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Patrick, Welcome to MLS!! I started with a Ruby and while not a great loco, it is easy to run, fairly inexpensive and can be bashed into any number of interesting models. With some tweaking it will run very well. There are lots of suggestions on MLS for functional and cosmetic mods for the Ruby. I buy my track from Sunset Valley, I use the narrow gage brass code 250. Last I bought was about $6 a foot. You can get aluminum for less. No problem with melting ties. You may be able to pick up some used sectional track cheaper on E-Bay or such.
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