Greets! HO Newbie looking for more advice

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Rednarb

I love trains!
Hello!

I've actually been playing with HO trains off and on since I was young. However, I've never had a place to set up a permanent track with landscaping and the like. All previous HO experience has been with temporary track and relatively inexpensive (read: cheap) train sets from Tyco and LifeLike.

Well I finally have some space, albeit small, to set up something in the nature of 4x8 or maybe a little larger. Also, I may be able to run a long and skinny section to another part of the room. So, I'm looking for a good resource for beginner planning/designing and building of my first real model railroad. I'll be using DCC, very likely an NCE PowerCab.

However I'll not be near as serious in to realism as many of you are. I love both steam and diesel, and I plan on running both. I'll not be faithful to a specific line (though I may set up one train to be specific) nor to a specific time period. I currently own an E7 A/B pair, an EMD switcher, and even a Consolidation. All with sound and DCC.

I like to kitbash but I don't have the time or patience for anything but the simplest scratch-built.

From reading here and a few other places, looks like 3/4" OSB or plywood would be good for a structure top. But some of you use foam on top of that. I'm guessing that makes modeling easier and cuts down on noise and such. Where can I get details on what type of foam, where to get it, and how thick?

Though I don't have a lot of space, I really want to maximize my track length with multiple levels and such. Can you recommend any plans that focus on a small area yet really provide more track than scenery? Again, I'm not looking for proto realism, but just some fun train-watching and modeling.

And for help on this project I'll have my 9-year old son and 7-year old daughter.

Thanks for reading. I'll see you around!
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
Start by reading my Beginner's guide

I caution you to avoid being too free with your desires to run all sorts of different railroads and engines, etc., because that path can lead to a lack of interest that will kill your drive. You have specific desires and vision in what you think a model railroad should be and you should work toward developing that vision. A model railroader will spend anywhere from $50-100 sq/ft and invest 50 hr time per square foot. It only makes sense to explore your wants and desires and plan to spend your time and money toward developing your vision.

It may be intimidating to think of a "serious" layout, but in truth if you take one step at a time, there's nothing really hard about it and you have a million online coaches to help you.

Start by reading the guide. Takes all of 5 minutes.
 

Steve B

Firefighter
Hello and welcome,,,
Foam, i use "Blueboard" made by Dow chemicals i think it is, i have used 2" thick for a base (i only glued it to a 2" x 2" frame as it's very stable) and 1" thick for building up terrain height, I use cork floor tiles to lay the track on which is cut to just over the width of the flex track, glued down with PVA glue (a gallon can from the builders store), the flex track is also glued onto the cork with PVA, a thin smear is enough, pin the track in position and weight it down for 24hrs then remove the pin's.

cutting is easy with a saw or a big sharp kitchen knife, a serrated knife works well for cutting contours etc.
 

OldGettysk

Running the MC & Buffalo
Hi RedNarb and welcome . I use homasite board on my layout . It is old but very forgiving . However it is sometimes very hard to find it certain areas!
 

Rednarb

I love trains!
Thanks for the additional info!

One more question - What is the preferred brand/type of track for a fixed layout? I see different types but I can't seem to find a guide that explains what the types mean. Can you recommend any on-line resources describing the different track types and/or give some pros and cons?
 

Steve B

Firefighter
Being in the UK i use Peco, flex and turnouts, it's sold in the USA branded as "Peco 85 line" and is built to USA spec.
 

Rednarb

I love trains!
What do the numbers mean on the tracks? I've seen 85, 100, and I think one other maybe inbetween...
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
What do the numbers mean on the tracks? I've seen 85, 100, and I think one other maybe inbetween...
Hi Red and welcome to the Forum!

You're referring to HO track, am I right? Those numbers you listed are the 'code' values, directly proportional to rail size. Some examples:

Code 100 is the largest (thickest) rail available; many beginners like it becuase it is more forgiving of rolling stock with oversized flanges.

Code 83 is the closest to typical prototype rail used on mainlines throughout North America and has the greatest variety of specialty trackwork [such as curved turnouts] available. It's the size preferred by most so-called 'serious' modelers.

Code 70 simulates 'light' rail that is often used on industrial spurs. I only know a small handful of modelers who have it on their layouts.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

stokesda

My other car is a 4-8-4
Hi Red and welcome to the Forum!

You're referring to HO track, am I right? Those numbers you listed are the 'code' values, directly proportional to rail size. Some examples:

Code 100 is the largest (thickest) rail available; many beginners like it becuase it is more forgiving of rolling stock with oversized flanges.

Code 83 is the closest to typical prototype rail used on mainlines throughout North America and has the greatest variety of specialty trackwork [such as curved turnouts] available. It's the size preferred by most so-called 'serious' modelers.

Code 70 simulates 'light' rail that is often used on industrial spurs. I only know a small handful of modelers who have it on their layouts.
Red,

Just wanted to add to what CSX RS stated...

The different numbers for the track sizes refer to the track's CODE. The Code is a measurement of the height of the rail, expressed in thousandths of an inch. So Code 100 rail is 100/1000 inches high, Code 83 is 83/1000 inches high, and so on. Back in the day, Code 100 was predominant in the hobby. It is still common, but many modelers don't like to use it because it looks too big and unrealistic with scale train models. Many people nowadays use Code 83, which is a little shorter, and a little more realistic. There's also Code 70 and smaller, which some people use for modeling smaller railroad lines, yards, light duty spurs, etc. For the most part as a beginner, you will probably be dealing with Code 100 or Code 83. Best advice is to pick one and stick with it for all your track for your first layout. Either one will work fine with just about any locomotive or rail car out there today.

Here's a web link that explains pretty much the same thing, but also includes a picture:
http://www.trains.com/mrr/default.aspx?c=a&id=257
 

Smoke

Southern Railway lives on
I would stick with the code 83 or 100. Our club had code 55 all laid down and operational but the wheel flanges kept hitting the spikes(the track was handlayed). We ended up replacing it ALL with code 70. We just got finished witht his year long project. Just a little heads up, when you use the smaller code the wheel flanges might hit depending on the manufacturer of the track and the wheels.

-smoke
 

NickB

Wannabe Engineer
My opinion though I'm still new you can't go wrong with atlas, and the code 100 is still widely used though previously state that it was dwindling off. I've been installing atlas code 100 flex track on my new layout and it looks great although I don't have any pictures on my work computer. You can find good deals on it too.
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
If you haven't already bought any track yet, I'd go with Atlas Code 83 - it looks better, the ties are brown instead of black, and the flex track is easier to work with. Also, if you reach a point in your planning or tracklaying where you need a curved turnout, you can find plenty of those in code 83 from various mfgr's.

Just my .02
 

Rednarb

I love trains!
I have Backman EZ-Track right now just for my temporary set-ups with the kids. I like the look of the Atlas code 83 so I think I'll go that route for the fixed layout.

Thanks again, gents!
 




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