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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all dont know where to start with this question but here it goes. I grew up with HO gauge, and in my intro post talked about getting back into it 15 years later with my son. Currently all I have left from my childhood layout is a bunch of cheap ez track and switches, a couple old engines and cars, and a few scenery pieces so not a lot. Room in our current home is an issue, might be able to fit a single 4x8 table which doesnt offer a lot in HO. We also plan to move in the next year or so, so moving a complete 4x8 HO layout wouldnt be fun. So Im thinking of switching to N but have questions of course.
I like options and "realism" how much do you lose switching to N scale?
Are buildings and car options just as viable?
Last is price is there a big difference in price between the two? I've looked a little bit and engines seem more expensive in N scale but track seems cheaper.
In my situation which scale seems better? Thanks for the help, love all the information on here.
 

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If you are asking for opinions, I would wait until you are in your new home before starting any railroad.

If you are still shopping for a home, you will be able to decide on a home with an extra room, finished or semi-finished basement, or other large space to start your railroad empire.

Don't be impatient. Do it right the first time and you won't have to do it again.
 

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If I were moving in a year, but still wanted to run trains now, I'd set up a temporary layout.....at least it gets you running trains, and it may give you ideas you'd never get if you did no model railroading at all.....

Start with what you have, and go from there on a temporary basis, for now....

Michael's ideas and comments for a permanent layout are indeed wise.....
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Appreciate the feedback, I say in a year but weve been saying that for the past 5 years lol. So in reality we might be stuck here another couple years. One reason I was debating N scale, can do a smaller layout and would be easier to move if it came to that. If you take a possible move out which scale would you suggest?
 

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For the amount of space you are limited to, I would probably select N scale. I couldn't do another 4x8 HO layout. Too limited for me.

N scale give you effectively twice the space to work in that HO provides in the same amount of square footage.
 

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I just bought my house July 26th and what I had before I started my layout here is a 4x8 that I framed up and made it able to fold in half. If you want more instruction how I did it I’ll gladly post it but I had fun with it and it did the job. With the track all installed I think It may have weighed 50 pounds. That’s an over estimate too. It’s awkward to lift but was a good time for me. If you’re doing it for a child I would suggest ho just for the fact that ho seems to be a little tougher than n scale And a little more available for parts. Price wise it seems close to the same price and I think you lose detail with n but it’s your decision on what you decide to do.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
On the other hand, a 4 x 8 'HO' layout is no harder (or easier) to move than a 4 x 8 'N' scale layout.....
True I was looking at doing a smaller N scale like a 3x5 or so.
I guess I should of made this post more of a for those of you who have done both N and HO which do you prefer and why? Are there pros and cons to either besides one takes up more room.
 

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A major consideration in your decision of scale
is the very small size of N scale locos and cars.

Large and small hands can have difficulty working
on them. Tracks must be very accurately laid...a
tiny 'gap' could be a foot to a small N scale wheel.

Instead, I'd like to suggest an easier to work on
HO switching layout.
It can be complex, yet take up little space, perhaps
no wider than a 2 or 3 feet. Further,
it can easily be moved to a new home where you could
then add to it to make a more complete layout.

You can create a nice yard which would service a number
of industrial spurs that would require a lot of loco and
car movements.

Don
 

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If you have a choice, go and browse an online dealer like modeltrainstuff.com or hobbylinc.com. Look at the variety of locomotives, rolling stock, structures, and vehicles. There's a whole lot more variety in HO than N. :(
 

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I've done both.

True I was looking at doing a smaller N scale like a 3x5 or so.
I guess I should of made this post more of a for those of you who have done both N and HO which do you prefer and why? Are there pros and cons to either besides one takes up more room.
Waffen06;

I have modeled in both HO-scale as a teenager, and N-scale as an adult. I have also belonged to clubs in both these scales, at different times in my life.

First, there is nothing "best", "worst" "good", or "bad" about HO-scale, or N-scale, or any other scale.

