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Cliff Notes: Move from HO to N gauge in a 3x6' space with mountain scenery, and duplicate Lionel's Texas Special using DCC? Possibly duplicating the Tehachapi Loop and Tunnel System with a Cab Forward tossed into the mix, or the Mariposa to Yosemite Valley RR with artistic liberties.

Thoughts on moving to N gauge?
Details

Did a search and did not see what I was looking for, but I have been collecting Lionel's HO Texas Special passenger and engine stock due to sentimental value when I was a kid, circa 1959/60(It's a very cool story, but next post)
I have a very limited space 3x6 to be exact and want to have a nice running layout with mountain scenery. I love the mountains and love to build trestles, I have a trestle pattern from Boy's Life circa 1959 that is very cool and I love building a set to cross a ravine(s).
Don't care about a specific period per se, just interested in running cool trains.
The Sierra/Yosemite and Tehachapi's are my favorite places on the planet. I think it would be awesome to duplicate the original Tehachapi Tunnels and the Loop. Obviously there would be artistic liberties due to space, but .....
I have always loved the cab forwards, so one may be included.

Question of the day moving to N gauge from HO what are the difficulties? I have read the track must be lined up so perfectly even a germ on the track causes derailment.

DCC versus DC, is there enough room in an N gauge engine(s) to really get sound and control functionality?
I might not need DCC, but am a bit of a Silicon Valley Geek, so it interests me as a cool challenge and cool high tech.
I inherited a very tiny N gauge starter kit, an F-7 and 4 cars, and an oval. I tested it and it works, but it is a minimalist set.
I would want to try and come as close as possible to recreating the Texas Special, with EMD E-7A & B units and the passenger cars, so I am not afraid to redo an existing passenger train kit. I have been building models of all sorts for many years.
So thoughts on moving?
Absolutely not afraid to be overly ambitious and the budget is there to do what I need.
 

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The difficulties for me would be vision and manual dexterity.
 

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The difficulties for me would be vision and manual dexterity.
Exactly what Michael said! As we age, vision and dexterity decline. I model in N scale, and along with my neuro-muscle disease, I have troubles dealing with the small stuff. My hands are a bit shaky, making it harder to place tiny wheels on the rails, and to put fine touches like with paint brushes and tweezers.

As for your concern about track integrity, the smaller the scale, the more precise track alignment must be. Tiny wheel flanges react more to misaligned rails. But careful attention to installation will overcome that. You sound like you would not have a problem with attention to details.

Yes many N scale locos have room for DCC with sound. No, the quality won't equal O or HO mainly because of speaker size. I highly recommend DCC because it offers so much more operation flexibility than DC.

Look up some videos of N scale layouts...their builders have them looking and operating as well as any O or HO out there.

Good luck!! :smilie_daumenpos:
 

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There is the possibility of mounting the speaker in a trailing car in the train, but then you are pretty much locked in to that car always following the locomotive. You could likely fit a couple of cube speakers in a box car with holes drilled in the bottom, or select an oblong or oval speaker of the correct width for the box car.

Sound decoders that come with speakers use a very fine flexible wire that shouldn't affect operation between the two pieces.
 

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Those speakers suffer from the same problem that most laptop speakers suffer from.

No bass. It's all midrange and treble.
 

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Well if Bass is so important to someone they can always get the BLI Rolling Thunder. It will give you all the Bass that one needs. If I only had a 3' x 6' space and had to go HO I would look for another hobby, but in N-scale you can have something very enjoyable.
 

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Our members have offered some very good
advice.

I wanted to add, that if you really want to enjoy
running your trains do go with DCC. It's easier
to wire and set up and leagues ahead of DC for
operations. You can even run train A clockwise
while train B is going counterclockwise on the
same single track. Impossible with DC.
You do need passing sidings
to make it work. Another operating feature...you
can have a continuous running train while you
also work a loco switching a yard and industry
spurs.

Non sound DCC decoders are hardly larger than
a postage stamp so will fit in most N locos. While
the size may be a challenge, the wiring is quite
direct. Each decoder will have instructions on
where the color coded wires go. Some locos
are DCC ready, which means you can simply
plug in the decoder.

