Hello, new guy in KC with lots of questions.
Hello, I am just at the beginning stages of getting into this. It started a few weeks ago when my 3 year old daughter saw my old train set box at my Mom's house. We took it home, but the engine and controller are missing, most of the tracks are rusty, and most of the houses, cars etc, are busted up. Needless to say, it might be good to use for spare parts for stuff. So, I plan on buying a new set, and doing what I had always dreamed of when I was a kid, and building a whole setup with multiple trains, building etc. I plan on doing this in HO scale as I already have a few usable things.
I plan on starting somewhat small. I have vacation time next week, and I am going to build the table. I plan on using a full sheet of plywood for the top which should give me plenty of room to work with. I have also seen that there should be some type of foam insulation on top of it to prevent problems with warping down the road.
I read that it is good to stick with a time period. The one that seems most appealing to me seems to be the most popular one. I believe it is called the transitional period. (1940's-1950's?) I like that you can run diesel and coal powered locomotives on that style. I am into traditional hod rods and customs, so I am hoping to eventually work some car stuff into the scenery as well.
OK so here are some questions that I have.
Any suggestions or preferred materials in building a table?
When it comes time to layout the track should I just start with a basic oval and add on to it as time goes on? This seems the best idea for now, but will it cause problems later when I want to ad more trains?
Is there a preferred brand when it comes to this stuff? The only brand I know is Lionel, but I am not seeing any of their stuff when I have looked around.
Also I have my fathers old Lionel from the late 50's to mid 60's. Not sure what year or anything. I have all the tracks and the crossing signal, but I think the control has gone bad on it. Can these be fixed? I don't plan on running a huge set up with it, but it would be cool to get it set up under the Christmas tree this year.
Thanks for reading, hope I don't bug you all to much with all of the questions. Just like to do my research and make sure stuff is done right.
Hey, I'm a new guy here too so I can't offer you much advise but thought I'd say you're not alone. It seems you have a time period in mind so that's a leg up on me (I'm doing this with my son so I imagine it will start as a horrible hodge-podge of things that catches his fancy--including a Thomas the Train running around our track). The next thing you need to kind of narrow down is what scale you plan on using. I don't think Lionel offers all scales but if you plan on using some of that stuff then you might have that already picked out for you--but man that Lionel stuff seems to be expensive (of course no telling how much the stuff you have is worth if you wanted to part with it depending on what shape it is in).
The next question you are going to get asked is how much room are you talking about having in your layout, that will determine your scale options.
(P.S. I LOVE Kansas City! I think that has to be the best family-friendly city in the country, we go there every couple of years, was at the Fourth of July thing at Menahefe Stage Coach stop two summers ago and it was the best).
Welcome. Most people start with a sheet of plywood on sawhorses, provided they are stable, or a ping-pong table. That's the quick way. It is also the shortest lived...people get tired of it within a couple of weeks...tops.
What I mean to suggest is, depending on your ardor, or that of your daughter, you should get playing with trains soon to get that itch scratched, but don't spend a lot of money on a series of ideas you want to cobble together on one surface that you may regret within a few weeks at most. Best to do some reading, consider what the information means to you, to you and your daughter, and to her, all three separately. What can she understand, what can she help with, what can she play with safely and not leave her feeling horrible about an oops? Or you?
Model trains come in all sizes and qualities, and they come in various forms representing real locomotives and rolling stock. Some of them work fine on a confined space, say that table-tennis surface or plywood, while others really look and perform better on wider curves of rail that need different frameworks and shapes. Not all locomotives will work on the usual 18" curve radii segments that come with the cheaper train sets, just as an example.
For both your sakes, a little learning as you go will help to keep it both interesting and fun to do...concurrently. Don't make the learning the important part or she'll lose interest. But do explain why you need a measured and patient approach to sharing this hobby if it is going to last more than a couple of intense weeks...and then a let-down or reality follows.
It can get very costly. Patiently, with discipline, learn what mistakes to avoid so that you can stay on top of expenses, wasted time, dead ends, and an entire disillusionment.
I offer that just as an up-front caution...all in good will.
Thanks for the responses. The reason I wanted to do a plywood setup is that it seems the easiest and cheapest way to set up a table. It seems that the module type of set up is the way most of the really nice railroads are set up. But I figure knowing that going in, I can get something setup on plywood, not make it too elaborate, and start going the other route in time and with some experience. The flat plywood layout would give us some room to see what works and what doesn't. right now she is only 3 so I will be doing all of the fun stuff like landscaping, building houses etc. She just wants to see them go I think, for now at least.
