Model Train Forum banner

1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings Everyone,

My name is Jed and I am new to this forum. I've been reading through a bunch of the posts as a guest for quite a while though, and thank you they have been very helpful. Long story short, have wanted to build a layout for a considerable amount of time (probably since I was a kid) never had the space/money/wife's blessing, etc. Not long ago bought a house, has a heavily dated but finished basement so wah-lah, Choo-Choo Town here I am. Of course now I still have to balance kids/family/work/budget so the way I see it I'll probably be dead before this ever gets completed, but what the heck we're going for it anyway.

Right now I would say that I am in the pre-planning, planning phase (For those of you keeping track at home yes I'm just making these titles up) and if I'm honest this will probably last through Spring/Summer. I figure, I'm in no rush, rather think about everything long and hard before I take any action, which bodes well because while I have a lifetime of time... It's spread out in teeny tiny incriments every week :goofball:

What has been decided: Due to space constraints I will be going with N. Historically I have spent the most time (and probably have the most stuff) in HO, but I just don't have enough space to do much with HO. I pondered for a while doing maybe a narrow gauge setup but, just not enough personal interest in it to make it a lifetime project...

Right now the thing I am pondering over and I figured I'd open it up to people who probably have a lot more experience with this is era/setting. My two main choices are modern and transition and I have some concerns about both. I have enough space by going with N to let me hide my main turns just enough where I can comfortably run the more modern mainline diesels or even the larger steam locomotives so this is not an issue (I have a pretty long space, and give or take (I haven't picked a hard number yet) 3-5 feet of width to play with.

Where I have some concerns is how I would execute and then continue to build out the layout and buy more stuff in either era. Over the years, and where I live, not the biggest collection of hobby stores around me I have found that locally my stores carry a lot of modern N rolling stock/locos etc. But the buildings are very much transition period. Thought was... if I went modern I can use the transition kits, and just.... age em a bit to be modern era, older buildings. I know I can go online, but I feel kind of bad doing that because well, hard to get new people into hobbies if no hobby stores exist. So thats thought numero uno.

Other issue, and I suppose this just comes down to a discipline thing but, in my experience a lot of the "transition period" layouts I see, aren't really that, but more like... a whole mess of trains and building from circa 1920-2010 and I would like to avoid that... but again I have the local supply issue.

In general I'm really 50/50 on both choices and I suppose I can just find swap meets, etc to cover what I cant find in store, or yes... the interwebs... but curious if anyone has had any major experiences venturing down either of these paths and wow this was a lot longer than I meant it to be, sorry!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
49 Posts
Greetings Everyone,



My name is Jed and I am new to this forum. I've been reading through a bunch of the posts as a guest for quite a while though, and thank you they have been very helpful. Long story short, have wanted to build a layout for a considerable amount of time (probably since I was a kid) never had the space/money/wife's blessing, etc. Not long ago bought a house, has a heavily dated but finished basement so wah-lah, Choo-Choo Town here I am. Of course now I still have to balance kids/family/work/budget so the way I see it I'll probably be dead before this ever gets completed, but what the heck we're going for it anyway.



Right now I would say that I am in the pre-planning, planning phase (For those of you keeping track at home yes I'm just making these titles up) and if I'm honest this will probably last through Spring/Summer. I figure, I'm in no rush, rather think about everything long and hard before I take any action, which bodes well because while I have a lifetime of time... It's spread out in teeny tiny incriments every week :goofball:



What has been decided: Due to space constraints I will be going with N. Historically I have spent the most time (and probably have the most stuff) in HO, but I just don't have enough space to do much with HO. I pondered for a while doing maybe a narrow gauge setup but, just not enough personal interest in it to make it a lifetime project...



Right now the thing I am pondering over and I figured I'd open it up to people who probably have a lot more experience with this is era/setting. My two main choices are modern and transition and I have some concerns about both. I have enough space by going with N to let me hide my main turns just enough where I can comfortably run the more modern mainline diesels or even the larger steam locomotives so this is not an issue (I have a pretty long space, and give or take (I haven't picked a hard number yet) 3-5 feet of width to play with.



Where I have some concerns is how I would execute and then continue to build out the layout and buy more stuff in either era. Over the years, and where I live, not the biggest collection of hobby stores around me I have found that locally my stores carry a lot of modern N rolling stock/locos etc. But the buildings are very much transition period. Thought was... if I went modern I can use the transition kits, and just.... age em a bit to be modern era, older buildings. I know I can go online, but I feel kind of bad doing that because well, hard to get new people into hobbies if no hobby stores exist. So thats thought numero uno.



