Welcome Back to Part two of our beginner series in Model Railroading. This post is all about the basics of building kits, the different track types, DCC, types of trains, what the numbers on a steam locomotive mean and painting terms.
If you have any questions or comments please email us or leave them below.
Plastic Model Building Kits:
1. Pre-Built Plastics [model buildings].
2. Build your self plastics
3. Build your self-Wood.
Scenery Materials: Various: Main one is Woodland Scenics, Trost’s own, Bachmann, Heki. These are just a few of the brand names. Almost all scenery lines are geared to function with most or all scales.
People, Vehicles, Railroad parts i.e. crossing signs, lights, etc.
Woodland scenics, Model Power, Miniatures By Eric, Excel, Hobits, Micro Engineering, Trost’s Own, Herpa, Athearn, Wiking, McHenry, Kadee to name a few.
Track: HO and N scales: Peco; Atlas; EZ Bachmann – O scale; Atlas O, RealTraxx
There is quite a lot for variety in most scales.
A question that always comes up first is – What type of model train track should I use? There are several different brands and sizes available. Mostly what you use is personal preference. One thing to remember is that the size of the rails is reported as the code. For example code 83-model railroad track has larger rails than code 55 tracks.
The difference between Atlas HO Code 83 and Code 100 track: Literally, the code of a piece of track is the height of the rail in thousandths of an inch (meaning code 83 rail is .083" high; code 100 rail is .100" high). The significant difference lies in the physical appearance of the two types of track. Atlas Code 83 track has fine, brown ties whereas Code 100 has slightly thicker black ties. Because of its accuracy (and the color of the ties), Code 83 is more prototypical, and therefore more realistic than Code 100. Code 83 is known as a finer-scale track, and is the choice of discerning modelers. Atlas carries a full line of both Code 100 and Code 83 products. (There are fewer problems with code 100 & its more economical for the new Model Railroader)
The smaller rails are often used for branch lines and the larger codes are for mainlines. This is often the way they appear in the prototype (real life), so you can simulate that on your layout if you wish. A caveat to this is that you have to make sure that when you make the transition between different codes on the same layout, you have to line up the rails properly so there won’t be any derailments.
Model railroad track is sold as sectional track, i.e., small sections of either straight track or curved track that come in 2-3 different standard radii, or as flextrack, a very flexible 3 ft piece of track that can be curved to whatever radius you want. Sectional track, but not flextrack, can also be purchased with or without roadbed attached.
Digital command control (DCC) is a newer form of model railroad wiring and train control in which each locomotive can be separately controlled from one power unit or from one walk around throttle.
Each locomotive has to be fitted with a special decoder device programmed to accept signals from the power (or control) unit when that particular decoder is “dialed in” from the control unit. For more info on this, come in and see us.
The lighting for structures, signals, street lamps, etc. is usually accomplished with AC current which may or may not require a separate transformer from the one you use to control trains, depending on your specific power unit. Most transformers have an AC and DC portal (screws) on the back or side. There are too many brands to name although a few are Woodland Scenics, Minitronics, Techtronics, Rail King, etc.
Types of model trains
Steam: A steam locomotive is a locomotive powered by a steam system of tubes. The term usually refers to its use on railways, but can also refer to a "road locomotive" such as a traction engine or steamroller. Model steam engines are all electric although any scales HO and larger have the option of adding smoke fluid or pellet for the real effect.Diesel: A Diesel train is a type of railroad locomotive, which is powered by a Diesel engine. Several types have been developed, the distinction being how the Diesel mechanical power is conveyed to the driving wheels (drivers).
Electric: An electric locomotive is a locomotive powered by electricity from an external source. Sources include overhead lines or third rail.
Categories of model trains by service
Passenger: A passenger train is one, which includes passenger-carrying vehicles. It may be a self-powered multiple unit or several rail cars together, or else a combination of one or more locomotives and one or more unpowered trailers known as coaches, cars or carriages. Passenger trains travel between stations or depots, at which passengers may board and disembark. In most cases, passenger trains operate on a fixed schedule and have superior track occupancy rights over freight trains.
Streamliner: A streamliner is any vehicle that incorporates streamlining to produce a more stylish shape that provides less resistance to air. The term is most often applied to certain high-speed railway trains of the 1930s to 1950s, and to their successor "bullet trains"
Freight: A freight train is a group of freight cars hauled by one or more locomotives on a railway, ultimately transporting cargo between two points as part of the logistics chain. Trains may haul bulk material, inter-modal containers, general freight or specialized freight in purpose-designed cars.
Types of model railroad cars
Hoppers, Covered Hoppers; Gondolas; Tank cars; Refrigerator cars; Boxcars; Automobile transporters; Inter-modal transporters; Flatcars; Livestock cars & Cabooses.
What do the numbers mean?
These numbers are used for the classification of steam locomotives. For example- 0-4-0, 4-4-0, 2-8-2, 4-6-6-4, etc.-The 1st number is the number of leading wheels. These wheels support the front of the boiler and guide the locomotive along the track.
-The 2nd (or middle) number is the number of drivers. These wheels are connected together and to the cylinders with rods to transfer the power from the steam to the rails. They also support the bulk of the locomotive.
-The last number is the number of axles in the trailing truck. These wheels support the cab and firebox, where the fuel is burned.
-On Diesel locomotives 4 wheel (2 axle) are called B trucks, 6 wheel (3 axle) are C trucks.
About Paints & Terms
In store we carry two types of paints, Acrylics and Enamels.
Acrylics: Acrylic paint is fast-drying paint containing pigment suspended in an acrylic polymer emulsion. Acrylic paints can be diluted with water, but become water-resistant when dry. Acrylic artist paints may be thinned with water and used as washes
Enamels: Enamel paints are oil based paints. These paints require a longer drying time and they are water and soap resistant
Wash: A wash is a painting technique in which a paint brush that is very wet with solvent and holds a small paint load is applied to a wet or dry support
Drybrush: Drybrush is a painting technique in which a paint brush that is relatively dry, but still holds paint, is used. The resulting brush strokes have a characteristic scratchy look that lacks the smooth appearance that washes or blended paint commonly has.
Tools: These are very important, as with any tools, its best to have the correct one for the job you need to accomplish. Your most important tools will be: Track cutters, wire cutter/strippers, hobby knife and replacement blades, light gear oil, needle nosed pliers, track cleaning eraser, extra wire in at least three different colours, hot glue gun, stiff bristle paint brush, set of jewelers screwdrivers, fine to extra fine sandpaper, patience and a sense of humor.
Chinook & Hobby West would love to help you make the most of your Model Railroading experience. Come and visit us at 5011 MacLeod Tr. SW. Calgary, AB.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are open 10-6 pm weekdays, 10-6 Saturdays, closed Sundays and Holidays.
Chinook & Hobby West carries N, HO and O scale trains in store. Any other scales that come in collections, we put on our ebay site. Our eBay handle is gossamer13
Next week: Throttle up Thursday begins! Once a month we'll be featuring a model train enthusiast.
Chinook & Hobby West
"Where the Fun Begins!"