How to get Started with Ho Model Trains

The HO scale of model railways is by far and away the world’s favourite scale to model in, especially so if you include the UK’s HO/OO scale in this calculation. Popularity though does not always make it an easy scale to make a start with. The range of products available is often overwhelming and trying to remember everything needed is often a daunting prospect.

It is no good just rushing out and buying the first model train or train set that you see on the shelf. Research is necessary and thankfully there are many model societies that offer advice on line.

The manufacturers of HO scale model railways have recognised the fact that they have to make it an easy hobby to get into to increase the number of people involved in the hobby. As a result you will find that most of the largest model railway manufacturers, including the likes of Atlas, Bachmann and Roundhouse, have produced model train sets that include everything needed for someone new to the hobby.

Bachmann in particular do seem to excel when it comes to their model train sets, and although I have a soft spot for their Thomas the Tank Engine range of model trains, I have been greatly impressed with Bachmann’s HO Santa Fe Spectrum Explorer Set. Bachmann sets are not cheap, and can be anything up to four times the price of a Life-Like set, the Bachmann Santa Fe set indeed can retail at USD380, although some internet sites do retail it for USD130.

This lower end price is certainly a bargain containing as it does a 2-8-0 Baldwin steam locomotive, complete with its tender and real headlights; a coach and observation car; enough E-Z Track to complete a 63″x45″ oval; and most importantly a power pack and speed controller. You would be hard pressed to purchase all of these individual items for anywhere near the purchase price of the set. So the Bachmann HO Santa Fe Spectrum Explorer Set allows you to lay track and run a steam train quickly and easy.

Sets do allow for a start to the construction of a model railway, but it is only a start, in essence they give a taste of what the hobby can be made to do, without going into detail. Sets are designed for a small circuit, and from that starting point it is necessary to expand. For this it is best to find a local railway model shop who will offer advice, but will also be able to provide all of the items needed to progress.

Additional track is probably the first place to move onto. E-Z Track makes it easy to lay the necessary track down, but other firms offer good quality track that may require pinning down to a base board. The additional track will allow for a larger layout. With a larger layout more locomotives, coaches and rolling stock should be purchased. Many firms offer great ranges of detailed model, but beware that not all are universally compatible, and couplings often differ between models. It is then a matter of adding detail to your new layout, Atlas make great building for any layout and with some research any time period can be successfully reproduced in HO Scale. Scenery and people are also great finishing touches.

It is important that any newcomer to model railways does not become overwhelmed by the task in front of them. Research is important and it is also normally a good idea to take time when choosing items otherwise the model railway can find itself relegated to boxes hidden away in the store room.