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Telltale, started with 18" radius, but my contention is that the beginner may not even know that, hence there is a place for sectional and roadbed track, for those don't have your experience. To further confuse the beginner, suppose they were to buy ME flex - they might never figure out how to make it into a curve! I can see starting with a pile of sectional track and a blank table and trying all sorts of different versions to a basic oval. Eventually you will discover what works for you and what doesn't and then you would progress to Flex or my favorite, CV ties and rail.
 

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Here’s my bottom line to this whole thing: The debate about cost, layout building, etc can go on forever. It’s like Gunrunnerjohn says about political discussions on here:
“You’re not gonna change anyone’s mind...”
I don’t want to change anyone’s mind. I want newcomers to the hobby to feel like they have options and not feel they don’t fit in because of the methods they may choose to use to build a layout.

There was a guy on here who quit the forum because he felt we were too dogmatic over things like flex vs. roadbed track, DC vs. DCC and so on. He aired a whole laundry list. That was his choice.

We may forget sometimes that the skills that are required to build these scratch layouts are intimidating to some people. How many times do we have to encourage people to just try something instead of worrying about it? “Well, we did it so you can too.”
Not always. That might be the biggest inaccuracy of all. It’s an assumption, and we know what assume stands for. I don’t want to see anyone not pursue the hobby because of it.
I didn’t mean to accuse anyone of anything.
To the OP: sorry, we do this every once in a while. You’ll get used to it. This is actually kind of a boring one. Sometimes they get popcorn worthy. All have a good night.
Dan
I wouldn't disagree with you that we can debate the relative importance of lots of different aspects of the choice of track. On that level, there is no right answer. That wasn't the issue with your original post on the subject.

Anyone who thinks we are too dogmatic about such things hasn't visited other forums. 90% of the content on this site -- including our advice to the OP -- is just recommendations. No one ever said you HAVE to do it a certain way; we said "consider it", potentially allowing him to see an aspect of the hobby he might not be aware of. We often comment about 4x8's too -- many of us encourage beginners to look beyond that standard sheet of plywood. But we don't belittle them for sticking to it. Try going over to the Model Railroader forums some time. I stopped going there because too many folks played the "you're not a REAL model railroader if..." game.

I think it can only help newcomers to encourage them to stretch beyond what they already know, and to venture outside their comfort zone. I sure wish someone had done that with me 20 years ago, when I came back into the hobby. It would have saved me lots of time and money.
 

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Telltale, started with 18" radius, but my contention is that the beginner may not even know that, hence there is a place for sectional and roadbed track, for those don't have your experience. To further confuse the beginner, suppose they were to buy ME flex - they might never figure out how to make it into a curve! I can see starting with a pile of sectional track and a blank table and trying all sorts of different versions to a basic oval. Eventually you will discover what works for you and what doesn't and then you would progress to Flex or my favorite, CV ties and rail.
But if the beginner is here, reading, asking for help and advice, then he's not likely to end up not knowing about minimum curve radii, stiff versus springy flex track and so on. He can get all the information, and make a decision on what works best for him. As I said above, I wish I had known about all this stuff 20 years ago. It would have saved me from a throw-away layout!
 

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Here’s my bottom line to this whole thing: The debate about cost, layout building, etc can go on forever. It’s like Gunrunnerjohn says about political discussions on here:
“You’re not gonna change anyone’s mind...”
I don’t want to change anyone’s mind. I want newcomers to the hobby to feel like they have options and not feel they don’t fit in because of the methods they may choose to use to build a layout.

There was a guy on here who quit the forum because he felt we were too dogmatic over things like flex vs. roadbed track, DC vs. DCC and so on. He aired a whole laundry list. That was his choice.

We may forget sometimes that the skills that are required to build these scratch layouts are intimidating to some people. How many times do we have to encourage people to just try something instead of worrying about it? “Well, we did it so you can too.”
Not always. That might be the biggest inaccuracy of all. It’s an assumption, and we know what assume stands for. I don’t want to see anyone not pursue the hobby because of it.
I didn’t mean to accuse anyone of anything.
To the OP: sorry, we do this every once in a while. You’ll get used to it. This is actually kind of a boring one. Sometimes they get popcorn worthy. All have a good night.
Dan
I wouldn't disagree with you that we can debate the relative importance of lots of different aspects of the choice of track. On that level, there is no right answer. That wasn't the issue with your original post on the subject.

Anyone who thinks we are too dogmatic about such things hasn't visited other forums. 90% of the content on this site -- including our advice to the OP -- is just recommendations. No one ever said you HAVE to do it a certain way; we said "consider it", potentially allowing him to see an aspect of the hobby he might not be aware of. We often comment about 4x8's too -- many of us encourage beginners to look beyond that standard sheet of plywood. But we don't belittle them for sticking to it. Try going over to the Model Railroader forums some time. I stopped going there because too many folks played the "you're not a REAL model railroader if..." game.

