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Discussion Starter #1
The choices of rolling stock are huge! how do you determine which ones you purchase? I've read the sticky about how the scales of each companies rolling stock can vary, so how do you whittle down the options to make sure its what you want when purchasing from multiple places?
 

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You have indicated you plan to run a single train on one track. The engine you choose will help determine what cars it pulls. Is it modern or ran in a previous era? What is the roadname? Some engines pulled mainly freight or passenger. Some were used for both services.

Pete
 

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If I want a nicely detailed scale car, I go with MTH Premier. If I want to pay more money for the same thing, I get Lionel. If I want to buy a unit train and still have a few bucks left in my pocket, I go with Menards.
 

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There is so much rolling stock on the used market that you should really be choosy or you'll end up with a mountain of stuff you'll never use. After two years in the hobby, I've all but stopped buying freight cars already. If I buy a piece, it's usually at a train show at a price I can't refuse.

Are you into postwar? RailKing? Scale size stuff? Also, do want to run freight or passenger? Both? Do you want to run prewar style wooden box cars or newer auto racks, ocean containers, etc.?

To give you some ideas, I decided I like things more scale sized and I want to concentrate on roadnames that might have been seen in my area in the 40's-70's. That required some brushing up on history. I'm still learning but to me that's fun. That is still a lot of road names though!

So for freight cars, I settled on a few road names that actually had their headquarters where I live (Missouri Pacific, MKT, Frisco, & Wabash). Within those road names, I usually only go for scale sized rolling stock and I only buy used, LNIB. That whittles it down a bit and keeps the budget down.

For passenger cars, I only go for road names that used St. Louis Union Station. Again, a pretty wide net. However, I don't consider any older passenger cars with silhouette windows, nothing under 18", and nothing with incandescent bulbs. I realize I could convert older cars to LED but the last thing I need is another PITA project and it adds cost. Again, there's such a glut of this stuff on the secondary market, if you have any patience at all, you'll find what you want (in spades!). I've pretty much settled on newer MTH passenger cars with LED lights. They hit my sweet spot for size/budget.

Ultimately, it's the old answer: it's up to you. Or the way it's usually put around here: it's your railroad...
 

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The choices of rolling stock are huge! how do you determine which ones you purchase? I've read the sticky about how the scales of each companies rolling stock can vary, so how do you whittle down the options to make sure its what you want when purchasing from multiple places?
Not as huge as it used to be. Weaver I miss badly. I search the auctions sites and train shows for missing pieces. With that said you want scale AtlasO is the way to go but be prepared to pay, most expensive option here. Lionel and MTH are good too. I have a mix. There's no need to limit yourself to one brand or another. It's all good.

And again with that said, I'm at a point in the hobby I have way to much. I now only limit my self to New England roads and NYC. If you are just starting out get a good mix of roads, including the roads you like
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I love all the suggestions. I was looking at purchasing a Northfolk Southern SD60E, so more modern would probably be appropriate. How do you tell if a freight car is to scale?
 

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I love all the suggestions. I was looking at purchasing a Northfolk Southern SD60E, so more modern would probably be appropriate. How do you tell if a freight car is to scale?
ATlasO only does scale. MTH premier is scale, Lionel it's a little muddied. Now, they say O scale, used to say Standard O, and entire list of terms I think of at the moment.
 

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I stick with Roco for the most part. Sometimes though Roco doesn't make what I need or want. Roco is all full scale at 1/87.

I also have some Fleischman, Brawa, and Piko, which come in various scales. Some are 1/100 and others are somewhere in between.

It is difficult to tell them apart even when side by side. The difference is always the length and everything else about the coach is correctly scaled.

Width, height, trucks & wheels and interiors are all correctly scaled.
 

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One thing I would keep in mind if you are running tight curves like 31 is to consider car length. A long true scale gondola will have some overhang on the curves, as will long passenger cars. If your tracks are spaced far enough apart it won't be a problem. Personally, I just don't like the look of a big old long car on a tight curve.
 
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