So you are thinking of model railroading but do not want to break the bank or have your investment donated to a charitable organization if the kids don't like it?
S Scale has a unique characteristic that other scales do not have which makes it a great starter scale for kids young and old. The hobby has three classifications:
Collectible antiques. The American
flyer S Scale dates back to right after WW2. A. C. Gilbert Was
building O Gauge (1/43) prior to the war effort and switched gears to S
Gauge (1/64) right after the war. Most dies he was using were actually
scaled to 1/64 but had wider wheel spacing for the then 3 rail that Lionel
and Marx was using. His effort resulted in a more scale appearing model that
was proportioned to match the 7/8" wide 2 rail which HO scale (1/87) possessed. Thousands of items go on auction each week on E-Bay as well as
train show swap meets. Finding high quality items are not difficult and are
not extremely expensive. You may find some limited edition items that are a bit
pricey, but may be worth the investment. Either way the recovery costs are near the purchase price should you
choose to change your mind.
Full Scale, Wide and Narrow. If miniature scale
railroads are your forte, consider S as well. Easy to handle parts, high
quality and highly detailed locomotives and rolling stock (including brass),
wooden building kits that are unbelievably proportioned.
Tweeners. This is the lower cost entrance
level. This term I first heard from
our club president. It is a class that takes American Flyer memorabilia and
modifies them to resemble S-scale. How far can you go? You can go either way to collector or semi-scale. Build cabs, add LED
lights, hand rails steps, change to scale couplers and so forth. Locos and most
standard cars are comparable to HO equipment in cost but are more KID
FRIENDLY. Drop a
HO car or loco on the floor and at least 5 parts go in multiple directions.
Flyer was designed for kids, and runs on low voltage AC current for
reliability. Log into eBay and check out the prices. Flyer is not obsolete either,
Lionel now owns rights and recreates most of the accessories. They have
added some very nice locos as well with some awesome details and Legacy TMCC
controllers walk around that are remote and handle multiple trains simultaneously.
So if you are thinking of bonding with the kids, getting them off of the electronic games and get them interested in being a miniature engineer, learning how to phase transformers, wire, and most of all play for hours with what they create, S gauge is worth the consideration. When it is over, and the kids aren't as excited as you may wish, the stuff can go back up on Ebay if you should decide not to keep it all for yourself. Check out prices online and at swap meets. Consider a visit to your local S gauge club to see what the possibilities are.
Plywood sheet layouts are not just for HO or N gauge. S-gauge will fit as well if space is a problem. Below is a sample 4X8 foot layout with multiple action accessories. With a phased transformer on each side, a couple fiber pins for separation, a few un-couplers, Hours of fun can be had for two engineers at the same time. Load logs on one side and drop them at the mill on the other. Load coal on one side and drop at the heating supply on the other. Your imagination and placement of items are up to the engineer running the layout that takes the same space as a HO layout that just has drop and pick up cars. One can also add a siding or staging yard on the bottom branch. Should you decide to expand, add switches on the outside corners, another sheet on either or both ends for a city or car/loco staging and turn it into a pike to be proud of.
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