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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,
I've bought a place and am interested in making a layout on it as I build my house and do the landscaping. That way I can build it in as I go. Hopefully, this will prevent me from having a lot of do overs. I’m currently starting a new model railroad. It's a Private Road name in N scale on a freelanced layout with prototypical places and features. I recently sold my previous layout. Anyways, as expected from a newbie I've got lots of questions.
I'm not wanting to start a “which brand is better”. But, I want to find out some info on track. Like which code? Why or why not. Which one is better Aluminum, Brass, Nickel Silver, Stainless or another? Why or why not? Flex or sectional or mixed? I’m going to look for some items like track Saturday. So, I want some quick insight.
Also, I see there are several scales in the G gauge. Is it better to get all of the same type or can you mix them some? Is there some brand that are good quality for the money and some to watch out for?
Any help would be much appreciated.

TexasPacific
 

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What type of power will you have as power can help determine type of track that can be used.

Battery and live steam can run on aluminum which is the lowest cost.

Is cost a factor?
Lowest cost to highest is as follows:
plastic Great for shelf queens/display
aluminum Great for non power but soft/bends easily if stepped on.
brass Most common for track power, conducts great but needs cleaning
nickel plated Conducts great, but can not be cleaned with abrasive pads
stainless. Poor conduction, stays clean, hard to cut.

And for outside, you need UV protected plastic ties.

Stay away from the hollow track.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well, realistically I guess cost is almost always a factor. But, I know that it will cost a few thousand dollars. But, I don't want to spend say 5 thousand. But, I know it all depends on the size, loco's rollingstock and accessories as well. I guess a lot will depend on what I find out about it before hand. My N scale layout is DCC. It would be nice too have it in G as well. But, might be cost prohibitive. I guess I need to decide which era I want to model as well. Wher I was thinking I could get 300' of track in it if needed. I'm trying to find out about as much as I can before hand to see which route I might need/have to go.

TexasPacific
 

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Your choice of scale really depends upon the type of trains you want to run and the gauge of the track they ran on in the prototypical world.

Do you like standard gauge in the steam/diesel transition era, or modern contemporary standard gauge? There are two scales that represent this in our gauge:1:32 (correct for 4' 8.5" gauge) and 1:29 ( incorrect but more product is available and it is larger, bigger WOW factor).

Colorado and other North American narrow gauge (3' gauge) 1:20.3. Accucraft, Bachmann make this.

European narrow gauge (1 meter) 1:22.5.

Colorado and other North American narrow gauge by LGB, Delton, USAt, Aristocraft and others, 1:22.5/24. Most of these freight cars scale out at 1:24. Many engines and passenger cars have a rubber scale. That is different scales in different dimensions.

Maine 2' gauge, is about 1:13. Very little if any of this scale is availabe RTR. Most has to be scratch built or kit bashed from something else.

I run 1:29, 1:22.5/24, and 1:20.3 but not at the same time. I have been in Large scale since 1980 and started with LGB 1:22.5/24 and as other scales came out with things that I liked I added to my inventory.

Chuck

Your best bet to get answers to your questions is to join or make contact with a local LS club or group. Local climate and general environment may dictate some answers over those that might apply to other parts of the country. For instance, I didn't have any problem with drainage from heavy rains with my rr in Denver. So I didn't design any channels for rain runoff when I built my layout in Virginia. Big mistake! I now have to rake or sweep plant debris off the track after a heavy rain, before I can start running.

Being able to see how fellow LSers in your area do things and asking questions with give and take is far better than relying on our more generalized answers here. You will find that we all to things differently, in greater or lesser detail. No two railroads are alike. Find out what the locals did and why. Then you will be better able to decide what will be best for you.
 

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Good answer Chuck. It is a big question.
I think if you are not too fussy and like various models, you can mix the 1/24 and 1/29 stuff together.
The 1/20.3 stuff look OK with some 1/22.5 or 1/24 freight cars as early era cars were smaller anyway.
A small 1/20.3 engine looks OK with a 1/24 passenger car such as the Bachmann ones.
A 1/29 or 1/32 engine looks ridiculous next to a 1:20.3 engine though.

