My first N layout, working with boxes of used stuff, help me decide some basics please.

Kilohertz Sep 18, 2020

  1. Kilohertz

    Kilohertz TrainBoard Member

    16
    30
    3
    Hi all,

    I am getting ready to build my first N scale layout this winter and am starting to gather, sort, organize and determine which direction I want to go.

    I bought all of my friends N scale equipment, locos, rolling stock, track, scenery, buildings etc. about 100lbs of stuff. :rolleyes: From what I have been able to determine, he quit modeling in the early 90's so there is nothing newer than that. All of the track is code 80, and mostly 3' lengths and some flex, track manufactures are Shinohara, Atlas, some (I think) Rivarossi (says made in Italy) and turnouts by Atlas and a few Pecos. From prices I see currently on the web to replace this stuff, there must be several thousand dollars of track and switches etc. Many new locos, mostly Kato but some MiniTrix and a few Bachmans, the rolling stock, some new, some excellent used are mainly Kato, Trix and Rivarossi and I'm guessing are mostly "pizza cutter" type wheels.

    This was all top line stuff back in the day and my dilemma now is, to use all of this as is and enjoy its' "not quite exactly scale" appearance, or ditch it all and start with code 55 track. That would mean a whole lot of wheel work on the cars and locos so they would run on code 55. My gut feeling it to use it as is and enjoy the building and modeling and detail work which is something I really enjoy, rather than spend a huge amount of money replacing perfectly good track and time rebuilding wheels.

    I am probably going to end up with 2 layouts one day, one in the shop on a larger layout, bigger than 4x8' plywood, but the first one will be in the house on a pulley platform up to the ceiling, probably 4x4' or maybe 3x6' or thereabouts, I'm still in the "conceptual thinking" stage.

    Anyway, would appreciate some input from those who are much more in the know than I.

    Thank you!

    Cheers

    PS I'll post some pics tonight when I get a moment.
     
    BNSF FAN likes this.
  2. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

    531
    809
    18
    The first bit of advise I can give is to have fun, this is a hobby not a chore. So if spending a mess of money on new track isn't something that you will enjoy doing then use what you got and have fun! Good news about code 80 track is that everything will run on it new or old. Not only wheelsets will need to be modernized if you so choose but couplers too. The couplers you have are most likely not the knuckle type they are these strange triangle shaped bars that just happen to link together... they work, and while they dont look good they work. I had quite a bit of rolling stock with those couplers on them and I had a transition car that had a knuckle on one side and a bar type (sorry cant remember the name offhand) on the other. Again if you are not interested in spending the money... dont! It's your railroad.

    Thinking of the control scheme would be the next thing to tackle. DC or DCC that is the question. With older locos converting to DCC is possible but sometimes involved. Frames may need to be milled to get room for the decoder, and on almost all of them the motor and lighting will need to be isolated from the frame so you dont fry a decoder. If you decide to go DC then you will be working with more complex wiring but no fancy modifications to your engines. Modern engines will have a dual mode decoder which will work fine on DC as well as DCC.

    Can't wait to see your haul and first and foremost this is a hobby, it's meant to be creative and fun.
     
    Kilohertz and BNSF FAN like this.
  3. Mudkip Orange

    Mudkip Orange TrainBoard Member

    235
    26
    15
    Rapidos ("strange triangle shaped bars") are bulletproof. I run a lot of Japanese stuff and they don't use knuckles, it's either Rapidos or a proprietary coupler designed to replicate the Shibata/Scharfenberg look. All of my accidental uncouplings occur on my American stock with knuckles.

    I'd also say have fun with the pizza cutters and the code 80 and if at some point in the future you feel led to convert to code 55 I'm sure Atlas will appreciate your business. (y)
     
    Kilohertz, Massey and BNSF FAN like this.
  4. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

    7,768
    2,393
    113
    IMHO...I would make your FIRST layout with what you have. It will be a learning experience. IF you decide you really like N scale...you can change over to code 55 and some more newer stuff. If you make mistakes early on...you can file that under 'Lessons Learned' for later on.
     
  5. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

    10,211
    4,592
    149
    I would decide if you want to run steam, transitional era steam and diesel. or all diesel. The buildings will fit any era. I would sell what you don't want and then use the funds to buy some Kato unitrack. Kato makes a transition track that is designed to adapt unitrack to Atlas.
     
