questions from a new guy..

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zeis96

New Guy
Hello everyone! I've been trying to get into model trains for a while now. Only now do I think I can actually start moving forward. For the past 4 days I've been online trying to do as much research as possible (the human body does need sleep afterall):confused: I'm not 100% sure as to what direction I am going in other than HO scale. Right now I'm looking to build a simple track layout (more than just an oval) I'd like to start off with a steam engine first. The idea of DCC sounds interesting but I know I have a lot more to learn about that. Hopefully within the next week or so I can have a list put together of something to start off with and go from there.

I have a few quick questions:

1. Are the diesels cheaper than steam or does it vary too much to say? If I get a steamer I'd really like it to actually steam and bells and whistles and all that good stuff:D

2. Is there anyone from Illinois that would let me visit there setup at their house or know of any clubs nearby? I live in Rushville and some of the bigger cities I am close to are Macomb, Jacksonville, Springfield, and Quincy. The nearest railroad is the BNSF in Beardstown. I also am hoping to go to this:
Model Railroad Open House & Swap Meet
Sangamon Central RR Club & Sangamon County Fair Assn.
Sunday December 11, 2005 10 am - 4 pm
Admission $2, Children under 12 free
Sangamon County Fairgrounds New Berlin, Illinois

3. If anyone has any suggestions as to starting off I'd love to hear them!

Thanks in advance!
 

CBCNSfan

Registered Member
Staff member
1. Are the diesels cheaper than steam or does it vary too much to say? If I get a steamer I'd really like it to actually steam and bells and whistles and all that good stuff
Hi zeis96 and welcome to the ModelRailroadForums.
Wow! tough one to answer, because of variations and quality. There are cheap Diesels and cheap steam locos. Out of the cheepies on a quality basis the steam will most likely be more expensive, but in fact will most likely be a better constructed model So I guess as rule of thumb You Get What You Pay For.
If you want bells and whistles onboard the loco then you are most likely into DCC and onboard sound and will have to pay the price to get what you want.
Another option is a sound unit with speakers located around the layout, this is usually the way for non DCC equipped layouts, not as elaborate but then again not as pricey.
If I might suggest, think of a track plan that will fit into the space you have available for a layout, then decide what you want to run on it " Diesel, Steam or both as in a transition period. Help with your layout plan can be had on the forum just for the asking.
Enjoy the forums
Willis
 

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
zeis96 said:
3. If anyone has any suggestions as to starting off I'd love to hear them!
First of all, welcome to the hobby and forum!


You might try some of the track plans here (click the layouts tab), http://www.atlasrr.com/. Keep in mind, anything under about 22" radius curves can spell problems for bigger steamers and 6 axle diesels. The layouts are easily modified to suit your needs.

Go for a theme from the start. We started out buying any loco that suited our fancy and soon had a mismatch of equipment running around. I'd suggest you find a prototype you like and model part (real or fictional) of it. I've found a themed RR to be much more satisfying.

If you budget allows, go for DCC right out of the gate. I'd suggest the Digitrax Zephyr system. They can be had for around $150, are full featured, and upgradeable. DCC will allow realistic train control, lighting and sound in addition to simplified layout wiring.

Best wishes on your layout construction!
 

zeis96

New Guy
Grande Man - Thanks for that link it will be really helpful to me

I've attached a makeshift drawing for my potential layout in our basement.

A is the initial place where I plan on beginning my RR
B is another small room where I could expand to. I can either go through the brick wall in the middle (can't tear it down, only make a small hole big enough for trains) or come along the outside of the two rooms.
C is the max length along that wall before I get to the washer and dryer. So technically I might be able to expand out that far on A.
 

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
Is the partial wall between A and B (parallel to the back wall) sheet rock? If it weren't there, you have the potential for an around-the-walls shelf type layout. This would be a HUGE improvement on anything 4X8...
 

dgwinup

Member
As an 'old-timer' in the hobby, I recommend that you go with the DCC from the start. There is no advantage in learning how to wire your layout for DC operation if you are ultimately going to use DCC. It may cost more to get started, but will simplify things for you in the end.

DCC is the way to go for sounds. DCC has more up-front costs. The power systems costs more than a powerpack, the engines with decoders cost more than non-decoder engines, and the engines with sound cost more that those with only the decoder. Bite the bullet. When you convert to DCC from DC, you will have to install decoders in your locos, so why not just start out that way?

With DCC decoders, steam engines generallycost more than diesels. If you shop carefully, you can probably find a DCC stemer for the same or less money than a DCC diesel, but the quality of the steamer may not be a good as the diesel.

Hope this helps. It's a great hobby that lasts a lifetime.

Darrell, quiet...for now
 

CBCNSfan

Registered Member
Staff member
I can either go through the brick wall in the middle (can't tear it down, only make a small hole big enough for trains) or come along the outside of the two rooms
There's no problem with going through the wall as it could be disgiuised as a tunnel. However keep in mind if you are operating alone, consider when the loco leaves one room and enters the other you will not be observing the action of the train be it good or bad, you will have to plan your operation around that. In the case of going outside the rooms you would be able to follow your train as it travels along, and IMHO DCC would be the best option of powering the trains to do this. As a bonus you would have a longer mainline run with more scenic possibilities.

Willis
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
A big Welcome Zeis96!

First, don't stop your research. AS you get closer to buying the things you need you can get more specific with 'what kind of track, what kind of DCC, what kind of turnouts,' and how this and how that.

I also recommend that you start out with DCC. This will give you the bells and whistles that you want, ease of operation, and easy wiring. The realistic operation of DCC is unbelievably great compared to my old days of DC.

