Really Novice Question--My apologies in Advance!

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pacificjake

New Member
Hi. I'm a dad that has absolutely NO model railroad experience. Last year, I bought my son a Marklin HO starter set for the holidays and he LOVED it. I'd like to take the next step of starting a bit of a collection with him as I think the hobby is great both for creativity and fun as well as for learning how to build and wire stuff. Unfortunately, with the demise of the corner hobby store, there really is no place I can go for help on how to really get started. The place I bought the starter set literally closed a few weeks later. Is there a guide/book that anybody would recommend that would explain what I'd need to get for the "next step" in our adventure? I'd prefer to invest in hardware that can grow with my son while realizing that a 6 year old won't have the patience for tons of bells and whistles.
 

KB02

Well-Known Member
A book? Not sure... But I CAN recommend a good Forum to look at and ask questions on!! ;)

Welcome to the forum, Jake! I'm kind of in the same boat as you. My son is 4 and is still in the "Hands-On... EVEREYTHING" stage. I'm still doing my best to keep him involved in my layout build as it was his love of trains that got me back into the hobby.

To help answer your question, it would be good to know what you already have in this Starter-Kit you got him. Is it a DC set, or is it already running DCC? (Do you know what the difference is? - I didn't either until a couple of years ago as I was getting back into model RR'ing.) Do you have a small layout created in your home or do you just pull the train out every now-and-then to play with it?

And lastly there is the question of prototypical similarity vs. a fun train set to play with. Some of the people here create masterful works of art that I have been temped to call them liars on and swear there "model trains" were REAL! Others (like me) truly enjoy "playing" with there trains and really enjoy building and looking at the layouts.

So, Welcome to the forum! Hopefully I have (not) confused you even more. I have loved model trains since I was your son's age. It's a great hobby and an AWESOME Father/Son project to work on.
 

wombat457

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Welcome to the forums and to this great hobby. Your impressions of this hobby are spot on as well.

There are a number of books out there that can be a guide to getting a model railway layout going; however, THIS is the best place for first hand experienced advice and direction.

As for being able to purchase things, I (along with a lot of people) use M. B. Klein (www.modeltrainstuff.com) for our purchases. They are very very good, have a large inventory and the lowest prices around.

There are a number of things that you need to consider though, before jumping in, especially as you would like to be able expand your proposed layout as your son grows. The first thing you need to consider is where the layout will be and how much space you have available for it.

The next thing would be designing the layout you want to have, allowing for future expansion (hence the need to know the amount of room you have available). Then you would need to build your bench work, what they layout will sit on. Alternatively, you could build your bench work and then design a layout (track plan) to fit that bench work.

There is a fair amount to getting a layout of the ground, but you have a good start with the Marklin starter set. The MOST IMPORTANT thing you need to do is to ASK QUESTIONS, lots of them no matter how silly they may sound to you. Generally, the silliest sounding question/s are the most important :)
 

pacificjake

New Member
Thanks guys!

To answer KB02, I bought my son a battery operated Marklin My World TGV starter set. It was pretty simple (definitely a step up from Thomas the Tank plastic stuff grandparents were buying) but not fancy at all. The literature in the box says that "This set can be expanded with the C Track extension sets and the entire C Track program" so maybe I can just by more Macklin C tracks for the little guy? Any idea on wiring and electrical? I'm assuming interest in a simple single battery operated train is going to wain awfully quick!

With respect to Tony's point, we have a decent sized finished basement where a decent size bench (for San Francisco housing standards) could grow over time if the passion takes hold. I think HO is the place to be for us.

What I'd really love to buy is some track, another train of some kind, and the necessary electrical components as a holiday present this year. Candidly, the first project may be just doing a fun winter holiday scene around/near the Christmas tree.

Thanks for the help!!!

Jake
 

Bruette

Well-Known Member
Welcome to the forums, glad to have you onboard!

No need to apologize, in fact let me thank you for your post! I am so happy to read you bought your boy a train set, well done Dad!!!

This hobby can teach so much and you did find the best place to get started! You could have started a life long passion in your son for this hobby and that is a great thing. He will always remember Dad got him started.

