Model Train Forum banner

1 - 20 of 29 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,859 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
]Welcome to the model train forum!

If you are a new model train enthusiast, this thread is a good place to start learning about model railroading. It is intended to help people who are basically "On their first day", or close to it.

If you are an experienced model railroader, I encourage you to contribute to this new thread. However, unlike some other, more general, "how to" threads; please focus on that very start. Go back to the beginning, when you had no model railroad experience. How did you start out? What would you do differently? What would you advise a new modeler to do first?
Your post can be as long, and elaborate; or as short, and simple as you like. It should be as easy for a newbie to understand as you can make it. Beyond that, things are wide open. Please add some of your own hard-won knowledge to this thread; and help a new modeler to get started.

Thank You;
Traction Fan:smilie_daumenpos:

I'll start things off with two documents that I've written for modelers who are just starting, or perhaps starting over, after a long absence.

Just click on the links to open the pdf. files.

View attachment Where do I start (revised version).pdf

View attachment MODEL RAILROADING ON A BUDGET.pdf
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
896 Posts
I highly recommend the book "Introduction to Model Railroading" by Jeff Wilson. Its $20 and just over 90 pages. The thing about a book is that is is well organized, coherent, and concise. The above book covers all the major topics of model railroading from picking a scale, planning a layout, basic tools, building and wiring basics, and so forth. Its something that I still look at occasionally.

Forums like this one are great for asking specific questions and getting inspiration from the work of others. However forums are usually not well organized, coherent, or concise. So that's why I recommend reading a book as a good first step. Then come to the internet for additional details and specifics.

Mark
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
847 Posts
I recommend YouTube.
Almost anything you want to know about model railroading can be found.
Actually seeing it being done makes it so much easier to do and understand.
You also get to see the mistakes others have made so you can avoid them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,859 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thanks

I recommend YouTube.
Almost anything you want to know about model railroading can be found.
Actually seeing it being done makes it so much easier to do and understand.
You also get to see the mistakes others have made so you can avoid them.
NAJ;

Thank You for contributing this tip':appl:

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenpos:
 
C

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Before you buy anything take some time to see all that is available. If you have a train store reasonably close go there to see the different sizes of trains. Train shows are also a good place to see the various scales. Handle the trains if possible. Determine what size of trains most appeal to you before you buy anything. The time you spend doing some basic research will save you both time and money.

After you have decided what size trains you prefer you can make your first purchases, but consider things like sound, command control, era you prefer, and the space and money you can devote to the hobby. When you are reasonably confident that you know what you are interested in you can make your first purchases. Build a small layout even if you have the space and funds for a basement size layout. When you build a small layout with scenery, buildings and details you gain experience. You will develop all the skills needed to build a much bigger layout. More importantly, you will learn what parts of the hobby you most enjoy. A small layout with a two track yard and an industrial siding or two will do. You will discover whether you prefer switching operations or watching trains run. By the time you start your second layout you will have gained enough experience to tackle the bigger project.

NAJ gave very good advice, watch videos on You Tube. There are video tutorials showing how to do just about anything.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,286 Posts
we should all get together one day and just publish our own book lol.

I'm not sure if this will help anyone venturing into dcc, but..

I was having problems getting a couple of locomotives to program. So i made the wires to the track super short and that solved my troubles.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,785 Posts
hmmm....how long were they previously, Santa Fe? I can't see shorter wires doing much good unless your first pair were several meters long.

Instead, I suspect a simple contact problem...or rather, lack of good electrical contact. A cold solder, dirty surface, screw not tightened sufficiently....who knows.

You could see if I'm right by disconnecting the two already in place at the booster's terminals, and then hook up two new wires twice as long...of the same kind of wire. If they work, then you'd have to suspect a contact problem previously.