I know it can get expensive, any fun hobby can. My summer time hobby is working on my old Plymouth, that can get very expensive, frustrating, and leave you disillusioned for sure. Sometimes I walk away from it for months at a time. But I figure this will be a good break from the car scene, and something my daughter can have fun with too. Right now she just isn't old enough to handle power tools on the car. Not for her lack of trying.
Anyway, should I just fork over all the money for lumber to do the modules? It just seems like a lot to start with. I was thinking simpler might be better to start, and work our way up. I have found some cool looking track layouts for that size table, that seem somewhat simple to start off with.
Still trying to find a decent, reasonably priced set to start with. Any suggestions there? I don't want to go and drop $150 bucks and find out I got a pile of crud.
PS, thanks Rorysm, not a lot of people consider our city for a vacation stop. Heck, most of my friends don't like living here. I love it, next time you come back through send me a message, I can tell you some other really cool stops around here. Especially if you are into history stuff. I think you were refering to the Mahaffie Stage stop in Olathe KS. I work just on the other side of the tracks from that place. Very cool indeed. If you go there again I would recommend a trip up the road to Oklahoma Joe's BBQ, you won't regret it.
If you want to go the cheap route just to see if your daughter will have any interest you could pick up a set from Hobby Lobby and make sure you print off their 40% off one item thing from their webpage (then a $10 set becomes a $60 set). If this is anything like my other hobby (Subbuteo--table soccer), then most people are going to recommend you not do that as you wind up with a bunch of stuff you won't be using down the road if you do like it, but then I just figure I could use the cheap stuff on a table for kids to play with and keep the good stuff off-limits or even then turn around and give away the cheap stuff to a nephew or something like that and might inspire a future hobbyist.
Kansas City is a great family vacation destination and the largest city I've been to that was very easy to get around (nice layout of interstates cross through it with a loop outside it). Lots of free stuff for kids (Mahaffie was free that day for the 4th of July stuff but normally is a couple bucks), The Deana Rosa Children's farm is really cheap with a free admission day, Hallmark/Crayola's Kaledascope is free all the time and my kid wants to go there every year. With all the free stuff then it's not a big deal if I spend some money going to a soccer game (at the nicest soccer stadium in the country!), my wife goes to the huge Outlet mall, or we spend a night at a waterpark hotel.
I live in a good area BBQ wise so KC's BBQ wasn't that great to me, but that Cinzitti's Italian Buffet was the best place I've ate in years... very cool looking too (it's made up like an Italian market inside, all made fresh on the spot).
***Then there's Fritz's in the mall which is famous for... it's model railroad diaromas, a working train, and a train high on the wall that brings your food to your table in an awesome delivery system which I think some people on this board might like to know about! :-)
This post brought to you by the Kansas City Tourist Commission
If you decide on a 4X8 sheet of plywood you can get alot of track on it. I use to make them for Christmas gifts for kids in the area and they really liked them. One child that is now 19 came out to the house the other day to see my layout and remarked that he still had his layout in his room! I even built some in a figure eight with a slot car track going around the outside, That was a real big hit!
I guess what I am tryying to say is that it is "your" railroad, and do whatever you like that will make you and you daughter happy.
Also we need pictures
Last edited by D Cody; 10-25-2012 at 03:05 PM.
Thanks, I will post up some pics when I get something going. I guess I could post some pics of the old Lionel set I have, if anyone is interested. Not sure how cool it is to others, but I think its cool. My dad said he got it when he was 7 or 8, so that would put it around 1961 or 1962.
I think plywood is how I will start, knowing that I will have to upgrade at some point. I might go with a cheap set for now, but I do eventually want to run multiple trains, so I am keeping my eyes open on ebay and craigslist for something a bit better too.
I have the bug bad, winter is coming, the garage is going to get to cold for keeping me occupied, and I hate just sitting and watching TV (other than football).
With a sheet of plywood you still want to build a light framework out of 1X4 to keep every thing straight.
Forgot, I would love to see the pictures of your dad's layout.
How do you do the framework for a sheet of plywood? drill it in place under the edges with something through the middle or what?