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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,
I am new to G-scale and model railroading in general.
I have wanted a G-scale railway for years and am now ready to start one.
Unfortunately I am as lost as I can be /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/crazy.gif One day I think I am ready to start buying track and so on and the next I find myself second guessing and being totally overwhelmed with the amount of choices and information. So I keep putting it off.

I have read lots of articles on all different subjects that all seem to conclude with the same statement…. “Stop waiting and get started!” but where… that is what I want to know.
I honestly have no idea what I should purchase/do next.

My wife while trying to encourage my interest bought me a starter set that I can run in circles but I want to really kick this thing off and make this a large railway. I just have no idea what step to take next.
I already have a 10AMP Aristocraft power pack that some guy at the Houston Train show convinced me I “had to have to run a large garden railroad” but was that a good purchase? I have no clue. At this time I doubt it as I don’t even know what to do with it.
Form what I understand it is a good power pack… but is it what I need? How do I hook it up and even dumber… to what? Heck I thought I understood what he was saying when I bought it, but when I got home - I was lost… so it is just sitting in the box :eek:) How much track can the little transformer that came with the set power before I need to get that 10AMP thing involved

Track seems like a logical choice for a next step but I have no idea what type or code to get. I don't want to just match what came in the starter set if there is a better option available. ?

Long story short - from what type of track to buy, to what components actually connect between the wall socket and the track, to choosing DCC vs Radio… I am totally lost.

I really want to jump into this but am afraid that I will make some costly mistakes and that would put a damper on both my budget and more importantly my enthusiasm.

In case it matters, I live on a cul-da-sac and have a huge backyard and can use as much or as little space as I want.

Any web sites, books or advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

Thank for your time and input.

Todd Van Note
Sugar Land, TX
 

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Dear Mr Van Note - firstly, welcome to MLS! Secondly, sit down and take a deep breath. Thirdly, tell us what starter-set you have - this is important, as it might colour our answers to your questions, particularly where the all-important question of track is concerned.

THEN - find a local large-scale train club, or a member here who can act as your one-to-one mentor to get you going. It can't be me, as I live most of the year in UK, but I betcha that you're not far away from another mls-er.

Keep a tight hold on that power pack - you'll need it.

Remember that some of us live in tomorrow as far as you're concerned - you are currently seven hours behind me here in UK. That means that I can work on your questions while you are asleep.

Now relax, and wait for the offers to come rolling in.

Best wishes :)

tac
 

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Getting our home built so maybe we can start playing with trains again!
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Todd, first off welcome to MLS. There's definitely a wealth of info here but be careful what you ask for....there are a hundred different ways of doing things too and what one person said you'll find 10 to tell ya something else. Nothing wrong with that but it can help confuse things too.
In my opinion you have to decide what you want to do and just do it. Don't second guess yourself anymore. There really are too many things that can clutter and distract so pick a couple boxes of track, some rail clamps and have at it.
Battery, track power and live steam are all roads you can travel. Which is best? None really since they all have their own draws and drawbacks. We use MTS (LGB Track power), battery and I also have a Power G throttle for non-LGB track power. No "Coffee Percolators" here (easy guy's I'm just kidding)but that's mostly because of the cost.
Start simple is the best advice I can offer. Just one thing though, there's an old thought here, when designing the layout use the largest possible curves you have space for. Hopefully you have room for 20's so this way you can run everything that is available from the USAT BigBoy to the small little egg-liners.

Here is a pic of the MTS Set-up. There is a central station, power transformer and the two modules with the blue and yellow stripes are reverse loo modules that automatically change the track polarity when using reverse loops. They're not hooked up at the moment but when we had them installed in our old layout they worked outstandingly!
 

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Greetings and salutations.. I am much closer than Jolly Ole England... I'm in Utah.. but still not close enough to do you much good one on one. I know there are more than a few MLS'ers in the Lone Start State, I'm sure we'll get you hooked up in no time..

