Starting in N is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.


New Member
Are the tracks assembled the same way with joiners as HO? Is the operation the same as HO only on a smaller scale as far as setup and track layout? Are there any recommended starter companies to get rolling stock and engines from as well as track and accessories that won't break the bank.
Steve B had a great idea about using a HC door.


Diesel Detail Freak
Mostly all scales operated & assemble the same. N, you'll want to check Atlas & Microtrains (in my HO mine)...


Tracks for N scale are similar to what they have for HO, except for the guage size. There are set tracks with and without roadbeds and flexis which the majority of modellers use.
Start sets are usually slightly more expensive and you do not have much choice on what comes in the box. The advantage is that they do come with an engine, a few rolling stock and some trackage. There are not many good makers of start sets that I can think of, except for Kato or MicroTrains.
I model in N too and stick to Kato, Atlas and InterMountain for my engines and MicroTrain, Atlas, InterMountain, Red Caboose & deluxe Innovations for rolling stock.
Post your questions, there are lots of helpful people willing to share tips and ideas.


I know nothing
I'll second the recommendations ATSFCliff made. Those certainly are not the lower end of the price scale, but the reliability makes up for it.

I would recommend the Atlas Code 55 Track. It performs much better than the Atlas code 80 and the Peco.

I would add the Bachman Spectrum series engines to the list. I have a couple of the 2-8-0's and they perform as well or better than my Kato Mike's.:)

By the way, Dave, where do you live?


J Long

New Member
Life Like starter sets can be had for $75 or less. Many are headed by their GP-20s, GP-18's, or SW switchers. These are good engines as they are detailed and run nearly as well as Atlas but aren't easy to upgrade to DCC. The rolling stock is so so and so is the power pack. The sets come with Powelock roadbed track which is good for circle running but should you expand it is not real good stuff because the switches are sucky and you are limited to 9 3/4" radius.

Most Bachman sets suck. Their 0-6-0 pennsy style switchers with tender are decent sets. Their sets with 4-8-4 Northerns are iffy. They come with EZ track which is like Power Lock track. They also make Spectrum steam sets which are good but overpriced.

Kato starter sets are an excellent choice and will set you back around $100. They don't come with a power pack so add another $30 or $50 for a power pack. Kato power packs are good packs.

Atlas code 55 track is excellent track. Micro Trains and older Atlas with large wheel flanges wont work with it. You will need to change out the wheelsets. Most Micro Trains cars include the proper wheelsets as extras with their cars. Most recent cars come with the proper wheelsets installed.

Peco code 55 works with everything as the inner ties are set lower to accomodate larger wheel flanges. It does not look as good as Atlas code 55 and is more expensive. Especially switches.

There is great selection of quality engines by Atlas, Kato, Intermountain, Microtrains, Con Cor, and Life Like. Bachman Spectrum steam and Life Like Heritage steam is good stuff too. Bachman deisels suck. Model Power steam is OK.

Hobby Lobby carries some of the better Life Like and Bachman 0-6-0 sets I mention
This link is to a 40% off cupon and you can get a Bman 0-6-0 set for around $35 which is a good deal.
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