Model Train Forum banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
112 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I've got roughly 13 feet against a wall in a garage to build a layout. I'd like to keep the width to 36" of less.

Yes, I know in HO that translates to a 15" radius or less, but I'd use only short cars, and switcher diesels, NW2, SW7

or similar. I looked at costs and not to worried about any difference. Detail wise I see not a huge difference N vs HO except

that N is harder to see and make out detail. Both scales offer sound, DCC. N is more delicate and harder to work with

for an arthritic old guy (me). And I know N would accommodate more trackage, turnouts, etc. Any thoughts from those experienced

with both scales might help me decide.
 

·
Railroad Tycoon
Joined
·
23,721 Posts
Flip a coin? :D

N scale would be better if you can work on the smaller things.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
940 Posts
You’ve pretty much summed up the major differences between the scales, so I don’t think we can really help you make that decision. You have to decide if you value a more complex track plan (N) or an easier to work with size (HO).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
553 Posts
You do not have to have a 'continual' where trains loop around in a pretzeled scheme and come back.. Real RRs are point to point with turning facilities on one or both ends of the line...A P to P layout forces you to do proto activity at it's termini like the 1:1 scale... (You can still have main line do some ups/unders/overs )..
Since you are arthritic I strongly suggest you go HO with heftier equipment and a smaller RR..Also, look into 'open grid', L girder, cookie cutter benchwork... A completely flat surface is a huge hassle to make grades, tunnels, water ways, valleys, and is a huge hindrance to wiring. Try to design it where you're not, while running, looking down on the layout... 97% of the time we see the 1:1 scale from its side, not from above or under it..The model looks more real from the side, too. So, if you plan to run trains standing up I find my collar bone is a nice altitude for ground zero..
I own an NCE PowerCab... To me it's the Coke of throttles next to Pepsi, RC Cola, and 7up... Finally, I think it's worth it to buy locos with full features..IE. "DCC/Sound on board"..any other designation such as "DCC ready" or plain DCC don't necessarily have sound or a speaker....
All the best, 🏡 🛤🌄🌵
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
338 Posts
Three things you have to look at.
1: Eye site. Good then N. Bad or going bad then HO.
2: Dexterity how do your hands work and can you grab small items. If you can then N scale if not then HO
3: Space and desire. How much space and how much track you want to lay. You want yards or just go around with a inner track or a few sidings.
N scale= lots of track
HO Scale= Some track and sidings depending on space now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
484 Posts
I used to model in N. Then my eyesight started slowly degrading (every few years I have to get stronger glass) so now it's HO.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
112 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Guys (& Gurls) many good points made. I have a small diorama I'm making for my daughter in HO scale, so I went home and worked on

it yesterday, and it became clear to me HO is the better choice for me. My hands aren't shakey but I don't have the dexterity I had in the past. I like

the ideal of DCC and full featured locos, some point to point, a go around, and a couple of turnouts. Other than maybe ON30 (which I've worked with) I

think HO has overall the more detailed features than the overall N scale products, and more rugged. I like high quality, when I messed with ON30 I kept

having mechanical and electrical problems with the engines even though I loved the fine detail. If the quality level is ever raised up on ON30 I'd look at

giving ON30 a go again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
759 Posts
"N is more delicate and harder to work with for an arthritic old guy (me)."

There's your answer.
Go with HO.
It will be much easier to work with (and enjoy) over time.

Tiny trains aren't much fun if they're too small to work on or even enjoy watching while they run!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,573 Posts
For many of us N Scale is just to tiny for shaky fingers. The tracks also
require very exacting work...a 1/8" gap is a chasm to N size wheels and a possible
derail point. HO would be a much better choice but you need a much
wider support than 36".

Have you considered a hinged layout that would be sufficiently wide
for HO but capable of folding up when not in use?

Don
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
112 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
yes, I did think about a hinged layout, a good idea for what my area is like. My garage wall is 11.5' long to a corner, then

the wall juts inward 2 feet. I could have 11' x ?? wide, then a dogleg 2'x3' so about 14' long x ?? wide. So I could mount a

hinge at say 45 inches from the floor, let the whole platform drop 90 degrees and be against the wall. How wide should it be

for HO and a couple of switchers running around? I'd like to steer clear of anything that looks like an oval of track

thrown down on a rectangular slab of plywood. But I'm just not feeling real creative right now as to what kind of foundation

I should build, and how to design the layout of the track. It's not my forte. I'm good at mechanical stuff though. I'm

thinking find a you tube video of something I like and copy it with my own custom touches.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,969 Posts
I've got roughly 13 feet against a wall in a garage to build a layout. I'd like to keep the width to 36" of less.

