Posts Tagged ‘Started’

Getting This Channel Started Again (Please Watch!)

AIM = Steam = Jakemc1 Envious Media =

8 comments - What do you think?  Posted by - June 15, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Categories: UK Steam   Tags: , , , , , ,

History Of G-Scale Trains – How This Scale Got Started And Why People Choose It

Early “garden trains” were built to a 1:24 scale in Europe, but didn’t catch on in the US until the 1920’s. True G scale trains, also known as Garden railways, were first sold by the Ernst Paul Lehmann Petentwerk company (sold to Hermann Schontag in 2006) under the name of “Lehmann Gross Bahn” (Lehmann Big Train) in 1968. The company produced G scale trains in both Europe and the US including steam, electric, and diesel prototypes as well as rolling stock and accessories. Since LGB originally only made European trains in this scale, they did not catch on in the US until 1972 when Model Railroader Magazine ran an article on LGB.

A garden train built to the earlier 1:24 scale was erected at the Los Angeles Fair in 1924 at the Fairplex Gardens where it remains today although in 1972, it was swapped out to it’s more correct scale of 1:22.5.  G scale trains have a scale of 1:22.5 or measure approximately ½ inch to the foot of full scale trains.  The track used for G scale trains is Gauge 1 (for standard gauge railways)and is 45mm wide (about 1 3/4 inches).  The track is consistent among different manufacturer’s, however the train scale actually varies slightly from country to country.

Because these trains originated from Germany, you might imagine that the origin of the G comes from Germany as well.  The word groß in German means “big” hence the G designation.  These trains are larger than most model trains, although they are not the largest scale, they are the most popular large scale trains.  Because of their ruggedness, they are often used in outdoor layouts, so are also known as garden railways.

One problem with outdoor model railways is the weather which can cause corrosion.  To address this issue, LGB and several other manufacturers produce track made of brass which can remain outside in any weather. Track can also be obtained in less expensive aluminum and oxidation-resistant, though more expensive, stainless steel.

The longest G scale train trestle in the world was built and is displayed at the Living Desert in Palm Desert California.  This trestle is over 202 feet long and is built entirely of redwood with glued and stapled joints.  Trestles are built to span riverbeds or gulches and this one is no different.  It slopes approximately 1% (1 inch drop for every 100 inches in length) to allow the train to traverse from one side of the gulch to the other.

Another gauge called Gn15 has sprung up and uses 1:24 scale parts, but H0 scale track which is very narrow at 16.5mm (just over ½ an inch). This scale was designed to model 15 inch track railroads otherwise known as minimum gauge.

There are numerous manufacturers of G scale trains and a varied selection of locomotives, rolling stock, and accessories to choose from.  These modelers even have their own society here in the US. If you want to build a model railway that is impressive in its size and robust enough to be displayed outside, you should consider G- scale model trains.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by - July 6, 2010 at 11:40 pm

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Model Railroad Supplies For Beginners – What You Need To Get Started With Model Trains

Starting any new hobby always brings a sense of anticipation and Model Railroading is no exception.  Once they have been to a train show, or have simply seen a model train layout displayed somewhere, many people become excited by the possibility of operating their own train setup.  This excitement often leads to a sense of being overwhelmed and sometimes sticker shock, after visiting a hobby store and looking at the huge array of model railroad supplies available and the wide range of prices. 

Well, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming and it doesn’t take a fortune to get started with model trains.  The simplest layouts consist of a small oval track and an locomotive with a few cars.  It can be set up on the floor, a simple table, or even an old door or piece of plywood on two saw horses!  Often when you talk to experienced hobbyists, they talk about the need for a strong custom bench and lots of room to set up your layout, but don’t let that stop you from getting started.  You can graduate to a more complex and expensive setup as you get more involved in railroading.  As a beginner, you may not even know in what areas you are most interested.  Do you enjoy the different locomotives and rolling stock which comprise your trains, or do you prefer building the scenery and making the miniatures look realistic?  Maybe you prefer wiring the electrical control parts of the track or configuring the software to work to your liking.  One of the best things about model railroading is the wide range of skills that you can learn and put to use.  There is something for almost everyone to enjoy. 

