Starting the project

Walschaerts_motion

This project began when I was thinking through my past and remembered the fun that I had as a child with a Lionel HO scale train.  It was a yellow Chessie system and was nothing more than a standard oval with a switch to cut cars through a small circle.  I decorated it and built it up on a sheet of 4×8 plywood set on saw horses.  At some point I had to get rid of it and sold it in the newspaper.  I don’t remember why.

Well, now at the age of 42, I have been wanting to build a train but I know that I neither have the imagination that I had as a child nor do I have the attention span to actually play with a model train set.  But, this morning I realized that I could not only build a model train but I could make it a decorative part of the house by hanging the track from the ceiling in the basement.  So, I started researching the costs.  I found the following Web sites to start looking for pricing on the trains and track.

When I started thinking about building the train I expected the engine to be the most expensive part, but I was quite surprised when I found that the track was going to be the most expensive component.  So, I built a spreadsheet where I started comparing the costs from these two websites as well as the costs of the types of track available.

I started looking at Bachmann trains because they are inexpensive and put together the following list for the train.

G Scale 4-6-0 Freight Train Set with Track and Transformer, Big Top Circus, Bachmann Model Trains, BAC90049
Circus Observation, Bachmann Brothers, Bachmann Large Scale Trains, BAC97381
Circus Flat w/Bear&Gorilla Wagon, Bachmann, Bachmann Large Scale Trains, BAC98381
Circus Flatw /Giraffe&Hippo Wagon, Bachmann, Bachmann Large Scale Trains, BAC98382
Circus Tent Car, Bachmann Brothers, Bachmann Large Scale Trains, BAC98379
Circus Pole Car, Bachmann Brothers, Bachmann Large Scale Trains, BAC98380
Circus Water Tank, Bachmann Bros, Bachmann Large Scale Trains, BAC98383

This complete train with a power supply will cost about $400.  As for the track, I need to get a good read for the layout before I can estimate costs.  So, I start up Visio and measured the basement.  It was remarkable that it took so long to get the layout of the basement into Visio so that I could draw on it.  Here is the layout that I am going to build.

Train_Room_Layout_4_5_curves

With this drawing in hand, I was able to make estimates on pricing for the track.

Track Type Cost
Solid Brass Aristo brand track (euro style) $1,543
Solid Brass USA brand track (euro style) $1,369
Solid Steel Aristo (euro style) $2,472

The difference between Steel and Brass is exceptional so my decision is fairly easy in that I will use Brass for the rail.  I looked at Bachmann track, and while it would be about half the price of using USA or Aristo, it is also not compatible in any way with the other brands.  Bachmann track is hollow and made of tin.  While the spacing of the rail matches all other G-scale track, the connection method is different and therefore incompatible.

I still need to figure out how I am going to mount the rail in the basement.

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