    Kilohertz likes this.
  6. jimfitch

    jimfitch TrainBoard Member

    567
    125
    24
    Rapido couplers might be bullet proof but they look nothing like real couplers, if that matters. During the past 30 years, most manufacturers have standardized on MicroTrains knuckle couplers or clones of them.

    Especially in the last 20 years, there have been some really nice N scale models produced by new companies like Trainworx, Wheels of Time, Bluford Shops, Red Caboose, Intermountain, ExactRail, Tangent, ScaleTrains and Fox Valley. I left N scale back in the 80's because the models I needed were not made or available. During the past 20 to 30 years, the aforementined companies have jumped in offering a much wider variatey of nice quality models in N scale. Kato has stayed in the game with nice passenger trains and MicroTrains and Atlas are still at it.

    Take a look around and you'll see some really nice models in N scale now.
     
    Kilohertz likes this.
  7. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

    5,413
    13,586
    88
    Looking forward to seeing some of your pictures. Kato/Atlas locomotives from the early 90s are of excellent quality and don't have pizza cutter wheels. Even Minitrix diesels from the early 70s (FM Switcher, U-28C, U-30CG, F) run pretty well, though their flanges are a bit deeper. Per Massey's suggestion, have some fun by laying out an oval of track using some of your turnouts and see what runs. That'll give you a better notion of where you might want to head with your build.
     
  8. Kilohertz

    Kilohertz TrainBoard Member

    16
    30
    3
    Okay, wow!

    I just got home from work and found all of these replies, thanks guys, I really appreciate the good insights.

    I'm glad the suggestions are to use what I have and build my first N layout, learn and grow and make mistakes, but most of all, "have fun", I like it.

    I just finished unboxing the items we have discussed here and photographed it all, I hope I don't exceed a picture posting limit. :unsure: I didn't unbox any of the scenery as it is pretty generic and will work no matter what, but there are 2 stereo amp boxes full of it...lot's to keep me busy.

    So I will let you tell me what I have here, I think I have a pretty good idea based on what you have said so far. I'm not too concerned about what brands are what, they all have their merits and should all play well together.

    Here we go....track pics will follow in the next post...

    Cheers


    DSC_7542.JPG DSC_7547.JPG DSC_7544.JPG DSC_7551.JPG DSC_7554.JPG DSC_7553.JPG DSC_7549.JPG DSC_7550.JPG
     
    Kurt Moose likes this.
  9. Kilohertz

    Kilohertz TrainBoard Member

    16
    30
    3
    Track pictures.

    DSC_7537.JPG
    DSC_7534.JPG
    DSC_7538.JPG
    DSC_7535.JPG
    DSC_7536.JPG
     
  10. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

    1,757
    532
    32
    The Kato steam is Japanese prototypes, but run like a watch. The Kato diesels are just about the best made. The rest of the steam and diesels are...not really worth bothering with. Looks like you have a good selection of track and switches too. Passenger cars are also not bad. Rolling stock will most likely work for you as well (too bad it wasn't old Kadee/Micro Trains, they still would be worth some money). The bridges are good as well. You have the makings of a very good start.
     
    mtntrainman likes this.
  11. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

    7,768
    2,393
    113
    WEeelllllllll....

    They are all CRapido couplers so thats a plus. They will all hook up to each other (y)

    Didnt see a power supply...BUT...I am gonna guess its all DC. If no power supply...buy one off one of the advertisers here on Trainboard. >>> https://www.trainboard.com/highball/index.php?forums/advertisers.155/

    Hook up some flex in a LARGE oval or circle...power it all up...put those locos on the track...and see what runs. (y)


    ** Nice score with all ya got BTW ! (y)(y)
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2020
    RBrodzinsky likes this.
  12. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

    7,768
    2,393
    113
    ALSO....

    Looks like you are possible gonna need some
    Caboose Industries N-Scale Sprung Ground Throws

    Google them and make sure you get the N scale ones. If you decide you want electrically thown switches....you can get those too.


    Have fun...and lots of it !! (y)(y):D:D
     
    Kilohertz likes this.
  13. Kilohertz

    Kilohertz TrainBoard Member

    16
    30
    3
    Thanks guys, appreciate the continued help and support.