Track has different tie spacing for narrow gauge and standard gauge so don't overlook that. Some people are not too bothered about it though.

Andrew
 

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Check out code 250 track. It is smaller and your trains look real on it, at least get a section and set an engine/car on it, then on the larger code 332(USA/Aristo/LGB). Since the track is smaller, it is cheaper. I use SVRR track and have had it for over 20 years with no problems.
 

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TP..
Excuse me for a moment here...but this needs to be stated..

Your asking a large amount of questions you want answered in a short time frame...

Clearly you have much to learn about G..

Before jumping ..looking at track etc...

Put the fire out in your pocket!!!!

Your going toooo fast here...

Slow down..you have choices to make first ...everyone is providing you with lots of insight and helpful answers...

You need to think..before jumping...

Grasp what the answers are meaning to you...how they may influence the overall effort of what you want to build..

Combined with the room you have to build in??

Not trying .to.deter your excitement or enthusiasm..

But you need to let it soak in some first...
This is outdoor garden railroading...not HO ..or ..N..101

They provided a atmosphere that you now want to grow into..a motivation...
But learn this before spending your cash..which is what your asking.....

Breathe and learn...you have time...
Thanks,
Dirk - DMS Ry.
 

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I've yet to build outdoors, but here's the decisions I've made and why:

Code 250 aluminum track. It's half the cost of other materials, and I knew from the outset I wanted to run live steam. Code 250 for the more realistic appearance.

Although battery powered initially felt "silly" to me, the very high cost of large scale DCC combined with more expensive track combined with having to clean track (the big reason I left HO) combined with inability to run live steam in conjunction with track power all left me thinking battery is a good way to go outdoors. This option also means I could run on other railways.

I run 1:22.5 so far, because I favor European prototype and I had a perception German product is "better" - though I don't know how fair that is. I like European prototype since the generally shorter equipment copes better with model railways curves.

I expect at some point I will run standard gauge too, in which case it would be 1:32. I like models to be a "correct" scale, and I find mixing scales looks odd.
 

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Considering you are in the process of landscaping and not already confined to what you have in situ think of how broad your curves can be and what lengths you have for yards/trains etc. This will define what will work well for a layout and prototype model. Mainline standard gauge looks best with broad curves. Long steamers will need broad curves for their drivers to get around. Early rustic steam logging railroads in 1/20.3 do not have to have long consists or broad curves so that works well but if you go for 1/20.3 K27 and string of scale coaches your trains get very long and broad curves will be needed. A shorter train looks better in a confined space because the train gets to fully depart and go somewhere without chasing it's tail. The illusion of a journey is better. The 1/20.3 scale models are generally bigger have more detail but also tend to be more vulnerable with details breaking off. Most of the smaller scale models such as Bachmann Big Hauler etc. are less vulnerable to breakage and cost less. A standard gauge railroad can offer more color in the trains with painted up diesels and billboard reefers. European prototype models such as LGB's offerings also offer color and tend to fit in more easily being smaller in scale and work with sharper curves.
If you are not sure which way to go at first, start with something like a Bachmann Annie and some flats and boxcars because they are good value and can be modified to fit in scale wise if you end up deciding to go 1/29 or 1/20.3 later. It's a no brainer. You will learn what you like as you go. Code 250 track is cheaper and scaled better but very small radius switches are not available which may be necessary depending on your space. If you have to use small radius switches the TrainLine R3 is only a little longer but an improvement over the sharp toy like R1.

Hope this helps but the big question is track and how the trains are powered. I'm still pondering over that and there are many variables, aspects, opinions and technologies yet to come. Expense can stack up quickly and it all depends on the layout, your budget and how many engines you may need to set-up. If it is possible, make a short test run to get your feet wet and learn what is right for you rather than attempting the big plan.