I don't know much about Marklin. First thing I would want to know is if it is compatible with other HO manufactures.

You may want to switch to a more readily available and compatible brand. Here is the set I recommend for starting out with young people http://www.amazon.com/Bachmann-Trains-Digital-Commander-Ready/dp/B000BPPNWE You could also add this track pack to expand your empire http://www.amazon.com/Bachmann-Trai...1&keywords=ho+eztrack+pack&pebp=1418152380233 It even comes with a DVD to help you build the 4X8 layout step by step. You don't have to stick with anyone brand because most brands sold in the US are compatible with each other in the same scale that is.

I am not saying you can't build on your set rather I just don't know if you can. I do know Marklin is owned by Hornsby based in the UK and that is what concerns me about compatibility. Again I could be completely off base here.

If you would could you tell us what set you have and model number if possible. Or a picture to give us an idea of what you have.

I can almost guarantee you there will be an expert on here who can help us.

If you do decide to change brands you could always use your Marklin set for under the Christmas tree

You are on the right track ;) Reading is a great way to start. The more you learn before you start the better. I would take your boy to your local library. First find him some books about anything that will keep him busy while you search for model railroading books. Reading can help you narrow your focus on what you want to accomplish with your railroad.

YouTube is another great resource. This one should help you https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoocLzdUAec&list=PL3B3882F24B21E496 Here is another channel https://www.youtube.com/user/bachmanntrains they have dozen of commercial videos to search through, but they also have instructional videos too. There are many others as well.

Also look through this http://www.lionel.com/GettingStarted/ it's about O gauge trains but most of the things apply to all scales. Here is another link from Lionel http://www.lionel.com/ForTheHobbyist/

As one of the great model railroaders on here told me and he would tell you the same; "there are no dumb questions, the only dumb question is the one you don't ask"

Thanks for sharing your hobby with us!
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
Hi. I'm a dad that has absolutely NO model railroad experience. Last year, I bought my son a Marklin HO starter set for the holidays and he LOVED it. I'd like to take the next step of starting a bit of a collection with him as I think the hobby is great both for creativity and fun as well as for learning how to build and wire stuff. Unfortunately, with the demise of the corner hobby store, there really is no place I can go for help on how to really get started. The place I bought the starter set literally closed a few weeks later. Is there a guide/book that anybody would recommend that would explain what I'd need to get for the "next step" in our adventure? I'd prefer to invest in hardware that can grow with my son while realizing that a 6 year old won't have the patience for tons of bells and whistles.
Were you thinking of building on the Marklin battery powered equipment? I ask because Marklin is unique. Their battery equipment is not interoperable with equipment used in the USA. Even Marklin's normal HO equipment is unique in that it uses a powered center rail with AC power or their own digital control system (not DCC). I'm not saying Markin is bad, in fact, it is wonderful equipment better than most. It is just in a completely different ball park than conventional HO equipment in the USA.

If you are wanting to start him with some USA stuff, I can definitely try to help. On the other hand, the above paragraph is about the extent of my knowledge of Marklin equipment.
 

wombat457

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Jake,

As Louis said - never apologise for asking questions - NEVER! So you have a huge area to work with, if you choose too. My advise, especially working in HO Scale, is to do an 8' X 4' layout to start with, keeping in mind the possibility of it growing if the interest takes hold.

I don't know how much track you get with the Starter Set you already have; however, buying extra track wont be hard or all that costly.

As for buying engines, that has many options all of which tend to depend on other things. I don't want to confuse you or make it sound HARD, but in simple terms here goes. Curves on a layout are determined by what is called the Radius of the curve. They vary from 15" up to 36" and larger in some cases. In simple terms, if you use 22" Radius curves, you will need a bench top 48" wide, which is the widest recommended.

Why that is important is because some engines need a specific minimum radius curve to run on. The "general minimum" radius curve for most engines is a suggested 18"; however, the recommended is at least 22". Hope that makes sense.

The next thing to think about when buying an engine is whether your layout will be DCC (the norm for layouts now a days) or DC. Not wanting to go into too much depth here but DCC allows you to run more than 1 engine at a time, completely independent of any other engines on the layout; where as DC only permits you to control one train at a time OR two trains that will do exactly the same thing together.

