General HO Question

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macjet

Member
Nothing speaks like experience. I appreciate you sharing your's with me.

I have located several MRR clubs in the D/FW area. I'm going to take him to a run session during a visitor day. If he comes out grinning ear to ear then we'll start work on one 2' x 6' section and proceed from there.

I did go to the LHS (took some research to understand that acronym) yesterday. I bought four sections of Atlas nickel-siver code 83, terminal joiners, joiners, and a track/wheel cleaning block. I set up a test track on my work bench. I actually found my old MRC Tech II Railmaster 2400 power pack! The U28B is working like a champ (somewhat). One GP9 is a boat anchor and the other is receiving power but not running. I later discovered that after removing, cleaning, and reinstalling the wheels that I had them out of gauge. I need to do more work on the other two 9's and the 28 as it runs well but requires 40% power before it will start to run. This will have to wait. I plan on buying two new GP-38-2's for test and run locomotives. I don't want to be troubleshooting track with iffy motive power. Power suggestions? Kato, Bachman, Athearn??

This layout will be a brachline theme. The 18" radius won't allow the big stuff. Four axle units pulling covered hopper, box, and maybe short tankers. I've always wanted to model the GP9 and 10's on the Farmrail line. Maybe in a few years.

I guess it's time to start thinking benchwork in case (as if there is a doubt) the MRR club visit goes well.
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
If you're buying new, Atlas & Kato run like a dream. P2K's GP38-2's are nice, from my experience, and the new RTR Athearn's are touch & go, at best. I'm a strong advocate for Athearn, partially because I own so many, but if you're unlucky you'll get one thats noisy or does not run well, though there are jsut as many, if not more, great runners in there.
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
For testing track, nothing beats a small switcher. You can get a great Alco S1 (originally priced at $110) for $29 at http://www.trainworld.com. It will be not be DCC but semi easily convertible. Anyway, they run slooooow, and you can see any bump or hitch. Don't convert to it DCC with talking to us though, they have a flaw you must fix first.

BTW, it wouldn't hurt for you two to join that club (providing you get along with them)
 

macjet

Member
BTW, it wouldn't hurt for you two to join that club (providing you get along with them)

I considered that. The one east of us (at least an hour) seems pretty laid back as well as organized. The one south of us seems to be a Nazi regime. They've got more rules then the IRS and I don't really think that they want any "outsiders". We'll hit them both though and see what they've got.

I'll look into that loco.
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
macjet, please don't fret about this hobby. Everyone has to find their way, and for some that process seems interminable. The best thing you could do for your enjoyment's sake, and to keep yourself from a desperate outlay of misspent cash and time, is to take your sweet time to get comfortable dealing with the pitfalls as you become aware of them.

At the same time, we urge guys to start some cheap experimentation and get some trains running so that you don't succumb to the "paralysis by analysis" syndrome. If a sheet of plywood with a concocted series of turnouts and some flextrack between them, all nailed into place to keep things aligned, is what that means for now, then it can also be a learning experience, a test bed. Use it to learn how to configure curves with flextrack and to ensure that necessary gaps are there when necessary for proper use of power routing. If that statement is Greek to you, don't worry, it'll all be clear enough, and simple enough, soon enough.

To sum up, as an adjunct to all the excellent guidance you are getting, keep things simple and use them to build....but at some point you have to commit and start on a grand plan. We all do, it is sometimes a little daunting, and you can be sure to regret some decisions before much time has passed. However, you won't beat yourself up because they'll be small things and you'll in the meantime be having so much fun! :D
 

macjet

Member
Well, we're hitting this thing full steam ahead. I had my little one watching while I was running engines on the test track. All 3' feet of it. He can't get enough. So, what the heck.

I built phase one of the benchwork tonight minus the leg bracing. I'll need to hit Home Depot tomorrow.

http://s228.photobucket.com/albums/ee114/macjet/?action=view&current=IMG_0665.jpg

There are two sockets that will have to be incorporated into the scenery. In a perfect world.......

This phase is 2' x 5' with an extension in the foreground to give the required 40" for the loop. The farthest 45 degree angle will attach to a 16" x undetermined length bridge to connect to phase two.

The work bench in this photo will be relocated closer to the garage door to provide room for the 2' x 6' phase 2. This will require a major rework of the garage and quite possibly a full weekend.

http://s228.photobucket.com/albums/ee114/macjet/?action=view&current=IMG_0666.jpg

My plan is somewhat of a bent dog bone. A rail yard will be built on the second phase but I've yet to work out the details of what spurs and sidings will go where. I did confirm that the 18" radius will fit on this layout.

