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Old 08-04-2020, 02:20 PM   #1
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Any Modelers on Here?

DW tells me I need to get into a more craft like hobby and she suggested model ship building. I am looking at that, but am doubting my ability to plank a hull and have it look halfway decent. I have also been thinking about a small N-gauge railroad. While I have build some wooden and plastic cars and planes and had a train layout, that was long ago as a kid. Wondering if anyone one out there has any general advice for someone just starting out now as a senior in either of these hobbies?
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Old 08-04-2020, 02:33 PM   #2
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Join a model railroad club to see if you like it. My husband was active in the Columbia Gorge Model RR in Portland and was treasurer of their national convention years ago. The controls today are electronic.
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Old 08-04-2020, 02:42 PM   #3
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Yes, I think the best way to get into any new hobby is to find a local club and soak up the knowledge available. Most hobbyists are only too happy to share what they know with newbies.
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Old 08-04-2020, 02:45 PM   #4
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Having done both N and HO gauge, I would recommend HO, as it is easier to handle and build models, especially as your eyesight weakens.
In my case, it started with a small circle around the Christmas tree. When I moved, I gave the layout to a friend for his grandson. It was on a 4 foot by 10 foot 3/4 inch plywood panel. I had two 50 pin connectors to handle the wiring, two controllers,8 switches and two locomotives plus cars.
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Old 08-04-2020, 02:46 PM   #5
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I had an o gauge layout until last year and had some n gauge trains long ago.

For an aging person, I would recommend HO gauge instead of n gauge. N gauge landscaping and buildings would be difficult for me because of its very small size.

Model railroading is a fun hobby. Just read that Rod Stewart is a model railroader - hes been working on his layout for 26 years. He builds his buildings and other small details while he is on the road.
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Old 08-04-2020, 03:29 PM   #6
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Getting involved in a club is a good idea and I'm sure it won't be a problem to find a model railroading club locally, but I'm not so sure about model ship building, as that hobby seems more popular in other countries.

The reason I said N-gauge is that I do not want to devote much space to it; maybe 3'x6', and you can just get so much more into a smaller space. I'll have to check the local clubs and take a look at both N and HO.
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Old 08-04-2020, 03:53 PM   #7
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There are some clubs where each member builds a unit that connects to others. Also some clubs like the CGMRR has the layout in the clubhouse and each member builds their own train. layout €” Columbia Gorge Model Railroad Club



FWIW my husband was the architect for their building, Kaiser purchased their original site. Isaac is one of my favorite members.
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Old 08-04-2020, 03:53 PM   #8
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I have a U shaped HO setup. HO is easier to work with but N scale would give you so many more options since it's so much smaller. For awhile I regretting not switching to N, but I think I'd be frustrated by it now since my near vision is a lot worse now.

Figure out your space, and maybe use train layout software. If you're not going for something huge and elaborate, put this together and then plan landscaping and buildings around it. Alternatively, if you have a scenery design in mind, start with that and figure out how to work the trains in.

From there, you can work on it as much or as little as you want. My son & I started on this about 17 years ago, just as a flat layout. We had a great space for this ~14x12 layout with 2 separate lines. Then we decided to try adding a tunnel through a mountain, and our first attempt was a keeper. These pics were from 5 years ago. We've added more buildings since then. I even put a 40" TV up in the corner so we could play some train videos on it.

At times I've probably gone well over a year without doing anything, except maybe add a building or two. Current project is adding roads, and after that, lighting.
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Old 08-04-2020, 04:03 PM   #9
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That Columbia Gorge layout looks awesome! I wish I had known about it when I went to Oregon a few years ago.

The best I've seen, probably the best in the world, is Miniatur Wunderland https://www.miniatur-wunderland.com/ in Hamburg, Germany.

Another neat one in the US is Roadside America in Shartlesville, PA. https://www.roadsideamerica.com/ CBS Sunday Morning did this feature on it:

I'm sure there are many many other worthwhile ones. I could probably do a long roadtrip to visit as many as I can. It's neat to see all these layouts and figure out what to incorporate into mine.
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Old 08-04-2020, 05:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DFW_M5 View Post
... Wondering if anyone one out there has any general advice for someone just starting out now as a senior in either of these hobbies?
This really applies to any DIY endeavor. Don't be afraid to screw up. Screw-ups are the tuition fees of DIY. I am always amazed at the number of people who fear making a mistake and consequently remain helpless. If you don't screw up once in a whle you're not trying hard enough.

