Model Train Forum banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
80 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone. I'm new here and newly interested in model trains. I've always been fascinated by them. My dad had a large collection, sadly he feel on hard times and sold it all off.

Moving on, my son has always been absolutely fascinated by trains! With all of this quarantine and home schooling, he has discovered YouTube (he's 6) and will spend HOURS watching videos of model railways. That is no exaggeration either! We have decided that it's time to get him a real set (he has had a few toys, but of course they break easily). He will be seven in a few months so we would like to get him something for his birthday.

So the question is about scale. I'd love to just go HO, I believe he would enjoy that size more. However, space is an issue. We have a counter that is a perfect place for the trains, but it is only 31" wide (30' long). I understand that you CAN do a 15" radius turn, but will be limited in what you can run on it. N scale would give more options with layout and types of trains we can run, but I'm a like worried it will be too small and he may tire with it. Looking for a little info from experience here. Looking to limit the initial investment to around $200. But I'm sure we will add to that later if he is really into it.

Also, is there a mallard in either scale that is affordable? I absolutely love the lines of those trains!

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,335 Posts
Welcome to the forum. I work in N scale...I believe it is too small and too fragile for a 7-year old...just my opinion. I think you'd be best served to go with HO. His hands could work with it better. As for the countertop, could you add width at just the ends of your layout space to accommodate wider curves? I've never seen a Mallard in any scale, but I've not been looking for one either. Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
453 Posts
Welcome to the forum and the hobby.

One option if you want to go HO is getting a board that can be slid under his bed. He can pull out to use it and slide it under out of the way. It won't be as long but it will gove you good curves.

Another is to build fold up expansions at each end of the counter to give wider loops at each end.

I'm sure you'll get many other great ideas. This is a wonderful place for information.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
493 Posts
Hi vette, welcome!
Any OO Mallard in good running condition might push your budget! Check ebay frequently--
What got you looking at UK trains?
31 inches is too narrow, BUT if you can widen the top a few inches only at the ends, you can create a dog-bone style layout. 15" is a centerline radius, the track and roadbed add width.
(EDIT) haha like Chaos said...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,459 Posts
It's always a pleasure to welcome new guys to the forum, especially
those with boys who are also interested in trains.

Much ih agreement with the others. N scale is quite delicate and
sometimes difficult for little fingers to be able to place the cars on the
track after an inevitable derail.

HO is just a little better but the plastic materials used in the trains
also can be damaged by eager little hands. The ideal scale for
small boys is the familiar Lionel 0 gauge. However you do have
a space problem. The dimentions you mention would not be
sufficient to permit HO curves of at least 18" radius, the minimum for
almost any HO locomotive. A typical steam locomotive is even
more sensitive to the radius because those big drivers don't swivel
as do the trucks on diesels. Very few small diesels would work
on a 15" radius.

To get started you may have to consider a 4' X 4' sheet of
1/4" plywood which could be placed atop the counter you
mention. This size, however, would limit you to a simple
oval.

We hope you can find a way to give that anxious little guy
the trains he wants. We'll all be glad to help in any way
we can.

Don
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
80 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for all the replies. Underneath the bed isn't an option, he has a storage bed. 48" on the counter isn't really an option either, although I might get away with buying a 36" piece on top of it. Here is the counter, please ignore all the toys! I just really don't think I can go much forget than that without really eating into the room.



Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
80 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Hi vette, welcome!
Any OO Mallard in good running condition might push your budget! Check ebay frequently--
What got you looking at UK trains?
31 inches is too narrow, BUT if you can widen the top a few inches only at the ends, you can create a dog-bone style layout. 15" is a centerline radius, the track and roadbed add width.
(EDIT) haha like Chaos said...
I've always just loved the look of the mallard, I'm not sure how it first came to my attention.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,952 Posts
That back wall might be a candidate for a hinged layout attached to the wall that will fold down when he wants to run trains. The problem with this approach is that it severely limits scenery building and landscaping. Buildings will have to be placed for each operating session too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
80 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
That wall at the far end with the white space? That's for the projection tv... Can't get rid of it. I could possibly just lay a piece of wood over the counter for an 8' x36" or 38" if that will work better. That's why I'm considering N scale, no modification required and we could run the entire 30 foot length, there's even a tunnel that leads to a similar, although smaller counter in another room.

Of course this is probably something that dad would be helping him with anyway, but he is a pretty patient and dexterous 6yo.