Still, I'd love to be forced to eat my words. After all, this is a tip forum, and it could be you have a winner there. I'd love to know one way or another, even if I have to reach for some mustard.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,859 Posts
Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Model railroad terminology

From time to time new model railroaders have asked for a list of the terms used in the hobby. The file below is my version. If you are curious about some word you have seen on this forum, you may find it here. No list could include every single word related to railroads. However there are 21 pages of terminology included here; so it should cover the basics well.

UPDATE: There is a new expanded version further down in this thread. It contains all the terms in this version plus several dozen more.

regards;

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenpos:

View attachment Model Railroad Terminology.pdf
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,859 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
More info if you want it.

Here are some other documents I've written up to help modelers.

The "Improving Atlas turnouts" one is directly concerned with the Atlas HO-scale "Snap Switch." However, some of the information can be applied to other brands, and scales of turnouts as well. You might want to glance over it.

The newest document is "Model Railroad Terminology" this one should benefit every "noobie", and even some not-so new modelers.

The $5 switch documents may help you save a lot of money. They tell you about a cheap, and reliable, alternative to the $18 apiece Tortoise switch machine. The second one gives detailed instructions on how to build it.
The other two tell how to make model conifer trees from some common materials, and how to make your own turnouts. This will save you a lot of money too. Commercial model trees,commercial turnouts, and commercial switch machines are three of the most expensive items on a model railroad.

enjoy?:rolleyes:, and be educated?

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenpos:

View attachment Improving Atlas turnouts.pdf

View attachment Model Railroad Terminology.pdf

View attachment Introductory letter for $5 switch machine.pdf

View attachment Assembly instructions for $5 switch machine..pdf

View attachment Paintbrush Pine Trees.pdf

View attachment How I scratch build turnouts new(8).pdf
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,953 Posts
Since the thread title is helping a new modeller to get started I think we should maybe provide some inspiration that will galvanise the person into action if they are thinking about it.
Many homes especially in big cities don’t have the room for an 8x4 layout so I think it’s important to offer some space saving alternatives. I have found you can have just as much fun with a small switching layout. A good place to start is to look at Carl Arendt’s site. Unfortunately he has passed but his small layout scrapbook lives on: http://www.carendt.com/
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,548 Posts
Cycleops raises an excellent point: seeing what can be accomplished by everyday modelers is an excellent way to get people going. At least then, they can ask pointed questions like, "How did you make the rock face" instead of the more general (and harder to answer) "How do you make scenery."

Looking at photos, or attending a train show to see what others have done is a great help.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Hello, I’m new to model railroads and currently have a few DCC ready loco’s. I have track but don’t know how to get started with DCC. I’ve watched a few YouTube videos but seems like a lot of work to just get the loco to move. Can someone help me with the basic items I need and what I need to do (decoder, dcc kit, etc) to get started....thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,548 Posts
Hello, I’m new to model railroads and currently have a few DCC ready loco’s. I have track but don’t know how to get started with DCC. I’ve watched a few YouTube videos but seems like a lot of work to just get the loco to move. Can someone help me with the basic items I need and what I need to do (decoder, dcc kit, etc) to get started....thanks!
Hello and Welcome! You should probably have started your own thread with this one. It's not a short answer.

First of all, understand that a DCC-ready loco is a DC loco that is ready for you to install your own decoder. Some are more DCC ready than others, with some being a simple plug in and others requiring some additional fiddling. So yes, you will need to purchase and install one decoder in each loco. You will need to decide whether you want sound or not. Digitrax, NCE,
and TCS are all good brands of non-sound decoders; SoundTraxx and Tsunami are good sound decoders (a sound decoder also provides motor control).

I think the videos that you are watching are overly complicating the issue. Fundamentally, you can just connect your DCC command station to the track with a pair of feeders, assign each locomotive a unique ID number, and you can be off and running. With my MRC system, I can have a new loco running in less than 30 seconds (not including decoder installation). DCC allows much finer control over the locomotive performance than DC does, and you CAN spend a lot of time fiddling with it to dial in the performance "just so" (personally, I tweak so that the loco just barely crawls at the lowest throttle setting). But you don't HAVE to.

