Newbie (with many apologies and excuses)

First the apologies and excuses:
1. This group (and indeed the model railroad community at large) seems
mostly male. Please don't flame me for being female. Blame my
2. I'm not new at usegroups, just at railroads. Your FAQ is no longer
available on the websites listed and I haven't seen anyone post these
types of questions in a while (quick scan that I gave the newsgroup).
3. If I get on your nerves, just pass my posting by or filter me out,
but please don't flame me. I'm just trying to learn as you all were
On to the explanation:
I want a coffee table model railroad. I have wanted one for 20 years.
I KNEW someone else out there had to have the same thought, but I
haven't seen any tables I could buy (except with ready made train sets
and they are way out of my price range.)
I have found a local woodworker who will make my table for a decent
price. It will be approximately 24" by 44". 5" deep for the layout.
I am not planning for any mountains (obviously) or tunnels. I want a
steam-engine, old-time-prairie-village looking layout. I only want it
to go around the track. I'm not interested in sidings, switiching, or
any of the more realistic facilities for trains. My people will be
plastic and they don't mind never having a bathroom stop.
And finally to the questions:
1. Is 24" wide enough for an N Scale layout?
2. If I go with 24" will I be limited to a simple oval? Figure 8?
Kidney bean shape? Any variety at all?
3. It seems that Z Scale is smaller than N Scale, but also more
expensive. Is that right?
4. I'm not bad at wiring, but I am new to trains. Should I buy a kit
as a starter, knowing all electrical components have been dealt with,
or start from scratch and read up on my own electronics?
5. Are there specific internet retailers you recommend? I live in a
very small town and have little access to retail shopping of this
6. Is there anything in particular I should tell my woodworker - other
than the fact that the layout must be accessable somehow, and the
wiring must be mounted uner the table?
Thank you for your patience, forgiveness, and tolerance. I appreciate
Reply to
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Your FAQ is no longer available on the websites listed and I haven't seen anyone post these types of questions in a while (quick scan that I gave the newsgroup). ------------------------------------------------- Here are some sites (including two faq sites) with info:
Layout Design:
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Micro Layouts:
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NMRA Intro to Model Railroading:
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My Favorite Sites Page has a wealth of sites with the info you want:
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Good luck and enjoy your railroad-to-be!
Bill Bill's Railroad Empire N Scale Model Railroad:
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History of N Scale:
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Links to over 500 helpful sites:
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Reply to
Hey, this hobby needs a little more diversity. I get tired of talking only to retired, mostly white, males even if I am one :-).
If you're anywhere near or in a decent sized town, there's probably some NMRA folks in town who'd be glad to give some pointers. Go to
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find the region and division you're in, go to their website and email or call one of the officers.
Good luck.
Reply to
Larry Blanchard
Probably OK. In HO 18" radius (36" for a full turn is fine. N ought to be able to get around a 12" radius. You might consider buying an N-scale train set, assembling the track and measuring the outside diameter of the curve. I believe the 12" radius is measured to the track centerline. In this case you need an extra inch to account for the width of the track. So your table top might need to be 25". I assume this layout is going into your living room or family room? and it needs to look fairly decent to go with your decor? If you have a good wood work guy laid on to do the coffee table part, it ought to come out right. Think about getting AC power out to the table to run the trains, or perhaps DC power from a power pack cleverly hidden somewhere in the room. Think about building the layout on a separate removable piece of homosote. This way you can get the layout working, painted, scenicked and stuff and then just drop it into the table. Likewise should repairs be needed the layout could be lifted out, taken to the bench and repaired, upgraded, cleaned, re-scenicked. etc. without risking the finish of the coffee table or paint spilled on the living room rug.
Try for an extra inch or two to permit a kidney bean shape. The layout will look better if the track doesn't follow the edge of the table, but seems to wander about, following the terrain.
A ready to run train set will have enough track to make an oval, the power pack, and rolling stock. It's not a bad way to get going. The wiring for a layout simple enough to fit in a coffee table should be pretty simple, just run two wires from the power pack to the track and you are up and running. I don't think you will have room in a coffee table to run two trains at once.
Charles Ro in Malden MA is a good reputable place, although they are an O gauge place. You want to get your hands on Model Railroader and look at the ads.
I would want a setup where I can lift out the glass top and then lift out the entire layout for maintenance.
Glad to have you aboard. You project sounds interesting. Best of luck.
David Starr
Reply to
David J. Starr
Let me second all that Gary and David said and add the following which I hope you will find of help.
First, there are only 2 or 3 people in or near this group who are ignorant, arrogant, or just plain ill mannered enough to flame a newcomer. Don't worry about them. The rest of us all hate them too.
This was probably already mentioned but sectional track is probably the best way to go for a first layout. (That's the kind that comes in trainsets.
Let me add Trainworld to the list of reputable on line stores to deal with. Besides you will find their Brooklyn accents entertaining. ("So what can we do you for today, Dearie?")
Finally I would ask Mike Usoff on this group for recommendations on specific brands of N scale. In fact I'm asking him now -- CALLING NSCALEMAN, CALLING NSCALEMAN! :>)) Seriously, he is a great and experienced N scale modeler and one of the nicest guys on the group.
Welcome, and I hope that helps.
Reply to
Dennis E. Golden
Hi, CindyLu, Welcome to the group.
I have looked at all the other responses and wonder if you are fixed to the table dimensions you gave. Have you thought about a round or other shaped coffee table? I think that if you have a hex or oct-agonal table, you can get more variety of layout.
-- From the computer of Frank A. Rosenbaum
Reply to
Frank A. Rosenbaum
As far as a 24" wide layout is concerned you can check out the Atlas page for a few ideas. If you don't want switches then ignore them or consider multiple independent tracks. You can do a lot in a little space in N Scale:
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This other Atlas page may also lead you to helpful links on their site:
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Atlas N Scale products are usually available at most hobby shops so this seemed like a good place to send you to.
Kato makes track (Unitrack) also and sells pre-packaged layouts that may interest you. Click on Unitrack and check out N Unitrack menu on the left.
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Good Luck Terry Bickle
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Reply to
Terry Bickle
Welcome to the hobby. More women in the hobby would be welcome. There are some women in notable places. The vice president of the largest model railroad trade organization is a womam.
I am sure you will find plenty of people here who want to help you. This group has some very knowledgable people.
Jim Stanton
Reply to
Jim Stanton

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