Other issue, and I suppose this just comes down to a discipline thing but, in my experience a lot of the "transition period" layouts I see, aren't really that, but more like... a whole mess of trains and building from circa 1920-2010 and I would like to avoid that... but again I have the local supply issue.



In general I'm really 50/50 on both choices and I suppose I can just find swap meets, etc to cover what I cant find in store, or yes... the interwebs... but curious if anyone has had any major experiences venturing down either of these paths and wow this was a lot longer than I meant it to be, sorry!


Hey Jed, and welcome.

I was a lot like you in the early stages, but then decided I’d build my layout how I wanted, cos it’s mine. Nothing has to be regimented if you don’t want it to be.
Just enjoy

Mark


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the Welcome! Honestly, I think about that too... It's not like the railroad historical society is going to be knocking on my door to see my basement anytime soon...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,490 Posts
Jed, welcome. Do what pleases you. Don't fret anything. I have both O gauge and N scale and I have never worried about what others may think. MY O gauge set up has a mixed (very mixed) variety of rolling stock and I use all Dept. 56 and Lemax ceramic buildings. My N scale consists of trains and track, a tunnel and a RR station. Steam era Locos all the way up to high speed Japanese trains. If I like the look of something, it gets a place on my layout.

Concerning your proposed layout, go for the 5' width. You can buy track with down to 8" diameter curves and up to 20" in curves. Later, you will be happy with this choice. A three foot width may be too limiting for you in the future. My N Scale layout is on a slab door and is portable, and not meant to be my main layout. The door is 36 x 80, and although I run six mainlines from 11"diameter up to 17" diameter, there is no room for scenery or other stuff. Just trains and tracks. I buy all my N Scale and most of my O gauge stuff off the internet. I have been doing this for years and years. The internet is the best place for N Scale. I use strictly Kato Locos along with Bachmann, Atlas, and many other manufacturers of rolling stock. I use strictly Kato Unitrack. It is not cheap, but it is bulletproof track. No problems, ever, and it stays together.

Oh, and one more thing. For N scale, I run DC and for O Gauge I run conventional transformer power. I don't use any DCC or computer control. I am old, and tried it once, and decided it wasn't for me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,613 Posts
Hi Jed, welcome aboard.

You can run 26" radius curves in 5' of width. You can actually do quite a bit with HO in the space you define.

There is nothing wrong with N scale, but think about your eyesight, and hand dexterity in the coming years and examine if you really want something that small in your later years.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,743 Posts
Hi, Jed, and welcome.

You have set an impossible task before us: we can't tell you what you want to do. Only you know that.

But it works both ways, too -- no one can or should tell you what to do on your own layout. If you want to run a complete mash-up of equipment from multiple eras, then who's to say you can't? Your layout, your rules.

Why not do both? Just trade out the equipment from time to time and run different eras. Structures tend to hang around a long time, so few transition era structures would be out of place on a modern layout. Of course, if you have a modern building you want to include, build it on a piece of foam core, Gatorfoam, sheet styrene, or whatever, and swap it out for a different one with the same general footprint (that is, build each one on the same size base). Swap out vehicles in the same way.

I'd also rethink your objection to buying on-line. It's nice to take care of the local guy, but when they don't stock what you want, then look elsewhere.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,613 Posts
I agree with CTV. I'm building a Geman Railroad. It's been a life-long dream of mine since I was a kid.

But a Green Diamond Illinois Central GP38 just might get imported from the States to run the German rails.

I will also likely have mixed equipment from different eras as defined by German manufacturers or the German equivalent of the NMRA. I might have an Era III steam loco running with Era V or VI diesels or electrics.

It's your railroad and you are the President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
574 Posts
Jed, about a year ago I decided I'd build a layout after 50 years of wanting one. I thought I would do a transisional since I like Union Pacific steam as well as GP9s, and others from that general era. I'd been hung up on this era for years.

As I started building, and becoming familiar with various more modern engines and a little bit in rolling stock, I decided the era thing was going out the window. I decided I was going to run what I liked. That means all the way from Big Boys and Challengers to modern diesels. They look fine together. I'm glad I didn't let myself get locked into an era.

My huge engine terminal goes all the way from a model of the Cheyenne Coaling tower and a 24 stall Walthers roundhouse to the Walthers modern diesel servicing structure where up to date engines will be serviced.

