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Thread: Model trains/ Electric trains

  1. #1

    Default Model trains/ Electric trains

    As I mentioned in my intro, I'm starting to look into model trains because I would like a hobby that isn't related to computers or at least not as much as most my hobbies. I don't have a ton of space in the place I live so I thought of going with the Z scale which to what knowledge I have is the smallest you can find. I'm excited at the thought of being able to build a neat little scene with trains and buildings on a hilly country side. ^^
    Anywho, is anyone else into this hobby or have any pointers for me? What scale and types of trains are you using?

  2. #2


    I've always wanted to try, but cost and space is a problem, so Simcity 4 works good for me, i just use tons of mod, and form the cities exactly how i want them, where i want them. Just like a model railway.

  3. #3


    I was HO nuts once but sold it all off to put a down payment on my house. Btw good stuff holds it's value well. I'd like to do a 3/4" scale garden layout around my lot in my retirement years. I could get about 400' around my lot. For now I have to settle for 1:1 as Amtrak 's Northeast Corridor runs through my back yard.

  4. #4


    I am finally proud to say that I have a very good rooting in the model railroading hobby.

    If I may produce a breakdown of the various scale sizes one can find, it would look like this...
    Z smallest.
    N Next smallest.
    H.O. Compromise size.
    O Larger end of the spectrum.
    O-27 Is like the suv's of the model train sizes.
    G IIRC is literally the largest size - used mainly outdoors.

    Personally, I prefer using the H.O. scale size as it's just perfect for my shakey hands and bad eyes but it doesn't take up as much space as the larger scales. And on the layout I've got, I have mainly Santa Fe and Union Pacific along with some mix and match names for the sake of realism.

    As far as tips or points...hmmmm....
    I guess...your imagination is your only true limit. It doesn't matter if it's just some track, some cars and a building - OR - a fully functioning advanced and intricate layout that takes computer software to run, if you're happy with it, that's what matters.

    Wiring, however, if you go that route, can be a beast in and of itself depending on how advanced you want your layout. As an example, on mine, there are 8 lighted buildings with their own indapendent switches, 3 scenery lights with indapendant switches and 9 trackswitch [turnouts] with their individual switches. You can only imagine the headaches involved with tracking down problems when they arise. Best advice I can offer there, is grab two power packs - one for the track itself, and one for the lighting; or if necessary, split the lighting between the two packs.

    With scenery, again, it's as much as you wanna make of it. Whether it be a few trees or a complex urban setting complete with figurines, the skies the limit.

    All in all, there is NO right or wrong way to model railroading, which makes it an almost perfect hobby for those just getting into it all the way to the veterans of the rails.

    On a side note, I do have a community group dedicated to this topic. Just saying.

  5. #5


    Yes this is why I'm very excited to look into this hobby. I already read a few things about creating various scenes though I'm not planing to create a real scene. It'll look realistic but it wont be something you can actually go to. The reason I decide Z scale is because I might have 3 feet in width by maybe 5 feet in length to work with at the most sadly. Though I'm rather unsure how much Z scale stuff normally goes where as HO you can buy a engine at 250 USD for high end stuff I'm guessing. I was hoping to go check out a train shop today but I got up rather early after having problems sleeping again. So I'm going to take it easy today.

