Which Model Train Brands Are Compatible With Another?

Which Model Train Brands Are Compatible With Another?

If you’re starting out in the model railroading hobby, you might wonder which brand you should choose to work with. Thankfully, you don’t have to stick to one manufacturer since many model train parts are compatible with others. Let’s take a look at which model train brands are compatible with another.

Track Pieces

If you’re buying track pieces from a different manufacturer than your trains, don’t worry. The most important thing to look for in matching trains and track pieces is the gauge, the width between the rails. With one gauge of track, you can run any scale or manufacturer that uses that gauge.

However, do note that track pieces from different makers won’t necessarily fit together without modification. That’s because many manufacturing companies have proprietary track connection systems.

Car and Locomotive Couplers

Most model railroaders buy trains from different manufacturers, so you’re in good company if you do the same. The only thing to worry about is whether the cars and locomotives use the same type of couplers (the connection between train cars). Thankfully, most modern brands have pretty standardized coupler designs, and there are tons of coupler replacements on the market if you need to switch them out.

Command Controls

There are two main types of control systems in the model railroading world: direct current (DC) and digital command control (DCC). On DC, you simply turn on the power, and your train runs. However, you don’t have much control over the function and can’t run special effects. To really take control of your train’s bells and whistles, you’ll want a DCC system.

Not all DCC systems are equal, though. Some brands make proprietary DCC systems, like the Lionel TMCC system and the MTH DCS system. Because of their different development histories, the DCS system can run Lionel’s TMCC control system, but TMCC can’t run trains that use DCS. Just be sure to read the packaging carefully before purchasing a new DCC-enabled locomotive.

Building Your First Train

If all this information about which model train brands are compatible with another makes you feel overwhelmed, don’t worry! Contact Midwest Model Railroad. We’d be more than happy to help you figure out which parts you need, whether it’s an HO scale steam locomotive or an N scale boxcar. We also carry a vast selection of locomotives, rolling stock, scenery pieces, and electronic parts for model trains. Let us help you build your next train!

24th Feb 2023 Steven Atwell

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