I feel good about the decision I made. I want to run engines I like. At the same time, I highly respect the outstanding work others have done locked to an era, especially around the 1950's.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,753 Posts
Planning and getting started

Greetings Everyone,

My name is Jed and I am new to this forum. I've been reading through a bunch of the posts as a guest for quite a while though, and thank you they have been very helpful. Long story short, have wanted to build a layout for a considerable amount of time (probably since I was a kid) never had the space/money/wife's blessing, etc. Not long ago bought a house, has a heavily dated but finished basement so wah-lah, Choo-Choo Town here I am. Of course now I still have to balance kids/family/work/budget so the way I see it I'll probably be dead before this ever gets completed, but what the heck we're going for it anyway.

Right now I would say that I am in the pre-planning, planning phase (For those of you keeping track at home yes I'm just making these titles up) and if I'm honest this will probably last through Spring/Summer. I figure, I'm in no rush, rather think about everything long and hard before I take any action, which bodes well because while I have a lifetime of time... It's spread out in teeny tiny incriments every week :goofball:

What has been decided: Due to space constraints I will be going with N. Historically I have spent the most time (and probably have the most stuff) in HO, but I just don't have enough space to do much with HO. I pondered for a while doing maybe a narrow gauge setup but, just not enough personal interest in it to make it a lifetime project...

Right now the thing I am pondering over and I figured I'd open it up to people who probably have a lot more experience with this is era/setting. My two main choices are modern and transition and I have some concerns about both. I have enough space by going with N to let me hide my main turns just enough where I can comfortably run the more modern mainline diesels or even the larger steam locomotives so this is not an issue (I have a pretty long space, and give or take (I haven't picked a hard number yet) 3-5 feet of width to play with.

Where I have some concerns is how I would execute and then continue to build out the layout and buy more stuff in either era. Over the years, and where I live, not the biggest collection of hobby stores around me I have found that locally my stores carry a lot of modern N rolling stock/locos etc. But the buildings are very much transition period. Thought was... if I went modern I can use the transition kits, and just.... age em a bit to be modern era, older buildings. I know I can go online, but I feel kind of bad doing that because well, hard to get new people into hobbies if no hobby stores exist. So thats thought numero uno.

Other issue, and I suppose this just comes down to a discipline thing but, in my experience a lot of the "transition period" layouts I see, aren't really that, but more like... a whole mess of trains and building from circa 1920-2010 and I would like to avoid that... but again I have the local supply issue.

In general I'm really 50/50 on both choices and I suppose I can just find swap meets, etc to cover what I cant find in store, or yes... the interwebs... but curious if anyone has had any major experiences venturing down either of these paths and wow this was a lot longer than I meant it to be, sorry!
Jed;

I think you are wise to take your time and do a lot of thinking, and drawing, before investing your limited time, and hard-earned money, in building something you may end up being disappointed with later.

The era thing isn't really a problem. You can either switch out locomotives, cars, and structures; as CTValley suggests, or just ignore any time warp discrepancies, as you choose. I have two eras on my own layout. The 1920s, and the 1950s.

You mentioned switching from HO-scale to N-scale. There are at least two different ways of doing that. Either will be legitimate if it's what you want. Don't waste time worrying about what someone else may think. Its your railroad,b not theirs.
One school of thought holds that, " I can fit more stuff (usually more track) in my space with N-scale. That's true, but do you want to fill most of your limited space with lots of track?
Or perhaps go the other way. Not as much track, but more room for industries, scenery, towns etc. If you look at a real railroad, most of it consists of a single track, with the occasional siding, surrounded by a lot of "other stuff." Like open spaces, scenery, structures etc.
Which general approach you prefer is a decision that you might best consider now, in your early planning stage. Your choice will shape the entire look, and character, of your railroad. This is not something that many modelers give much thought to, but, in my opinion, they should.

Another basic thing for you to decide concerns convenient access to all parts of the layout. If one, or more, edges of your layout will be up against walls, you may be wise to keep the table width down to three feet, or less. Three feet, is a long reach across a high table. You may want the table high to have the railroad at eye level. Or perhaps you could build it lower, and operate it from a wheeled office chair. Then, by standing up, the same three foot depth is within reach.
Another solution to the access problem is to build the railroad on casters, so that it can be rolled out away from the wall to allow you to access it from the other side.
A third option would be to build narrow (2' deep or less) shelves along the walls for most of the main line, with wider sections at the ends for yards and/or return loops. This option often leaves more of the room open to be used for other purposes. My own N-scale railroad is built this way along two walls of my garage. I have room for the railroad. a workbench and my wife can still park her car inside. (Happy wife, happy life.;)

Another consideration overlooked by most modelers is portability. In my opinion, all model railroads should be built in sections. This does not mean that every railroad should be a portable display modular one like N-Track, just that it can be taken apart if/when you have to move it to another house. Sectional construction also means that you can take one section at a time to your workbench and work on it sitting down. By turning it upside down, you can have a much easier time wiring "under the layout" without the pain and bother of actually crawling under the layout, and working over your head, which is many times harder.