The other nice thing about this hobby is that you can do as much or as little of it yourself as you like.  Some of the most popular model railroad supplies are kits for just about every aspect from trains to tables to scenery, to electrical wiring and software.  These range from simple all inclusive starter kits to kits for individual parts designed for the more advanced modeler.  You can buy train and scenery kits separately or kits that include both.  The kits themselves can be either completely finished and ready to set up and run, or do it yourself kits that require more complex construction, painting and assembly.  Once again, it is easy to get started with a simpler kit and upgrade to something more complex as your needs dictate, and budget allows.  These kits also vary in price and complexity depending on the scale or gauge with which you decide work. 

Starter train kits can be purchased for as little as $80 or $90 but most will want one of the kits in the $200 range.  These train kits can be specific to an industry or a type of train, steam or diesel for example.  Starter kits typically come with a 4′ by 3′ oval track, a locomotive, several cars and a simple transformer and controller. 

Scenery kits, building kits and layout kits vary widely depending on the components and how much do it yourself work you want to do.  A building kit for a simple small town with 15 buildings can be purchase for about $160.  Layout kits, which provide the base for your layout including materials for hills, valleys and tunnels start at about $250.  Scenery kits which contain materials for trees, grass, rocks, etc. start at about $65.  Each of these can be purchased individually as the need arises. 

Software for model trains starts at as little as $20 for simulation software, and layout controllers at about $200 but you don’t have to have either of these for your first train setup. 

Any of these model railroad supplies can be purchased at your local hobby store.  Hobby shops are usually very helpful because they want you to keep coming back .  They can provide a hands-on experience and the chance to talk to others who know what it is like when you are just getting started.  They can often help you avoid common beginner’s mistakes that they have already made.  These items can also be found at local model railroad shows and conventions. 

You may also find these items locally advertised or at yard or garage sales or auctions.  All model railroaders were once beginners and you can often find bargains on trains from the hobbyist who is ready to trade-up.  Be sure to do your research before buying from these sources so that you know the value of what is being offered.

As you can see, there are many sources of model railroad supplies for beginners on any budget.  One of the great things about this hobby is that you can get involved as deeply, or as little as you like.  You can begin with a simple kit and advance in whatever direction your interest takes you.  Some hobbyists never make their own scenery, preferring to enjoy simply running their trains, while others get involved in every detail down to making their own coal and logs and plants!  So get started.  You’re going to love this!

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by - July 4, 2010 at 10:38 pm

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Getting Started with Lego Trains book review

More than just a guide, author McKee takes readers to the world of advanced LEGO building and the culture of model railroading. Sometimes the lingo takes a wacky turn: How could a model be built with SNOT? Connect the LEGO bricks in unorthodox ways to have Studs Not On Top, or SNOT, perfect for advanced constructions. What about the chapter on reefer? That’s the refrigerated rail car model, the type of train car called a reefer by model builders and train buffs in the know.

Interviews with expert builders and a section on advanced track layouts are sure to inspire the master builder and budding train enthusiast alike. With this book, newbies and old pros all have something in common – a great book to help them grow with their hobby. As author McKee explains, “LEGO trains are the ‘hub of the spoke,’ so to speak. LEGO trains are what bond a LEGO universe together. Once you set up your first starter train set, you want more track. More track leads to more train cars. More cars leads to city. City leads to airports. Then space, then …”

Background to the Book

Since the first steam engine ran in the early 1800s, kids and adults around the world have been fascinated. Trains, then as now, hold a special appeal to many, and over the decades thousands of train models and toys have been created. Model railroads built by kids and adults alike have a long and rich history.

The model railroad community consists of literally hundreds of thousands of fans of the railroad industry, especially those who enjoy building model railroads and running their trains throughout their house. Many readers may have had experience with HO or N scale trains, but they may have not had much experience with LEGO trains. Perhaps these fans have had experience with other LEGO kits and models, but with LEGO trains you have the chance to build scale model trains that actually run at your command!

Why Build Trains With LEGO Parts?

LEGO trains are built with only LEGO elements, so the train designs are close approximations of the real-life design. Because of this, LEGO trains require a whole new way of looking at the train design process.