As TAC asked.. what kind of starter set did you get? If it's a Bachmann Big Hauler set, welcome to the club.. probablt 75% of us got started with one of those (myself included). The trains are great.. throw the track and power pack away.. If you have an LGB, USA Trains or Heartland starter set, you're in excellent shape, as the trains are very good, the track is fine as well.

With regards to track purchases.... what type of trains are you wanting to run... If you just want a train in the backyard, diesel and steam, just fun.. look for code 332 brass or stainless track. It's the most common one and will carry track power (from your power pack) well. It also works well for battery RC applications. (Maybe later, down the road a bit). If, on the other hand, you are a scale enthusiast, a rivet counter if you will, and wnat to run 1: 20.3 narrow guage, then you'll be looking for track other than code 332 ( I can't recall the number, I'm sure someone will jump in).

POWER: (Yeah). Take a close look at your Aristo 10 amp pack. Is it just a power supply? Is there any way to regulate power between it and the rails? From what you described above I will assume that you just have the power pack, you will need some form of power regulator between it and the track. I reccoment the Aristo Train Engineer radio throttle. Basically it's a TV remote for your train. You place a reciever unit inline between the power pack and the track. The reciever unit has an electronic power regulator in it. You activate the unit with the walkaround transmit unit. It functions exactly like an old school transformer, only by radio remote.. very handy.

I'll go take some pics of mine and post them shortly.

Anyway, share some more info with us regarding exactly what you have, and we'll be better able to advise...

Glad to have you on board... Fell free to ask anything.
Yer gonna have a great time!!!

Dave.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you for your promt reply and please call me Todd
I am sure I came acorss a bit frazzeled... I certanly didn't mean to :eek:) I actually composed several versions of that post but everytime I found myself getting into more and more detail and asking more and more questions. So I hoped to narrow the scope slightly but get as much info as I could in my first posting.


I will admit though- It is a tad overwhelming when there is so much information out there and most of it is geared toward individuals that are seasoned in the hobby.

I will check on the type of starter set when I get home and post it this evening or tomorrow. In case it matters, I am not stuck on or tied to that starer set. While it is a great way to get up and running it is a steam loco and I am more interested in the modern diesels. So changing to a different type of track is not an issue.

I have looked fore a G-scale club to join but haven' had much luck here locally. I did find a club not far from home but I never heard anything back from them after I subscribed and inquired. I also inquired at the local train sotre. Unfortunately while they are beter then not having any options, I sort of left with the impression that they were not overly interested in helping me understand how to get started.
That is the reason I decided post here... With the hope of finding someone that can offer some adivce and experience before I go spend monies needlessly.

Thank you again for your prompt response and best wishes on your railroad.

Todd

Todd
 

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Todd, Welcome to MLS! And congrats on the starter set!

My recommendation would be to run the train with the starter power pack first. The size of the power supply is not affected by the amount of track, it's how much power your loco uses. So if the power pack is enough for 20' of track it will run the same loco on 200' of track. But if you get a more power hungry loco or start pulling long trains, the starter pack may no longer do the trick.

The 10amp power supply was not waisted as it will allow you to run more than one loco, later, or pull long trains.

The fact that you know there are different codes and materials for track is a good start :) Most folks run code 332, brass, and that is probably what came with your starter set. ONE WORD OF CAUTION, if your starter set is Bachmann, then the track is most likely not rated for outdoor use. Code 250 and 215 are smaller and can look more prototypical but they don't hold up as well if someone steps on them. Stainless steel and Nickel Silver are alternatives to brass. Some folks like the stainless steel because it requires less maintenance, but others don't like it because it remains shiny and doesn't weather as nice as Brass. It all depends on what is most important to you. Brass needs to be cleaned periodically to keep the conductivity working well. Some battery folks use Aluminum, which is less expensive.

DC is what comes with your starter set. It basically runs one train. DCC is more involved and expensive but has a lot more capabilities, like being able to run more than one loco at a time, triggering sounds with the push of a button, throwing switches different directions, etc. Battery has many advantages as well. You don't need to worry about clean track, reversing loops do not require special components, etc. There are a lot of folks that do both here so ask more questions and maybe you will decide on one or the other or both.