Feel free to point out anything. I'm pretty thick skinned.
 

macjet

Member
More updates.

We went to a closer LHS that was closed Mon and Tue. Good stuff. Bought some turnouts, connectors, roadbed, etc. I have decided on a couple of things. I know that prices online are a little cheaper but I'm also paying for knowledge at this point.

Table mounted switch machines.

DC common rail power.

Athearn blue box loco's.

The main goal here is to get trains running in circles and provide for some switching. I can't justify the cost of some of these higher end products right now. Maybe down the line but not just yet.

I really want to model the Farmrail GP-10's. This is all I saw growing up after The Rock went under. It would be perfect for our future "farm" layout. I am planning a team track(?) for unloading farm equipment, a grain elevator, and a couple of businesses that require box cars.
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
Looks like you're getting a pretty good idea want you want - as a starting point. Think of this as an 'educational' layout; half the fun is learning all the new skills associated with this hobby. Enjoy!
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
Yea! Glad to see you on the move. With all the good advice given in this thread coupled with the wisdom of Selector's post, you should be able to have a good start. When the bug bites you hard and you are ready to move forward, then be sure and get more advice as you go.

I would recommend rolling stock of under "50foot" cars to allow for more in the space you have.
 

macjet

Member
I would recommend rolling stock of under "50foot" cars to allow for more in the space you have.

Is this primarily a space consideration or a radius concern?


I added a 1" thick cardboard top tonight to begin the track mockup. Any suggestions for a permanent deck? I don't have software for this so I'm comparing what is in my head versus what will actually fit. The radius for the first loop was perfect! I've probably got room for one warehouse, a grain silo, and a loading ramp in this first phase. I'm going to order some stuff from Walters to see what will fit.

I had envisioned cutting out the track subbed and leaving "gaps" to add depth to the scenery. I'm now thinking of a straight plywood deck to keep it simple and building the landscape up from the deck instead of down. This will eliminate the possibility for my culverts but I'm not sure I want to tackle that at this time. The "bridge" between the two sections will contain one double track bridge and a single track. This I'm sure will keep me busy enough with sub-grade work.

Thanks for all the advice. Keep it coming!
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
Mac, I only mentioned the "under 50 foot cars for relation to train length and siding length. You will get more cars in a given length train or siding allowing for more switching opportunities. However, the very long cars could become an issue when dealing with tight radii.
I'm not sure of the era you want to end up with, but I would always keep it in mind when purchasing locomotives/rolling stock. Otherwise, you will end up with 1980's cars on a 1950's layout. It's ok when going the other way, i.e. 1950's on a 1980's. (I made this mistake on a few in the beginning:eek: .)
 

macjet

Member
Mac, I only mentioned the "under 50 foot cars for relation to train length and siding length. You will get more cars in a given length train or siding allowing for more switching opportunities. However, the very long cars could become an issue when dealing with tight radii.
I'm not sure of the era you want to end up with, but I would always keep it in mind when purchasing locomotives/rolling stock. Otherwise, you will end up with 1980's cars on a 1950's layout. It's ok when going the other way, i.e. 1950's on a 1980's. (I made this mistake on a few in the beginning:eek: .)

That's what I thought. I just wanted to double check in case it was a radius issue. I bought five Proto 2000 covered hopper kits today. All 60's build. I plan on 1982 to present. Eventually I'd like to model the Farmrail GP9/10's.
 

macjet

Member
Phase II of my benchwork is done. I made a design adjustment and made it a hinged table. I will go back and refit the first benchwork with hinges. There will be a total of 6 hinges six inches from the wall that will need to be hidden by scenery. The track will be cut in four places over the hinged area. I'm not really looking forward to that.

I assembled two Proto 2000 PS Covered Hoppers. The first one was a bear but I'm getting the hang of it. To change this up I bought an ACF Covered Hopper from Accurail. I added metal wheel/axles and Kadee #5's. I was really impressed with this kit for $5. It didn't have the underbody detail of the Proto but for $5 a pop and I can live with that. Too bad they only had one. I'm on a hunt for covered hoppers as the layout is leaning towards western Oklahoma in the later Rock Island years. Eventually I'll model a few Farmrail GP-20's that now operate over the old RI line.

More photos later.
 

macjet

Member
Well, trains are rolling! I've got the outside loop done and will start work soon on the yard.

I've got one new Proto GP-60 in Sante Fe war bonnet paint. Dragging behind it are four Proto PS covered hoppers and four Accurail ACF covered hoppers. I replaced the Accurail wheels with Iron Mountain metal wheels.

I am growing tired of assembling the Proto kits. Way too many small parts.

Already I've learned that if it ain't Kadee it's going in the trash!
 




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