ho scale trains – how is the best way to start in the hobby?

Question by roger wilco: ho scale trains – how is the best way to start in the hobby?
I have been reading the magazines for years, but really don’t know where or how to start…do I buy the “sets” or individually? What about landscaping, towns, etc.?

Best answer:

Answer by mariner31
Glad to hear you’ve been reading… I wish I’d done more reading BEFORE I launched into my layout !! Since you have back-copies of the magazines, I’d start out like this:

1) Visit your local RR-Hobby Shop and just look around and get to know the owner/operator. Also check around to find any HO RR clubs, groups and public layouts in your area and visit them… for ideas and to see things in 3 dimensions.

2) Sketch out the area or room you have available to build your layout… either on a computer program like Visio, or the good old stand-by of graph-paper. THEN Xerox a few hundred copies !!

3) Buy a copy of “Realistic Model Railroad Operation” and/or “Track Planning for Realistic Operation” from Kalmbach Publishing (publisher of Model Railroader magazine): http://www.trains.com/mrr/ Perhaps a few of their other “Basics” type books also depending on how much you’ve gathered throught the magazines.

4) Decide what Era and Location you wish to model… OR, what type of Road and Industries you’d like to “freelance”.

5) THEN, spend hours and hours and hours thinking, sketching, and planning… You may well save hundreds of HOURS and THOUSANDS of dollars by finding errors and wrong thoughts during the PLANNING stage instead of having to tear down scenery or track midway through Construction. (I can vouch for this).

I bought my equipment individually because NONE of the “sets” dealt with my Railroad (Union Pacific / ACE / Caltrain). I started with ONE loco, and a few of each type of car I wanted… for measurements while designing spurs, passing tracks, yards, etc.

I wanted to START in HO scale… but after several weeks of sketching realized that I couldn’t do what I wanted in a 10’x12′ bedroom shelf layout… so I redesigned in N scale. Because I hadn’t made any PURCHASES yet, I saved $ 200+ right there!!


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