Also, look at many track plans. Don't worry about choosing one for your size, but see if there is a part of it you like. Make note of it and look at more and do the same thing. Your next step would be to adapt these parts into your own plan drawn into the space you have. I worked on my plan everyday for 3 months before I started my benchwork. Since then I have 'added to and subtracted from' dozens of times. Zeis96, don't be afraid to take the first step. If it is wrong, it is easy to go back and change it.

One other thing. When you are planning your layout, always consider adding to your layout later so that you will be able to have a logical way to extend without changing the work you have already done.

Just off the cuff, here are a few questions I thought of that may steer you into the direction you want to go. I invite others to add to this.

Ask yourself:
How large of a space do I have available now and later?

What time period do I want to model? (Steam,Transition, Diesel)

What geographical location do I want? (NE,South, MidWest, SWest, West, NWest)

What kind of scenery is in this area? (Rolling hills, Mountains, Desert, Flat, combo)

Do I want heavy Industry, scattered light industry, agriculture, and/or and what kind?

Do I want towns and what size large or small?

Do I want a train yard and what size will I need?

Do I want a way to turn my trains around? (turntable, track Wye, Reversing loop)
 
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zeis96

New Guy
grande man - I was wrong about that wall. I thought it was brick for some odd reason but it's not it's just a regular wall if I'm not mistaken again. I'm just not certain how much of it helps hold up the ceiling. I'll take a closer look at it sometime. The around-the-walls layout would be great! We just bought this house a couple months ago :D I also found some layouts at atlasrr that I'd like to start off with.

CBCNSfan - A tunnel was exactly what I was thinking about too. I also thought about not being able to see them on the other side. I'm pretty sure I'm going to with DCC, in fact I am!

RexHea - Thanks for that post. I've seen a lot of people say stuff like 'know what you want to model etc..' your questions will stear me in the right direction.

NZRMac - I'm going to dl that tool and play around with it, looks interesting.

Well folks, my first big decision has been made, I'm going with DCC. From what I've been reading and what I've been told the whole wiring part seems easier The easier the wiring for me the better! I've just got to figure out what exaclty I'm going to get now. Well it's late, I got off work at 3am and have to be back in at 2pm so I'm off to bed!!

Thanks again everyone!
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
zeiis96, that's away to go. Now you are on a roll.
Also, I would like to invite you over to our Coffee Shop thread. Just a friendly place to get together with on/off-topic gossip about the day's work/play happenings.

About your research: When I was at the same starting point as you are, I became confused and overwhelmed by so many varying ways people do the same thing. Most are good and will work. My advice is to study everyone's methods and suggestions and just choose the one that you like best and try it. If you like it, great. If not, then try something different and don't be afraid to try your own ideas. In time, you will develop methods and plans that you are comfortable with. It's your layout...do it your way.

By the way.

I have 6 "holes" in the wall to an adjoining shop off my garage. This area is where I get most of the incline to my different levels and where my staging yard is.

After my Challenger took a nose dive over there, I knew it was time to place a guard strip around the edge to keep my trains from free-falling to the low low level:eek: Now I don't worry about them. If they go in and don't come out...I know there is a problem. If I want to do switching in the staging area, it's not a problem to walk around the corner.

When you do your planning, just draw it to be able and go between the wall studs. The hole doesn't have to be all that big, but if you have any part of your track in a curve, then you will need to offset the holes from one side to the other.
 

zeis96

New Guy
Next question.. track???
I was looking at some track and have been leaning towards Atlas code 83. In fact I really like the layouts #10004-10007 on www.atlasrr.com. I was then reading about the Atlas True-Track and like the idea that it comes with the roadbed already. Then of course I found that there are indeed other tracks that come with roadbed (like EZ track). So if I could get some opinions on this subject I would appreciate it!

Thanks,
Aaron
 

zeis96

New Guy
Also on DCC...
Tony's trains has the Zephyr for $160 as does www.sodigi.com. sodigi.com offers a 3 amp version. Is Tony's only 2.5 amps and how big of a deal will this be? Now I've found it for $150 and 3.5 amps at www.fshobby.com
 
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HaggisKennedy

Coal Shoveler
I'd stick with Code 83 without the roadbed. You can reuse the track later on, if/when you build a new layout. I think the Atlas track is a better value than the EZ-track.

Regarding DCC, go with the largest output you can. Each loco will draw power, and WHEN you go to sound, the draw will be larger. That translates to more amps needed to have more locos out there. Especially if you expand into "A".

Kennedy
 

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
Just as a side note, we run our Super Chief on a 3.5 Amp MRC power supply with no problems. We don't have any sound equipped units yet, but have run 6-8 locos at once without problems.
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
I agree with Kennedy to use Atlas code 83, but use the flex track. I have used it throughout my layout of almost 700feet and I have been very satisfied with its performance. Once you get the hang of how to work with it, you can get it down almost effortlessly. Just cut to length and bend it around like you want. This track, when weathered and ballasted, will give you much more realism than the factory made roadbed.
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
DITTO on the code 83 flex. Since I started using it I'll never go back to the old stuff (code 100), looks better and is MUCH EASIER to work with for sliding the ties off and on, etc.
 

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
Another resounding "Ditto" for Code 83 flex. Our RR has both Code 83 and 100. I much prefer the 83. It looks waaaay better, IMHO (so do the turnouts!).
 

zeis96

New Guy
I have my first item for my layout... plywood!!!
I got it for free from my other job so I couldn't pass it up. Three sheets of 4' X 8' and 1/4" thick and half of a fourth one. It's not much but it's a start!
 




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