Uh Oh, another Newbie!

ModelRailroadForums.com 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.


DjShaggy

New Member
Hi. I'm a newb and I will have many questions to ask over the next little while.

A bit about why I'm here: Since I was young, I always enjoyed model railroading, but it was only recently that I have found the time and cash flow to begin working on my first serious, 'permanent' layout. I have a few good ideas and some older HO stuff, but I think I might be thinking beyond my ability and experience.

Hopefully, through the wonder of the intertron, I can find some answers and make some new friends too!


Alrighty, on with the first question: Metal vs. Plastic wheels. which is your choice?
 

Secondhandmodeler

All new now!
Welcome, I'm new here as well. All of my wheels are plastic, though not by choice. Most people prefer metal wheels for many reasons. One is that they seem to keep the track cleaner. Don't ask me how this is possible. They also typically roll better. I'm sure that more experienced modelers will chime in. Enjoy your modeling.
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
Wahhzzzup! (Welcome) Metal.

I'm going to let the explanation go for others while I tackle another issue you might not know you have. Running old stuff from your past is like taking your grandfather's B&W console TV and working your tail off to make it connect with your 5.1 surround system. It sounds like you can save some money, but you waste a lot of effort trying to make it go and end up with the plasma anyway.

The stuff today is just that much better. Forget the idea and put that sentimental stuff on the shelf where you can enjoy it. If you try to make it work,you will end up making choices that may compromise the enjoyment your layout. Put simply, you go down a path that you would not have taken had you not tried to make the old stuff work. I'm not talking about parts, but you may try make use of a modern UP diesel when in reality you would much rather model old steam in New England.

Now that you have a clean slate, start by reading my beginner's guide click-able from my signature. It takes about 5 minutes to read and it might just put you on track of the dream layout you really want.
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
Happy you could join us! Welcome, DjShaggy.

As our friend above has said, the general consensus is that metal wheelsets are easier to tow, but they also seem to do a good job of putting off the next track scrubbing session for a few weeks. They stay cleaner, even though they seem to be cleaning the track, but they still need attention.

Plastic wheels are somewhat more quiet; this characteristic is quite appealing to many modelers who don't like the clickety-click of the metal ones over gaps in the rails. Also, for whatever reason, many more folks admit that their plastic wheels seem to get crud and gum on their tire surfaces after a short time. That means labour-intensive cleaning.

You mentioned older equipment saved for a while. If you have been doing some reading and lurking here and elsewhere, you know that the older locomotives are sometimes best left as fond memories. Not to say they're probably junk now, just that they may have limitations about how well they conform, or can be modified, to suit what we use for materials these days. For example, many modelers prefer the smaller profiled Code 83 and Code 70 track that is closer to scale to the real stuff. If you would like to follow suit, your older engines and rolling stock may need new wheels with the smaller flanges. Additionally, many of us use the new digital way of commanding engines to move around the layout called Digital Command and Control (DCC). Some older engines can be converted with the right combo of skills and determination, but they can be a real bear for someone who has neither the patience nor the background to do it. Long way of getting to my point- sometimes it is just better to get into the modern game and have more fun with the latest stuff, be it track, structures, techniques for building layouts, or the actual rolling stock and locomotives.

It's gonna be a journey, and it's gotta be fun. :)
 

Secondhandmodeler

All new now!
I'm using brass sectional track mixed with nickel silver flex track. I have an old mrc 501 power pack. I also have Athearn blue box diesels, and Atlas snap switches. All of these older bits of equipment are serving me well. I had all of this in storage so I decided to put it to use. If money is no object to you then by all means get all new stuff. You may be able to use what you have with an eye towards the future. My point is, just because it's old doesn't mean it won't work for now.
 

GAPPLEG

SP modeler
I'd answer if the Flames hadn't tried to steal my Thomas Vanek. Metal for sure ! Many opinions on older stuff. If your going to run dc only the older stuff might be alright if you clean them up and lube them correctly. If you decide to go DCC , You'll be better off with some of the newer loco's . Read Spacemouse's beginners guide for sure. And read alot of stuff before you do anything major.
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
Corey, I agree with you in principle, but he said that he is planning to build a lifetime layout. Oops, three hours later and I haven't hit send. I hope it's still on topic.
 

