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Discussion Starter #1
I was looking for layout ideas in my other thread, when an idea occured to me. I'm wondering if a good, reasonably inexpensive way to get started would be to put a pair of starter sets in my "L" shaped area. I could fit one around the tree and one in the base of the "L". I'm assuming that there wouldn't be enough power in the starter sets to get much bigger, but I could probably add a few straight sections to each to make them a little bigger.

I'm thinking that this might be a good place to start, with some expansion options later. Besides, that would give each of the twin boys their own train. But my question is whether it is worth it. Are the starter sets reliable enough to last a year or two, while allowing for slow replacement of cars and parts, or will they just give out after a month or two of use? It would certainly be cheaper than building the whole thing from scratch, at least to start.

Opinions?

Thanks!
Timothy
 

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Depends if you find one with parts you like. Otherwise, just buy the loco, cars, track and control you want.
 
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Timothy,
It could also depend on what brand you buy...LGB sets would prob last longer with 2 y/o boys, I'd do the "value set" Small amount of track included 4' circle!
http://www.wholesaletrains.com/Detail.asp?ID=200469813

...the Bachmann sets are nice, and detailed--not necessarily little finger friendly(I have a few)...but the track does not do well outside-at all!...
http://www.ridgeroadstation.com/istar.asp?a=3&manufacturer=117&dept=trains&class=G&subclass=SETS

the USA or Aristo Sets are nice too, and may fit with your transition theme...Smallish Diesels and 0-4-0 Switchers
http://www.ridgeroadstation.com/istar.asp?a=3&manufacturer=255&dept=trains&class=G&subclass=SETS
http://www.staubintrains.com/trainshop/ad_p06.asp

Then there are the Lionel G Sets---sold at Target this past Christmas as well...
http://www.trainworld.com/TW8_08GRWPAGE8_TW1_08CTTPAGE1A.pdf
....bottom right corner-Lionel Battery Opp that runs on G track...no idea about them-$99

Tom makes a great point---if you can't find a set you like-make your own!

since you like the old Flatheads, you should introduce yourself to this guy...Dave Goodson
http://dnkgoods.home.mindspring.com/index.html

he's gone over the edge now with a right hand drive Jag, but does love his Ford!
cale
 

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Timothy,

Used to be that LGB was the last word on starter sets. LGB is now gone, but is returning under new names. However, I would suggest you look for the LGB Toy Train starter sets. These are rugged little trains that are designed for abuse, come with a full circle of track and a decent power supply. The other LGB starter sets get a little more pricey, but you will get a larger steam locomotive.

The other option for starter sets where you can use most of the equipment outside would be the Aristo starter sets. The nice thing about the Aristo versions is they use a real model for the locomotive (Its a PRR A-5 switch engine, slope tender is available separately). They also have a 'basic' train engineer which is a remotely controlled throttle. Fast-slow-direction and stop. Also, the aristo track comes ready to be screwed together. The LGB track joiners are a simple slip-type. Some folks have had to add clamps to get the track power to work.

There are some other starter sets, but I have found that the more rugged LGB and Aristo sets are better for small hands. I made the mistake of getting my nephew a Bachmann Tweetsie set. The engine and cars are more than he can handle, so it is a difficult toy for him to enjoy. My other nephews got LGB sets, which see use at Christmas only, but I haven't heard of any difficulties with those sets.

Also, in looking for pictures, the prices of the regular LGB sets are within 85 bucks of the sound equipped versions. If you do go the LGB route, the extra cash is worth it for those sound units. Nicely timed chuff-chuff, nice little bell and whistle is great!! I had a Southern version when they came out way back when.

In looking at more high end starter sets, the USA starter sets are nice, too, but USA trains tend to be a bit more fragile in the detail department. However, their locomotives are great, too.

So, to answer your question, yes, the starter sets are worth it.

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Great info guys! Too bad the Bachmann track isn't good outside, I like the looks of their sets. Our weather isn't very severe, but we do get four seasons and heavy rains in the monsoon season. I'll look at the other options. This is growing on me as a great way to get started. I was expecting to spend over a grand on the basic layout, power and trains that I was looking at for a layout, so even the more expensive starter sets look cheap!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Alright - after looking at a few of the options, I think I've got it:

A pair of Bachmann starter sets, which include trains, tracks and power. I'll expect to replace the track before too long, and will use Aristo tracks then. Does that make sense? I'm assuming the tracks are interchangeable, is that right?

Thanks for all the great info, I would have probably been down the wrong path with out all the help!

Timothy
 

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Heads Up!, Bachmann and Aristo ARE NOT interchangable, the joints are different and they are not interchangeable.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Posted By vsmith on 07/01/2008 1:33 PM
Heads Up!, Bachmann and Aristo ARE NOT interchangable, the joints are different and they are not interchangeable.




As in: you can't mix sections of track on the same layout

Or: You can't run a Bachmann train on Aristo track?


I'm thinking that when the Bachmann track starts to wear I would replace the entire layout with new track.
 

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The track gauge is the same, so the Bachmann trains will run on Aristo or LGB track.

The Bachmann track will not wear, it will disintegrate. They use this sheet metal formed in a U to make their track. This will rust through in no time flat. The ties are not UV resistant and will fall apart almost as fast as the track itself.