Don't jump too fast, this stuff is not cheap. If you bought a DCC system and decided battery was what you really wanted (or vice versa), that's a big waste.

Don't forget live steam. This is a viable option with G scale. There are a lot of experts here who can provide their experience.

I think selecting track is a good step, as without it your loco won't get too far :) But a better first step may be to decide on a track layout. If you are not sure about DC, DCC, battery, or Live steam, you can lay track that will work with all. Rail clamps connect the rails together better than the standard connectors that come with most track. They are real nice for electrical conductivity if running DC or DCC.

I would definitely get your starter set up and running first. Nice of your wife to buy that for you, she is a keeper :)
 

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it is a steam loco and I am more interested in the modern diesels.

Todd,
Sounds like you lean towards modern standard gauge trains. This 'G' scale hobby is split between folks running big but narrow gauge locos on "g-gauge" track, and others running big but standard gauge trains on the same track! Don't get too confused.
Take a look at USA Trains and Aristocraft (click link)and I think you'll find those "modern diesels".
 

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OK.. Photo Update..



On the left is my power supply. It's the Ariostocraft switchable unit. I have mine set at 22 V : 13 Amp.
To the right of the power supply in the Train Engineer reciever unit. You can see the antenna wire heading up to a peg on the wall.
In the back is the walkaround transmitter unit, the TV remote if you will.

Great system, but as has been said above, there is no right or wrong way, just what works best for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Dave you Rock!
Pardon the pun, but it seem to fit with your photo :eek:)

I am going to find out what type of starter set it is and post it later.
Your correct though. I just want trains running in the backyard. Counting rivets and so on hold little interest to me. I think those that have the patience are great and they have my admiration, but I want trains running... and lots of them :eek:)

I believe the 10AMP that I have is just a power supply? I'll see if I can figure that out tonight as well.

If you are using radio to control the train how do you control any of your switches and so on?

What are your thoughts on starting small vs. building the layout in my head? What I have drawn up is not overly difficult to build but would take a while and cost more.
Ultimately that is where I would like this go, so is starting small a good thing or should I just start buying track and moving dirt?

Thank you for your input... I feel like now at least I can get some answers in laymen’s terms.

Todd
 

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I like to think big but start small. So I have the big plan in mind but I bite off a chunk I can handle. You may also realize that small may be big enough.
One other item before laying track is what do you want to use for roadbed? Lots of options again. Search the Track, Trestles, Bridges and Roadbed forum for "roadbed":
Track forum
 

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As a beginer myself I will just say what I did and what I want to do. To start off I got the aristo 10amp with the non remote throtle (less expensive). I purchased a USA trains sd70 in CNW colors. Mine has to be Chicago NorthWestern because of many family conections to them. I then set up a simple loop in my front yard around a small pond I made. I used 12.5' loop and 6- 6foot pieces of straight track. That fit great in my yard and left me in a situation where I could add switches to extend around my house in the future. I also used brass because of cost with the idea I might use battery in the future as my empire expands. The pont of this is get something started that you can enjoy now (it will help keep your interest) but have a dream design in mind to work for. This is a hobby in my mind that can get boring if you every get to the point of "there it is done".

This is a link to my "start" http://www.mylargescale.com/Communi...rumid/23/postid/42261/view/topic/Default.aspx

Remember it is about having fun.

Rick
 

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Dear Mr Todd - nobody has mentioned it yet, but get yourself down to your nearest Chapter's and buy a copy of the Kalmbach magazine 'Garden Railways'.

Apart from being full of adverts of dealers - many of whom are forum sponsors on THIS site, and look after us very well - there are usually a load of layouts, accessories and how-to's to give you ideas.

I'm sorry to hear about your negative experiences with both your local train dealer and so-called club - neither of them sound like anything but a waste of oxygen and thankfully they are rare.

mrs tac and I travel to Port Orford OR from UK every year to see OUR large-scale train friends [no name, but everybody knows who they are - hiya Richard and Helen, BTW ;)]. so I'll be amazed if nobodsy takes up your crie de coeur and comes knocking on your door.