Speaking of portability, consider the weight of the typical 4'x8' layout built with 3/4" plywood, and a frame, and legs, made of 2"x4" beams. This is the grossly overbuilt construction used on many layouts, and its HEAVY! A frame, and legs, of 1"x3" lumber is more than strong enough to support a model railroad. The plywood can be 1/2" or 3/8" thick, or no plywood at all. Two inch thick extruded foam insulation board is strong enough to serve as a rigid layout base without any plywood under it, and it's very light weight.

Well, this is getting pretty long. I hope I have given you some things to think about that will help you. The attached files were written to do just that too. I recommend starting with "Where do I start" first. The other two are explained by their titles. "Model railroading on a budget" and "Model railroad terminology" read them at your own convenience, if you wish.

Good luck; and have fun!

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenpos:

View attachment Where do I start (revised version).pdf

View attachment MODEL RAILROADING ON A BUDGET.pdf

View attachment Model Railroad Terminology 2.1.pdf
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
204 Posts
The nearest model railroading shop is a 4 hour drive away. Every few months, I visit that area and stop in and have a list of things to buy. I have done mail order with them with great results.

So, find a shop that you want to deal with and then go with it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,016 Posts
Jed

As one who has had in the past,
a fairly complex N scale layout with
a helix and upper level running, and now have a room
size HO layout my advice is to stay with the HO stock
you have.

You do have the problem of size, N is about half the
size of HO. Not only is this a factor for servicing, but
you have the need for exacting quality in your track.
Keep in mind, a tiny gap between rails in N can be
as much as a foot to the loco and car wheels.

Then when it comes to operations, you'll be coupling
and uncoupling cars likely with knuckle couplers. They
will need to be vertically aligned or mishaps occur.
While there are magnetic uncoupling devices they never
seem to be where you want to work. The HOG (Hand of
God) manual uncoupler must be handled deftly to avoid
knocking the cars off the track.

If you can have 5 feet width, at least at the two ends of
a long layout, you can design a very enjoyable HO layout.
In my opinion, you'll appreciate the easier building and
operational factors of HO and suffer fewer problems. It
appears to me you also have a wider selection in locos
and other rolling stock in HO.

Since you are starting out, go with DCC. It simplifies
your track wiring. In most cases, even on a good size
layout, you need have only 2 wires from the Controller
to the track. You can run 3, 4 or more trains at the
same time without a complex panel switch setup,
a lot of isolated track sections and a rats nest of wiring,
plus the need for a power pack to run each
train. DCC is simple to operate...if you can use a TV
remote you are all set for DCC.

I have 10 DCC locos. The first 2 I bought used from
an estate sale broker from Craigslist. One or two bought new on line...2 or 3 I got used at train shows. I have, maybe 90 or so
cars. None were bought new...most came from train
shows or flea markets. I would guess that most of our modellers have acquired their fleets in similar fashion.
This might be something you could consider.

Don
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,753 Posts
Scale choices

Jed;

While I have great respect for DonR, and rarely disagree with his posts. I'm going to disagree with a few of the points in his reply concerning HO vs N scales.

First of all, both are good scales, and you are quite free to use either of them, or any other scale you choose.
HO-scale is the most popular in the USA. N-scale is second. HO does have a greater variety of products available than N-scale, or any other scale. However, there is so much stuff available in either N, or HO, that none of us could even begin to afford one example of each car, locomotive, structure, etc. available in either scale. As for what your hobby shop stocks, they should be able, and willing, to order whatever you want for you. If they are not, then there are plenty of online suppliers who can.

Don's comments about track work, in my opinion, are a bit biased in favor of HO-scale, at the expense of N-scale. Good, well laid, track is equally important in any scale. The fact that wheel flanges and rails are smaller in one scale, and bigger in another, is not really a factor in reliability. The wheel flange depth, and rail height need to be in proportion with each other. So long as this is true, a car can roll well, and stay on the track, in any scale fro Z-scale up to "12 inch to the foot scale" (meaning full-size, real trains.)