Yes, I know in HO that translates to a 15" radius or less, but I'd use only short cars, and switcher diesels, NW2, SW7

or similar. I looked at costs and not to worried about any difference. Detail wise I see not a huge difference N vs HO except

that N is harder to see and make out detail. Both scales offer sound, DCC. N is more delicate and harder to work with

for an arthritic old guy (me). And I know N would accommodate more trackage, turnouts, etc. Any thoughts from those experienced

with both scales might help me decide.
spacomp;

I would go with N-scale, as long as you can handle the smaller size. Now that's very much an individual matter, and no one but you can really decide. There is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to test your ability though. Intermountain make well detailed boxcar kits in O, HO, and N-scales Buy one HO-scale, and one N-scale kit and assemble them. That should give you some basic, hands-on, experience with both scales.

I started out with O-27 Lionel, and Marx trains as a young boy. I modeled in HO-scale as a teenager, and I have been working in N-scale for about 40 years. I'm 72 years old and partially disabled. My eyesight, and hearing, aren't what they used to be, (Who's are?) but I get along fine with reading glasses and occasional use of an optivisor.
Your limited space is a factor, of course, but it should not be the absolute decision maker. That's your job. 😄 As you pointed out, you could fit an HO layout in there, especially if it's a point-to-point, switching layout.

N-scale will let you have more reasonable curves. The same 15" radius curve that is super-tight for HO-scale is a fairly generous one in N-scale.
My own layout's minimum radius is 16" and I adopted that to accommodate my 2-8-2 Mikados. That is the minimum practical radius where they will Reliably stay on the track, even though, in theory, they can handle an 11" radius curve. My layout is a "Bookshelf Model Railroad" design that I copied from an old article in Model Railroader Magazine. There is a track plan in the "Layout Design forum" section. It shows the basic design of one of my 4' long standard sections in a photo. My layout is about 17' long, 16" deep and 16" high. I have deeper (36") sections at the ends to hold loops for continuous running.
I model passenger service on mainline, class one, railroads. That means 85' long cars, and medium steam, along with diesel, and electric locomotives.
Such things as scratchbuilding, switching, and operation are perfectly possible in N-scale in spite of the prejudice of a few HO types against N-scale. The photos below show some of my N-scale scratch built structures. If you want, you can click on the file name directly under the photo to enlarge it, and see details.
The pdf files cover scale choice, and many other model railroad subjects.

Good Luck, and Have Fun with whatever you choose.

Traction Fan 🙂
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Until recently I was having same thoughts as you. Decided to go with N scale simply because it give me more room to build scenes and dioramas. Yessir my grippers and eyes aren't that good anymore but being hard headed has helped, lol. Good luck with whatever you decide
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
86 Posts
Another new guy here. less than a year in trains. I'll say pick one and go. I was between HO and O scale and went with HO. I built a nice 4 X 12 layout with a farm, four buildings, two bridges (hand made wooden). I did enjoy it. I thought I would try O scale. So I built a 6 inch shelf around my shed about 18 inches down from rafters but above the doors. Removed track from layout and installed on shelf complete with my two bridges ( I am so proud of them) and buildings. Now my HO goes around my shed. I have started an O layout on table, track plan down but probably won't stay like it is.
Just saying make a start, but later you may change your mind. Whatever you do, enjoy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,573 Posts
The width of your hinged layout would be around 4 feet if you
want a continuous running layout. That could give you 22"
radius curves which would accomodate most modern locos.

However, I noted in your late post that you might be considering
a switching layout. This would be a very good choice. You have a
good deal of length space. You would not need the width
of continuous running or the hinges. You could create a yard, and a good
number of industrial spurs. With the lenght you could even
have 2 separate 'towns' that exchange freight. Think small for
your freight users...you get more switching possibilities with
small town freight users rather than a big coal mine or major
factory. Though I had a room size layout with a long continuous
mainline, most of my operating time was doing switching...it
provides operational challenges...and you must be doing the
work.

Don
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
112 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
I had an ON30 setup for my wife's Christmas village, a 39" oval, and enjoyed it, but put it on a timer and it ran 3 or 4 hours daily. I'd go with
ON30 if it wasn't for the problems I had with the Bachmann engines. If they have improved reliability, I'd try ON30 again. Not sure
anything has changed with Bachman though. I think 100 hours per month run time was too much. If I did it again it would not be on a timer.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,278 Posts
For me ho is the bigger market, more options, suppliers and so on. Did I mention its relatively cheap? On the other hand I've always intended to try n... Well I did have an n starter set but bigfoot squashed the engine ... So I intend to try again sometime in the future.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
750 Posts
Sounds like you've made a good choice. If you're willing to bump it out to 40" deep for aproximately 24" at each end, you could just fit 18" curves in. If you dont' want it as deep for the rest of the layout, you could dogbone it down to 24" or less in the middle. With 13 feet to play with you'd have plenty of room for lots of switching. 18" curves can handle most 4 axle diesel locos smoothly so you'd have a nice long run for those times you just want continuous running.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
13' is a good amount of space to transition from city to country, one city to another, city to smaller town, or even port to factory or town.
The possibilities are almost endless!
I would suggest picking up John Pryke's book on modeling urban scenery.
(I think it's Kalmbach, shouldn't cost more than $10.00)
What era are you going for?
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top