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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all... new poster, but longtime follower of the hobby. There seems to be some nice people here :), and I think it's time for the metal to hit the rails, so here goes.

My parents got me an LGB starter set in 1986. (Insert side comments about the age of the poster here. :D) A hodgepodge of cars and about fifty feet of sectional track later, I set up a trial run outside. It worked, although for the record, glue sticks don't weather gracefully.

In the ten years since I've last touched the things (except for a scavenger hunt last year... it was the centerpiece of a puzzle), I've graduated, gotten a real job (to fund said hobby - reasonably), bought a house (most important), LGB went bankrupt (uh oh) and I learned how to garden. Now that I know how the house functions and that the trees drop a foot of leaves on the whole backyard, I think it's time to start moving some dirt.

Of course, the research comes first. So the all important question - how did you guys start? Obviously, there's no one prescribed way to begin, or a model railroading school, but I'd like to hear from the crowd and pick out some ideas I might want to try. And I promise I'll try to post answers to any questions (but not this weekend, I'll be in Fort Wayne).

On a related note, how does LGB going bankrupt affect the direction I'd go in terms of track and stock?
 

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Rob

First of all, welcome to MLS.

The following isn't meant to be anything but a reference to one method that one individual (i.e. Richard Smith) used to create a raised-platform large scale railroad outdoors. There isn't any one answer that fits all, just thought it might be helpful.

The following link is to a consolidation of the many posts that Richard made starting way back in 2002. It's a large file in Adobe PDF format.

Port Orford Coast Railroad By Richatd Smith
File Format: PDF - File Size: 25MB
(Left-click to Open - Right-click to Download)
 

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Rob,
I started about 25 years ago, I was the only one in this area into garden railroading. No help. It was mostly by trial and error. I like you was all LGB.
But since LGB went under, I been buying USA and Aristo Craft. I don't run the LGB as much, as parts are getting hard to find. I started with the trench, went to 2x6" cedar, on my last layout I'm using the ladder, been very happy with it.
 

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Rob,

Welcome to the wonderful world of Large Scale Model Railroading! There are as many ways to do this as there are members of this web site./DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/shocked.gif

I would definately read Steve's link to Richard's layout construction series--it is inspiring and helpful. I really like the ladder roadbed method (what I am using on my layout)--but it is not the only option.

I would reccomend reading Peter Jones' book Practical Garden Railways. He has a great way of "getting you going." It is a laid back refrence with suggestions rather than a step by step how too manual.

I think your first decision should be how are you going to power your trains: track power vs. battery vs. live steam. I won't even get in to the pluses and minuses of these--that usually starts a very intense discussion here to say the least.

That decision will lead to what kind of track: brass, stainless steel, nickle silver or Aluminum.

Then how will you lay the track: on the ground, raised garden planter or benchwork like Richard Smith's. The "in" thing is the benchwork, getting the trains up off the ground does make it easier on the back!!

Most of all, have fun!!!!!! This is a hobby afterall./DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/laugh.gif
 

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Rob - Make contacts with all of the local garden railroaders you can find and/or join a club. You want to see as many different layouts as possible before you ever pick up that shovel. Find out what you like and more importantly what you don't like. Every garden railroad is different. Then, I think the more planning the better. But of course you can't wait to get started, so plan as much as possible and then just go for it!
 
G

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started with a LGB freight starterset plus some extra rails and switches in 1970 (plus or minus a year, not sure anymore).
stayed indoors till the 80ies, went outdoors for three years or so, went back indoors, where i stayed since then.
over the time added another LGB trainset, some LGB and playmobil wagons, a playmobil trainset and a loco, a bachmann starterset and lots of cheap-offer rails.
a couple of homemade locos, wagons and rails added over the time.
just starting on my next "permanent" layout now.

On a related note, how does LGB going bankrupt affect the direction I'd go in terms of track and stock?

depends. if you are going for cheque-book modelling, go american.
if you are of the scrapbuilder-kind, buy what is offered and adapt it.
 

