We recommend the O scale (Lionel or MTH Train sets) for the smaller child. The engines in these set are typically die cast and more rugged. I personally purchased this scale for my own children when they were 2 years and 4 years old. They were of course supervised as the manufacturer recommend these sets for anyone over 8 years of age. They have lasted with a minor coupler being broken along the way. The couplers can be fixed easily by you or our repairman here at Legacy Station.
The size that generally come in a ready to run set is approx 4 x 8 ft. This will fit nicely under a Christmas tree or on a sheet of plywood if you are creating a layout. The track that comes with these sets are very easy to put together (unlike the knuckle buster track as I call it- or tubular track as it is known by.) The MTH track is called RealTrax and the Lionel Track is called Fastrack. Both are very similar in design, with MTH being slightly darker gray than Lionel’s Fastrack. The track is sturdy, does not come apart when the train runs on it, and it is to assemble and disassemble. Both types of track, Fastrack and RealTrax will work on carpet or hardwood floors.
MTH and Lionel cars are interchangeable. The buildings, characters and accessories of both manufacturers can be used as well.
You might also consider the G Scale Trains which are larger than the O scale and used generally as Garden Railway Trains. These are good choices also for smaller children, although there is not much in the way of add ons as there is for the o scale trains.
Can I run my old trains on my new track?
I have a lot of old tubular O gauge track.Can I transition from my old tubular O Gauge? track to the new Fastrack system?
Yes you can. You must purchase the transition piece. Remember, it must be O gauge tubular (Black ties not Brown ties)
Will my old transformer run my new train?
This can be done, but you must protect the newer trains with the fast blowing fuse. If you do not protect the train with this fuse, the digital circuit board could get damaged.
Is my old track worth anything?
Unfortunately No. Recycle it!
What is O27 track?
This track was tubular track and has brown ties. Lionel had originally made it to put in beginner sets. It is still made but does not come in any sets. It has been replaced by Fastrack.
Do you recommend a smaller scale?
The next size down from O scale is HO and it is not recommended for children under 14 years of age. The price of an average train set in HO is less than O Scale but it is not as durable. Obviously, if there is a space issue or cost factor, HO is a great option.
Just keep in mind that HO is more delicate than O scale trains and therefore easier to break. We do not repair HO trains and do not know of anyone who does. HO is Half the size of O Scale.
I have a Department 56 Village and want a train to go with the village. What do I buy?
Department 56 village work well with ON30 trains although they are difficult to find. ON30 runs on standard HO Track but has a larger O scale train. Due to the limited nature of accessories, rolling stock and add ons for the ON30, we recommend the O Scale trains such as Lionel or MTH Trains. The trains in our Department 56 village are all O Scale trains. O Scale is more reliable due to the pick up roller located in the middle rail of the track which provides for better power supply. In other words, your train will run better with the O Scale track. ON30 users have more issues with the train not running properly because the track has to be perfectly clean and the wheels of the train will also have to be cleaned often. If you don’t have the room for a full train, consider an O Scale Trolley. This will run back and forth on one track (not oval or round) and will utilize two bumpers at each end.
Scales vs Gauge
Scale represent the ratio of the model to the prototype (or real-life size).
For example, O Scale is 1:48 Scale. So in this example, 1 inch on the model equals 48 inches in real life. Thus, a 48′ freight car would be 1 foot (or 12 inches).
Gauge is another term you will hear frequently and sometimes interchangeably. However, they are not the same. Where scale represents a model’s size compared to the real thing, gauge only represents the distance between the rails.
Trains and Model Railroading
People often ask,”How did you get started in Model Railroading?’ There are many reason why people chose this hobby. One of the reasons I hear quite often is it involves the entire family and we have fun together. Some people will model certain themes or areas that they love.
Before you start in model railroading, you need the basics. A good train set from a solid company. Some of the reputable companies (yes, even Lionel ) have made lesser quality sets that will not stand the test of time and running. These sets are mainly sold to the mass market in department stores. Purchase your first set from a reputable hobby store who can answer your questions and get you started on the right track (no pun intended). At Legacy Station, you can purchase just the right amount of track that you need for your layout. We sell track in individual pieces so that you can expand as YOU see fit.
Next, secure your train set down on a piece of plywood or sturdy board. Plywood by itself can be noisy, so we recommend using foam board or cork board along with it if it is too noisy.
Your first layout does not need to be fancy, but and oval may get a little boring to watch after a while. So plan you layout with one or two sidings or a figure 8 layout if possible. Then the fun begins. You will need to wire the layout and there are plenty of books and information out there on wiring. We will help you of course if you need it.
The train layout is only limited by your imagination. You can create any town, city or countryside that you want. You can make your buildings, or purchase those already made. You can make your tunnels, bridges etc. You can weather the buildings (make them look more realistic), you can weather your trains too. It is all on how you want the final scene to be. Remember that the more details (people, buildings, animals, trees, roads, parking lots) that you have, the more realistic the layout will be. Look around outdoors for ideas. See the trash on the sidewalk, graffiti on the trains, tires by the side of the road….well you can add those all to your layout at really no cost and it will look great.
It is an adventure into your imagination…AAALLLLLL ABOARD!