There is nothing like the sight and sound of a train running around the Christmas Tree! Young or old everyone seems to enjoy watching them including you! Now you've decided that a train set under your Christmas Tree would be nice addition, but you're not quite sure where to start.
With the large number of choices in model and toy trains available selecting the right one can be a daunting task. Relax, I'm here to help you through the process. Just go through the below questions and answers and you'll be on your way!
What size (scale) trains should you buy?
The most popular size for Christmas Tree layouts is O-Gauge (1/48 scale). The larger size makes it easy to work with and it will even run well on carpeting.
What brand of O Gauge train should I buy?
The leading producers of O-Gauge train sets are Lionel and Mike's Train House (MTH). Both manufacturers make a wide variety of items including starter sets, engines, rolling stock, track, transformers, and accessories. Other manufacturers include Atlas-O and Bachmann.
What do I need to buy to get started?
Both Lionel and MTH sell starter sets. These train sets typically include an engine (diesel or steam), three or four cars (freight or passenger), a loop of track, and a small transformer. (Tip: Don't buy a battery powered train set or an off-brand set. Always buy a named brand set with a transformer.)
Where can I buy a starter train set?
They are available online from resellers such as Amazon and at local toy stores and hobby shops.
How much will it cost?
A typical starter set is $200-$400 depending on the type of engine, number of cars, amount of track, size of transformer and whether any accessories are included.
How much space will it take to set up a starter set?
The typical Lionel train set includes an oval of their FasTrack modular track measuring 40" x 60". The equivalent MTH train set includes an oval of RealTrax modular track measuring 31" by 51".
Is a starter train set enough?
A starter set allows you to get up and running for the minimal cost. If you find you like trains under the Christmas tree (how can you not!) you can easily expand from your starter set by adding additional track, engines, rolling stock and accessories. I'll write about expanding your layout in a future installment.