious. :laugh:


regards;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:

Mark Twain segment:
I was lucky enough to see actor Hal Holbrook perform his one-man live stage show, "Mark Twain tonight!" many years ago. There are two particularly funny lines that I still remember.
At one point Twain was being incessantly badgered by a reporter from a local newspaper. The guy was very persistent and annoying. He showed up at Twain's door much to Twain's displeasure. Twain said, "My first instinct was to pulverize him with a chair, --------- but he sat down in it before I could swing into action!"
At the very end of the show (during which Holbrook had been standing nearly throughout) Mark Twain says, "Well, my feet are tired' and your, (with a gaze at the seated audience) well YOU are tired, so goodnight."
I doubted that Mr. Holbrook is still performing "Mark Twain Tonight" but maybe he is. There are a slew of youtube videos of his Mark Twain performances, and an interview of Hal Holbrook at age 90, and sharp as a tack, saying he still performs Twain! I think you would enjoy it, it is a great performance.
 
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