Larry

Long Winded Old Fart
Just a short long note about the old stuff. Most of my diesels are 20 years old & some of my steam is the real old Rivarrosi stuff. The old steam works better than the newer one's on my DC layout. I can't run code 83 because the flanges are too deep, so, I have always used Atlas Code 100 flex track.
I also have some out of date Atlas switches, but, they work just fine.
It doesn't matter how old your stuff is, if you keep up the maint. w/clean wheels, etc. I also have a lot of plastic wheels on my running stock & it works just fine if the track is kept squeeky clean & the axles run smooth.
I also have a few Delrin trucks & the same thing w/them as plastic.
Metal is the best if you have the xtra bucks to spend.
I use Brass track on some hidden area's that have cars just sitting there for show & very little go.
So, what I'm trying to say is; Run what'cha got until you can get something better. I have over 60 diesels & only about 10 of them are DCC ready. Unless I win the lottery, I will always be DC.

Larry
 

Myowngod

Pennsy Tuscan Red Blood
Welcome Shaggy... Where's Scooby?

Only kidding.

Ask all the questions you got, the guys and gals here are extremely helpful. This is one of the friendliest forums on the net.

I like metal, although all of my equipment isn't yet. I have stockpiled a lot of metal wheels sets, trying to find the time to install them. If you switch over to metal, invest in a truck reamer. It's a double pointed cutter that sets the proper gauge for the wheel sets to spin. Man what a difference that makes. I'll try to find a picture of one and post it. Maybe some one else will find it before me.

In regards to old equipment... RUN IT!. Heck, if that's all you got right now, enjoy, and keep the fire burning until you can treat yourself to some of the newer stuff. (and it is a treat). The equiptment now-a-days is amazing.

Seriously consider DCC if you plan on building a layout. It's the best bang for you buck.

See you around
 

Myowngod

Pennsy Tuscan Red Blood
If you switch over to metal, invest in a truck reamer. It's a double pointed cutter that sets the proper gauge for the wheel sets to spin. Man what a difference that makes. I'll try to find a picture of one and post it. Maybe some one else will find it before me.
I got it first:p

here's a link to it
MicroMark

Worth the $'s
 

Secondhandmodeler

All new now!
Corey, I agree with you in principle, but he said that he is planning to build a lifetime layout. Oops, three hours later and I haven't hit send. I hope it's still on topic.
I guess if you are planning a substantial layout then yes, do the whole nine yards. I have no plans to use dcc so my situation may be different. I just didn't want him to think that he couldn't use his older equipment.
 
Welcome fellow canuck and newbie! It is a very friendly bunch here, actually one of the best forum groups I've seen.

My vote would be metal.

Mark
 

DjShaggy

New Member
Thanks for all the help guys! Metal it is!

SpaceMouse: I read your beginners guide yesterday and gained valuable insight from it. Thanks!

To address the old vs. new issue: Although meant to be a fully modeled and decorated setup, my first attempt at a full-scale project is to be the 'practice' setup before I delve into anything larger and more complex. I want to do a nice 4X8, (since I have the room for it right now), and I wanted to use as much of my old equipment as possible to save money so I have more to spend later. The advantage is that my current Diesel stock happens to fit with the locale and era I wish to model (CP Rail Modern Alberta foothills). Also, my next more-complicated model I want to build in N-scale, so I'll have to start from scratch anyways.

Once again, thanks for the awesome input!
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
From what you said, I would suggest starting in N-scale. The reason is that while you will still be learning and making mistakes you will also be having sucesses. Those sucesses will be directly transferable over to the larger layout--structures, figures, etc. not to mention rolling stock and engines. This hobby is not the cheapest, and building a $2000 practice layout, while good in theory, should be done with the ultimate goal in mind. If you can salvage $800 in parts (not to mention labor) from the N-scale trial, does it make sense to save the old stuff just to spend $2000 on a layout that has no transfer value?
 

DjShaggy

New Member
Interesting point. However I wanted to have a fully-operational model while I was building another, if for no other reason but to keep myself interested in the hobby. That said, I could have a much more intricate N-scale model in the space that has been set aside.

I guess I don't want to admit that my old HO stuff has no use anymore. Guess I gotta put my big boy pants on and just let it all go.
 




Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)


ModelRailroadForums.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

RailroadBookstore.com - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section.

ModelRailroadBookstore.com - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

Top