I think it can only help newcomers to encourage them to stretch beyond what they already know, and to venture outside their comfort zone. I sure wish someone had done that with me 20 years ago, when I came back into the hobby. It would have saved me lots of time and money.
I know. It’s an unfortunate thing about some of the other forums. I don’t get that whole attitude.

As far as throwaway layouts: I’ve done it too. The experience we gained couldn’t be attained in any other way, really. Yes, advice would have helped, but at the end of the day, actually doing it, screwing it up and re-doing it was the best education.

I don’t have any regrets about tossing that old layout and moving on. I had a lot of fun doing it. As we know, life is the journey, not the destination.
 

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Discussion Starter #26
Thanks to all! Wow, so much information based on one newbie question. I believe I'm going to with the Kato Unitrak. After looking all over the internet, it seems the best (for me). I'm trying to run and "operate", nor watch a train going round and round, so I decided on using tracks with roadbed included. Thanks again, guys, for all your help. Many of the products mentioned (think Kato), I'd never heard of. Wish me luck; at the age of 78 and still trying to have a railroad.
 

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Thanks to all! Wow, so much information based on one newbie question. I believe I'm going to with the Kato Unitrak. After looking all over the internet, it seems the best (for me). I'm trying to run and "operate", nor watch a train going round and round, so I decided on using tracks with roadbed included. Thanks again, guys, for all your help. Many of the products mentioned (think Kato), I'd never heard of. Wish me luck; at the age of 78 and still trying to have a railroad.
At 78, you should enjoy what you want to enjoy! We have several folks around that age still enjoying the hobby!

Good luck, and hop on back with any more questions that pop up. We'll get 'em answered (hopefully without too much rancor...).
 

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Your welcome

Thanks to all! Wow, so much information based on one newbie question. I believe I'm going to with the Kato Unitrack. After looking all over the internet, it seems the best (for me). I'm trying to run and "operate", nor watch a train going round and round, so I decided on using tracks with roadbed included. Thanks again, guys, for all your help. Many of the products mentioned (think Kato), I'd never heard of. Wish me luck; at the age of 78 and still trying to have a railroad.


bobbalinks;

Since you started out asking about roadbed track, and that is the type you prefer, then Kato Unitrack is a good choice for you.
By the way, I'm 71 and have a railroad, DonR is in his mid 80s and has a railroad. As long as you're "still above the dirt," there's no age limit on model railroading! :D

I'm a little confused by your statement that you're "Trying to run and operate, "nor"? (I think you meant "not") watch a train go round and round, so I decided on using tracks with roadbed included."
If by " operate" you mean you want to mimic, somewhat, the operation of a real railroad, you can do that with any brand, or type, of track.
You will need turnouts to operate like that. Probably many turnouts. That's another point in favor of Kato Unitrack over Bachmann EZ-Track and also Atlas True Track.
In my opinion, Bachmann's EZ-track turnouts are the worst on the market, and Atlas True Track/Snap Track turnouts are the second worst turnouts available. Kato Unitrack turnouts are better than either.
There are other brands of turnouts even better than Kato (Peco & Micro Engineering for example) but they don't have the "roadbed included" that you prefer. Kato turnouts are definitely the best roadbed turnouts available. They, and the Unitrack that goes with them are more expensive than most other track choices, but the Kato Unitrack system is easy to put together, and good quality as well. Good choice!

Good Luck, and Have Fun!

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
 

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Thanks to all! Wow, so much information based on one newbie question. I believe I'm going to with the Kato Unitrak. After looking all over the internet, it seems the best (for me). I'm trying to run and "operate", nor watch a train going round and round, so I decided on using tracks with roadbed included. Thanks again, guys, for all your help. Many of the products mentioned (think Kato), I'd never heard of. Wish me luck; at the age of 78 and still trying to have a railroad.
You’re quite welcome, bobbalinks. Hope it wasn’t too much information. Lol
You might want to use the search feature on here to look at older threads about Kato Unitrack.
There’s a lot of information and links to You Tube videos on it. I would suggest to keep it simple at first. There are ways to cut it, bend it, add ballast and tie it in to other track systems.
Except for ballasting, the other modifications will all steer you out of the original engineered geometry and quickly lead a beginner into trouble.
You will see a lot of this discussed and illustrated in the old threads.
I suspect it won’t be long before you are posting You Tube videos of your own. Best of luck and joy!
Oh, if you want to see real rancor, just search Happy Birthday. Uh oh! I can hear the other guys saying “Zip it and say goodnight, Dan!”
Good night.
Dan
 