Don
 

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N-scale Tehachapi loop in 3' x 6'???

Cliff Notes: Move from HO to N gauge in a 3x6' space with mountain scenery, and duplicate Lionel's Texas Special using DCC? Possibly duplicating the Tehachapi Loop and Tunnel System with a Cab Forward tossed into the mix, or the Mariposa to Yosemite Valley RR with artistic liberties.

Thoughts on moving to N gauge?
Details

Did a search and did not see what I was looking for, but I have been collecting Lionel's HO Texas Special passenger and engine stock due to sentimental value when I was a kid, circa 1959/60(It's a very cool story, but next post)
I have a very limited space 3x6 to be exact and want to have a nice running layout with mountain scenery. I love the mountains and love to build trestles, I have a trestle pattern from Boy's Life circa 1959 that is very cool and I love building a set to cross a ravine(s).
Don't care about a specific period per se, just interested in running cool trains.
The Sierra/Yosemite and Tehachapi's are my favorite places on the planet. I think it would be awesome to duplicate the original Tehachapi Tunnels and the Loop. Obviously there would be artistic liberties due to space, but .....
I have always loved the cab forwards, so one may be included.

Question of the day moving to N gauge from HO what are the difficulties? I have read the track must be lined up so perfectly even a germ on the track causes derailment.

DCC versus DC, is there enough room in an N gauge engine(s) to really get sound and control functionality?
I might not need DCC, but am a bit of a Silicon Valley Geek, so it interests me as a cool challenge and cool high tech.
I inherited a very tiny N gauge starter kit, an F-7 and 4 cars, and an oval. I tested it and it works, but it is a minimalist set.
I would want to try and come as close as possible to recreating the Texas Special, with EMD E-7A & B units and the passenger cars, so I am not afraid to redo an existing passenger train kit. I have been building models of all sorts for many years.
So thoughts on moving?
Absolutely not afraid to be overly ambitious and the budget is there to do what I need.
Grzldvt:

Welcome to the forum!

I am 71 yr old, 40+ year N-scaler, and I would like to clear up some misconceptions. First of all, good trackwork is critical in any scale. It is no more difficult in N-scale than in HO-scale. Yes, I've worked with both those scales. Certainly, one is smaller than the other, but the difference in size does not affect the need for good trackwork. One quote I've seen on the forum is, "In N-scale, even a 1/16" gap between rail ends would represent a one foot gap in real track." That's correct, an N-scale foot is about 1/16". What was not mentioned is that the exact same 1/16" gap would represent about a 6" gap in HO-scale. I find it hard to imagine a real train going over either a 12" or a 6" gap between rail ends without severe damage to the wheels, the track, or both, even if somehow it managed not to derail and crash. Today real railroads use welded rail, with no gaps at all in the rail joints. Back when they were using bolted together rail joints, I don't recall seeing more than about 1/4" between rail ends. That would be a very small gap in either HO or N scales. And No, "a germ on the railhead" will not derail an N-scale train. :rolleyes:

Poor trackwork, low-quality turnouts, out-of-gage wheels and/or track, Trying to run long locomotives and cars on way too sharp curves, those are the common causes of derailments, and they are indeed "common" as in "They are common to all scales."

You will experience an "O.M.G. this stuff is tiny!" :eek: "period of adjustment" when you first switch to a smaller scale.
I've been through this same feeling twice in my life. First when I switched from Lionel O-gage, three-rail, down to HO-scale, and again when I switched from HO-scale, down to N-scale. It's really a matter of perception. The attached file "Choosing a scale" discusses this effect.

I think your biggest problem will be lack of space. I'm sorry to tell you this, but you are making one of the most common mistakes new modelers, or in this case, someone new to a particular modeling scale, tend to make. Trying to fit too many features, or one feature that is way too big, into too little space.

