By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Looking for a train to put around the Christmas tree? Here are some tips on how to choose the right one.
— Decide whether the train is more for a Christmas decoration or a new hobby. A complete starter set, which can run about $200-$300 and includes everything from the track to the transformer is the easiest way to set up a Christmas decoration.
— The most popular Christmas tree train is an O-gauge, an electric train set that plugs into the wall and has cars that are about 10 inches long, according to Lionel, which manufactures electric trains.
There are many types of add-on cars and accessories available for an O-gauge.
— Think about how much space you have. With the track included in most sets, most people set up a 40-inch diameter circle around the Christmas tree, according to Lionel.
— Train cars should take up no more than one-third of the track, says Duane Miller, owner of Caboose Hobbies in Denver. You don't want the locomotive chasing the tail of the train, says Neil Besougloff, editor of Model Railroader magazine.
— Purchase the train from a reputable dealer, says James Pentifallo, owner and manager of Ridgefield Hobby in Ridgefield, N.J. A reputable dealer sells and services trains all year-round — not only during the holidays.
— Buy a reliable name, such as Lionel, MTH Electric Trains or Bachmann Trains, says Pentifallo.
— Don't shop only by price, says Besougloff. Consider the quality. You want to make sure the train runs next year, he says.
— Be careful about used trains. You may be buying someone else's headache that will cost you more to fix than it's worth, says Pentifallo.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.