Best of luck over there

tac, ig and cwor the crow
 

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Todd,

I second Dave's experience with the Aristo Train Engineer remote throttle. I am using the Aristo 10 Amp power supply with the TE, and it works great for me. I like how it gives me freedom to walk with my train or do switching.

About track, I am a big fan of stainless steel track. I don't have a lot of time to clean brass track's oxidation, so when I built my 3rd garden rr, I bought all new track. Time to buy the track is now. Aristo has their 'buy 4 get one free' deal going until the end of the month. They also do this in Jan-Feb every year. Basically, you buy four boxes of track, and then figure up the average (using the MSRP) and then select a 5th box of equal or lessor value. When I took advantage of it, I got a box of 20' diameter curves (one box = one circle), one box of 16.5' diameter curves, two boxes of 2' straights and got a box of 12.5' diameter curves for free. Did the same thing with switches. This helped to extend my investment.

Good luck!

Mark
 

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We have 17 of those at the Botanic Garden. Wouldn't want to run the old way!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Mark,
Thank you very much for your input.
I may well get a small layout up and going right away to keep me motivated.
I will certainly look into the Aristo deal. Do you have any thoughts on shipping vs. buying local?
I know brass is expensive but I think it will cost me about $16 to have a box ships via UPS ground. Do you think that factor may cost me more in the long run then buying it locally?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thank you all for your input... it is a breath of fresh air to get some simple answers and not be pressured or ignored.
A few more questions if you don’t mind chiming in.

Track power â€" As I said I can make this as big or little as I choose. Right now I am planning on putting my layout in the middle of the back yard and am setting aside an area that will be 30’ x 40â€�. Running an under ground power line over to that area is no big deal... but is a single line on a 20 amp breaker enough for a large layout?
Also I would like to burry the power needed in strategic places around my layout for switches, accessories and so on. Do you have any suggestions as to how often or far apart and what gauge wire I should use for this? And No I am not planning on my initial layout taking the whole 30’ x 40’ but as long as I am running power I would like to get those lines buried while I am in the digging and foundation phase if needed.

Location â€" One day I would love to put a track that does a loop around the front yard. However living in a subdivision I am a bit concerned about the lawn guys wrecking it, neighbor kids, etc... Do any of you have any portion of your layout in the front yard and if so have you run into any problems?

Switches â€" Do most people use manual or electric switches? I know with DCC you can control the switches remotely from the hand controller. Is that a viable option for a G-Scale layout and if so do I need to run power over to every switch or can I tap into the track power.

Operating the trains â€" Can you run more then one Loco with the Aristo Train Engineer? Are there servos and so on required with installation for that type of RC contoller.

Thank you again for your input opinions.

Todd
 

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Todd:

Two things.

With regard to how I do my switching. All my turnouts are manual. With the TE remote I can control the speed and direcion of my trains form anywhere in my yard, so I can walk over to any switch and manually set the turnouts. To me anyway, I feel more connected, a more active participant in my railroad.

Track, buying local -vs- mailorder... In either case you'll end up paying the shipping. If you order online yuo'll get a much better price up front, but have to pay shipping cost. If you buy local, it'll cost more on the floor since they include their shipping cost in the retail price.

StAubin junction, an online retailer is located in LasVegas. That's probably the closest major mail order house to your location (hence, lowest shipping cost). Good folks there, I order quite a bit from them., worth a look for you. They sponsor this beginners forun, click on their banner ad above. Also, when ordering track, don't order anything over 4.5' in length, any bigger and you enter the workd of oversize shipping and it gets spendy in a hurry.

My 2 cents...
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thank you Dave that is the kind of info thoes of us just getting into this need.
I will give then a look and see what I can get track wise. I will also look into the the TE system and see what is available. Do you have any idea what a fair ball-park price would be for that type of system?
 
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