Starting in N

bobcorrigan Nov 20, 2012

  1. bobcorrigan

    bobcorrigan TrainBoard Member

    Hey all,

    Bought my first N scale train. A Bachmann Dash 8-40C in UP livery.

    For a guy who only ever modeled in Z, it's a delight to be able to buy a modern loco for less than a king's ransom. And it sure is a lovely piece.

    I know The Sickness will strike and ill get another...then another... Of the modern engines, which ones do members really like? I'm eyeballing the Kato SD70ACe.

    In for a dime,

  2. Rossford Yard

    Rossford Yard TrainBoard Member


    I also find the Dash 9's attractive, and particularly like the Atlas versions. The Kato SD70ACe are also nice.

    I think one thing you will find is that you should only buy great runners, or they become shelf queens. All the brands run a bit different (correctable in DCC) so you might end up choosing based on that. Or, buy enough locos of different styles of the same mfg to create a consist. For example, I run CN Kato Dash 9 with SD40-2, all from Kato, but mixing in some variety of motive power.

    Or, do what I did, and eventually, just buy them all.......welcome to N scale.
  3. porkypine52

    porkypine52 TrainBoard Member


    Well alright!!!! You've seen the light! Please DON'T go out and buy all the engines you see, there a thing called BURNOUT that will grab you. IE: I've got all these engines here, now what am I going to do with them? You might want to take a step back and decide what time period you are going to model. This way you can concentrate on the diesel models used during that time frame.
    Are you going for a layout? Module? Train track on the floor? Dining room table?
    You might want to check around and see if you can arrange visits to local Train Clubs or individuals with layouts.

    Since I don't know much (if anything!) about Z scale, I think N scale has one thing that Z scale doesn't: STEAM ENGINES.
  4. bobcorrigan

    bobcorrigan TrainBoard Member

    I'm pretty sure I'm modeling Union Pacific, modern day (as in, today). I'm interested in all manner of rolling stock, as the trains that rolled through Glen Ellyn, IL had just about everything in tow. Intermodal (TTX + Stacktrain), funnel flows, car carriers, Railboxen, it was a great place to live and wonderful fun watching the trains. Now that I'm in Maryland, I don't have the same pleasure of waiting at crossings in my car and watching the trains roll by; those trains I do see are CSX, perhaps the world's most unlovely livery IMO.

    As for my layout, it's going to be smallish, roughly the size of an IKEA table (47"x24") as a) that's the space I have to work with and b) I want it to be portable and c) to keep it nominally affordable.

    As for engines, my "must buy" train is a UP Flag engine, either the SD70 or the newer SD70ACe, I'm trying to figure out which were more prevalent on the line. I know I had Dash 8-40Cs running through town.

    It's funny how a particular place and time make you want to model them.

    Thanks for the warm welcome,

  5. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Welcome to TrainBoard!

    Yes. That is a very common theme for many of us.
  6. subwayaz

    subwayaz TrainBoard Member

    Welcome to Trainboard Bob. Yep I must agree with the local makes you want to model that area. I'm with you I like the Kato Sd70ACe's that UP with the American Flag is a nice looking loco; and Kato models run great. SO do Atlas also by the way but Kato to me are oh so smooth.
    Hope you enjoy your new hobby, and your stay here

  7. Primavw

    Primavw TrainBoard Member

    When I first got back into the Hobby I tried to snatch up a bunch of Locos, but didn't want to spend a lot of money. Let's just say some are still in my collection and some are not. I only have about 10, but I only buy them as I can. Quality over quantity
  8. Allen H

    Allen H TrainBoard Supporter

    Welcome to Trainboard Bob!
    Nothing wrong with keeping things on the smaller side.

    Modern UP,'ll have a wide variety of manufacturers to choose from then.

    KATO, Atlas, Fox Valley Models, and I think Athearn. All are top notch models and all come DCC ready.

    One thing that wasn't mentioned was what kind of power control was you planning to use/purchase? DC or DCC?

    Nothing wrong with using a standard DC power pack. But, and I'm not advocating that you switch to DCC, but do keep in mind when purchasing locos for your fleet, that they are DCC ready. Then if you decide to take the plunge into the world of DCC, all of your locos will be ready to go so all you'll need to do is to purchase and install the DCC chips.
    Most of the locos that you mentioned or that you're looking at will be DCC ready. Others that are not, can be converted with the use of "Hard Wired" chips. So all is not lost, plenty of options. Drop-ins are just a bit easier.

    When you're ready to look at DCC, there are plenty of helpful folks here that would be willing to help you clear the fog.

