Getting Started In Model Railroading
Getting started in the hobby of Model Railroading. If you are not currently a model railroader with a layout you might be wondering how to get started. We all had to start somewhere at some time.
With Christmas 2013, rapidly approaching now seems to be a good time to pass on some information that you might find useful along with some tips on how to proceed once you have made the commitment to have a model railroad of some sort.
Your first venture into model railroading does not have to be an all out effort. Actually, proceeding slowly will give you time for research and contemplation. What are your goals? Sure! We all want that magnificent model railroad that we read about and visualize in Model Railroader magazine. But that may not be the best way to start.
If you are new to the hobby and have never had a model railroad before, we would recommend caution. First, think realistically about what you ultimately want to accomplish. If your goal is a model train that runs under the Christmas tree each December, then your choices are somewhat limited to purchasing a train set available in many different types of stores. The train set is perhaps the most traditional way to get started in the hobby.
A train set is possibly the best way to get started, but before you purchase that train set there are many things you should consider. First, you need to decide what scale you want to model. Scales run from the smallest (Z) to the largest (G). The scales from smallest to largest are; Z, N, HO, S, O, and G.
Take a look at the graphic shown above: It gives you an overview that compares the different scales (sizes) available when contemplating starting your own model railroad. The different scales are graphically displayed to give you a perspective of their relative size when compared to other scales. This graphic is not to scale size.
Which scale is best for you? That's a question that only you can answer. It really comes down to preference mostly. Other factors that may come into play are available layout space, goals, and budget. It is suggested that you visit a hobby shop and view models in the various scales. HO scale offers the greatest variety of locomotives, rolling stock and accessories.
The minimum radius for HO track is 18 inches. A complete loop of curved track will fit on a 4 X 8 sheet of plywood. O' and S' scale models were once very popular and are making a comeback. For these larger scales expense and space requirements are considerations.
So pick a scale that feels right for you, fits the space available and meets your goals.
While a train set comes complete with a locomotive, cars, power pack and possibly some scenery is usually cheaper, typically the locomotive is a poor performer, the power pack might be inadequate and the track is usually made of brass, a poor conductor of electricity. So if you have ambitions beyond a train running in circles, the low-priced starter set is not a good choice.
Your first concern would be locomotive quality and reliability. You should pay a little extra and purchase a quality locomotive. You'll also want a decent power pack, especially if you plan to expand with time. Most track on the market today is reliable, but be sure to select nickel silver track. Nickel silver is more conductive than brass.
You may have to scale down your initial plans but in the long run starting out with better equipment will pay big dividends in the long run