I'm an old guy (71) with some time on my hands, but not a whole lot of space. I'm thinking about getting into this hobby, but where do I start? From what I've seen, I'm inclined to go N Scale at the largest, maybe Z Scale.
Cost is always important, but not the limiting factor. I have a certain amount of technical and building skills, although I know nothing about scenery and landscaping for the RR project.
As for size, I think I would limit myself to something about 3-feet by
8-feet, and maybe something that I could hang on a wall and fold back when not actually building and operating.
I'd go with something larger and consider short line type operations on the layout. For space, there is always the space under or over the bed you sleep in. A yard wide/long space really isn't much to do anything in. When I considered a home layout, rather than go to N scale, I went to On3 so that I could do detail work and ended up doing a logging railroad where I actually transported logs from the cutting area to the mill. No part of the layout was more than 30" wide and the layout went around much of the room. The mill area was a shelf of 14" width and 6' long with the mill itself mostly cut off against the wall.
-- Why do penguins walk so far to get to their nesting grounds?
OldSailor wrote: I'm an old guy (71) with some time on my hands, but not a whole lot of space. I'm thinking about getting into this hobby, but where do I start? From what I've seen, I'm inclined to go N Scale at the largest, maybe Z Scale. Cost is always important, but not the limiting factor. I have a certain amount of technical and building skills, although I know nothing about scenery and landscaping for the RR project. As for size, I think I would limit myself to something about 3-feet by
8-feet, and maybe something that I could hang on a wall and fold back when not actually building and operating. So, folks, where do I start?
-------------------------------------------------------------- Here's a good, inexpensive book that should provide a lot of information, "N Scale Model Railroad That Grows" shows how much fun a model railroad can be:
A visit to Thor's All gauge page will provide a lot of valuable information:
I'm also 71! Visit my website and you can see my N scale railroad. It's
11'x3' and against a wall. When I was planning it, I was younger and 3' was the most I could reach with a table height of 36"...but I got older and three feet is harder to reach now. If I had it to do again, I'd allow for that.
Good luck with your railroad. I hope you derive as much pleasure from it as I have had from mine.
With the space you mention you could go with HO or possibly even On30 and do a shelf style switching layout. To explain further, a switching layout often does not include a loop of track but has various sidings and spurs along a more or less straight section that represents the main line. Operation typically involves having your train set up on the main track and switching cars out to their proper locations and picking up the empties. One excellent resource on small layouts can be found here:
More information on layout building is here:
Also check out the magazines and books at your local hobby dealer, preferably one that specializes in model trains or has a more in-depth model train section than the normal general interest hobby shop.
One thing I'd think seriously about is scale. I would not go below N because of issues of eyesight and dexterity. I'm 63.
One thing to think about is a narrow gauge of a bigger scale.
Standard gauge railroads in the us are 4' 8 1/2 inches between the rails.
Narrow gauge is the US is generally 3 foot between the rails with some others at 30 inches between the rails and a very few at 24 " between the rails.
"Colordo" narrow gauge is generally 3 foot; "Maine" narrow gauge is generally 24 " or two foot.
30" gauge is a compromise between the "three footers" and the "two footers".
There are some interesting relationships between scale and gauge.
"Scale" is the proportion of the locos and car bodies to the full size stuff.
O scale is basically 1:48 proportion. HO is basically 1:87 proportion; N scale in the US is basically 1:160 proportion.
Other folks in this thread have suggested that you look at narrow gauge. I agree withthem.
On30 is O scale bodies on 30" gauge track. Oddly enough, 30 scale track in O gauge is for all practical purpose identivcal the HO scale standard gauge. That means you can use relatively cheap HO scale mechanisms and build O scale bodies on top. There is also a lot of On30 stuff ready to run from Bachmann and others that is good quality .
Were I starting over again, I'd be doing On30.
HOn30 is HO scale stuff on 30 inch gauge track. This wierd proportion makes for HO scale bodies on N scale mechanisms and track. Lts of stuff is available in N to build on, and some, but not as much for as for On30, available ready to run.
I do both HO and HOn30.
Like I say, if I was starting new, I'd be doing On30".