In addition, with LEGO parts, you can use and reuse these parts over and over and over again, assuming of course you can bring yourself to take apart some of your creations. With other railroading materials, over time you usually have to continually purchase and repurchase expendable resources, such as paints, sheet plastic, hobby wood, and so forth.

Because of the re-useability and non-specific scale of LEGO trains, it is possible to build all kinds of creations and train layouts. One week, you can build 6-stud-wide hopper cars, and the next week 8-stud-wide circus trains.

Note that common LEGO train widths are 6 studs and 8 studs, though all official LEGO train models are 6 wide. A few builders even build 12 or 14 studs wide!

LEGO Trains Development

LEGO trains had their beginning in 1965, when LEGO released the first LEGO train set – a push locomotive that ran on popular LEGO wheels and did not include track. This locomotive was not powered, and in 1966, this push train was replaced with a powered version.

The original LEGO track was plastic and was held together with special 2×8 plates. The gauge, or distance between the rails, was six studs (1.5 inches, or 38 mm). The gauge was determined by the width of the wheels mounted on the ends of one 2×4 brick.

The powered trains have been going strong since 1966, and have included not one by three separate systems of train tracks and sets, each defined by their voltage requirements.

The first powered LEGO train was in the 4.5 volt range, and the set used the standard LEGO motor, with power coming from batteries in a car directly behind the locomotive (motor).

Building on the success of the 4.5 volt line, a 12 volt line was introduced shortly after. Like Lionel trains, the 12 volt system used a “third rail,” a rail down the center of the track, which in this case was actually two smaller rails, to feed power to the motor, rather than using batteries. This third rail was available separately, which allowed older batter-powered layouts to be upgraded to the 12 volt system.

The 9 volt system was introduced in 1991 and is still in production today. This line introduced stability and ease of use to the LEGO train line. The 9 volt motors are a major leap forward because of the improved design and because the metal wheels on the specially designed train motors safely pull power directly from the metal rails. These wheels have minimal friction on the axle, rubber rims that help grip the rails, and a brilliant system of rubber bands that constantly push the metal wheels against the track for good contact.

The 9 volt line also introduced the new track system – straight, curved, crossover, and switch tracks that include both the two rails and the ties in one-piece track modules.

In author McKee’s book, he focuses entirely on the 9 volt line.


Author McKee starts out with a marvelous chapter on the fundamentals of building a LEGO train. The system is simple in design, and with his background, anyone will be up and running in no time.

He covers how to get one of your very own first LEGO train sets, and then describes the variety of LEGO train sets from which you can choose your first set. The LEGO company offers several great starter train sets, complete with all the components you need to create your first LEGO train layout. Everything you need to get started is in the box, so you will be up and running in no time.

He follows with a helpful chapter on the basics of building LEGO t rains, discussing and explaining how to use various LEGO train parts, including couplers, buffers, wheels, bogie plate, and train base plates.

Customized LEGO Trains You Will Build

Author McKee includes 3 chapters that thoroughly describe how to build three LEGO trains. These include a GP-38 locomotive, an old-style refrigerator car, and an intermodal container car. In each chapter, he explains the various types of LEGO train parts you will need, and the number of each of these pieces, and in an amazing array of 4-color, high-gloss diagrams, shows you each step of the design process. These layer by layer design steps follow the classic tradition of all LEGO building systems, with extensively detailed drawings of the parts used in each step with clear lines indicating where the parts are to be placed.

After obtaining the various LEGO train sets that contain the parts included in his three original designs, anyone can follow these easy instructions and build their very own working LEGO train. This fantastic one of a kind Train Guide is available while supplies last in our Catalogs and Books section of our website

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by - June 22, 2010 at 10:37 pm

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History Of Model Trains – How Model Railroading Got Started And Became Widespread

Modern rail transportation (not including those pulled by horses or oxen) can be traced back to about 1820 when the first steam locomotives appeared in the United Kingdom.  These trains were the first practical way to move goods and people across the country quickly and efficiently.  They remained so for over a century.  So there is no surprise that model trains became popular very early on and remain so today.

