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What do you feel is biggest mistake beginners make when starting out ?

model trains for beginners

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Leave A Reply (37 comments so far)

  1. I feel that the model train hobby is mostly for the well off, because it has gotten so expensive that the average fixed income could never afford to build any of these fantastic layouts that I see on line. I think they are fantastic and awesome. But when I look at my little 4×8 setup in the garage it looks soo small. but when my grand kids come over and we are all out there having fun, it really doesn’t matter and that’s what it’s all about.


  2. Jack Whitney

    I agree with Tom Seely’s comment below that only the well off can afford to have a large layout because everything is getting too expensive. I think that a lot of suppliers like Walthers etc. and some others are so interested in making money that they will eventually price themselves right out of business. Thank goodness for sites like ebay where we can get things a lot more affordable. I am building a layout and I pick up things at train shows and ebay, also I have bought out some things from a man that died and his wife wanted to get rid of everything as she was going to live with family. I do think it is the greatest hobby and really enjoy it. I guess that’s the most important thing. I am having a hard time trying to figure a track pattern to use on the bench work I have made around three sides of my building. I will be going DCC as I bought a system on ebay. I bought a 10 ft. by 14 ft. garden shed and put in hardwood floor, insulation and plywood to cover the interior, painted it white and added air conditioning to have a dust free environment. It’s my depot. More on it later.

    Jack


  3. admin

    Well, thanks for the 2 comments below. However, since there have been over 100 visitors to this page in the last week I was expecting more interaction and discussion. Perhaps another question ? Feel free to create a question for others to answer..

  4. i kind of agree, but have been lucky enough to get a lot of stuff from friends for nothing. i still love model rail roading even though it can get expensive. i go to a lot of train shows were you can get a lot of used stuff for a really good price. and it helps you to learn to work on engines,
    and other stuff. i dont think it will ever die away. i see to many people at the show. long live model rail roads.

  5. I agree with the other comments below,Model railroads will live on,but is getting expensive as all get down.I am a disabled firefighter and emt,now in my 60s and live on a very tight fixed income.I worked my whole life and dreamed of my retirement railroad since my first layout at18.Raising 5 children and taking care of my sick wife has put that off for many years until now.I am modeling n gauge as space is tight .I love seeing all the products that can be bought for this gauge now ,but have to make from scratch most of my own things.I learned from some masters yrs ago it was about loving trains and having fun.That I do.I wish you all the best and many fun hrs.on your layouts


  6. loren

    this hobby is starting to get expensive.i remember when you could get box cars for $10.00 and engines for $15.00. now you pay $24.00 and engines use to cost $15.00 and up to $50.00 for standed dcc now they sell for $75.00 it is crazy.
    I think if they come down in prices the will have more people interested in the hobby and more sales


  7. Vic Speed

    Hi, I have enjoyed the articles and your insights into the new technologies to train layouts. I am working with O gauge Pennsylvania train set I received for Christmas a few years ago and have continued the winter look with Dept 56 Dickinson / Snow village on one end of five by eight area on two inch foam. I do agree with others it is definitely an expensive undertaking. After some thought I bought a scenery and wiring techniques for toy trains. And have started setting it up and arranging all that I have, I realize I would like to translate to winter high desert with a mountain and river / lake seporation with one elevation change in to and out of the mountain of two to three inches. I hope to work on this with my grandkids this summer both boys love trains. The transition should be a challange but believe they will enjoy building tunnels and mountain. So to say the.least I look forward to your deals and notes. This is my way to enjoy and pass on trains to the next generation.
    Thanks
    Vic


  8. Coy

    Where can I find the articles mentioned in Vic Speed’s comment regarding new technologies to train layouts? A question that I have be wrestling with is in regards to wiring of a layout. I want to wire my new layout for Dcc. Can I use this same wiring to operate a DC engine. I eventually want to get all of the rolling stock converted to DCC. Any Ideas or suggestion are welcome. I am looking forward to getting so I can get things up and running.


  9. Jeff Soronson

    Id suggest having a look at http://www.modeltrainbeginners.com/dcc for dcc information.


  10. admin

    Here’s why DCC doesn’t need to be complicated…

    –> It can be as simple (or as complex) as you want it to be. A DCC layout can consist of a simple common electrical circuit (you decide) – or if you are a wiring enthusiast…well, the sky is the limit!

    –> With DCC each loco can be operated independently without worrying about unwanted interaction with other trains. There is no operational requirement for isolated sections or separate controllers.

    –> The DCC controller provides a full voltage at all times so locomotive (and coach) lighting is constant. With the availability of a higher track voltage, the starting and slow speed running is often better than if the same loco were running on DC.

    If you are comfortable with DC then stick with it. If you want to explore new possibilities, then consider DCC. It really is a matter of personal choice.

    If your layout operates well on DC, then it operate well on DCC too.

    Best regards


  11. Cris

    I’m only into S guage right now thank you Cris

  12. either one works fine for me.