Similarly, you CAN wire power busses and multiple feeders to your track, but except on large layouts, this isn't necessary. While more feeders adds reliability, my son's 8x8 layout runs just fine from a single pair of AWG 22 feeders.

Which brings us to the final piece of the puzzle, the DCC system itself. While you can use anyone's decoders with anyone's system, all the components between the power jack and the track power feeders generally have to come from the same manufacturer to be compatible. So which manufacturer?

First of all, for a small layout with only a few locos running at a time (more can be on the layout, parked in a yard or siding), and where you don't want multiple throttles, or all the programming capabilities to fine tune your locos' performance, a limited system like MRC's Prodigy Explorer or Bachmann's EZ Command (not Dynamis), is all you need, and will be cheaper than a full-featured system. The MRC system can be expanded into their more full- featured systems later, the Bachmann isn't expandable.

If you aren't comfortable with the limits imposed by these basic systems, then look at the full starter systems: MRC Prodigy Express, NCE PowerCab, or Digitrax Zephyr. All of these are full featured and fully upgradeable / expandable. The difference between them is a matter of personal preference for the styling, type of throttle, and perhaps ease of use (depending on who you ask). The only system i don't recommend is Bachmann's Dynamis -- it's NOT user friendly, and not expandable without pouring some serious bucks into it. If you have the opportunity (at a train show or retailer, perhaps) to TRY each system, I encourage you to do so. Be careful of retailers who only carry one line of products, though, as they will do their best to convince you that the product they carry is the best.

That's only the bare basics, but I'm trying to keep it simple. Hope that helps!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,511 Posts
CTvalley has posted an exceptional explanation of
DCC systems.

But maybe a short primer on what DCC is would
be of some help.

A DCC system comes with it's own power supply
and a digital controller, somewhat similar to
a TV remote. The Controller has 2 wires to the
track that provide a continuous modified AC current.
There is no complicated wiring.

That current carries digital signals produced by the
controller to DCC decoder equipped locos on the
track. Each has it's own unique numeric address,
usually 2 or 4 digits. A loco responds only to
commands addressed to it, all other locos ignore them.
However, that one controller can have 2, 3 or even
more locos running at the same time. You can start
and stop any one without affecting the others.

All of this is happening yet you need no special
digital knowledge to operate the system. You
just push buttons.

And...the loco and car lights don't dim as the
train slows or go out when it stops.

Don
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,859 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
DCC books

Hello, I’m new to model railroads and currently have a few DCC ready loco’s. I have track but don’t know how to get started with DCC. I’ve watched a few YouTube videos but seems like a lot of work to just get the loco to move. Can someone help me with the basic items I need and what I need to do (decoder, dcc kit, etc) to get started....thanks!
Bggb88;

You might benefit from a good DCC book. There are several available online at https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/products/books The books explain which pieces you need (I use NCE and it is a one piece, hand-held unit that is easy to connect, and program.) You will also need a decoder in each locomotive that you want to run on your DCC layout. The books show you how to install a decoder, and what types are available. You can also buy locos with DCC decoders already installed. Some include sound and others don't. The package and advertising will say which does or does not. Sound costs more, but it's very nice to have.

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenpos:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,859 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Alltogether now

oooooo OOPs! Two files were not recorded here. I created a new post, "Files including the missing ones. Please check there.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,859 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
What's the best kind of turnout to buy?

Since which turnout is "best" is a matter of individual opinion, I'll just give you some information on them, and let you make your own choice.

The top file, "All about turnouts," contains the info, I suggest reading it first. The other files are referenced in the main(top) file, and contain additional, more detailed, information on specific items mentioned.


View attachment All AboutTurnouts.pdf

View attachment Improving Atlas turnouts.pdf

View attachment How I scratch build turnouts new(8).pdf

View attachment Introductory letter for $5 switch machine.pdf

View attachment Assembly instructions for $5 switch machine..pdf



regards:

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenpos:
 
1 - 20 of 29 Posts
Top