Second, you don't mysteriously "loose", or "give up" the ability to do detailed work by going to a smaller scale. As examples, see the photos below. All these N-scale structures were built from scratch by me, a 71 year old guy with the usual need for reading glasses and hands that aren't as steady as they once were, etc. that naturally come with age.
Even such small details as the colored lenses in the brass, operating, semaphore were made from scratch. So anything you really want to do, in whatever scale you choose, you will be able to do. It will take practice, and persistence, and some hobby tools, but anything can be learned, and therefore is quite possible.

Much is made (mostly of bologna :laugh:) about how "popular" a given scale is, or how "much is available", and "how widely available" it all is. Hello! We have the internet, and through it, online access to virtually any model railroad product made, in any scale. If you are lucky enough to still have a local hobby shop, that's great. However whatever happens to be on their shelves at the moment, does not form the rigid limits of the model railroad world. They can order whatever you want.

Think for a minute about the folks who model in less popular/downright obscure scales. They manage just fine, but they can't just go out and buy everything, they have to make most it.
By contrast, you are about to choose between the two most popular scales in the world, HO and N. There is so much stuff available in the second most popular scale, N, that none of us could ever afford to buy even one each, of the huge selection of items available. Over in HO scale, there is even more. So whichever of these two scales you choose, you should not have any problem finding enough of what you want, to build yourself a really nice model railroad.

You have already mentioned the only really significant difference between these two scales, HO is about twice as big as N and therefore takes up twice as much room to turn around in. That's pretty much it. If you want to have an oval of track that lets the trains run continuously, that minimum oval will be twice as deep (and probably twice as long) for HO-scale as N-scale.

There are some prejudices that tend to come up in the discussion of scales. Each modeler likes his own scale, and tends to promote it. The simple truth is that all scales are good. Some are bigger than others, and some cost more than others. In your particular choice between HO and N scales, the cost difference is insignificant, If one makes an honest "apples-to-apples" type comparison of the cost of the same brand and model of locomotive in HO or N, the price will be within a few bucks either way, so you won't have to spend vastly different amounts of money no matter which of the two you choose.

The files attached below are some I wrote to help new modelers. The first one titled, "Choosing a scale" might interest you. The others contain a lot of general info about getting started in this hobby. They also present the idea of a narrow shelf type layout vs, the 4'x8', 2'x4', or 3'x5' "rectangular blob" layouts that many people tend to start out with. Each has their advantages, and disadvantages, laid out for your consideration. I hope you find them helpful.

Good luck, & Have fun!

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:


Black River Sta. 2.JPG

Allentown covered bridge.jpg

Cape Rip. Lighthouse and cottage.JPG

Cedar Falls water tower close up.JPG

Seattle Union Station 5.JPG

Wooden road bridge at Black River Junction.jpg

View attachment Choosing a Scale.pdf

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 4.pdf

View attachment MODEL RAILROADING ON A BUDGET.pdf

View attachment Model Railroad Terminology 3.pdf
 

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Sectional benchwork

On the other hand, a 4 x 8 'HO' layout is no harder (or easier) to move than a 4 x 8 'N' scale layout.....
On a smarter hand, a 4x8 (in either scale) built in four 2'x4' sections will be a whole lot easier to move than a fixed slab 4x8 (in either scale) will be. ;)

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
 

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Scale preferance

A major consideration in your decision of scale
is the very small size of N scale locos and cars.

Large and small hands can have difficulty working
on them. Tracks must be very accurately laid...a
tiny 'gap' could be a foot to a small N scale wheel.

Instead, I'd like to suggest an easier to work on
HO switching layout.
It can be complex, yet take up little space, perhaps
no wider than a 2 or 3 feet. Further,
it can easily be moved to a new home where you could
then add to it to make a more complete layout.

You can create a nice yard which would service a number
of industrial spurs that would require a lot of loco and
car movements.

