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Hello Everyone -

My name is Derek and I have a finished basement that is screaming to have a model train placed into the decor. I am a tinkerer by nature and am looking to install a system similar to one that I saw at a friends or relatives when I was younger. Instead of a "room" or "area" this train was placed into the decor and ran anywhere from 18-24" below the ceiling down to about 4' in 1 or 2 areas on a counter or table.

The problem is that the extent of my train knowledge is limited to the Home Depot special under our Christmas tree. I am looking to do this project in stages and have a rough idea already thought out. I'd like to start with the woodworking and building of the rail supports, electrical work if any that is needed and finally the purchase of an engine and cars or a complete system.

I know that their are several different scales that are available but I have NO IDEA what scale would work best for me. I'm not ignorant to the fact that trains can not make 90 degree turns and I have several areas that need to be built to accommodate these types of turns but I am lost as to where to go from here.

A few questions I am seeking advice on are as follows:

1) What scale would work best for me it this type of scenario? I need a scale/type that can run long distances. I will be looking at 100+ feet or so for track.
2) What scale would give me the best flexibility to do the turns and so forth I will need?
3) What scale is readily available and relatively cheap and accessible so I can purchase separately from a "set"? I'd like to do this to spread out the expenses.
4) Any suggestions on where to purchase supplies either online or in the Chicagoland area?

My twin 6 year old boys and I thank you in advance for all your help and input!!

Thanks,

Derek
 

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I am not a big fan of ceiling trains. Kids get more from a small table rather than placing a train in orbit. For orbiting a large scale is best because you can see it. I suppose if I ever get into a large standard gage I would be happy to have a circle way over the table to show it off. After all it would be only one train and not compatible with the rest of my stuff.

With kids start with a table and any beginner set. I think you are trying to do too much too soon. Mutiple levels require a helix I have seen them but all are owner designed with no plans available. You tube would have examples. I saw one from a Texas Mom. The cellar was full and every car was on the track but I never bookmarked it sorry.
Good Luck
 

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Welcome aboard Derek first off.

1) What scale would work best for me it this type of scenario? I need a scale/type that can run long distances. I will be looking at 100+ feet or so for track.

I would think that HO would afford you the best of for this scenario. Not too large or small, and yet fit nicely in a shelf layout as your speaking of.

2) What scale would give me the best flexibility to do the turns and so forth I will need?
Once again HO would not require excessive Radius or turnout room. N scale might be too small to see all the details that are present, larger scales like "O" & "S" would require larger Radius.

3) What scale is readily available and relatively cheap and accessible so I can purchase separately from a "set"? I'd like to do this to spread out the expenses. HO & N provide the most in variety and availability along with affordability.
Also in reference to scenery I would suggest Backdrop buildings or Flats as they are sometimes called. Also DPM has a line of Modular pieces which make for excellent Falts made up to your exact needs. Another company for your viewing which is along the line of Backdrop buildings http://www.kingmill.com/shop/index.php?sessId=697C564EF496E0563DEFE6902B97B399
These will provide you with nice scenery yet allow the maximum space for the all important track work.

4) Any suggestions on where to purchase supplies either online or in the Chicagoland area?
Online there are many places but in CHi- town sorry not Familiar.
But here are a few besides the forementioned online
https://www.modeltrainstuff.com/

http://factorydirecttrains.com/

http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/932-16165

Just to name a few of those that I have used.
I hope that helps you get a start and some more opinions will be along shortly I'm sure to add to this.

ALso Kalambach Publishing puts out excellent books and downloadable pubs that will assist in building your shelf layout and the remaider of your layout
 

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I've never been there, but Chicago has a monthly train show advertised as the world's largest. Jan 10 at DuPage County Fairgrounds is the next one.

GreatMidwestTrainShow.com

I always enjoy the train shows I manage to make it to. Going to one can be a great introduction to the hobby. They will have every size of train you can imagine and there will be a lot of people who can answer questions for you.
 
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