The biggest consideration when choosing between DCC and DC is the cost for both. I imagine your Marklin Starter Set is DC, and that is what I would stick with for your first layout. DCC engines are MUCH more expensive than DC engines, and DC engines can be converted to DCC at a later time if the interest remains. Just to press home a point here, you can buy new DC engines for around $80 or less, where as a DCC engine is going to set you back closer to $200 at least.

So, I hope I haven't confused you OR turned you off. It isn't that hard to do any of this and we are here to help. So in short, I'd suggest you start with an 8' X 4' layout, keep it as DC and buy some extra Marklin Track, straights, curves and turnouts/points.
 

pacificjake

New Member
Thanks guys. I guess my general answers are:

1. The Marklin product can be viewed here: http://www.amazon.com/Marklin-My-World-Battery-Starter/dp/B0073L6EZ4 I think the model is 29201. If I can use some, if not all, of the Marklin stuff (e.g., at least the track pieces) that would be great but no essential. I'm fine making a switch or "upgrading" a bit on this system knowing that if this hobby grows, we may need to transition over to a different brand in the future.
2. I assumed I'd be buying new trains and an electric controller of some sort.
3. Starting off with DC probably makes sense. My son is 6 and not only do I not know how passionate he'll be about this hobby, I'd much prefer him to have accidents with a $80 train than with a $200 train :)

Jake
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Ohhhhh!! Now you've gone and done it :eek::p. Just had a look at these on youtube. Sounds with remote control, Ahhhh!!!

For those not familiar
[YOUTUBE]Nq503XjFTFg[/YOUTUBE]

[YOUTUBE]LE4Zg7hkHDA[/YOUTUBE]

Looks like fantastic stuff stuff to get a young fellow hooked on model trains and all the fun.

As they have the batteries in the locos themselves and insulated plastic wheels and run on HO scale track, independently of that, this means that should the "BUG" bite you as well, and you want to delve into the adult side of the hobby yourself, there will be no problem running these on a powered track layout (DC or DCC).

BUT, if you're thinking that you'll get away without all the Bells and Whistles (literally), I think you'll have a fight on your hands. :rolleyes:
 

pacificjake

New Member
Serial Kidder,

Do you think the HO track that came with my son's set would be compatible down the road if and when we switch over to a powered track layout? If they will, I'm leaning toward just buying more track this go round with some scenery components and allowing my son to build to his heart's content. May be the most sensible next step since he already loves his TGV and remote control.

Jake
 

wombat457

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Thanks guys. I guess my general answers are:

1. The Marklin product can be viewed here: http://www.amazon.com/Marklin-My-World-Battery-Starter/dp/B0073L6EZ4 I think the model is 29201. If I can use some, if not all, of the Marklin stuff (e.g., at least the track pieces) that would be great but no essential. I'm fine making a switch or "upgrading" a bit on this system knowing that if this hobby grows, we may need to transition over to a different brand in the future.
2. I assumed I'd be buying new trains and an electric controller of some sort.
3. Starting off with DC probably makes sense. My son is 6 and not only do I not know how passionate he'll be about this hobby, I'd much prefer him to have accidents with a $80 train than with a $200 train :)

Jake

Jake,

First and fore most, yes you can use all Marklin Track. Marklin C track is probably its most popular in HO Scale and is available at most places. If you are thinking about 'transitioning over' to a different type of track at a later date, I would definitely decide on what track you want now and save yourself huge headaches trying to take up and replace track. Marklin is a decent track though and, as said, is readily available at most places. If you did want to change your track though, then I would strongly recommend Peco Code 83 track as your replacement.

Even though you have a battery powered set, that change the type of track and you do not need to buy any other. In order to get power to your engines all you need to do is run two wires from the power supply to the track you have. One wire will go to one rail and the other wire to the other rail. This, of course, will mean that you will have to solder the wires to the 'underside' of the rails unless you were to buy 'Terminal Rail Joiners" that have wires already attached to them and make things a lot easier. The engines pick up the power from the rails through their wheels, generally speaking.