Second advice: Do not buy junk tools or compromise on tools. Just buy what is needed to do the job. Owning good tools is like money in the bank -- capability you have for future work. I have every thing from a special little pin-remover that is specific to a Model 1911 pistol to a 250 amp commercial TIG welder. There are tool boxes (3) for automotive tools plus two for machinist tools and one for gunsmithing tools. I don't regret a dime of the cost of any of it. So get going!
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Old 08-04-2020, 05:14 PM   #11
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Last time I had a train was Christmas 60+ years ago. It was just a train and tracks on a 4x8 board. I would love to create a nice layout but I will have to enjoy your pictures (you will post pictures won't you?) Unfortunately our house is small and crowded already.


Cheers!
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Old 08-04-2020, 05:44 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Brat View Post
There are some clubs where each member builds a unit that connects to others. Also some clubs like the CGMRR has the layout in the clubhouse and each member builds their own train. layout €” Columbia Gorge Model Railroad Club



FWIW my husband was the architect for their building, Kaiser purchased their original site. Isaac is one of my favorite members.
I've seen those modular setups at some train shows and that might be a good way to go. I had a friend 55 years ago who used to build fantastic TT scale layout. I used to help him and his brother occasionally. They would actually glue down individual track ties and then nail the rails to the ties. As I recall TT is between HO and N sidewise, but I am not sure it is very common.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RunningBum View Post
I have a U shaped HO setup. HO is easier to work with but N scale would give you so many more options since it's so much smaller. For awhile I regretting not switching to N, but I think I'd be frustrated by it now since my near vision is a lot worse now.

Figure out your space, and maybe use train layout software. If you're not going for something huge and elaborate, put this together and then plan landscaping and buildings around it. Alternatively, if you have a scenery design in mind, start with that and figure out how to work the trains in.

From there, you can work on it as much or as little as you want. My son & I started on this about 17 years ago, just as a flat layout. We had a great space for this ~14x12 layout with 2 separate lines. Then we decided to try adding a tunnel through a mountain, and our first attempt was a keeper. These pics were from 5 years ago. We've added more buildings since then. I even put a 40" TV up in the corner so we could play some train videos on it.

At times I've probably gone well over a year without doing anything, except maybe add a building or two. Current project is adding roads, and after that, lighting.
Its nice that this was something you and your son enjoyed together. The nice thing about this hobby, most of the layouts get built over long periods of time and are never completely finished as there is always more that can be added. My closeup vision is not perfect, but its not too bad with my progressive lenses. I am leaning toward N, but I need to go checkout some layouts in both scales. There is a club in Plano that has both scales, so may try to check it out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldShooter View Post
This really applies to any DIY endeavor. Don't be afraid to screw up. Screw-ups are the tuition fees of DIY. I am always amazed at the number of people who fear making a mistake and consequently remain helpless. If you don't screw up once in a whle you're not trying hard enough.

Second advice: Do not buy junk tools or compromise on tools. Just buy what is needed to do the job. Owning good tools is like money in the bank -- capability you have for future work. I have every thing from a special little pin-remover that is specific to a Model 1911 pistol to a 250 amp commercial TIG welder. There are tool boxes (3) for automotive tools plus two for machinist tools and one for gunsmithing tools. I don't regret a dime of the cost of any of it. So get going!
I know you have to try and be willing to accept mistakes, but when I was looking at the ship building, there were comments about many newbees starting a build and then never finishing due to the difficulty. Totally agree on getting good tools, that has always been my mentality as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Badger View Post
Last time I had a train was Christmas 60+ years ago. It was just a train and tracks on a 4x8 board. I would love to create a nice layout but I will have to enjoy your pictures (you will post pictures won't you?) Unfortunately our house is small and crowded already.


Cheers!
Whether it's trains or ships I will definitely post up some progress pics once I get going. I love that thread that shows what are members are making. We have so many that have some seriously good skills.
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Old 08-05-2020, 11:59 AM   #13
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Not strictly model building, but you might look into RC planes, quadcopters or cars. They all have building as part of the hobby, with the additional thrill of flying, racing, etc with others.


Planes probably have the most realistic building aspect. I find quadcopters and cars much more fun though as I like the go fast, racing aspect of the hobby. Quadcopter racing is much cheaper than RC car racing.


If you are in any decent size town there should be race tracks and clubs for each of these RC hobbies. A lot of RC car tracks even exist out in the boonies, where land is cheap.
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Any Modelers on Here?
Old 08-05-2020, 12:23 PM   #14
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Any Modelers on Here?

ROFL!!! When I read the thread title, I thought you were looking for computer modelers and I was going to say sure, I used to do metocean (GFD) modeling at work, back in the day.