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The wife bought me a Bachmann 4-6-0 starter set for Christmas in 1994. I think she purchased the set from Damark, a mail order clearing house outfit. I still have this original 4-6-0 and it runs just fine with the original gearing, probably a record in the world of Bachmann G-scale trains.
 

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I actually started in "N" scale in the early 1990's. I started taking my son to trains shows when he was about 4. He wasn't interested in "N" scale, because it was too small. He would go sit infront to the G scale layout and stay there all day. After a couple of years sitting at the G scale layout the members started to employ my son to put the track together. When my son was about 7, I bought my first G scale train, an old FA/FB set. And so it began. I moved to minnesota from texas in 2002, and am now just starting my first layout. I'll post pictures of the progress. I still have all of my "N" scale stuff, my son won't let me sell it. He's hoping to inherit it. I have a Bachmann 4-6-0, a LGB 2-4-0, 2 Aristo U25's, 2 USA Trains SD40-2, and a set of 3 USA Trains F3's and about 40 cars.
 

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Rob,
Del's advice about joining a local club is a good one! The other thing I would add is to visit some other people's garden railroads and actually "see" what they have done! I researched for almost a year and a half before I put down the first foot of track but eventually I "bit the bullet" and dove in! Do your research but don't let that keep you from actually starting! There's no one right way! (There are a lot of mistakes you can make as I can attest to!) The point is to have fun! ;)
 

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Rob - I started with an LGB European Passenger set (Stainz steam engine, two passenger cars) six years ago, and my inventory grew exponentially from there, including equipment from Aristo-craft, Bachmann, USA Trains, and American Mainline. I have not built a permanent outdoor pike due to security reasons, but have set up many temporary layouts - some relatively large - for family parties.

Some folks recommend taking track out to the yard and start laying it down to try and see where it fits, how it fits and looks etc. Some take a garden hose (or several hoses) and design a track path with it. Others recommend designing the layout on paper first and then building. It depends on your skill and ability to draw on paper or on the computer (there are several model train layout design programs that work great) and translate that to actual construction when you are satisfied with the design.

The answers posted here so far in reply to your question are all good and valid. But still, I cannot overstate the value in your taking the time to read throughout MyLargeScale, and read several other large scale forums (some you don't have to join just to read them) where members discuss and post pictures of layout construction and progress. You will see examples of different yard sizes, topography, climates (what state /climate /growing zone are you in), and layout designs.

One very good example that comes to mind of a layout that was recently built based on advice from this and other forums is the Kittatinny Railroad by member "Snowshoe" [[Search on "kittatinny" in the Search block]]. Snowshoe started asking questions early this year, broke ground in March, and by July has a relatively uncomplicated but beautifully landscaped garden railroad fully operating in his backyard.

Al
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Not a bad idea about joining a club! Looks like the one that applies to me is the Chicago Area Garden Railroading Society (http://www.cagrs.com/).

These have all been good points. Right now all I have is a backyard that's empty except for a square-foot garden and a Labrador Retriever, a train set and some track. I'm thinking about sticking with brass just because I'd hate to waste my existing supply.

The things I do have are...

1.) The "Getting Started in Garden Railroading" book, by Allan W. Miller. This was at the Chicago Botanic Garden and I picked it up one day.
2.) A mailbox. Replaced by a better one last year. Dremel the back and the bottom, and voila; the perfect arch form for a tunnel?
3.) About 20 feet of straight track, and 30+ individual pieces of R1 section track, plus 4 turnouts (3 electric) and 1 red/green signal switch. This was before I learned wider is better, but I might just have to have two parallel loops...
3a.) An LGB starter kit dating from the mid 1980s.
4.) A wife's strong interest in cottage gardening. This is a good thing, but no, I'm not trying to go for scale. Or historical accuracy. The garden takes priority over the railroad, although some landscaping for slopes isn't a bad idea.
5.) A decent understanding of electronics.
6.) A deck that needs to be replaced. I was thinking of recycling the treated wood into forms for earthen fill, to help with that whole "slopes are interesting" thing. Plus we're going to dig up a whole lot of dirt for a patio. (Is this a good idea?) Particularly because...
7.) I have an affinity for bridges. Particularly the tied-arch variety.

