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Posted: 12/11/2005 10:27:17 AM EDT
Like it reads , I want to get an HO scale train set for my 10 year old son for Christmass .
Since there is only 2 weeks or less till the deadline I would appreciate any tips .

I see that I can pick up a starter set for about $50 -65 or so . I imagine it is likle most things , how much do you wanna spend .
Any brands espically good or very bad . Are different companies interchangeable ??
Lionel still A BIG wig in the game ?? , How about different types of coupling systems ??

Help Santa out . Thanks
PS : MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!!!!!!!!
Link Posted: 12/11/2005 10:31:29 AM EDT
Lionel is big (no pun intended) in O-scale, not HO. In HO, you'll find Bachman and Life-Like in the stores. You can get much better quality by buying the locomotive, cars, transformer and track separately, though.
Link Posted: 12/11/2005 10:35:32 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/11/2005 10:35:48 AM EDT by TheKill]
Athearn is probably the best there is in HO scale, and they now actually make train sets. You would be much better off buying Athearn over Life Like or Bachmann.

Athearn: ALL good.
Bachmann and Life Like: High end components and rolling stock are darn good, lower end rolling stock and train sets are teh suck.
Link Posted: 12/11/2005 2:18:27 PM EDT
thanks , guess it's time to start looking .
Link Posted: 12/11/2005 4:47:44 PM EDT
A 10 yr old is old enough to play with N gauge.. and you can do a LOT on a small layout that will slide under the bed in N gauge.

BUT if you still want HO, buy locos from Lifelike, Athearn, Atlas. DO NOT BUY BACHMANN. At one time Lifelike was junk, but they have come out with some really nice products the last few years. Pass on their train sets.

www.atlasrr.com

www.athearn.com

www.woodlandscenics.com/home.htm (this is the correct link, but not working now for some reason)

Get the basic layout book from Atlas. They have a lot of small bedroom layouts.

Best bang for the buck in cars is Athearn. They are "shake the box" kits. Well painted, good, free rolling trucks, nicely detailed, inexpensive.

MRC power pack. The MRC Railpower 1370 or Tech 4 200 is hard to beat for a basic power pack.

For a small bedroom layout, a small "road switcher" such as a GP30, GP38, GP40, etc, will serve as a yard switcher or road unit, just as the do in real life.





Woodland Scenics... They have a little how-to booklet available, get that first.

For kids, avoid "trestles". They may want an "up and over" figure 8, but this is asking for trouble.

HO sectional track must be nailed down. Again, the Atlas book will tell you how to do this. It is not like the old Lionel stuff that could be plugged together on the floor and played with, then taken apart and tossed back in a box and shoved under the bed.

In N scale, Atlas, Kato, LifeLike, Athearn are all good lines.

In either scale, at first, avoid the temptation to load up ("collect") a lot of cars and locos. Pick out a nice, quality loco that will run well, and half a dozen nice cars. Think about what kinds of businesses, industries your cars will serve. Look for buildings that can represent those businesses. Perhaps model a type of industry and the railroad that serves it that is in your area. The scenicing of a model railroad is what really makes it a lot of fun and impresses visitors.

Have fun!
Link Posted: 12/11/2005 5:30:22 PM EDT

Originally Posted By TheKill:
Athearn is probably the best there is in HO scale, and they now actually make train sets. You would be much better off buying Athearn over Life Like or Bachmann.

Athearn: ALL good.
Bachmann and Life Like: High end components and rolling stock are darn good, lower end rolling stock and train sets are teh suck.



Concur Athearn is probably the best bang for the buck. The inexpensive stuff is guaranteed to frustrate just about anybody
If you can't find an Athearn set per se, your next bet are Athearn "Ready to Roll" engines, Athearn and MDC/Roundhouse Ready to Roll cars, Atlas track components, including the Starter Set and enough other track to actually do some switching to pique interest. And a decent MRC power pack. Going to be more but worth the difference.Model Railroader magazine, Kalmbach Publishing have some beginners layout magazine articles and books.

I've never used the various modular tracks (track and roadbed), If your kid is willing to take it up, tear it down and make changes, it might be the way to go. If your layout is going to be put down permanently, it isn't worth the cost difference. And last time I looked different manufacturers don't mate.

