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i'm looking to start a model train layout and would like some advice from experienced people. got a 4' x 6' table set up in my spare bedroom that the girlfriend & i had been using for miniature wargaming but haven't really been making much use of it the last half a year or so. curious if 4x6 would be a decent size for an N scale layout or should i consider a smaller scale? thanks in advance for any and all replies.
 

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Personally I'd stay with N or go larger with HO...Z scale is extremely small so is not a good scale to enter the hobby with. HO is the most popular in the world and thus offers the greatest amount of types of trains, track, and structures..
N scale runs a close second to that.. If you are new to this hobby I'd advise you to perhaps purchase a book or two on the subject with titles like "How to build A Model Railroad" ..I'd also encourage you to go DCC control with either an NCE PowerCab (my choice) or a Digitrax system...In the end DCC makes wiring and running a MRR way easier and more realistic than the earlier analog DC control.. Usually only 2 wires are needed from the DCC plug-in panel to the rails..
Of course you need to purchase locos which are DCC as well.. If an ad for a loco says 'DCC' it will run and lights will work but it will not have sound unless ad says "DCC/Sound" or "DCC/Sound on board"..Be extra weary of that when shopping..
Since you are going 4' wide it'll be very tough to reach across unless it's free standing where you can walk around the perimeter..
Cheers
 

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Welcome to the forum and the madness. N scale is my scale of preference, although I'm forced into HO because of my eye sight, and a 4X6 is a good size for a layout. N scale products availability is so close to HO you'll never notice the difference. I think HO on a 4X6 will be a bit crowded. I'm building HO on a 5X12 and I'm kind of wishing I'd gone bigger. Z scale, the next scale down from N, doesn't have much in products and hard to work with because of its tiny size. I do agree getting some books and/or spending time on YouTube about building layouts is well worth your time before you even start.
 

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HO or N-scale, depending what era you wish to go with.

If you know for a fact you like old time, turn-of-the-century equipment, I'd go with HO scale. It's still pretty small, short wheel-base stuff, and a whole lot more will be available than what you can find in N-scale.

For anything else, I vote for N-scale. You can get a whole lot more in a 4' x 6' size than you could with HO scale. While you could build a 4' x 6' starter layout in HO scale (many have been done that way in the past), you will be extremely limited in what you can do. N-scale will give you far more breathing room. ;)
 

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N is for young people. As you get older your vision gets worse and bigger stuff is more appealing.
 

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Railroad Tycoon
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i'm looking to start a model train layout and would like some advice from experienced people. got a 4' x 6' table set up in my spare bedroom that the girlfriend & i had been using for miniature wargaming but haven't really been making much use of it the last half a year or so. curious if 4x6 would be a decent size for an N scale layout or should i consider a smaller scale? thanks in advance for any and all replies.
Welcome, for that size table my vote goes with the N scale for the reasons mentioned above.
To me Z scale is too small an too expensive, and not enough product to choose.
HO would work but it would get crowded real quick.
If you have no trains why not look for a Lot being sold? Someone getting out of the hobby.
We have one deal right now, all new stuff, the first price you see has been dropped to $800 shipped.
 

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Welcome to the hobby. Our toys are just that, toys, and not more. They don't have the best engineering in them or the hobby would not be affordable to a great many of its current members. With that caveat in mind, the more you take shortcuts on quality or on construction and materials, the more likely you are to have an unpleasant and unfulfilling experience. So, you do need to take a realistic approach to this.

The smaller the usable space, the smaller the scale you'll need if you want your rolling stock to stay on the rails and remain coupled together. Tight curves are fun as a challenge, but not for newcomers. As a general rule across scales, the closer you get to engineered minimums in performance factors, the less happy you'll be with the outcome. All this to say that the advice to remain in N Scale is sound for the space you describe. HO won't do well unless you are willing to have a back-and-forth switching layout, maybe an industrial complex of some kind. If you want your curves to be reliably negotiable, stick with N.

One caution to you: we grow into the hobby as much as the hobby grows on us. We evolve as we learn. That often means wanting a new gee-whiz locomotive. Gee-whiz could mean smaller...or larger. The larger locomotives will run poorly, or not at all, on tight curves. So the caution is that you should anticipate growth in both tastes and what you want to run on your train set, so fashion the most generous curves now while you still can. And, plan accordingly, Do make a scale diagramme of what you intend to lay out for trackage, make sure all your dimensions are honest and accurate, and you'll have a much better time of it when you first run a train of any description.
 