    Picking a specific era will definitely keep the drain on Mr. Wallet lighter.
  9. bobcorrigan

    bobcorrigan TrainBoard Member

    I'm keen to start my N adventure with DCC as the focus. My Z layout is an easy Rokuhan DC setup, the kids love it and it's lots of fun to carry around. The N layout is for me :)

    I'm a little surprised you (@Bendtracker1) didn't add Bachmann to your list - as much as I love the look of the Bachmann Dash 8-40C my sense is it's not on many member's list of great runners, oh well. My next engine is going to be one of the UP flag engines - a couple of those (SD70, SD70ACe) and I'll be set.

    Then I'll have to figure out which chip, command center, track, etc. I'm really starting from the beginning here.

    I really appreciate all the kind words from you folks, I know I'll learn a lot here.


  10. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

    This is a good place to ask about N scale locomotives, and TB member Spookshow has a website of his own where he has reviewed nearly every N scale locomotive model made. I often come to these two places when looking for some information on whether a particular locomotive is a good buy.

    Bachmann is kind of a dual-personality company. Some of their stuff is great, like the 2-8-0 and the 44-tonner. Some of it is junk, like the Brill trolley. I used to say just stick to the Spectrum stuff, but some of the non-Spectrum offerings have also been good. I don't know what to say now except go ahead and take advantage of the return policy if you need to do so.
  11. Allen H

    Allen H TrainBoard Supporter


    Didn't add Bachmann as they would not be my first choice. That doesn't mean they're a bad loco, they are much better than they were years ago.
    If you buy one of the SD70's or SD70ACe's and do your own comparison and can draw your own conclusion.
    Having said that, I do own two Bachmanns, both are GE 70 tonners.

    Here is Spookshows [Mark] web site:
  12. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

    Most new locomotives have dual mode decoders in em already. You can run em on DC and ya can run em on DCC. The choice is yours :)
  13. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

    speaking about Spookshow....
  14. Primavw

    Primavw TrainBoard Member

    This, Honestly Spookshow's website was sort of the reason I got back into the hobby a few years ago. He has a few layouts the he walks through the construction process with. Pretty neat website, bet you get stuck reading it for the next few hours!
  15. bobcorrigan

    bobcorrigan TrainBoard Member

    That's good news :)

    But here's a question that's plaguing me - if you want to add digital control and sound to a DCC-ready loco, do you need to add 1 decoder or 2? This whole DCC thing is very confusing. And if you're using a computer as your control station, do you need to buy anything from Lenz, NCE and Digitrax or can you just hook up your computer?

    I'm sure there's an introductory manual out there somewhere.

    That's about all the questioneering I can do for one day.


  16. MVW

    MVW E-Mail Bounces

    'Donkey is exactly right. All you need to know is the following link:

    Plenty of other interesting, entertaining and informative reading there. But the N scale loco encyclopedia is a tremendous resource.

    Welcome aboard, and have fun!

    (And you're right about the "sickness." I have 25 or so engines when I really only need four.)


    ATSFCLIFF TrainBoard Member

    Try to be selective when buying, take a look at the KATO C44-9W & SD70Ace.
    They are good runners.
  18. Brian K

    Brian K TrainBoard Member

    Hmmm, only thing I recall having a dual decoder installed were the Athearn steam engines. Can't think of any modern diesels from Atlas, FVM, or Kato that come with such a decoder installed already. Kato sells decoder equipped locos under the Kobo name and Atlas does both versions from the factory, but they are definitely not dual. FVM models are the easiest to add decoders to out of all of them.

  19. Ike the BN Freak

    Ike the BN Freak TrainBoard Member

    I'd leave Bachmann out, as Atlas also makes a C40-8 and its leaps and bounds better than the Bachmann version. And looking at MSRPs, much cheaper.
  20. EMD F7A

    EMD F7A TrainBoard Member

    Re: DCC decoders added later; I love TCS decoders bevauce they'll run fine on DC or DCC. If you want sound, those decoders will generally have motor control as well as sound on one board. BUT, due to programming/power dips etc., many guys use a little $15 digitrax for motor control and keep the sound decoder separate!

    Atlas DCC-equipped locos are "dual-mode", meaning they'll run on DC or DCC just fine. Research your decoders first before you go buying anything to install in older locos!

    Also, HAVE FUN with it. Don't overwhelm yourself with projects; it's ok to pick up stuff you'll need in the future, but (especially when it comes to locos and decoders and such) it's easy to inundate yourself and lose interest. Finish one, then move on, to stay focused and see faster results. Cheers!

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