As for "tiny" gaps between rails being more likely to cause derailments in N-scale, I guess that depends on your definition of "tiny." A 1/16" gap between rails, in N-scale, would be a one foot gap in real life. Way too big for a wheel to roll over reliably. That same 1/16" gap in HO-scale would be a six inch wide gap if scaled up to real, full-size, track. I don't recall ever seeing any real railroad track with either six inch, or twelve inch, gaps between rail ends. (Note: I'm referring to older track which had joints between rails. Modern real track is mostly welded rail, which has no gaps.) I have also never left a 1/16" gap between the rail ends on my N-scale track. I make the gaps smaller. Years back, when I modeled in HO-scale, I didn't leave 1/16th" gaps between those rails either. If all other factors, car weight. curves, grades, etc. are in proportion to the chosen scale; cars are no more likely to derail in one scale, than in another. Uncoupling, either magnetically, or using a hand-held tool, is quite practical in either scale.

One thing that does change when switching scales, is our ability to handle smaller cars, on smaller track. This varies considerably from one person to another. Your personal age, eyesight, and manual dexterity, can all be factors in what size stuff you can handle. I'm almost 70 years old, and DonR is in his eighties, so neither of us is all that young. I started out with O-Gage tinplate, and when I switched to HO-scale things seemed terribly delicate and finicky. Those HO trains did seem much harder to get on the track. With time, and experience in HO-scale, things became easier, and "normal" since I had gotten used to HO-scale. Years later, the change from HO to N generated all the same perceived problems, until I got used to N-scale.

I heartily agree with Don's comments about DCC. It's a great way to run trains and uses minimal wiring. DCC is also available in all the popular model railroad scales. The bigger the scale, the more room for decoders and speakers, however you can get decoders in Z-scale and up. There are also factory DCC equipped locomotives available in many scales.

Scale choice is very much a personal choice. There is no "right scale", or "wrong scale." They all work, and good track is good track, and bad track is bad track, regardless of scale. It simply boils down to the space you have available, and your own personal preference. Your 5' wide space will accommodate a range of different scales. Pick the one you like best and have fun!

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenpos:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,613 Posts
As I said in another thread, my eyesight passed N scale about ten years ago. It's much too small, too fiddly, and not enough detail for me.

For most that usually start out on a 4x8 sheet of plywood, five feet of width is a gift and a blessing. That 12" makes a BIG difference in your possibilities.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
348 Posts
HO to N for me

I went with N and ignored the sage advice here on the forum.

It is small. I have to use a magnifying glass frequently. It is hard to put on the rails without a railer with slightly shaky hands. It's very easy to derail with an inadvertent bump or while decoupling by hand.

Was it a mistake? No, I don't think so. I've only been in N for a short time and have only run on temporary layouts on a 4x8 table. But now it seems "normal" to me. And the improvements in the locomotives and rolling stock are incredible. To me, a 16' long H0 stretch would be awesome. Well, I get that with N in about 8' of space.

The biggest factor for me, and I can't emphasize this enough, was the newer technology. I would not be in N if I was stuck with DC and no sound. For me personally, all the realism in the world doesn't overcome the unrealistic whine of an older N scale DC engine.

As far as era goes, I was born in 1959. So I'm going with 1960-2018. I just don't have the urge to do steam. I like the modern stuff like the GEVO and as soon as I made that decision, that took steam off the table. If I wanted steam and a modern diesel, I would certainly do it because when it comes to your layout, you are king!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
130 Posts
If you have good eyesight and smooth hands N is really great. It is comparable to HO scale in price and has a decent selection.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,809 Posts
O to N For Me

Hey Jed. I've operated and still operate, a conventional 88 sq. ft. O scale layout for over 6 years now. It's OK and the grandkids like it. But since it's all built out with no more room for expansion, I've become bored with it and am looking at building a new N scale layout.

Right now I'm in the "acquisition phase" and am acquiring Union Pacific steam and diesel locomotives, along with freight and passenger cars in the 1950 to 1970 era. These are the trains that ran through my hometown during that time. And yes, the UP was running heavyweight passenger cars pulled by steam Pacific's until about 1957.

Finding what I wanted in O scale in Union Pacific in this era took a long time and was rather expensive, and I never was able to acquire the "Yellowstone Special" passenger train in O I was trying to put together.

But in N scale, I found everything I wanted, mostly new on eBay, within a couple of weeks, and at a fraction of what it would have cost in O scale. All locomotives are DCC equipped and all rolling stock has knuckle couplers and steel wheels. If they didn't come that way, I converted them, again, very inexpensively.

IMG_2369.jpg

And yes, changing out couplers and wheel sets in N is a lot different than in O. But you quickly get the hang of it and N is not that difficult. Now I'm looking at DCC control systems, which are also inexpensive compared to O scale, as well as N scale layout and track plans.

I like what I've experienced so far in acquiring N scale stuff and am optimistic about how everything will eventually turn out over time. Because I want to do it right, I'm in no hurry.

So, if N scale works for you and that's what you want, then go for it. :)
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top