Early model trains were often used as promotional or marketing tools to show people who had never had the opportunity to see a train to do so. In the early 1890’s, German toy manufacturer Marklin manufactured clockwork model trains that used wound springs as the locomotion mechanism.  These trains were originally sold as expensive toys, but it wasn’t long before someone had the idea to market them to adults and added accessories so that hobbyists could personalize their trains and layouts.  These early sets were expensive and beyond the reach of most people.

Many of the early model train sets were made in Germany and at the outbreak of World War one, shipments to the US stopped.  This provided the opportunity for US companies like Ives and Lionel to be started and make inroads into the market with little competition.  These companies also decided to make more inexpensive sets and sell them as toys that many families could afford.  During the Victorian period in the 1920’s many models were available in various price ranges from tin and lead “penny toys” up to more expensive fully operable scale models with working steam locomotives.  From the original model trains that were operated by winding a spring, just like a watch, trains progressed to electrical operation where the current is supplied through the track. As track layouts got bigger, there was a need to control individual parts of the track and complex wiring patterns became part of the challenge.  Today, the track is often controlled digitally through a handheld controller or via computer software.

From the 1930’s through today, various scales sprung up and competing companies around the world started to make their model train sets more detailed and offered more variety in their accessories.  As the hobby grew, scale standards were needed so that hobbyists could buy different pieces from different manufacturers and have them all work together.  Although the scales are often known under different names in different countries (like H0 which is pronounced “ach zero” in Australia and the UK, but “ach oh” in the US), for the most part, these standards have been accomplished.  There are slight differences in these standards which can sometimes make model railroading a challenge, but the N scale or H scale from one manufacturer can usually be made to work with the N scale or H scale from another manufacturer.

This brief space can only start to relate the history of this rewarding hobby. Learning the history of railroading is part of the hobby and will also help make your layouts, locomotives, scenery and rolling stock look more realistic.  So keep researching model train information and keep learning!

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by - March 13, 2010 at 6:03 pm

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Getting Started With Model Steam Trains

Whether you have been a model railroader for a long time, or just getting started there is some information you need to know before purchasing model steam trains. The way in which you will be using your model train is a very big factor to keep in mind when deciding which kind of steam train you should purchase. The people who will be using and maintaining the train is another big factor in which kind of train you should buy. Obviously, your budget will be a deciding factor in which steam train model you ultimately can afford to buy. This is not only due to the train itself, but comes into play when you are buying the fuel to power your steam train.

The majority of model steam trains are ones that are ridden by people. These trains, which are of the 1:8 scale, are rather large and not practical for most people to use even if they could afford them. They require a lot of room and a lot of track to make owning one even worthwhile. Most people who have a 1:8 scale train have a lot of acres on which they can store and ride their train. For those who have less space, but still want a live steam powered train, there are smaller options available. Manufacturers have even produced Z scale trains, which operate off of live steam. Keep in mind, the less readily the train is available, the more it will cost.

Maintenance of model steam trains is very important to be able to keep your train running properly. This is why it has become popular among the live steam crowd of model railroaders to use fuel that burns clean. It make it easier to keep the train running properly because you are not having to clean a lot of carbon buildup from the exhaust flu. For those looking to have a smaller live steam train, the options mostly only afford clean burning fuel. For the 1:8 scale train, one of the most popular fuel sources is propane. It burns very clean and will not build up in the locomotive causing you problems later.

Being able to buy the fuel you prefer is a very big determining factor for some people who own model steam trains. There are many different fuel cells, which are available through various sources. Propane is a duel source for the 1:8 scale, which is available through such places as the grocery store. Butane is a fuel source used by the smaller scales, which you can also buy from the grocery store. Butane model trains are very popular because they burn clean, the fuel is readily available and the fuel is cheap. Going electric is a very popular option as well because it is possible to have an immersion heater which will operate on as little as 10 volts of electricity delivered through the track.

No matter which of the various model steam trains you choose from, keep safety in mind at all times. Steam is very hot and tempting at the same time for small children. It is very easy to get burned not only by the steam, but also by the locomotive should it be touched at any time. The steam, while contained, is contained by metal and makes the train very hot to the touch. Practice safety when dealing with small children in proximity to your live steam train.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by - February 5, 2010 at 3:52 am

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