So I have concepts, just no plans yet. But looking at Snowshoe's work in 3 months, it's pretty exciting to see that it doesn't necessarily take years like it looks like it does...
 
G

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The things I do have are...


think about one or two more points:

do you prefer sitting with a drink and watching running trains, or do you want to play with the trains? (shunting)
in the first case you need circles/dogbones, loops and automatic shuttles.
in the second, point to point with many sidings would be for you.

your preference, what you want from your layout, could influence the choice of system as well.
if watching is your thing, setting up a well thought trackpowered analogue system, where the trains influence each other, would be the challenge.
if you want to be the boss, shunting as it pleases, you should choose some kind of remote control. either trackpowered or with battery driven trains.

or, if you like burnt fingers, clouds of smoke and long hours at the workbench, go live steam!
 

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I was a toddler when my parents got me an LGB starter set in the early '90s. Since then, the number of trains has grown significantly, but the layout has remained indoors. I took a hiatus from the hobby during high school but got back into it last year. Unfortunately, I had the whole LGB debacle waiting for me...
 

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Rod,


I have modeled in N and HO. I got into this hobby to meet a couple of basic needs; I like modeling and I like complex railroad operations.


From visiting other garden railroads I found I like the ones that blend naturally into the garden, not the ones that look like a layout moved outside.


I started largescale by selecting a time period and location. I like early steam. The first U.S. roads were in the East. My all time favorite road is B&O. So my new railroad was going to be set in the 1890's and have an Eastern look and feel.


Opps . . . My research found that early steam equipment ready-to-run in large scale is all narrow gauge. First major decision; Run what's available or scratch build. I decided to do a phased approach.



Phase 1: Run ready made 1:20.3 on Gauge 1 sectional track. Call it a branch line supporting mining. (Fn3)
Phase 2: Scratch build standard gauge 1:20.3 high speed passenger equipment on hand laid 70mm gauge track. (F)



Opps . . . The price of brass just went through the roof. Phase 1 sectional track just became hand laid code 250 aluminum to save money.


So while I planned and researched, some decisions got made for me.


Hope this helps


Dave
 

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Rob if the club you are thinking about joining does as are club. We have monthly meetings at different members homes that have operating layout. This is a great way to see a lot of different ways to build a RR and give one a lot of valuable info. Also by talking with the different folks you get a lot of in put. There are pros and cons to weather its on the ground or off the ground. So do the home work. i prefer the ground more like a RR:)" border=0> Later RJD
 

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I started out with an LGB starter set back in 1983 for Christmas (I was only 4 at the time). My dad was already into model trains and had an HO layout set up in the garage. The Christmas layout grew and grew every year with a new loco, car, or other addition as a prized present over the years. However it stayed as a seasonal layout, only coming out for a few short months around the holidays, and it was always indoors. But that would change.

Thanks in part to our fondness of the D&RGW narrow gauge trains and the present day Durango & Silverton, around 1991 we bought a place in the mountains near Durango, Colorado...were there just happened to be plenty of room for an outdoor layout, although it took a few years to realize this.

In the early summer of 2000, while in Colorado, we visited Greg Posta's famous outdoor layout. Seeing the great work he did and realizing we might be able to do something like that got the idea into our heads to build an outdoor layout. By the middle of the summer we had shipped all the G scale trains and buildings to Colorado and I started developing a track plan. After several ideas and plans I found one that seemed to suit our needs. A turntable at one end, a large loop at the other, a passing siding in the middle, a mine for the main industry, and some towns in between was the basic plan. A wye was initially planned, but we ended up going with the loop instead.