-- Jim McLaughlin
Reply address is deliberately munged. If you really need to reply directly, try: jimdotmclaughlinatcomcastdotcom
My definite recommendation would be to build a small logging or mining railroad in On30 (HO scale tracks, with O-scale 1:48 scale locos. This means you can run HO track which is relatively cheap and plentiful and combine it with beautiful On30 Shays and Climaxes which many argue are among the most interesting trains available today. In this manner you have a small-footprint layout with great appeal, in a scale that is very easy to maintain and....well ..... see!
- You can go into a huge level of detail in a very small area
- You can enjoy model making to a high degree of accuracy, with buildings, trees, mine shafts etc. Plus all the lineside/trackside regalia that accompanies such roads.
- Locos and rolling stock of this nature can negotiate very tight radius turns as well as manage steep gradients, two factors that add a lot of interest and minimise space requirements.
- A small number of locos and carriages/wagons goes a long way on these layouts
- If attending exhibitions is something of interest, your layout can be small enough to attend with you
- With the new methods of digital control, you can emulate spectacular levels of realism on your layout
- There are excellent videos/DVDs on these types of railroads, both in 1:1 and small scale.
- Many weathering/painting/detailing resources exist
Just my thoughts but perhaps worth considering seriously, I believe.
I will dig up some web links from my favourites and post them
links as promised - and I hasten to add ....... Shays and Climaxes are just prettier and prettier the more beat up they look! You can super-detail 'em, rust 'em, bust 'em and hang all kinds of stuff from them and they just look better and better!
...... check eBay out for Shays and Climaxes - I believe they have a bunch each week at reasonable prices.
Just one little question (not just to you): why are so many folks here assuming that the guy would want a logging layout? For all you know, he may have a hankering for the sea, and favor a waterfront scene. A little presumptuous, dontcha think?
By the way, my 7 cents worth (adjusted for inflation): before getting stuck on *any* scale, especially at your age, I would take care to have a good look at existing layouts in that scale, like visiting a club in your area. You might find that N is just too dang small (or you may not). I know it is for me.
I didn't think I was assuming, rather putting forward a case for his consideration. I figured the gentleman would welcome a range of arguments for and against what he had proposed. by his own admission he is a newbie and therefore I imagined him willing to do a bit of fast-track learning about options and go from there.
Apologies if I am off the mark
BTW I don't have a logging layout or a Shay/Climax - I model British, but have always admired the detail of those railroads
If your indoor space is limited, what about your outdoor space? Do you have room for a line meandering through the mountains, plains, and woods? How about for a simple loop. You can enjoy fine weather and running trains at the same time. You don't have to build scenery; it's already there. Being active outside helps to keep you young.
The trains are big enough to see from 10 feet away, ranging from 1:13 to
1:32 scales. Train power can come from electrified track, battery, or live steam. Your 3' x 8' spaces sounds like a good workbench for model building; move the models outside when they're finished.
Some websites to look into:
A Google search for "garden railway" will find you lots more info.
Let me second the idea of a switching layout. I use a card order system to control the movements of the cars. I have 8 industrial destinations on an L-shaped HO scale layout. Both legs of the L are about 8 feet long and 2.5 feet wide. Train lengths are limited to 4 freight cars, but I can still get to the house electric circuit breaker box and can reach the house boiler to replenish the water. The 8 industrial structures provide building projects and a properly constructed card order system can provide operational challenges.
I second the notion of not going below HO scale. I have enough trouble now finding a coupler spring that pops out.
in article email@example.com, Joe Ellis at firstname.lastname@example.org wrote on 3/28/06 10:50 AM:
You look for coupler springs? I just bought a bag full of replacements (and save the extras which come with new Kadees) and if one runs away, I replace it from the bag and figure the vacuum cleaner will locate the other one and eliminate it with extreme prejudice.
These catalogs are really inspirational and show you the bulk of what's available mainstream on the market for the scale you're interested in. Engines, cars, track, materials, scenery, buildings, detail stuff, and tons more. Saves a lot of web surfing time, then you can use the web to track down the few brands, and the specialty items that remain. :)