Andrew
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Sorry for not getting back earlier. I want to thank everyone for their responses. I'm not going to be a rivet counter. No offense to any one. But, what I want is to get some track, cars and a loco and be able to use it later as I get more stuff. Like a starter set. I don't want to get one if I'd be better off buying seperately. Since I'm into N scale already I like the idea of DCC. But, I'm really looking into just getting going. So battery or power through rails might be alright. I'm thinking that I'll go with 1:29. It seems there is quite a bit of everything for it. I like the shorter mining/logging trains. But, I like the modern trains as well. I guess i need to figure out what I'll use for my power soure for my locomotives first then worry about the track. I do have the Feb, Apr, Jun & Aug issue of Garden Railways. Trying to decifer all of the stuff. Ha! Ha!
SD90WLMT, you are correct there is a lot of info to obsorb. But you have to start somewhere. That was one reason I joined to hopefully find out about the hogbby before buying something that won't work later. As far as size and curve radi I'm not worried. Becasuse, I couldn't fill it up before I ran out of money. So, I'l have to decide if I'll run any medium to large steamers on my layout. Got to run now. Again thak everyone for their replies. I'm looking forward to getting started.
PS I di check for a club in my area. Unfortunately due to the special events going on they're not holding another meeting till December.

TexasPacific
 

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A set can be good value but in the end you may not use the sharp radius set track curves and the power pack will be too small for a large outdoor layout or not needed if you go battery. USA trains have an NW2 set with a steam era 1/29 diesel, boxcar and caboose which is good value. Accucraft have boxes of flex track of different types for a few hundred dollars. Later you can lash out another few hundred dollars for for a bigger power pack or set the loco up for up for battery when you decide. You can also put the batteries and control gear in a trailing boxcar to avoid the cost of setting up each locomotive you purchase.
If you like short logging/mining trains consider 1/20.3 with one of Bachmann's many steam locomotives, center cab or davenport diesel or even a little LGB Porter which scales to about 1/20.3. Accucraft logging disconnects or Bachmann side dump cars etc. The Bachmann center cab is big and has two powered trucks. The 1/20.3 scale has good offerings for short logging/mining trains.

Andrew
 

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If your local group has a web site, you might try contacting them and asking if there are any members who could show your their railroads. As you have said there are many options out there for track, power,scale, layout design and construction, etc. Seeing what others do will be a great help when you begin to make decisions about your new layout.

My layout is track power. I have a Bridgewerks (Magnum 10-SR, 10 amp) power supply and a Bridgerwerks UR-15 remote controller between the power supply and the track. The remote controller is controlled by a small key fob that I can use to shut off and turn on power to the track, change speed and direction. I am not locked into standing at the power supply to run a train.

I also have had some of my engines converted to battery/RC (both Airwire, and REVO). I had this done so I could run as a guest on layouts that do not have track power.

All of my track is brass code 332 sectional, LGB and AristoCraft. My curves are 10' diameter, but I'm using LGB 18000 series switches. The diverging curve on them is about 15' diameter.

I wish I had used a larger diameter, but when I built the layout in 1994 larger diameter curves in sectional track weren't available. All of my engines and cars will handle the 10' diameter, but the longer ones don't look very good. There is a lot of overhang entering and leaving the curved sections.

As we tell all beginners, use the largest curves that will fit into your space and make your passing sidings twice as long as the longest train you think you will be running. Trains outside with all the fresh air and sunshine tend to grow longer over time.

Welcome the the hobby and enjoy.