  13. Coy

    I have in the past couple of weeks been working on constructing bents for a trestle bridge that will go on my layout. it was suggested to me to get a natural weathered look from wood was to mix together India ink and rubbing alcohol (70%). Unfortunately they could not remember what amounts of each to mix together. Will alcohol cause wood to warp like water? and How long should the wood be left to soak to get the amount of aging that is desired. I realize that the longer it stays in the solution the darker it will be come and the more likely it will cause the wood to warp. Is there one type of wood that is better than the rest. I am going to learn to use the recipe card file system to get my formulas on to make life simpler in the future to replicate the desired results.

    I am enjoying the news letters and the tips and comments being made in it. Keep it coming as it is a great tool to have. Thanks for all the time and effort to make this work.


  14. Gerry

    I have been into o scale trains now for 3 years thanks to 2 friends that infected me with the bug. Almost all of my trains, accessories, track, buildings, decorations, wire, etc. have come from train shows and/or Ebay and a little from household sales. I estimate I have on average paid 20% of new prices. I am now retirement age and none of this would have happened if I had to pay retail prices. My layout is now 26′ by 14′ and I currently can run 9 trains simultaneously. The one thing I would do differently if I had to start over would be that I probably would use HO instead of O. It would save even more money and enable me to run even more trains at the same time; however, HO does have a few more quirks and problems than O. But if you are careful about where you buy and refuse to get caught up in bidding that often goes beyond fair market price, and you have patience in your purchasing you can do it at a reasonable cost.


  15. Coy

    Great Video.

    It is very concise and very instructive on how to mix India Ink and Alcohol mix and how to create 3 different shades. I enjoyed the tips on how to paint the wood.

    I want to know more regarding the Weathering Mix that he prefers over India Ink and alcohol. Where can they be found? How to use them.

    Great Video, just what I wanted at this stage.


  16. Vic Speed

    Over the weekend a neighbor has decided to sell off his grandfather’s old train set, O gauge with tin plate cars and.caboose, track, and misc. Accessories. I don’t know how to evaluate value for most of this, where can I go or do I have to buy another book.
    I would also like to know if trying to incorporate this into my layout is to big of a chore for a beginner like me.
    Any insight would be helpful.
    Thanks – Vic I


  17. Anthony M Torres

    Need to see more of G Scale, please


  18. Ted

    Interested in “O” gauge only. Is that information available here?
    Ted


  19. Dean

    Love the weekly emails but would like to see some N Scale and not just HO.

    Thanks.

    – Dean


  20. Larry

    I have been a model railroader for 30 plus years I have made many mistakes and still make a few, I am now modeling a logging railroad, in the 1940s to early 1950s.

    Most of my roster is steam but I do run some diesel locos, just to switch it up a bit, I also build a lot of logging equipment for other modelers, such as log skidders, loaders trucks cars, just to name a few.

    I would be happy to help out other model railroaders that are just starting out.
    It doesn’t mater how large your layout is what matters is that you are having fun. if you see the light in your grand kids eyes its all worth it

    For the beginners try scratch building some buildings they are the most expensive part of modeling aside form the engines, trust me you will get better as you go a building you build today you will replace next year.

    The only thing that matters is that you have fun

    Thank you, Larry


  21. Jeff T

    Vic mentioned using Dept 56 Snow Village in his layout. I’m just thinking about starting this hobby. What would be the appropriate scale to use with the Dept 56 items ?


    • admin

      Trying to scale model with Dept 56 is very difficult as, even within the line, nothing matches!
      The houses are approximately HO or S scale……
      The people are approximately G scale……
      The Dept 56 train is approximately O scale……
      The Dept 56 autos are slightly larger than O scale……

      The best way for us to help you is with this bit of info.
      In real life, a door is about 7 ft tall.
      In real life, a man is about 6 ft tall.
      In HO scale, a man is about .75″ tall. (1/8″=1′)
      In HO scale, a door is about .875″ tall. (1/8″=1′)
      In O scale, a man is about 1.5″ tall. (1/4″=1′)
      In O scale, a door is about 1.75″ tall. (1/4″=1′)
      In G scale, a man is about 3″ tall. (1/2″=1′)
      In G scale, a door is about 3.5″ tall. (1/2″=1′)
      Oakridge’s Scale Modeling Figure Scale Conversion Chart
      Thus … Dept. 56’s Dickens Village is all over the place as far as scale goes! You need to make a decision as to whether you want to mix and match as Department 56 does, or if you want to be more consistant in scale and go for matching the scale, to the scale of the bulk of the Dept. 56 Village houses and buildings. If you choose the later, you’ll either want HO or O Scale, depending on the scale of most of your houses and buildings.


