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Hi all-
I am introducing my 6 year old son to model train sets. Thinking of buying this:

https://www.amazon.com/Bachmann-Chief-Ready-Electric-Train/dp/B004NHDW1K/ref=asc_df_B004NHDW1K/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=309804208987&hvpos=1o5&hvnetw=g&hvrand=16878310624227701824&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9032152&hvtargid=pla-434034542387&psc=1

To start with, we'll do everything together. I understand he might be a little early but I want to work with him and slowly give him more independence with this train and more.

Is this a good starter set?
Is it sturdy enough?

Another idea I had was to buy used parts (controller, tracks, locomotive, a couple of cars, caboose) and put it together. There's an open house nearby in a few weeks that I am planning to take advantage off.

Thanks all in advance!
 

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I always try to buy the best I can afford so chances of having to buying it twice are reduced. I had my first O scal train set at three and HO at seven, so I don't think he's too young.

I would recommend better quality equipment bought separately so you can buy what you want and are not structured into a 'set'.

If you are buying this mainly for you and hope to spark his interest, then I would definitely buy equipment and track separately.

If however you are buying it solely for him, then a set is a good way to start without dumping a bunch of money into a toy he may lose interest in after a week.
 

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I received an O gauge Lionel set when I was 3 years old and still have it in a more or less intact condition. The HO set I bought myself when I was probably around 10 years old ended up broken within a matter of months. O gauge trains tend to be a bit more rugged for younger kids. I know some people have had success with their kids and smaller scales, but I tend to lean away from HO at that age.

Either way you go, you'll have a lot of fun with it. It's always nice to have younger kids in the hobby as well.
 

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Personally, I agree with MichaelE -- I think it's better to buy a la carte and get exactly what you need. You'll pay a little more, but you will have better control over the quality. Track and power packs in those sets are often cheap junk.

As for that particular set, it is one of the ones with some very cheap components. The included track has steel rails on black roadbed. Black roadbed looks terrible, but you might be able to live with that. Steel rails, however, conduct electricity poorly and corrode easily. I would avoid them at all costs.
 

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I always like to have a starter set. It's cheap in case it turns out there's no interest. It comes in a storage box made for it. If the interest is there you can always upgrade. It's kind of hard to downgrade. Oh, and if you decide to build a large layout you can always break it out to run trains until your layout is running.
 

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Before buying the set, do go to the open house and see
what is available.

The major problem with buying a set is that they
use a proprietary track system that does not readily
work with that of other makes. In this case, the
track is STEEL. Not the best. Nickle/Silver is the
preferred track metal because it affords better
electrical conductivity with less maintenance.

Don
 

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I too agree with steering away from starter sets. If this is going to be HO I'd suggest you purchase Atlas code 83 sectional track (not 3' flex track for now), enough to make an oval. With an oval it's easier to install a switch track replacing one straight section so he can get the hang of (manual) switches and parking the train in it's spur or having say, a cattle pen along it. Replace other straight with a terminal track for easy wiring up power. Buy 1,2, 3 individual cars, and a good locomotive..Bachmann 'Spectrum' series offers well running steam or diesel locos. If on-line purchase don't go to Bmann; too high list prices. Ebay better choices at way lower prices.
Will you go older analog DC control, or latest digital control ? If you plan to expand the layout and even add a 2nd loco, and have sound, too, DCC, such as NCE, Digitrak are good (I prefer NCE) control systems..Have fun, M
 

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That starter set "includes steel track" and we complain about brass track because it needs to cleaned more often, steel track rusts and becomes useless. If you don't want to go the O gauge route, alacarte is the eway to go. Atlas NS track, MRC techII controller (DC only) off Ebay and a nice Bachmann engine and a couple of cars.
 

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Now why would you want to do that.....? A train set like that is pretty bottom of the barrel already......
I have no idea. But considering how some people are it wouldn't surprise me. I mean, who would shot the pope? And yet, somebody did.
 

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IN defense to steel rail: I live in Los Angeles. I have visited the Highland Park Society of Model Engineers many many times..It's believed to be the oldest MRRC here (or maybe second to the Pasadena MRRC). Their rail is all hand laid steel. The trains I've seen run, including my own a few times, run flawlessly..I've asked them 1 or 2 times over several decades if the steel is hard to maintain; doesn't it rust ? Each time, the answer is a big fat "NO". And far as its looks, to me looks great;sort of grey-blue patina like the 1:1 scale when new.
...Here's a pertinent question though: Not brass, but copper, how would copper track fair if manufactured ? ..It's about the cheapest of metals and best electrical conductor.. Could it just be that it's too orange ? M
 

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At 6 years, the son is most likely to "be a bystander" at this point.
So... "all the choices" that have to be made will be yours.