I have an HO display piece (I collect Corvette stuff, so I have the Corvette train). I ordered a few pics of r15 HO to see what I'm working with ($5) and a cheap n gauge car (another $5) so I can get a feel for the size. That might help me out a bit.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
493 Posts
With a 9" x 36" shelf or extension on both ends of the counter you can have what you want.
If you Really Really want 15" radius, you can get by with maybe only a 3" extension.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
80 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Thinking about it some more, there is a small lip on the edge of the counter that will make extending it more complicated. I'm not sure the Chief of House will be up for anything that make a permanent modification.

So I checked out anther location for it that is currently 35" wide by about 12' long. The bonus to this location is that there is no lip on the edge that would make extending it difficult like the counter does. It's also lower, making it easier for him to see while sitting. I could very easily just lay some sheet stock over it to get the extension (maybe route the edges and corners so someone doesn't catch a leg on it). The only problem I see is reach. Either site, we are taking about a 3 foot wide layout with access on only one side. The only other downside is that with HO we will still be very limited with the layout, likely just a single track oval, maybe a figure eight. But not likely be able to run multiple lines. N scale would give us virtually unlimited options in that space.

That said, I still think HO is the way to go. As he gets older if he is still into it and wants to do a major layout with n, he can make that choice. Now to find some HO stuff to get us started. I'd love to find someone selling off some stuff on the cheap. Doesn't have to be fancy, just has to run and preferably have sounds.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
80 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
And perhaps I can run my Corvette train! Although I believe one of the couplers is broken and I only have a few pieces.



Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,759 Posts
Hello everyone. I'm new here and newly interested in model trains. I've always been fascinated by them. My dad had a large collection, sadly he feel on hard times and sold it all off.

Moving on, my son has always been absolutely fascinated by trains! With all of this quarantine and home schooling, he has discovered YouTube (he's 6) and will spend HOURS watching videos of model railways. That is no exaggeration either! We have decided that it's time to get him a real set (he has had a few toys, but of course they break easily). He will be seven in a few months so we would like to get him something for his birthday.

So the question is about scale. I'd love to just go HO, I believe he would enjoy that size more. However, space is an issue. We have a counter that is a perfect place for the trains, but it is only 31" wide (30' long). I understand that you CAN do a 15" radius turn, but will be limited in what you can run on it. N scale would give more options with layout and types of trains we can run, but I'm a like worried it will be too small and he may tire with it. Looking for a little info from experience here. Looking to limit the initial investment to around $200. But I'm sure we will add to that later if he is really into it.

Also, is there a mallard in either scale that is affordable? I absolutely love the lines of those trains!

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
vette-kid;

Welcome to the forum! I'm going to disagree with the others regarding the suitability of N-scale for use by a 7-year old. Of course 7-year old people, like any other age people, vary in their behavior. If one of your son's favorite ways of playing with toys is to see how hard he can bounce them off a wall, then he's not ready for model trains, in any scale. On the other hand, if he can learn that these particular "toys" can break easily, and need to be treated gently, then he can use any scale of model train safely.

Model railroading is a fantastic father/son hobby, especially since your son is already crazy about trains. I do agree that a big, very rugged scale like O-gauge Lionel, or LGB G-scale would be ideal in terms of resilience, but in terms of your budget, and available space, they are completely impractical.
That brings us to the two most popular scales, HO-scale, and N-scale. The big difference between the two is the minimum practical turning radius, assuming you want some form of loop, for continuous running. Some N-scale equipment can operate on 9-3/4" radius curves. That's measured from the center of the track, on each side of the loop. Adding 1-1/2" inches for the rest of the track (beyond the centerline) and another 2" for car & locomotive overhang, your minimum shelf width will be 23" or call it 24" or two feet. You have 31", which is good, because using larger radius curves, say 11"-14" will result in better running, with less strain on the cars & locomotives,from trying to make it through those tighter curves.

The notion that there is some sort of night & day, cataclysmic, difference in handling difficulty between HO-scale, and N-scale, is wildly exaggerated, to say the least. It usually comes from HO-scale modelers who have little, or often no, experience building N-scale layouts. I'm now building my seventh N-scale model railroad. Long ago, I also worked with both HO-scale and with O-scale too.
While there is both the obvious difference in physical size, and yes, a learning curve when changing scales, it's quite within the capability of normal humans. I will turn 72 years of age at the end of this month. I need different prescriptions of eyeglasses for driving, and reading/working on trains. I have arthritis and a damaged left forefinger that doesn't work well. Yet, even with all those physical limits, I have been working quite successfully in N-scale for over forty years. If I can do it, a seven-year old with perfect 20/20 vision, and a level of manual dexterity I haven't had in decades, can certainly do it!