  22. Earl

    I received my first train in 1940. however the years went by so fast I just got back into it in 2010.
    I heard about a local train club, I became a member, Best thing I ever done.
    We have engineers, carpenters, designers, pipefitters, Everyone is very good at something.
    It has worked out well for me, I am learning a about trains, scale, gage and scenery.
    We set up our mods and run trains through the year.
    I talk to a lot of people, I also run into many good deals.
    I am working on a layout, but may never see it done , ,But that’s OK


  23. Michael Baguley

    ho scale train am track F2_A Diesalloco
    how do i order 2
    please thanks Mike


    • admin

      To order you simply click on the item of choice and purchase- If you dont have an ebay account you can set one up quickly after clicking through.


  24. Ken

    Just starting to get my Grandson involved. We will start with some HO trains.

  25. HE MUST HAVE A VERY “UNDERSTANDING” WIFE…
    This is a nice Model Railroad.. It is more a tribute to a very solid marriage – where
    the Husband AND the wife – agree to the time to be spent developing such a Project !

    The most impressive thing to me – is how he has utilized the space available to him and
    merged the seasons along with such a broad display of masterful building skills !

    Thanking you – for showing this – I remain
    Sincerely
    H.T.PAISTE, III
    (HO MODEL RAILROADER 1935-1995)


  26. Mitchell Snyder

    I agree stuff from all these big railroad dealers are out of touch for a lot of us,but i have been doing all kinds of Model building from the time i was a kid till now and i am 66 years old..I have never had a lot of money so through the years i have learned to look around me and use all the things i think i can use tools and matireals and also there are so many places online were you can find very good and cheap matirials like i found cork on line that is much cheaper than all these big train companys are selling i found cork 4mm thick and 8feet wide and 20 feet long for just under $100.00 your not even going to find something like that at a hobby dealer i am luky i live in the mountain country so i have all the rocks i need from sand to big rocks.And i go to trift stores all the time looking for stuff to use in my hobby so use your imagination and the cost won’t be so bad


  27. David Steuerwald

    very impressive

  28. I agree about the rising cost of the hobby. It would be more enjoyable if only, not to name names, suppliers actually backed up their product. Some of the warranties should be translated as “warning- no warranty” as in no help on the phone from people who seem to care less.


  29. David Steuerwald

    very impressive especially the detail in the buildings

  30. Naturally a large layout is great but you can have just as much satisfaction with whatever you can afford. It really grows over a lifetime. My amsoil distribution business helps me pay for my model railroad hobby. Love doing both.

  31. IF MY FRIEND J,R WOULD NOT HAVE GOTTEN CANCER AND PASSED ONTO ANOTHER PART OF HIS JOURNEY, WE COULDA PERHAPS STARTED A LAYOUT! I HAVE HEALTH ISSUES , CANCER[GONE HOPEFULLY] SHOULDER SURGERY , THEN THERAPIST REBROKE THE NEW STUFF THAT WAS CONNECTED TO OLE STUFF! ARTHRITIS IS GETTING WORSE, THE KNEES ARE GETTING REDONE , AND I HAVE PTSD THAT CREATES ATTENTION SPAN ISSUES TOO, I DO ENJOY WATHING THESE VIDEOS, I WENT TO THE LOCAL CLUB , ONE DAY, IT WAS IN BASEMENT , EVEN THOUGH I ENJOYED THE LAYOUT , HALF MY BRAIN WAS THINKING ABOUT THE ONLY DOOR OUT! LOL. AT 66 , I MAY GET A LITTLE SET OR 2 AND ALLOW OR GET THE NEIGHBOR KIDS TO HELP, CHRONIC PAIN IS A REAL ISSUE , JUST HOPE THINGS WILL CHANGE THIS YR , ON A NEW DIET , AND EXERCISE DAILY, I DID NOT JOIN CLUB CUZ PLAEASURE ARE A DAY BY DAY DEAL FOR ME, Y’ALL JUST BE SAFE, KEEP DOING THE DO, GIVE ME MORE TO LOOK AT, I WILL GET BETTER, BEST THING I CAN DO RIGHT NOW IS TURN A SWITCH AND WORK AT STAYING OUTA THE HOVEROUND FOR KEEPS,


  32. Tom Winstanley

    Very Cool. I can’t wait until spring will go to Cumberland Maryland to the rail fest they have up there


  33. Jim Hansen

    STAND STILL. Shoot scenes. Zoom in & out as necessary, but stop jerking the camera around. Felt car sick the way you bounced around. I had to stop the video when I wanted to actually see something, and then it was often blurred because you were moving too fast. Then you commented that people said you were moving too fast. Please slow down, view and edit your video as necessary. Both of the layouts I have seen are well worth showing off. Do them justice.


  34. Cherie. Blocker

    This was A fantastic trip, & A great hobby. Thanks. 4/ sharing.


  35. Stephen Hudacko

    Yes this hobby is getting very expensive and the little guy especially if retired has a tough time buying the new stuff. Well for me half the fun is doing a good job with what I find around the house or at train shows and flee markets. You will surprise your self in what you can do. I will say that when I look at some of the big layouts I get a little jelious but if I make a layout for what I can afford look good to me than I am as satisfied as the big money spenders. Love this this hobby and for me my mother started it 65 years ago when she got me my first Lionel train. Thank you Mom.