OK, if you are going the Bachmann route, I'd suggest looking at George Schreyer's GIRR web page for tips on that locomotive. Very helpful.
Specific to the big hauler:
http://www.girr.org/girr/tips/tips1/big_hauler_tips.html

His main page:
http://www.girr.org/girr/index.html

I have been using the Aristo Stainless steel track outside for almost 5 years now. Before that I was using a mix of LGB and Aristo brass. Brass works fine, but it oxidizes quickly. That means more work just to get trains running and keeping them running. Since you are doing this to entertain your twins, who are 2?? , getting trains running and keeping them running will be paramount. Spend the few extra bucks on the stainless. You won't regret it.

Mark
 
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...all "G" trains should run on all "G" track...but all "G" Track does not all work together...ie: Bachmann with anyone else.
USA, LGB, Aristo Code 332 all mate up....just not with Bachmann!

/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/whistling.gif*just a reminder* the Bachmann units are prob the least "kid finger friendly" of all above mentioned!

cale-dad of almost 4...Eli=5, Luke=3, Caidyn 19mo, Milam...July 15th 2008.
 

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Posted By Flathead on 07/01/2008 1:47 PM
Posted By vsmith on 07/01/2008 1:33 PM
Heads Up!, Bachmann and Aristo ARE NOT interchangable, the joints are different and they are not interchangeable.

As in: you can't mix sections of track on the same layout
Or: You can't run a Bachmann train on Aristo track?
I'm thinking that when the Bachmann track starts to wear I would replace the entire layout with new track.




As in they are two different approaches to track manufacturing, Aristo Code 332 track (typical brass track size)is the same as USA track and a 99.9% identical match to LGB track and from the samples I've seen also a 99.9% match to Piko track. These are all readily interchangable as is similar Code 332 Sunset. Llaga, and Accucraft rail, Bachmann rail is not cast brass like Aristo, but stamped hollow steel like old Lionel tinplate track and like Lionel has metal 'tongues' that protrude from the rail on get inserted into the next peice of track, this 'tongue' gets in the way preventing mating up of track and even if you remove the tonguen you'd need a rail clamp to hold the two different peices of track together, and rail clamps arent cheap, nor would I suspect the bachmann track being capable of clamping the rail clampdown hard enough to prevent movement without crushing the steel rail. bachmann track is great for indoor display and storage, but will rust to worthlessness in a very short time outdoors, even in a dry environment.

If cash for new is an issue, check E-bay for used track, while the big wide diameter track is going for top dollar, the short 4' diameter or R1 track is still going for dirt cheap, and looking at your layout it looks like 4' diameter was what was planned for, unless I'm reading it wrong.
 

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Well you are getting a lot of help. So research and then go from there. As said a lot of track is not compatible in the starter sets. Later RJD
 

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due to moving parts and pinch points, most manufacturers do not recommend usage of these trains by children under 8 years old.

Steam engines have pinch points at the valve gear and small children must be watched very closely.

With the hook and loop couplers that come with most products, cars and engines are very compatible.

Lionel track and Bachman track can not be easily mixed with others.

For ruggged starter sets, there is HLW Hartland Locomotive Works. The little 2 axle cars are perfect for children to handle.

Aristo does have sets with a simple remote control called the Basic TE (Train Engineer).
 

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Actually the standard Bachmann G-scale track IS interchangeable with Aristo or LGB with the slip-on type connectors.

Carefully twist and remove the black metal tongue that is on the ends of the Bachmann track. Be careful to not twist too much lest the track become bent. Then it is a simple matter to gentle pich the Bachmann track and slip it into the Aristo or LGB slip-on connector.

I have mixed Bachmann and LGB track for indoor Christmas layouts with no problems of electrical continuity. I don't know if this will work outside but since even a light dew will cause Bachmann track to rust-over I doubt this is a technique with much value outside.

If you want to restore the Bachmann track to its original condition simply save the black metal tongue and carefully re-install it.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks for all the great info, guys. I've ordered a Bachmann starter set and will go from there. My thought is that if I get track that works for even a short time, a power supply and a train for under $200 bucks, I'm doing pretty good. It's a good way to get my feet wet without spending too much, see how it works for me, then get new track and do a more final layout after I see how it works in my garden. Even if the track lasts a week, I'll be ready with power and a train for new track.

I'll post pics of the layout when I get it in.
 

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Well lets see, Bachman starter set track is totaly worthless outside and if its for a child, to fragile. LGB sets are top notch, perfect for a child and if you price it out seperatly, the engine and transformer will many times exceed the cost of the total set. For LGB sets, a bit hard to find at the moment, contact Dave Watts at Watts Train Shop in Zionsville IN. I bought a 5 year old LGB Euro passenger set, new in the box, thru one of the many collections he has purchased and resold. I got it for a real keen price, lower than the most current version of the set. I was just in the shop this last weekend and he has many starter sets in stock right now, as well as other items of interest. Cheers Mike and Michele T
 

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I think the Bachmann starter sets are pretty good for the money. I bought one for $79.00 at Hobby Lobby. Try to get some Aristo-Craft track as soon as you can. This hobby isn't hard, it just requires smoe dedication, and a creative mind.
 

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the major bachmann parts in the sets are ok, the steam engine drive train isnt usualy the "Annie" version, but I have heard some of the Sams sets were. Its thier steel track that is totaly worthless for anything but under the xmas tree or indoor operations, unless you live in the desert. But for an almost bulletproof locomotive drive train and elephant proof track, its LGB all the way. Hartland also makes some excellent, almost LGB quality drives, but no real starter sets. Cheers Mike
 
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