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ONE MORE !:

The way I, me, myself sees it (not insisting you must also) is that the term 'model railroader' was born way way back when all the 'instant plug and play' products we have now, didn't yet exist. This was the mid to late 1940's thru about, say, 1970-75..So, in this time period, serious realism-seeking miniature-train buffs had to scratch build structures and even locos and cars, and is why it took on the term 'model railroader'. All the other train collectors, then, were more like toy-train buffs; not into modeling, but just interested in seeing gleaming trains going around sharp curves and thru very acute switches (TOs) on a flat board..
And that's cool as well. I was one myself in the 50s.
So, it seems to me the folks who want this same sort of quick/quicker plug and play track are not actual modelers, but closer to wanting toy, non-serious participation in the hobby.
And that's cool too ! I just don't quite see it as 'model' railroading.
I think the term 'model railroader' has become a broad stroke for the entire miniature train world, to scale or not to scale.
And so what's occurring today is that we have, under the same roof (online forums), sort of, 1st graders in the same classroom as HS and college students; the older, experienced trying to clarify things for the grade schoolers.
Nothing wrong with that either.
It's only that the plug and play gang are not yet 'model rails'. They're just beginning to learn the terms/nomenclature, most not having modeled anything yet, which in turn tends to give birth to these long-winded, how-to/explanation posts..
In the old days we had to buy a magazine/s in order to learn. The diff is, today the asker gets instant answers due to the net, in turn enabling multiples of answers from the modelers, in turn causing a magazine article to become a tome...:sly: M
 

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ONE MORE !:

The way I, me, myself sees it (not insisting you must also) is that the term 'model railroader' was born way way back when all the 'instant plug and play' products we have now, didn't yet exist. This was the mid to late 1940's thru about, say, 1970-75..So, in this time period, serious realism-seeking miniature-train buffs had to scratch build structures and even locos and cars, and is why it took on the term 'model railroader'. All the other train collectors, then, were more like toy-train buffs; not into modeling, but just interested in seeing gleaming trains going around sharp curves and thru very acute switches (TOs) on a flat board..
And that's cool as well. I was one myself in the 50s.
So, it seems to me the folks who want this same sort of quick/quicker plug and play track are not actual modelers, but closer to wanting toy, non-serious participation in the hobby.
And that's cool too ! I just don't quite see it as 'model' railroading.
I think the term 'model railroader' has become a broad stroke for the entire miniature train world, to scale or not to scale.
And so what's occurring today is that we have, under the same roof (online forums), sort of, 1st graders in the same classroom as HS and college students; the older, experienced trying to clarify things for the grade schoolers.
Nothing wrong with that either.
It's only that the plug and play gang are not yet 'model rails'. They're just beginning to learn the terms/nomenclature, most not having modeled anything yet, which in turn tends to give birth to these long-winded, how-to/explanation posts..
In the old days we had to buy a magazine/s in order to learn. The diff is, today the asker gets instant answers due to the net, in turn enabling multiples of answers from the modelers, in turn causing a magazine article to become a tome...
M
Not to go off on a tangent here and/or take away from the original post, but a model is something built as a scaled down version of the original. Usually a miniature representation of something. Nowhere in the definition does it state that everything has to built by hand and or super detailed. I have been in the hobby for 40 plus years,never as a kid or do I now have the skill set to scratch build everything I use on my layout. I am not good with fine detail stuff or painting tiny things. I have a145 IQ I cut tractor trailers in half and build other vehicles out of them. I am a certified welder and fabricator. I have built heavy duty wreckers dump trucks, and custom built trucks of all kinds. The fact that I can’t do fine detail stuff and use prebuilt buildings and track doesn’t mean I only have toy trains. I have a model railroad just the same as anybody that has super highly detailed mountains and rivers or extravagant scenes. Yes my layout is flat because I tried many times to do the detailed mountains and stuff and I’m not happy with my less than stellar results. I’m limited to stay within my skill set. I really don’t feel that those of us that buy prebuilt or have flat layouts are less model railroaders than people that are gifted enough to be able to have all that highly detailed terrain, nor do I feel like a first grader among high school or college kids. As far as just being non-serious I take the hobby very seriously just don’t have all the skills some other people have. Just my option on the model vs toy train subject. Just for the record all trains started out intended to be children’s toys. I am truly sorry if my opinion or flat layout with sharp turns and acute “switches” offend the college kids!! Just my opinion and the way I see it feel free to feel otherwise.
 

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I think it is a matter of how much realism you are satisfied with. Not from where or how the parts and pieces are acquired.

I scratch build nothing except scenery because that cannot be bought as a custom product for the layout or space that you have. Unless of course you hire someone to come in and do it for you.
 