At this point for your purposes, DCC is overkill, but if the bug really bites, you might want to consider initially wiring with eventual DCC conversion in mind. Also, get Athearn engines that are "DCC Ready" that way conversion is a matter of plugging the decoder. DCC - Digital Command Control is a high tech way to control more engines and lighting for more realistic operation with simplified wiring. But is probably way too much for a beginner. You don't need it for a basic set up. It adds about $15 -$25 per engine, and the really basic control systems are about $150-170.

And if you think the flames fly around here about why 1911s are better than any other pistol, you oughta see the discussions on which DCC system is better. The control systems (power pack, control units, throttles, etc) are generally not compatible between manufacturers, but the decoders which control individual engines are controllable by any throttle system. And most of the basic power distribution components work on any system.
Link Posted: 12/11/2005 5:40:13 PM EDT
Coupling systems. 2 types

the horn hook, works pretty well and takes a fair amount of abuse, is found on most of the cheaper equipment. And operationally it works fine, the uncoupling track sections look a little funny but kids can easily see them and can't hurt them without really trying. Usually only found on low end equipment these days.

Knuckle couplers - Look like the real thing, KD has made for years and when their patents ran out, a few copiers sprang up, all mate well, are a little more sensitive to height differences. Can be operated by magnets below the track, or a jewelers screwdriver or similar tool if you don't want to mess with the magnets. A 10 year old should have few problems with them.

Horn hooks and knuckles don't mate and the couplers that claim to mate with each are like many compromises, unsatisfactory for either.

Link Posted: 12/11/2005 5:42:46 PM EDT

Originally Posted By PaDanby:

And if you think the flames fly around here about why 1911s are better than any other pistol, you oughta see the discussions on which DCC system is better. The control systems (power pack, control units, throttles, etc) are generally not compatible between manufacturers, but the decoders which control individual engines are controllable by any throttle system. And most of the basic power distribution components work on any system.



lol...we all know it's North Coast Engineering for DCC Digitrax is teh sux!

But in all honesty, like they said, Athearn makes some nice RTR train sets now....
www.athearn.com/Search/Default.aspx?SearchTerm=Iron+Horse&CatID=THS
www.athearn.com/Search/Default.aspx?SearchTerm=Warbonnet+Express&CatID=THS
Link Posted: 12/12/2005 1:25:51 AM EDT
This thread is so not what I expected .
Link Posted: 12/12/2005 1:48:42 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Kodiak-AK:
This thread is so not what I expected .



I think there are a few adults left in the GD.
Link Posted: 12/12/2005 2:19:41 AM EDT

Originally Posted By TheKill:

Originally Posted By Kodiak-AK:
This thread is so not what I expected .



I think there are a few adults left in the GD.

Yea , but with titles like that you never know . I mean come on some posted a picture of a peanut he found in the dump today .
Link Posted: 12/12/2005 2:52:41 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/12/2005 3:10:36 AM EDT by pv74]
I had a Marklin train set when I was growing up....It is a European brand..it was a bit on the pricey side...but it was very nicely made. They are made in Germany.

www.marklin.com/start/ho.html

Damm...better call my mother and make sure she didnt give it away to good will or something...

It had a bunch of track and cars of my Dad's from the 1950's and new stuff added in the early '80s. I have a kid on the way so this would be the perfect christmas gift in five or six years...

Mine looked something like this:

cgi.ebay.com/Marklin-HO-Set-Train-Steamloco_W0QQitemZ6020194463QQcategoryZ1557QQrdZ1QQcmd­ZViewItem



Link Posted: 12/12/2005 3:43:56 AM EDT
tag
Link Posted: 12/12/2005 6:34:53 PM EDT

Originally Posted By nightmare0331:

Originally Posted By PaDanby:

And if you think the flames fly around here about why 1911s are better than any other pistol, you oughta see the discussions on which DCC system is better. The control systems (power pack, control units, throttles, etc) are generally not compatible between manufacturers, but the decoders which control individual engines are controllable by any throttle system. And most of the basic power distribution components work on any system.



lol...we all know it's North Coast Engineering for DCC Digitrax is teh sux!

But in all honesty, like they said, Athearn makes some nice RTR train sets now....
www.athearn.com/Search/Default.aspx?SearchTerm=Iron+Horse&CatID=THS
www.athearn.com/Search/Default.aspx?SearchTerm=Warbonnet+Express&CatID=THS



Some of the modular groups are going with Digi because it is much easier to inflict on a modular concept. And the new UT-4 throttle beats most of the normal criticisms.

