Lionel Compatible Supplies/Accessories?

Hello...
I'm curious... We have an O-Scale Lionel starter set that we got recently and it seems pretty decent for my children. My question is
how much of a difference is there between buying "genuine" Lionel (or other) trains, cars, tracks, etc. and getting them from a generic brand?
What's the norm? If that's something done with regularity, are there any places that people here could recommend? Is there a major price difference? If there's a FAQ on it, a pointer to that would be good also.
Thanks for any information...
Charles R. Whealton Charles Whealton @ pleasedontspam.com
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We've had great luck with MTH (Mike's Train House) cars. Other brands beside it and Lionel have ranged from average to downright pathetic, at least for O rolling stock.
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Atlas O is very good. They also have a Trainman line which allegedly is less detailed (I haven't noticed much difference) and is less expensive.
As an aside, I've used Atlas track and switches for the layout.
--
Carl Heinz
snipped-for-privacy@charter.net
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Carl Heinz wrote:

Carl and EDM:
Thank you both very much for your advice! Haven't searched yet but I'll see if I can find both of these places online. Thanks again for the help you've both given me!
Charles R. Whealton Charles Whealton @ pleasedontspam.com
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Chuck Whealton wrote:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Chris Coleman has a faq for toy trains:
http://www.spikesys.com/Modelrr/faq1.html
TCA's eTrain on-line magazine should provide some enjoyment:
http://www.tcamembers.org/index.html
Bill Bill's Railroad Empire N Scale Model Railroad: http://www.billsrailroad.net Brief History of N Scale: http://www.billsrailroad.net/history/n-scale Model Railroad Bookstore: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bookstore Resources--Links to 1,100 sites: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bills-favorite-links
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bill:
Thanks very much for this information. I've forwarded it to my personal account for some reading.
Thanks again!
Charles R. Whealton Charles Whealton @ pleasedontspam.com
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It is somewhat of an over-simplification, but I believe that "Lionel" breaks down into three segments:
1) the cost reduced Mexican and now Chinese produced O-27 "beginners" line of unreliable, unrealistic junk.
2) a few pieces of equipment from the quality Lionel product line of the early 1950's that provide reasonable semi-scale appearance and good quality and reliability.
3) 1:48 scale sized pieces for the babyboomers who remember Lionel from their youth and now have new illegal stock options and excess space in the basements of their McMansions and lack the basic skills and time to build real O-scale 2-rail layouts.
For a child's layout, I suggest you avoid segments 1 and 3 and seek trains in segment 2. More of these trains are being produced by K-Line and MTH than by today's Lionel. Geezer

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Geezer wrote:

K-Line is as dead as American Flyer. Lionel aquired them and they are now in the Lionel catalog, all 4 pages of them.
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That's incredibly snobbish don't you think? Not everyone is a professional modeler, I'd even say most of us value ease of use and compatibility over scale accuracy or anything else. I agree Lionel's quality isn't what it once was, but who's quality is? For people who'd rather just plug a train in and enjoy it, rather then spend hours dealing with ridiculous and often intentional incompatibilities, Lionel and MTH are still the best 1-2 punch in O-scale.
As for 2-rail, you can have it. Yes it's accurate, and it's also a royal pain in the ass.
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wrote:

K-Line is history...taken over by Lionel and Sanda Kan (spelling?).
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Chuck Whealton wrote:

It sort of depends on what your vision is for expanding the set.
Engines:     If you plan on one day running any sort of         command control, Lionel and MTH offer different         products that are not necessarily compatible.         MTH says its DCS system will control Lionel     TMCC controlled engines, but MTH DCS cannot     be controlled by Lionel TMCC. Lionel has     licensed its TMCC out to Atlas O (and maybe     others -- although something related to this     is what bankrupted K-Line, I think).
    If you are only running trains from standard     track power, the main thing to worry about     is whether the engines will run on the radius     track you have. [Starter sets provide very     tight radius track: 027 curves.]
Cars:     MTH has a "Premier" line that requires larger     radius curves to look good. Atlas O has     similarly sized cars. Lionel may have a     similarly sized class of cars. But otherwise     they all connect with each other.
    Lionel, MTH, and Atlas (plus others) offer     many cars that look good on, and are made for,     tight-radius track.
    Lionel has a big (but expensive) selection of     novelty/toy cars that are obviously not     models of 'real' cars. The other makers     mostly stick to 'realistic' looking cars.
Track:     Did your Lionel starter set come with Fast     Track (with its own road-bed), or very 'toy-     looking' hollow rails?
    MTH and Atlas offer their own track systems     that are not directly compatible with Lionel's     Fast Track, except via special transition     pieces that may require change to and from     a hollow-rail (Lionel) rail style. [At the     moment I'm focused on G-scale trains, so     don't know all the O-gauge details.]
    There are also other 'realistic' track     makers like Gar-Graves and Ross.
    K-Line also made its own system, but it went     bankrupt and was bought by Lionel. Its     track system is probably moribund.
Is there a "generic brand" of O-gauge train? I dunno ... maybe Weaver might be considered a 'generic brand' (because it is somewhat low-end).
I don't think that O-gauge is like HO, however, where you can get 'real cheap stuff' that is cheaply made. Most of the O-gauge stuff is pretty well made, but it's also rather pricey, even at the low end.

A trip to a well-stocked O-gauge train dealer will probably help you get a good feel for what is available. (Where did you get the starter set?) You might also want to buy an issue of either:
Classic Toy Trains    http://www.trains.com/ctt / O-Gauge Railroading    http://www.ogaugerr.com /
from Borders or B&N or Waldenbooks or a hobby store.
Also look for a traveling trainshow, like the Great Train Show/Greenberg's (they merged):
http://www.greattrainexpo.com /

There's waay more information than you probably want to know.
And then, there's the religious aspect to it all ... scale vs toy, three-rail vs two-rail, 'realistic three rail' vs. 'tinplate', train snob vs. just having fun with the kids, 'pure Lionel' vs. pure someone else vs who cares about purity?, & etc.
-mark.
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