You will need a decent power supply. Any 12 Volt DC power supply will do you well, just buy a 'brand' one such as NCE or Digitrax or one of the better known brands. DC Power Supplies are relatively cheap, in the $50 plus or minus range.

Take a look at the link I gave you for an indication of prices and availability though. You don't have to buy anything through M. B. Klein, but I think anyone will tell you they are the best online dealer to work with.
 
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pacificjake

New Member
Tony,

This is great! Thanks a lot for all the information. And, yes, the radius curve information made sense to me! I will check out the website you sent over. Seems like a good starting off point for everything.

Cheers,

Jake
 

wombat457

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Glad to be of help. After reading Tootn's post (Serial Kidder) you really have everything you need now other than a power pack and DC controller, which I forgot to mention sorry. Everything else seems to be compatible. All you (and your son) need to do now is have fun, oh and post pictures - we LOVE pictures :)
 

wombat457

Well-Known Member
Staff member
To be honest with you, I think you would be better off with one of the MRC units, for not much more. I think one of the following would suit you better, especially if you have expansion in mind:

http://www.modeltrainstuff.com/MRC-Tech-7-AMPAC-760-Train-Control-p/mrc-1276.htm

http://www.modeltrainstuff.com/MRC-Tech-7-AMPAC-700-Train-Control-p/mrc-1270.htm

http://www.modeltrainstuff.com/MRC-Railpower-Model-Train-Powerpack-p/mrc-aa370.htm

Bachmann is, for all intent and purposes, a lower end unit that is pretty much set up for Bachmann's EZ Track. I'm not saying there is anything particularly wrong with the Bachmann, I just believe that the MRC is a much better unit for the price and quality.
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
Do you think the HO track that came with my son's set would be compatible down the road if and when we switch over to a powered track layout?
As I tired to say before, "Yes, but only if you go with Marklin powered trains" (well Hornby makes Marklin compatible trains).

If you mean compatible with American style powered model trains then the answer is absolutely not. Marklin's "C" track is three rail. See those little nubs in the center of each tie. That is the power rail. The two outside rails are electrically connected together. There will be an immediate short circuit if you try to connect power to the two outside rails. Every standard USA type locomotive would have to be seriously re-engineered to operate on it.
See: http://www.ebay.com/gds/Marklin-HO-Trains-3-Rail-Track-Marklin-HO-Trains-/10000000006747957/g.html
http://www.marklin-users.net/html/operation/OP3raildc.html
http://www.euromodeltrains.com/cgi-bin/search_gen.pl
http://www.railtalesva.com/octoberfest/

If you want to eventually switch to American style trains I would start switching track now to match the power later. I would go with code 100 where all the brands are intercompatible Peco, Atlas, Micro Engineering, Walthers, etc.
 
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wombat457

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Jake,

Seems I owe you an apology on the track side of things. From what Iron Horseman has said, I would not use Marklin Track but go with Peco Track instead. Peco is very available and of high quality. Whether you go with Code 83 or Code 100 is up to you. What the Code number refers to is the height of the rails, Code 83 is more realistic for US railways. Just be aware though, if you do choose Code 83 track, virtually all makers of the track are compatible EXCEPT with Atlas track.

Sorry misinforming you Jake, my oversight.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
As the "My World" trains carry their own power source (batteries) within the loco, the track may not have electrical contacts or track joiners at the ends where they meet, if so, they won't be able to easily be powered, and the rails themselves may not be of a very good electrical conductivity either, so as you're being advised, if you're considering expansion and upgrading your trains, the use of DC/DCC compatible track should be seriously considered.

If on the other hand this initial layout is more about having fun with your boy, and you are happy to "develop" along with him, on a wait and see basis, then C track may be a good, cheaper option. If and when the time comes that you are satisfied, he (and you) have more of an interest and commitment, then, a change to more professional track and equipment would be justified.

You should be able to run more than 1 train on C track with a remote control for each loco. I'm sure Marklin hasn't missed this possibility. What you've actually got here is the hobby manufacturers attempt to lure more youngsters into the new world of remote independently controlled trains, sound and lights and smoke and cab chatter, etc, etc., so that the hobby will continue to grow.
 




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