I heard that Athearn sets are showing up in some Wal-Marts. But I haven't seen any yet. And unless I run out of whitebox, I ain't going near a Wally World this time of year.
Link Posted: 12/12/2005 6:37:20 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/12/2005 6:37:55 PM EDT by JBowles]
Dont forget KATO even though it way out of you price range, but there track is probly worth looking at for beganer

+1 for N scale
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 5:00:46 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/15/2005 5:02:49 PM EDT by Ranman223]
Thanks guys ,
I found a nice Athearn set at a local hobby store that I will probably go with .
The manager will sell it for $79.99 ( $10 off )
5 or 6 cars and the engine and stuff .

" War Bonnet Express " or something like that .

Merry Christmas and God bless us everyone .
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 5:15:42 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Ranman223:
Thanks guys ,
I found a nice Athearn set at a local hobby store that I will probably go with .
The manager will sell it for $79.99 ( $10 off )
5 or 6 cars and the engine and stuff .

" War Bonnet Express " or something like that .

Merry Christmas and God bless us everyone .



Hope he enjoys it! I got my then 6 year old one last year. he likes it, but his friends tend to tear it up when they come over. Keep that in mind when your son has his buddies over, cover it up with a cloth or something to protect it. '

GR
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 5:35:45 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Ranman223:
Thanks guys ,
I found a nice Athearn set at a local hobby store that I will probably go with .
The manager will sell it for $79.99 ( $10 off )
5 or 6 cars and the engine and stuff .

" War Bonnet Express " or something like that .

Merry Christmas and God bless us everyone .



Nice to support the local hobby shop too (they are disappearing all too fast)

Couple of magazines might also fuel his interest:

Model Railroader

Railroad Model Craftsman

Great hobby (and educational for the tinkerers)

Link Posted: 12/15/2005 5:45:45 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Ranman223:
" War Bonnet Express " or something like that .



Lemme guess, silver and red locomotive. Thats based of the old Atchisson, Topeka, and Santa Fe (ATSF). ATSF merged with Burlington Northern in the 90's to become a railroad called BNSF.

Good choice!
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 5:57:03 PM EDT

Originally Posted By A_Free_Man:
A 10 yr old is old enough to play with N gauge.. and you can do a LOT on a small layout that will slide under the bed in N gauge.

BUT if you still want HO, buy locos from Lifelike, Athearn, Atlas. DO NOT BUY BACHMANN. At one time Lifelike was junk, but they have come out with some really nice products the last few years. Pass on their train sets.

www.atlasrr.com

www.athearn.com

www.woodlandscenics.com/home.htm (this is the correct link, but not working now for some reason)

Get the basic layout book from Atlas. They have a lot of small bedroom layouts.

Best bang for the buck in cars is Athearn. They are "shake the box" kits. Well painted, good, free rolling trucks, nicely detailed, inexpensive.

MRC power pack. The MRC Railpower 1370 or Tech 4 200 is hard to beat for a basic power pack.

For a small bedroom layout, a small "road switcher" such as a GP30, GP38, GP40, etc, will serve as a yard switcher or road unit, just as the do in real life.

www.atlasrr.com/Images/HOLocomotives/hogp3840/8967.gif

www.athearn.com/ProdInfo/ATH/250/ATH79668-250.jpg

Woodland Scenics... They have a little how-to booklet available, get that first.

For kids, avoid "trestles". They may want an "up and over" figure 8, but this is asking for trouble.

HO sectional track must be nailed down. Again, the Atlas book will tell you how to do this. It is not like the old Lionel stuff that could be plugged together on the floor and played with, then taken apart and tossed back in a box and shoved under the bed.

In N scale, Atlas, Kato, LifeLike, Athearn are all good lines.

In either scale, at first, avoid the temptation to load up ("collect") a lot of cars and locos. Pick out a nice, quality loco that will run well, and half a dozen nice cars. Think about what kinds of businesses, industries your cars will serve. Look for buildings that can represent those businesses. Perhaps model a type of industry and the railroad that serves it that is in your area. The scenicing of a model railroad is what really makes it a lot of fun and impresses visitors.

Have fun!




Having had both HO & N guage I always preferred N Guage.
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 7:06:44 PM EDT
Great Christmas thread.
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 7:15:35 PM EDT
Wow the title of the thread had me thinking something completely different.
Link Posted: 12/17/2005 7:58:16 AM EDT
Keep it clean please guys
Thanks Randy
Merry Christmas
Link Posted: 12/17/2005 8:07:20 AM EDT
Have fun with your son and the trains.

I cant wait till my boys are old enough for a model RR.

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