But physical models, nope, not me. Sounds like fun, though. My late brother devoted his basement to his model train hobby.
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Old 08-05-2020, 12:24 PM   #15
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... when I was looking at the ship building, there were comments about many newbees starting a build and then never finishing due to the difficulty. ...
No doubt. I have read that the average homebuilt aircraft has had three owners before it flies. Maybe start with a jon boat or a barge, then a tug boat or a fishing boat, then progress to the USS Constitution?
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Old 08-05-2020, 12:35 PM   #16
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I've got hundreds of gaming minis stashed away downstairs to be painted, which is a time consuming hobby I haven't started yet... I kept planning to have a painting party to make it social, now that's not a thing, so at some point I should probably sit down and do it myself. :P
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Old 08-05-2020, 01:50 PM   #17
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Not strictly model building, but you might look into RC planes, quadcopters or cars. They all have building as part of the hobby, with the additional thrill of flying, racing, etc with others.
I'll second that thought.

I've been flying model airplanes off and on since I was five (I'm 70 now). They can be as detailed as you want or you can buy them pretty much prebuilt out of the box. The level of control with the electronics available now is amazing to a guy who remembers tube radios.
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Old 08-05-2020, 05:50 PM   #18
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I'll second that thought.

I've been flying model airplanes off and on since I was five (I'm 70 now). They can be as detailed as you want or you can buy them pretty much prebuilt out of the box. The level of control with the electronics available now is amazing to a guy who remembers tube radios.
It's appealing, but I can remember BIL's RC plane flying about 25 yds and nose diving into the ground in pieces. I'm not sure if the control systems today could prevent that happening from a beginner. I only flew wire planes as a kid; had a voodoo with a McCoy .35.
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Old 08-05-2020, 06:51 PM   #19
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... I have also been thinking about a small N-gauge railroad. ...
That's good, because N-gauge is small!

There's z-scale if you really want to push it!

I have a 2' x 4' N-Gauge set up that I haven't done anything with in decades. Just too busy in retirement!

Maybe this is the year that I get it checked out and updated, as the oldest grand-kid will be 3 (maybe a bad idea, he'll want to grab it!).

Last year I spent quite a bit of time tweaking the Lionel Tin Plate I inherited from my FIL, a ~ 1936 model. I've set it up at Christmas for the past 10 years or so. Found some replacement parts on line to fix the broken/missing parts, and I updated a Signal Bridge and crossing gate from our old family Lionel layout. I converted them to work on DC from the transformer AC, Signal bridge to red/green LEDs that are switched from an insulated section of track (the train wheels make the contact across the two outer tracks), and with some large filter caps and auto brake light bulbs as current limiters, I got the crossing gate to run smooth as silk (on AC it would buzz like a bee!). Cleaned the motor, lubed everything, and got it running smooth (it used to be hard to get it to run w/o a hand on the throttle, it would either speed up too much and derail, or stall out).

The grand-kids enjoyed that train last year, but couldn't understand why it wasn't there in late January! The youngest one wasn't talking much at the time, he would just drag me into the living room, and point to where the train was, with a quizzical look on his face. Train?

I'd say just go for it. Look for the better quality locomotives, I forget prices, but going up from the lowest price generic stuff to the more mid-range stuff will be a big improvement in how smooth they run, and I don't think we are talking big bucks. Of course, with any hobby, the sky's the limit, but you don't need to spend $1,000's for a good N-Gauge loco.


-ERD50
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Old 08-06-2020, 12:58 PM   #20
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That's good, because N-gauge is small!

There's z-scale if you really want to push it!

I have a 2' x 4' N-Gauge set up that I haven't done anything with in decades. Just too busy in retirement!

Maybe this is the year that I get it checked out and updated, as the oldest grand-kid will be 3 (maybe a bad idea, he'll want to grab it!).

Last year I spent quite a bit of time tweaking the Lionel Tin Plate I inherited from my FIL, a ~ 1936 model. I've set it up at Christmas for the past 10 years or so. Found some replacement parts on line to fix the broken/missing parts, and I updated a Signal Bridge and crossing gate from our old family Lionel layout. I converted them to work on DC from the transformer AC, Signal bridge to red/green LEDs that are switched from an insulated section of track (the train wheels make the contact across the two outer tracks), and with some large filter caps and auto brake light bulbs as current limiters, I got the crossing gate to run smooth as silk (on AC it would buzz like a bee!). Cleaned the motor, lubed everything, and got it running smooth (it used to be hard to get it to run w/o a hand on the throttle, it would either speed up too much and derail, or stall out).

The grand-kids enjoyed that train last year, but couldn't understand why it wasn't there in late January! The youngest one wasn't talking much at the time, he would just drag me into the living room, and point to where the train was, with a quizzical look on his face. Train?

I'd say just go for it. Look for the better quality locomotives, I forget prices, but going up from the lowest price generic stuff to the more mid-range stuff will be a big improvement in how smooth they run, and I don't think we are talking big bucks. Of course, with any hobby, the sky's the limit, but you don't need to spend $1,000's for a good N-Gauge loco.


-ERD50
You should get yours up and running again. I should have started a few months ago given more time at home due to Covid. I've heard that Kato and Atlas are good choices for N Scale locos and rolling stock.
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