Another option would be to not have loops for continuous running. Instead have a "point-to-point" layout with one station at either "end of the line" in each room. Then you could use a larger scale, if you like, since it won't be necessary to turn around. You could even have a turntable and loco shed at one, or both, ends, to turn that 00-scale Mallard you want. 😁

Another possibility, (maybe, depending on your home, and your wife) would be to copy my "Bookshelf Railroad." This has the railroad on a shelf and a long, book/toy/whatever, storage shelf on top (See photo for the basic idea) My layout is made up of these bookshelf sections bolted end to end, and to the wall.

The files attached below give a lot of information on model railroading, including scale choices, how to fit it in the room, what to buy first, Etc. Look through them if you like.

For whatever they may be worth, here are my recommendations. Some are contrary to the advice I've given adults, in consideration of your son's age.

1) N-scale, if you want continuous running on a loop, simply because it will fit better on your shelf. Larger scale optional if you want a point-to-point layout.

2) Atlas, (or Peco) brand code 80 flex, or sectional, track. & possibly "turnouts" aka. track switches (or " points" if you're British.) For turnouts, Peco is definitely preferable, but Atlas "Snap Switches" are available used, cheap. They will probably need modification (see the files "Improving Atlas turnouts" for more info) to make them reliable, but this is fairly easy to do, and it drastically reduces turnout-caused derailments. I suggest getting "Manual" rather than "Remote" Atlas turnouts.The electric "switch machine" attached to the Remote model is not very powerful, well made, or reliable, & tends to burn out easily unless protected by an outside electronic device called a "Capacitive Discharge Unit." Your young son will be better off with the simpler manual controls, and the shelf is narrow, so they should be within his reach.

3) Older, used, train cars (but not locomotives) with the old, deep-flanged, "pizza cutter" wheels on them. These will stay on the track better than the newer shallow-flanged type we nearly all use now. Again, given your son's young age, I'm trying to keep everything a simple, and reliable, as possible for him.

4) Get a "railer", or car ramp, to make it easier for him to get the car's wheels on to the track. (see photo) Also a rerailer track section to put any errant wheels back on the track.

5) A Kato brand diesel locomotive. It can be used, to save a lot of cost. This brand makes terrific-running, reliable, locomotives. I personally recommend you not buy any Bachmann brand locomotive, or Bachmann products in general, at least for now. The old Bachmann locos were junk, pure and simple. New production is supposed to be much improved, but I often see posts about people returning Bachmann locos that have broken down. I've also seen multiple posts regarding Bachmann DCC sound decoders with noise problems, and the Bachmann EZ-Track turnout is at the very bottom of the quality barrel. I simply do not trust the Bachmann brand. This is just my personal, and admittedly biased, opinion. You may well get conflicting advice from others.

6) DC control vs. DCC, at least for now. Good (MRC brand) DC power packs are available used, cheap.
DCC is great, I use it, I like it, but it costs more, and adds one more layer of things that will need to be understood. For now, until your son gets older, and perhaps, retains his interest in this hobby, let's keep everything as simple, and inexpensive, as possible.

7) Speaking of inexpensive, I'm not at all sure your $200 budget is realistic. By all means shop around, and get the best deals you can, but I think you will break through that $200 barrier fairly soon

Good Luck & Have Fun!

Traction Fan 🙂
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,018 Posts
Possibly mentioned but bachmann has the Thomas stuff. Generally or completely, no sounds. Now I think if you stick with HO -- the larger market, and buy a few used items... You aren't going to miss any of it in the inevitable crash and bash across the room. Further it is noisier but preformed plastic base track is pretty sturdy and easy. Bachmann again makes two varients. Black and gray. The latter is a tiny bit better. There are other brands. Good news you can find loads of used of it. As many eventually sell it off. Finally digital control... I think if you can find a couple of used "dual mode" sound equipped rumbly engines -- you can skip DCC for now and get some sounds and lights in plain old DC. And maybe the kids can run it too. So just a DC transformer.. Then put a loop in ...not sure about switches now ... and you don't have to feel bad when a dinosaur swoops in and eats an engine.... Now skip forward 10 yrs. You may now proceed to build a small layout for yourself...maybe.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
80 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Here is the new location for layout. Under the carpet is nice smooth oak. I plan to last new wood on top extending it to about 41".



Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,759 Posts
Here is the new location for layout. Under the carpet is nice smooth oak. I plan to last new wood on top extending it to about 41".



Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
vette-kid;

That sounds good. ith a 41" width you could fit HO-scale with tight curves if you prefer that scale. Is that an HO-scale train and track in your photo?

Have fun!
Traction Fan 🙂
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
80 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
It is HO with 15" radius curve. The extension will allow me to go up to 18" and slightly more with flex.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top