If you ever make it down to the L.A. area, you might try to visit the Belmont Shore N-scale club in San Pedro, CA. just south of L.A. I spent 11 happy years as a member of that club, before moving to San Diego, many years ago. Not only is the impressive club layout well worth a visit, but they have an N-scale model of Tehachapi loop on their huge layout, which fills most of the top floor of a 30' x 90' old army barracks.
The benchwork of the Tehachapi loop section is about 10' x 15' The loop itself is a good 7' across. You can see a video of the Belmont Shore's version of the loop by googling "Belmont Shore Model Railroad Club." You may be able to get some idea of the size of the model loop, from the length of the coal train. How you plan to fit an N-scale model of the Tehachapi loop into a 3' x 6' space is a mystery to me. :confused:
I've also been to the real Tehachapi loop and it is huge! The real loop has about 3/4 of a mile of track, that's about 22 (real) feet of track in N-scale!
Even if you made a very, very, squeezed-down loop, to fit your space, the grade would have to be so steep as to render it almost unusable by anything longer than an F-unit and 4-5 cars.

If 3'x6' is all the space you can get,* then I'm afraid you probably should scale down your dreams to a simple oval with some sidings. Or you could do a reduced version of the Monolith cement plant which is "somewhat near" (within miles of) the top of Tehachapi loop. Another possibility would be a fictional yard where trains headed for the non-modeled loop, would be made up, and sent off "to the loop" (actually into staging.) The staging yard would be on the other side of a backdrop and also the other side of an oval main line. Unfortunately, that's about all you can fit in 3'x6', using N-scale.

Even going down to Z-scale wouldn't make modeling Tehachapi loop practical. There are Z-scale F-units available and some steam locomotives but I don't know if there's a cab forward. There are also passenger cars.
Z-scale though is only about 25% smaller than N-scale, so it wouldn't be small enough to build Tehachapi loop in 3' x 6.'

T-scale maybe, since a ten car passenger train is about the size of a #2 lead pencil in T-scale. I have no idea what's available in this tiny new scale, probably not much.

Yes, you can fit DCC decoders in N-scale locomotives. In fact there are commercially available decoders designed to fit Z-scale locomotives.
Speakers are another matter. I installed a "drop-in" sound decoder in a Kato N-scale F-unit. The decoder's tiny speaker firing it's sound against a solid part of the shell produced sound so faint, I could barely hear it. I installed a larger, laptop, speaker in a dummy B-unit, firing down at the track through the open bottom of the frame. Problem solved! Plenty of volume and nice sounds too! Today you can buy Kato F-units with DCC and sound, factory-installed. The sounds produced by the decoders are excellent, but the small speakers do limit the sound's volume, and frequency range, somewhat. Sound decoders are also more expensive than motor & light only decoders. I decided to not put sound in any more locomotives. Instead I plan to hide some desktop-type amplified speakers connected alternately to only two or three DCC sound decoders, to produce steam, or diesel, and maybe electric locomotive sounds on the layout , but not aboard any of my locomotives. Better sound, less cost. The first photo shows one section of my railroad. There are two speakers at the back near the curved skyboard at the right side of the section.

In short, you can do anything in N-scale that you can in HO-scale. You don't have to possess eyes like an eagle's, be an accomplished brain surgeon, or any of the other bologna attributed to N-scale; mostly by people who work in larger scales, and have never built an N-scale layout.(I'm now working on my seventh N-scale layout.) The photos below show some of the structures I've scratchbuilt,or kitbashed, in N-scale. They should give you an idea of what's possible in N-scale.

* Would you be able to get more length, possibly at the expense of the 3' width, by building a narrow shelf layout along one or more walls?

Good luck with whatever you choose to build, in whatever scale you like.

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:

View attachment WHERE DO I START rev 4.pdf

View attachment 1 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment 2 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment 3 & 4 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment 5 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment 6 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment Choosing a Scale.pdf

View attachment All AboutTurnouts rev 5.pdf

View attachment MODEL RAILROADING ON A BUDGET.pdf

View attachment Model Railroad Terminology 3.pdf

Cedar Falls module. showing lightwood bookshelf arch with enginehouse & station in background.jpg

Cape Rip. Lighthouse and cottage.JPG

Garrison creek trestle good view.JPG

Black River Sta. east side.JPG

Cedar Falls water tower close up.JPG

Seattle Union Station concourse end 2.JPG

Seattle Union Station showing scratch built interior.JPG

Wooden road bridge at Black River Junction.jpg
 

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Very new to Model Railroading after many years of plastic scale modelling. I really like the Great Northern NW2. Will people laugh at me if I use a switcher for my primary power? :hah:
No, there are lots of short lines that use switchers for there main power. Were I live the short line Oil Creek Valley uses a Alco S2. They even pull a passenger train with one.
 