Don


Waffen06;

I wish to point out that both DonR, and I, have the experience of modeling in both N-scale and HO-scale. I will also point out that Don is a very good modeler and a general, all around nice guy. I'm 71 years old, and Don is quite a bit older than I am. However, I don't know if it's actually true that when Julius Caesar first marched into downtown ancient Rome, Don was there to say"Welcome to the forum!" :rolleyes:)
Unfortunately perhaps, I must disagree with Don's characterization of N-scale as being more difficult to work with, or needing much more accurate trackwork, than HO-scale. I have successfully worked with N-scale for many years. I've also worked with HO-scale and I find that both scales require the same degree of care in trackwork, and both have pieces small enough to require tweezers and magnification.
The "Great difference in degree of difficulty!" often mentioned,(and usually on the basis of unproven assumptions) simply doesn't exist, in my opinion. Rather. it is just a matter of what you grow used to, and the perception you develop, of what is "normal size" to you after you get used to working in your favorite scale. I've experienced this effect twice in my life. Once when switching from O-scale to HO-scale, and again when I switched from HO-scale to N-scale.

Neither "young or old hands" need necessarily have any problems handling N-scale. If there is something so seriously wrong with a person's individual eyesight, or hands, that he can't work with N-scale, then maybe HO-scale won't be big enough either? It varies with the individual person.
My advice would be to build a boxcar kit in both scales and see & feel for yourself. Intermountain makes very nice detailed car kits in N, HO, and O scales. I've built all three without problem. As for a switching layout, that's a good small space option in any scale.

Good luck, Have fun;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
 

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I'm a big fan of HO, but if space is going to be a concern I'd have no qualms about going N.

It's true that there is more of everything available for HO than N, but I don't think that price, realism, range or buildings would be seriously compromised going with N instead.

As regards a 4x8, if you're fine with 4 axle diesel or small steam, 40'-50' rolling stock and comparatively short trains you can have quite a fun little layout in that space with tight curves and quite a bit of switching. However, if you're going to want to run longer rolling stock, passenger trains, modern stuff and 6 axle diesels then you'll likely find that a 4x8 seems too small.

Lastly, I wouldn't let your choice be driven by what you have from your childhood. However, I would get a piece of insulation foam, setup a loop or two and use your childhood stuff for a round-the-Christmas tree setup.
 

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Motive?

I'm a big fan of HO, but if space is going to be a concern I'd have no qualms about going N.

It's true that there is more of everything available for HO than N, but I don't think that price, realism, range or buildings would be seriously compromised going with N instead.

As regards a 4x8, if you're fine with 4 axle diesel or small steam, 40'-50' rolling stock and comparatively short trains you can have quite a fun little layout in that space with tight curves and quite a bit of switching. However, if you're going to want to run longer rolling stock, passenger trains, modern stuff and 6 axle diesels then you'll likely find that a 4x8 seems too small.

Lastly, I wouldn't let your choice be driven by what you have from your childhood. However, I would get a piece of insulation foam, setup a loop or two and use your childhood stuff for a round-the-Christmas tree setup.
Waffen06;

I also wouldn't want your scale choice to be driven only by what space you have available now. DonR's response mentioned a switching layout as one way to fit an HO-scale layout into a smaller space. A "point-to point" shelf layout along some walls is another. It's also possible to build a layout that can roll under, tilt up, or be raised straight up out of the way.
So, if you have your heart set on HO-scale, and your only reason for going into N-scale is your present lack of space, then Don's idea of a switching layout that can be incorporated into a future layout, in a future,larger, space, may be a good way for you to go. On the other hand, N-scale doesn't need to limited only to use in small spaces. You can't really make a bad choice between scales, but ultimately it is, and needs to be,.... your choice.