Rather than buy an off-the-shelf "train set", you might consider putting together higher-quality items of your own choosing.

At this stage of the game, some kind of sectional track would probably work best:
A simple oval, or...
...Perhaps a few switches to add interest.

If you go with sectional track, I suggest you take a look at the Kato Unitrack line.
Very nicely made and it looks surprisingly good when together.
They have several "pre-fab" track sets available.
Not the cheapest, but you do get what you pay for.

Don't get the cheapest engines, but on the other hand you probably don't want to spend too much, and not "too much detail" either -- that won't hold up to a kid's 'handling".

Others suggested Bachmann, and I think that would be a decent choice right now. Their latest stuff runs well enough and is probably robust enough to survive some handling.

At this stage of the game, a DC powerpack setup would probably be easiest. Just a knob and reverse switch for the son to figure out.

HOWEVER
...you might consider a dcc setup using a graphical interface (there are several out there, my preference is the Roco z21). Your son will VERY EASILY pick up on how to run a train using a graphical display on an iPhone, iPad, Android phone or Android tablet. Bachmann offers one of these, but I'm not familiar with the particulars.
 

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To the OP. I reread your post and spent some time thinking about it.

It looks like your son is showing little to no interest in trains. That suggests there's a very good chance that his interest will be lost after the novelty wears off. Do you already have trains? If so does he show an interest in them? If he hasn't really shown an interest and you don't have trains maybe this is really for dad and you're using your son as the excuse to start?

I already traveled that road. I bought a train set to introduce and build a layout with my son. It wasn't long until he lost all interest. I became the soul proprietor of a model railroad. That was over 20 years ago.

Bachmann is good stuff. That train set I bought with my son was an N scale Bachmann. The engine became the lab rat. It tumbled to the bare concrete floor many many times. Each time I'd pick it up, set it on the track, apply power, and off it'd go to the next test without any hesitation. Shortly after starting the layout I started collecting my Bachmann On30 Christmas train. I store it in my non-enviromenally controlled garage. I don't run it every year but every time I break it out it runs without a problem. A few years ago I purchased a Bachmann HO starter set. I have no issues with it. My Bachmann stuff runs just as good as the more expensive brands I've had/have.

As for the steel rails rusting? I have yet to find any rust no matter how old the stuff. Maybe if I leaving it out in a mountain meadow for a hundred years it might show some rust?!

More why a starter set is good. You have everything you need to run. Even an instruction manual. You don't have to worry about forgetting something and running to the hobby shop, maybe even multiple times. The less you've been into trains the more likely this will happen. You have less expensive stuff to use as lab rats if you do decide to build a layout. Which would you rather see crash to the floor, a $50 loco or a $150 loco? I'm sure you get the idea. The newer you are to model railroading the more often this will happen.

As for all this Bachmann and set bashing? I'm not buying any of it. I've been living the Bachmann life for over 20 years and I ain't seen none of it. It all sounds like a friend of a friend of a friend who has a cousin that knew a guy that once met a guy in a bar kind of stuff to me.

As for that set you showed? That's a damn good price. I wish I'd found a deal that good when I got mine.

Anyway, welcome to the forum. There's a lot of great people here.
 

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It looks like your son is showing little to no interest in trains. That suggests there's a very good chance that his interest will be lost after the novelty wears off.
I have a former coworker who had a bum finger due to an injury, but he went through months and months of surgeries and infections, to the point of nearly loosing his finger all together... the reason was so he could play guitar with his young son. The finger never worked, and the son doesn't play guitar any more.

Same guy loves hockey. Put the son on a hockey team. Son now hates hockey.
 

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Copper would be too expensive.....there's people stealing wire to get the copper....
The reason copper wire is stolen is that it's nearly the only metal one can steal, this side of man hole covers and shopping carts..
I believe the reason there is no copper track is more like it might be too soft. I don't think it's the expense. A length of solid copper wire the same volume of substance as a length of code 70 rail is less costly I'd think, than the nickle silver rail.
 

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I like the starter set. It has e everything you need, and like all model railroaders you will end up adding a item here and there. Keep it simple for a six year old...another option would be a lego train, they run well, and when they break, you rebuild them...cheers
 
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