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Very new to Model Railroading after many years of plastic scale modelling. I really like the Great Northern NW2. Will people laugh at me if I use a switcher for my primary power? :hah:
Baldwin, no-one will laugh at you for anything you do. Choosing your primary power is YOUR choice. As the saying goes, "It's your railroad. You make it do what you want."

We've all been new to the hobby at one time or another, and we all make mistakes in the various aspects...planning, track laying, wiring, etc. But few if any are laughable. We learn from our and each other's mistakes. That's part of the greatness of this and other train forums...we learn from and help teach each other.

Welcome to the MTF! Enjoy the hobby. :smilie_daumenpos:
 

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The short line out here still uses second-hand MP15ACs. And I would never laugh at anyone using anything Great Northern. :)
 

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Welcome aboard!

Very new to Model Railroading after many years of plastic scale modelling. I really like the Great Northern NW2. Will people laugh at me if I use a switcher for my primary power? :hah:


baldwin;

Welcome to the forum! No, I won't laugh at you for having a switcher for your primary power. Your railroad, your rules.

Since you're "Very new to model railroading:, you might benefit from the information in the files attached below. I wrote them for "newbies planning their first layout.

Again, welcome;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:

View attachment WHERE DO I START rev 4.pdf

View attachment 1 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment 2 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment 3 & 4 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment 5 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment 6 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment All AboutTurnouts rev 5.pdf

View attachment MODEL RAILROADING ON A BUDGET.pdf

View attachment Model Railroad Terminology 3.pdf

View attachment N-scale cars for sale.pdf
 

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No, there are lots of short lines that use switchers for there main power.
That's part of the greatness of this and other train forums...we learn from and help teach each other.
And I would never laugh at anyone using anything Great Northern. :)
Go for it.
you might benefit from the information in the files attached below. I wrote them for "newbies planning their first layout. Again, welcome

Thank you all for the kind words, advice and support. I've always admired MRR fans from afar and now in the last number of months as I take steps in starting my own layout, really seeing their passion for Railroading first hand.

Being originally from Western Canada, Winnipeg, gives me a hardwired soft spot for Canadian and NW US rail lines. Picked up some books, and too many hours of reading/researching on the net to inspire and borrow ideas from a lot of great work of others as yourselves. Slow steps but I find I make better decisions when sleeping on them for a few nights.

Getting my hobby room sorted out, soon the benchwork will start. Started collecting a few GN freightcars and then my Wife finally said "When are you getting the one that goes in front?" (her term for locomotive). So I was considering an F7 for up front but the price and review of the NW2 (review on Spookshow.net) has me leaning in that direction.

Well I feel I've sidetracked the original opening post of this thread but just wanted to say a thank you to all who replied, although my first reply was a bit of a joke about being new.

Many thanks

Craig
 

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I changed from HO to N-scale in the early 1970s, never looked back. I'm 69 years old and still don't have any problems working in N-scale. N-scale has come a long way, locos run fantastic. DCC isn't a problem and sound is pretty good if you install a very good speaker.
Check this out!
https://www.broadway-limited.com/nscaleparagon3emdnwsw7switchers.aspx
---
WOW! That's very impressive! The sound, technology, detail. High-quality train models from a US corporation! :)
 

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Had to switch to N Partly because of space. Other reasons had to do with all the track and rolling stock I had already from N scale. It just made sense. Now I'm putting together a portable layout !! cheers !
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Sorry I have not been responsive, I have had a 91 yr old Father-In-Law who was physically challenged visit me/us before Christmas and just now left. He simply kept me occupied 7x24. On the other hand at 91 he is mentally incredibly sharp. I hope to God I am that sharp at his age if I make it that far.

THANK YOU to all that posted it has been incredibly helpful.
I seem to have a thing for passenger trains and found several people selling cars/engines. So I will still buy my Lionel HO Texas Specials as they come up due to sentimental value but will move to N gauge for an actual working layout.
 
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