  6. #6


    Model trains have been a part of my life for nearly as long as I can remember. My first model train had a wind-up engine which was cranked up by using a key. It took the same gauge track as my dad's Lionel O-27 trains. I played with it until the spring would no longer hold tension. My mother then bought me my first electric HO train set made by the Marx Toy Co. around 1957 or so. I stayed in HO, adding more cars to what I started out with, until around 20 years old, before briefly switching to O Scale models. I wanted realistic looking track, so bought scale size steel rails in sizes .100", .125", and .148". Real railroads use different weights/sizes of rails depending on how heavily the track is used. The sizes of rails I bought approximated 70lb. rails for sidings, 90lb. rails for secondary tracks, and 110lb. rails for mainlines. The show stopper, however, was having to make my own track switches to work with those nice rails. I made an abortive attempt which turned out horribly - guaranteed a derailment anytime I'd run a train through it. Even attempted stringing trolley wire that actually carried current for an electric freight engine I bought. Let's just say I discovered you need to muster up a lot of patience to set up a working trolley wire system - the kind of patience I didn't have! I finally gave up, sold all my O Scale stuff, and went back to HO. I still have a bug for realistic looking track, but at least in HO there are mfrs. who make track switches in different rail sizes. I can use .100" rail for heavy mainlines, .083" rail for secondaries, and .070" rail for sidings and other lightly used tracks, giving the layout a realistic appearance track-wise. Tripped's scale size list, you can also add S Scale between HO and O. Anyone who ever had an American Flyer set had an S Scale train. It runs on two rails like HO instead of the larger, three rail O-27. There was also at one time a TT Scale between HO and N, but I haven't seen any models in that scale for many years. If it's still around, the users most likely scratchbuild most of their models and lay their own track to the proper gauge for that scale's equipment.

    I mainly enjoy a mix of main and branchline railroading with several smaller industries for lots of switching and use of different types of cars. My layout ideas come from real life lines around where I lived. I have lots of modeling ideas from the Baltimore area where I grew up and hope to incorporate some of them in a layout later on. The one thing I have to watch is trying to make a mega-track plan right away instead of starting off small and adding on a little at a time. Biting off more than you can chew when setting up a model train set can be discouraging, and it usually never gets anywhere near looking the way you envisioned wanting it to look.


  7. #7


    The issue with z scale is how delicate all the parts are. H.O. Is a good place start since overall it is fairly sturdy.

  8. #8


    Yeah Pramrider! I still have my American Flyer set. My dad bought it a couple years after they adopted me. In early December he would set up an 8' by 4' plywood table in the living room and out went the trains. He grew up very poor and I think the trains were as much for him as they were for me, but we both loved those trains. Eventually we got a couple of switches. There was a railroad crossing with the gate that went down, and there is a boxcar that ejects milk cans. Those were great times as a child and the memories will stay with me forever.

    By the time I was in high school I started my H.O. layout. Like you PR, I laid my own track, wood ties and rails spiked to the ties. I built my cars out of wood, and the locomotives I made from Tyco kits. I built my bridges out of balsa. I still have all of my H. O. trains packed in boxes. I used to have an 8 x 4 plywood table. The last incarnation is a 4 x 4 foot layout that goes under the Christmas tree, but my wife won't let me set it up before Christmas because she likes to put the presents under the tree. Maybe this year I'll set it up after Christmas.

    I would go with N scale as the smallest, and H. O. if I could squeeze it in because you can model in more detail in H. O.

  9. #9


    I owned an N scale layout a long time ago. If you can go for a 3' by 6' layout, There is an entire kit that includes a whole bunch of scenery items. All you add is the trains and track, but they also sell a track pack that includes all the track you need. HO scale needs at least a 4 by 8 space to be worthwhile and Z scale is CRAZY EXPENSIVE. N Scale is probably the most economic scale to use. If you want to use Z scale, you could go for a larger, more elaborate layout, but it would cost you a ton of dough.
    This is a 3 by 6 N scale layout with several switches and ovals. Great layout to start and other switches can be added.

    If you want a smaller layout, you can download atlas RTS 10.0 for free, then make your layout, purchase the track, then build it.

  10. #10


    TT Scale still exists and from my understanding is used a lot over in Europe. As for Z I can't find any place online where I can get a clear price on everything. Though I do have a rough area of 3 X 6 Feet in my living room but it would be a squeeze. Also..Yaaay free train planning software! I can work on creating my scene long before I have the money to create it! Jato that track looks like a ton and gives me ideas.

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