    Yes there is definitely lots to play with, an endless supply of tinkering. I'm glad there is lots to work with here and it should all play nice together, I mean it did for my friend so....

    I forgot to mention a key point, I want to run DCC++ and am planning on Arduino. I already have experience with Arduino and have started programming some basic lighting functions. I did get 2 DC controllers with this stuff though, it's the PWM dual track...can't recall the name..... it's.......Troller Autopulse 5 as pictured below. It works as I used it to run a small setup under the Christmas tree last winter.

    I'm heading off to the local model railroad club tomorrow, they have an opening for a visitor so I will see what our small town has to offer in the way of help and other members. They have a few layouts, not sure about N, I think it's all HO, but it will be fun anyway.

    Thanks again!

    Cheers

    AutoPulse.jpg
     
    BNSF FAN and mtntrainman like this.
  14. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

    7,768
    2,393
    113
    I went DCC when I finally built THERR RV. Scared and confused me at first....but in the end...it was simple. I like simple. (y)
    I would never go back to plain ol DC...just sayin...:whistle:
     
  15. Rasputen

    Rasputen TrainBoard Member

    544
    88
    23
    Those Shinohara turnouts are code 70, and a lot of them are broken or missing pieces. You might be able to sell the yard ladders, but I would scrap the rest, including all of the ones with plastic frogs, and buy something more robust.
     
  16. NtheBasement

    NtheBasement TrainBoard Member

    223
    161
    14
    Lots of good advice. Go with what you have plus ground throws and build a layout. Avoid the temptation to make the layout huge. At that point the path branches.
    You may decide N scale railroading isn't for you - no more money spent.
    You may be satisfied with your 1st layout and you don't need to start over from scratch, but maybe expand it. Highly unlikely IME.
    You may decide to build a new layout with all your lessons learned. At that point you will know a lot more about what you want to spend $$$ on.
     
    logging loco and Kilohertz like this.
  17. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

    5,413
    13,586
    88
    The Shinohara turnouts are beautiful and work superbly, but their N Scale line is no longer made. Be aware too that Shinohara's turnouts are "live frog" and require special wiring. This isn't a huge deal, but they're not snap-in-place-and-go turnouts like your plastic frog alternates. The Shinoharas remain desirable to some modelers. I used these exclusively on my previous layout and sold my spares on eBay at a good price.

    BTW, I'm an old skool DC guy, but my new railroad will be wired so that I can also run DCC as I learn more about it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2020
    logging loco, Kilohertz and mrhedley like this.
  18. mrhedley

    mrhedley TrainBoard Member

    265
    311
    23
    The Shinohara turnouts are all route selective, which means they are always electrically "live" and power is directed to the track the switch is aligned to. There are pluses and minuses to this. It is a plus for sidings that are open ended, as you won't need to isolate and depending on the siding length you may not need to run feeders to the siding. But for a passing track or double ended yard track you will need to isolate the tracks on both legs and where you choose to do this matters depending on how you plan to control your layout, especially in DC. I recommend you research control methods before you go to far in laying track. I have several Shinohara turnouts on my layout and they can be very finicky. I'll second the recommendation of Caboose turnout throws as this provide the pressure needed to make and hold the points. Even using them, pieces of ballast can sometimes be enough to prevent the electrical contact and result in your locos stopping at the switch points. Otherwise, enjoy!
     
    Kilohertz and Hardcoaler like this.
  19. S t e f a n

    S t e f a n TrainBoard Member

    95
    32
    3
    I also have some older Kato and European models, and they actually all run ok on code 55 flex track, but the European models will not run on hand laid code 55 (due to the track nails; a turnout with soldered down track actually works).
    One option you could look into is to buy a single bundle of code 55 flex track (Micro Engineering has some nice already weathered flex track), and test if your locos run on it. Then you have the option to use code 55 in the visible areas of your layout, and reuse the code 80 you already have for hidden staging.

    But I would also suggest to first put something together with what you already have, to see you how you like it, whether the look of code 80 bothers you, whether working with flex track is for you, how the locos run, etc..
     
    Kilohertz likes this.
  20. Mudkip Orange

    Mudkip Orange TrainBoard Member

    235
    26
    15
    I'm actually jealous of your 80's-era Kato bridge boxes. Way cool, and will snap right into any new Kato bridges if you want to expand.
     
    Hardcoaler likes this.

Share This Page