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If all you have is 4x6 definitely go with N. Ź would allow you to fit even more stuff, but that's a tough scale to work with, and very expensive. I would disagree with a previous poster who said that there is as much available for N scale as HO, but nevertheless the offerings in N are plentiful, and I don't think you would want for options.
 

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i'm looking to start a model train layout and would like some advice from experienced people. got a 4' x 6' table set up in my spare bedroom that the girlfriend & i had been using for miniature wargaming but haven't really been making much use of it the last half a year or so. curious if 4x6 would be a decent size for an N scale layout or should i consider a smaller scale? thanks in advance for any and all replies.
I would stay stick with N scale. In my eyes it is the most affordable scale with a great selection of trains from most eras. Also 4x6 is plenty for N scale, there are many track plans you could find that would fit that size and look great. I have a 3x6 n scale layout and it can run two separate trains at once just fine.

However like previous people have said if you want to run multiple trains (4x6 is a nice sized layout perfect for that) I would really recommend DCC. It is possible to wire a layout to run multiple trains with just DC but that is extremely hard and it comes with compromises. But, in order to have a DCC layout you will need a DCC controller (I like the NCE Powercab) and your trains need DCC decoders. Its easy to install on the DCC ready trains, you just need to buy a chip and place it inside. One thing I really love about DCC is the DCC Sound locomotives which are just great fun to run around the layout.

Just a side note I really do not recommend getting smaller than N scale. Z scale has an extremely limited choice of locomotives and they are hard to find. And T gauge is just way too small (1:450 scale).
 

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i'm looking to start a model train layout and would like some advice from experienced people. got a 4' x 6' table set up in my spare bedroom that the girlfriend & i had been using for miniature wargaming but haven't really been making much use of it the last half a year or so. curious if 4x6 would be a decent size for an N scale layout or should i consider a smaller scale? thanks in advance for any and all replies.
johnf1964;

4' x 6' will be fine for an N-scale layout. You could go one scale smaller, to Z-scale, but the 4' x 6' table size is no reason why you would have to. Either Z-scale, or N-scale, will fit on your table well.
Likewise, you could go one scale larger, to HO-scale. However, in HO-scale you will be limited to a short oval of track, or two concentric ovals. An HO-scale train would also have to be fairly short, with only a few cars, since it would tend to fill one of the six-foot sides of your small table.
Z-scale is not as popular as HO & N, which, respectively, are the two most popular scales in the USA. The Z-scale equipment is well made, but the selection of available models, particularly models of American trains, is more limited than what's available in HO, or N, scales.

For these reasons, I think N-scale would be a good fit for you, and your small table, both literally, and figuratively speaking. You might look at starter sets made by Kato. It is an excellent, high quality, brand.
Your basic question regarding how to get started in model trains is a common one here. I have written a group of Pdf files to help new modelers get started. I recommend you look through them when you can, and preferably, before buying a train. While some of the information in them may be more useful a bit later, much of it applies right now, as you are just getting started.
For instance, I recommended that if / when you do buy a starter set you buy from Kato. There is another common brand of train sets called "Bachmann." each of these companies include some "roadbed track" in their starter sets. They each use their own proprietary track. Kato calls theirs "Unitrack," and Bachmann's track is called "EZ-Track." While either brand of actual track will work, there is a huge difference in the quality of the "turnouts" (track switches) that Kato & Bachmann offer. Kato's Unitrack turnouts are very good. Bachmann EZ-Track turnouts are just plain lousy! They are notorious for derailments, and for breaking down. While you won't have any turnouts in most starter sets, its good to know what you're getting into with each of these incompatible track systems, "down the road" and before you spend your money.

Good Luck & Have Fun;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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N scale layout on 4x6:



HO scale layout on 4x6:



Which one looks better to you?
 

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4x6 would make for a fantastic N scale layout for nice run. For me the HO would be a little tight. Good luck!
 

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Railroad Tycoon
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The OP's been back since posting and didn't even say Boo? :rolleyes:
 

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Another drive-by...
 

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Well just in case OP does come back... One point I didn't see mentioned about DCC is the term "DCC Ready"... You should be aware that means the loco has the wiring, but it does NOT have the required controller included. I'm sure a lot of people have been scammed by that because the implication is exactly the opposite of what the manufacturer is saying.
 

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240 paragraphs with circles arrows from 10 different people to answer one simple question could scare any newbie away for a few days! 😂😂😂😂😂

Okay go ahead, flame me, I’m ready. 🤪
 
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