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I think it is a matter of how much realism you are satisfied with. Not from where or how the parts and pieces are acquired.

I scratch build nothing except scenery because that cannot be bought as a custom product for the layout or space that you have. Unless of course you hire someone to come in and do it for you.
I would love more realism don’t get me wrong and sometimes I look at my layout and wish I had those skills!! Sometimes I am really disappointed in myself and hate that I have to settle. The sad truth is that I just don’t have the skills but I feel to pay somebody to do it for me kinda takes away from the result. I’m sure many don’t feel that way. I look at the pictures some guys post in here and I’m in total awe!! You guys have beautifully build masterpieces! That being said I don’t feel that I’m less of a modeler or a first grader as was stated. I’m very Serious about the hobby and put everything I have into it. I just have to stay within my skill set. I really don’t see my layout as toy trains due to my lack of skill either.
 

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ONE MORE !:

The way I, me, myself sees it (not insisting you must also) is that the term 'model railroader' was born way way back when all the 'instant plug and play' products we have now, didn't yet exist. This was the mid to late 1940's thru about, say, 1970-75..So, in this time period, serious realism-seeking miniature-train buffs had to scratch build structures and even locos and cars, and is why it took on the term 'model railroader'. All the other train collectors, then, were more like toy-train buffs; not into modeling, but just interested in seeing gleaming trains going around sharp curves and thru very acute switches (TOs) on a flat board..
And that's cool as well. I was one myself in the 50s.
So, it seems to me the folks who want this same sort of quick/quicker plug and play track are not actual modelers, but closer to wanting toy, non-serious participation in the hobby....
And that's cool too ! I just don't quite see it as 'model' railroading....

...It's only that the plug and play gang are not yet 'model rails'...
I don't see much value in trying to narrowly define what a very general term like "Model railroader" is. Certainly not by applying standards from 60 years ago to a hobby that has changed much in the intervening decades. Far better to use specific words like "Scratchbuilder" or "Prototype model railroader". Perhaps even something like "Advanced model railroader". Pretentious perhaps but is it any moreso than trying to specify a limited scope of what "Model Railroader should mean?

Of course there are those who would reject the term of "model railroader" and prefer "toy train collector" or some other term, but I digress...

A kid with a Snap-Fit X-wing and a fellow stretching the cloth over the wooden frame of a 1/12 Supermarine Spitfire are both participating in the hobby of "Scale model building" and I don't see why model railroaders should be any different.

So, I say keep the tent -and the term- of "Model Railroading" broad and welcoming and let folks under that umbrella specialize and specify to their hearts content.
 

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I don't see much value in trying to narrowly define what a very general term like "Model railroader" is. Certainly not by applying standards from 60 years ago to a hobby that has changed much in the intervening decades. Far better to use specific words like "Scratchbuilder" or "Prototype model railroader". Perhaps even something like "Advanced model railroader". Pretentious perhaps but is it any moreso than trying to specify a limited scope of what "Model Railroader should mean?

Of course there are those who would reject the term of "model railroader" and prefer "toy train collector" or some other term, but I digress...

A kid with a Snap-Fit X-wing and a fellow stretching the cloth over the wooden frame of a 1/12 Supermarine Spitfire are both participating in the hobby of "Scale model building" and I don't see why model railroaders should be any different.

So, I say keep the tent -and the term- of "Model Railroading" broad and welcoming and let folks under that umbrella specialize and specify to their hearts content.
I think there's another important issue here, too. The greater availability of "plug and play" items also reduces the amount of time that a modeler needs to spend on things he doesn't enjoy. If you don't enjoy building structures from plans and a box of sticks, what should you have to? I think the changes in the hobby are liberating -- more fun and less drudgery. Now if someone would only invent flex track that ballasts itself....
 

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I think there's another important issue here, too. The greater availability of "plug and play" items also reduces the amount of time that a modeler needs to spend on things he doesn't enjoy. If you don't enjoy building structures from plans and a box of sticks, what should you have to? I think the changes in the hobby are liberating -- more fun and less drudgery. Now if someone would only invent flex track that ballasts itself....
Please! Someone!
 

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I'm newbie and want to use the prebuilt track with ballast. I've seen mostly Bachmann and have heard of Atlas. My question is, what is the most reliable and easiest to use of these things.
the more joints, less reliability, 3 ft section are better
 

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I think there's another important issue here, too. The greater availability of "plug and play" items also reduces the amount of time that a modeler needs to spend on things he doesn't enjoy. If you don't enjoy building structures from plans and a box of sticks, what should you have to? I think the changes in the hobby are liberating -- more fun and less drudgery. Now if someone would only invent flex track that ballasts itself....
i think it is called unitrack or E-Z track...
 
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