Construction started soon after the plan was finalized and it was pretty easy going...which surprised me. I guess it helps to build these things when you're young. A lot of time is spent on the ground, so if I had bad knees that would be a problem.

Based on our HO track experience, we decided to not use LGB (or any brass track) and go with nickel silver track from Llagas Creek. At the time we wanted reliable electrical operation, and nickel silver is excellent for this. We also wanted more American looking ties and a narrow gauge look, which Llagas Creek is perfect for. However, with the great advances in battery power and wireless control in the last few years, we have gradually changed over to almost all battery power in our locomotives. So at this point good electrical rail isn't really needed anymore. But it's still nice to have track power as an option in case a visitor brings a train that isn't battery powered and wants to run it on the layout. This dual ability is a good thing to plan for when starting out with a layout. Start with good track for track power, and keep it as an option even if you decide to convert to battery power in the future. You never know when you might want track power for something. In fact we still use it to light turnout marker lights.

The outdoor layout has grown considerably over the past few years. And although the track plan hasn't changed, we've added a lot of new rolling stock, buildings, vehicles, and figures. You could say we're in the "detailing" stage of the layout now. No more track or rolling stock acquisitions are planned, but adding more figures and small details is still ongoing.

Model trains is a really enjoyable hobby, and a great way to spend time with the family. I've learned a lot of modeling skills over the years and it's fun to model in multiple scales. In addition to the outdoor layout we still run the HO layout, and there's even an O scale layout that we recently built to run my dad's Lionel trains. A gift he got for Christmas starting in 1952. A train set for Christmas seems to be a common way to get into the hobby for our family, and I'm sure many others.

If you'd like to see photos of the layouts, visit our layout website. Here's a link:

Snowshoe & San Juan Model Railroad
 

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Welcome to MLS Rob. There are a lot of good people here and you've come to the right place to read up and do your research.

Seeing MTH O gauge for the first time in 2004 got me interested and seeing the Accucraft Daylight (1:32) in Largescale hooked me in. Was only supposed to be 100ft loop, transformer and that's it. Next think you know I have 700ft of track down, my entire backyard is dedicated to the layout and I've cut a hole in the side of my house to drive them straight out! /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/tongue.gif" border=0>
Since then Largescale has exploded with new and exciting models just wait till you see what's out here now. :D" border=0>
Agreed with what has been said here, Do your homework and read, read, read. Thanks to the collective knowledge on this site it allowed me to make the right decisions (for me) and have not regretted any of the choices or purchases I've made since getting started. It's nothing but fun. If you would like to just sit and watch some videos, feel free to check out the videos section on my website. (see the link in my signature) I try to take lots of pics and videos of the stuff I purchase so others can get a real good look at it before they might choose to buy it.

Enjoy and welcome again!

Raymond
 

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Joining a club is by far the best suggestion.

The most important thing I can tell you is picking a location. These are some things I considered:

1. How far are you willing to carry your trains? I know if I had to carry them a ways I would not run that much.

2. Shade or sun? With shade comes leaves, with sun comes heat and a green pond.

3. Wind directions? A strong wind can stop the trains that day. So you might want to consider somewhere out of the wind as much as possible.

4. In view or out of view from the public? Brass is a hot commodity for scrappers.

5. Drainage. Trains don't run well underwater.
 

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I actually just started in Garden Railroading myself. I've been in HO for nearly 30 years. Then one day I visited a club members garden railroad. After several minutes of OOH OOH OOH ARRG ARRG ARRG O O O OOOOO(with regards to Tim Allen)I was hooked. I could tell by the amount of drool on my shirt when I left that I HAD TO HAVE ONE! Like many, I started with a Bachmann Annie. But that is currently undergoing some 'slight' modifications to make it my own. As my Jeep buddies say 'Stock Sucks!'
Anyway, have a great time. I have found out this is a great group of guys and a great place to be!

Chris
 
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