Chuck
 

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Discussion Starter #16
OK, I've been looking at the Bachmann ET&WNC Freight starter set. I know it's G gauge. But what is the scale? The reason is, I've seen and heard conflicting reports. The two that I've heard were 1:20.3 or 1:22.5. I want to try to keep everything the same scale if possible. I heard the Big Haulers were 1:22.5. But this doesn't say a Big Hauler. But, it doesn't say spectrum either. Which I heard was 1:20.3. So I'm not sure. The era I'm thinking of right now is 1870 to 1940'ish. I did manage to get an AccuCraft 20' dia. Track package for $400 this weekend. Was sure if it was a good buy. But, it didn't sound too bad. Also, how can one easily tell if it's a newer generation of locomotive. An acquaintance has a used Big Hauler set for $150. He said he bought it used and never used it. I don't remember the set name thought. But, it was a freight set. As, it had a 4-6-0, tender, boxcar, log car, tank car and caboose. Does that sound like a fair price? I'm wanting newer and not the first ones they ever made. Again thanks for all of the help and info.

Texas Pacific
 

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All can say is that it is not 1:20.3 and it is a BIG HAULER starter set. I believe that the engine scales out to 1:22.5 (or so I have heard). I think that the freight cars in the BH series are closer to 1:24. It is not a problem as they all look well together. They just don't look too great with 1:20.3 engines. There have been 5 generations of that engine. There are ways to tell which generation the engine is, I hope Loco Bill sees this and can provide an definite answer. He has catalogued all of the Bachmann sets and engines.

You might go over to the Bachmann site and ask there about the engine. I don't usually recommend a similar question on two sites, but he is a regular contributor over there. There is a good chance he will see your post here, but it wouldn't hurt to post over there.

Chuck
 

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1870s to 1940s is a pretty broad range--especially in terms of narrow gauge railroads. You'll find historically over such a broad range that the overall size of locomotives and rolling stock increased dramatically. The c. 1870s locos were very small, a la the Bachmann 4-4-0 and 2-6-0, or the LGB Mogul, or Aristo/Delton C-16. The equipment was small as well, with freight car sizes on the order of 7' wide by 25' long or so. Capacities were generally fairly small.

When you get to the 1910s, the locos and rolling stock both increased in size. Locos were more in line with something like the Bachmann outside frame 2-8-0 or K-27. Rolling stock increased in size and capacity as well, to where "average" size was now close to 8' wide and 30' long.

The upshot of all this is that the scale that's stated on the box isn't quite as important as how the particular piece of equipment measures in your chosen scale. If you're looking at c. 1870s vintage stuff, many of the stated "1:24" or "1:22.5" cars from Bachmann, LGB, etc. actually measure out very well in 1:20.3 for that early stuff.

The only real "determining" factor of scale lies in things like locomotive cabs, passenger cars or cabooses--places that reflect the size of the people that worked on them. Even there, there's a small degree of "wiggle room" though not nearly as much as on the freight equipment.

Later,

K
 

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Like Dan said, the very first question is what method of power you're going to use. If through the rail, you need track that's appropriate to your patience in cleaning it, and your wallet. If battery, you can run your trains on pretty much any material, if it's stable enough and has the proper gauge. But then other issues come into play, like cosmetics (code / height, tie dimensions, tie color, etc.), durability, method of laying (hand-laid, flex, sectional), and -- of course -- cost.

If you're going to use track power though, and want the best bang for the buck in track, I recommend Train Li's nickle-plated brass. Not nearly as expensive as stainless, costs more than brass, but it doesn't oxidize like brass. It is real brass beneath, unlike some mfgr's claims of "brass rail" that is actually heavily mixed with zinc, making it brittle. It can be soldered to, is conductively excellent, and the plating is tough as nails. I don't have a financial interest here, it's just that I'm impressed with this rail and am very happy with it. As are others.

===>Cliffy
 

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Discussion Starter #20
The reason for such a broad range is that I'm trying to find out how long it was used. I'm talking about #12 on the ET&WNC. I haven't found a delivery date. I found the railroad lasted till 1950 or so. I think I'd actually like to do earlier like around the turn of the century. I'm just not sure how many cars are available for the time period.
Right now, I will probably go with track power while getting my feet wet. Eventually, if it turns into a bigger hobby I would then probably think about either DCC and/or some battery powered locomotives.

TexasPacific
 
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