Regards;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I greatly appreciate everyones insights, this place is awesome and very helpful. I stopped at my only local hobby store tonight for ideas, was surprised to see they stock N scale Kato track only, all HO is EZ. As much as I like my local hobby store for my drone/rc car needs, they lack much in model trains. Said there isnt much interest which is sad. So that trip wasnt helpful. Got home and son wanted to run trains again so I filled our living room/hallway floor with about 60 feet of track and ran them for a bit. Didnt realize how much I had and could of doubled it. Going to work on cleaning out the basement this weekend to see how much space I have. Only thing I worry is with this old house we sometimes get moisture in our basement but am always running a dehumidifier so hope that wont hurt anything.
 

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Why not running a narrow gauge of H0 Scale?

You like to model H0 but do not have the space for big layouts than maybe a narrow gauge could help you.

H0m --> runs onto 12 mm like TT Tracks it is reflecting the meter gauge of 1000 mm and the cape gauge of 1067 mm.
H0m is very popular in Switzerland.

H0n3 --> runs onto 10,5 mm tracks it is reflecting the 3 feet narrow gauge in USA and with cog rail one mountain railroad of switzerland.
A swiss sells cog railroad items in H0n3

H0e/H0n30 --> runs onto 9 mm tracks like N gauge but reflects narrow gauges between 600 mm and 900 mm
The british 00-9 scale vehicles can be used, too the size difference of 00 Scale and H0 Scale is not very big.

1 scale foot in 00 scale of 1:76 is 4 mm
1 scale foot in H0 scale of 1:87 is 3,5 mm

H0f --> it runs onto 6,5 mm tracks like Z Scale but it has very terrible running of the models, it reflects the real two feet gauges of 600 mm and 610 mm

Me I use H0 Scale standard gauge and sometimes H0e/H0n30 Narrow gauge for my projects.

Ya Ingo
 

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You are welcome!

I greatly appreciate everyone's insights, this place is awesome and very helpful. I stopped at my only local hobby store tonight for ideas, was surprised to see they stock N scale Kato track only, all HO is EZ. As much as I like my local hobby store for my drone/rc car needs, they lack much in model trains. Said there isn't much interest which is sad. So that trip wasn't helpful. Got home and son wanted to run trains again so I filled our living room/hallway floor with about 60 feet of track and ran them for a bit. Didn't realize how much I had and could of doubled it. Going to work on cleaning out the basement this weekend to see how much space I have. Only thing I worry is with this old house we sometimes get moisture in our basement but am always running a dehumidifier so I hope that won't hurt anything.


Waffen06;

You're welcome! That's what we all do here is share information among model railroaders, and try to help each other.

Hobbies grow and fade in popularity. As you know, R/C cars, and especially drones are "hot items" right now.
To have a really good selection of model trains in a hobby shop, the shop has to be very large and stock lots of products for lots of different hobbies, or it needs to specialize in trains. I'm lucky enough to still have a good train-specialized shop in my area. They, and hobby shops in general, are fast disappearing though. Even my local train store is up for sale.
The attitude, knowledge, and cooperation level, of shop owners also varies a lot. Some shop owners make it their business to try and stay up on what's available, and are willing to help you pick out, and order, whatever you want. Others only stock, and care about, whatever is selling best right now.
Online shopping has changed the market drastically. About the only advantage the brick-and-mortar shops have left is hands-on merchandising and personalized service. Once they give up on those, they're destined to fail.

About your possibly damp basement. The dehumidifier is a very good idea, but how likely is your basement to flood? Has it ever done so? If that's not a serious problem then the basement should be a good location for your railroad, once you get it cleaned out! :eek:

One thing you can do to minimise warping of the wooden benchwork is building all the frame, and leg, pieces as "L-girders" , typically a 1x3 and a 1x2 screwed and glued together in a wood version of an "angle iron."
I use yellow carpenter's glue for this job, since it's more resistant to moisture than Elmer's-type, white glue. L-girders are impossible to bend, and warping is simply a form of bending.
Another warp-fighting technique is painting, or sealing, all the wood. I live in a fairly dry climate and my layout is in a garage rather than below ground, but I still use all painted, all L-girder benchwork. I saw the effects of warping at my old club, and I don't want to see my trains bobbing up and down on warped plywood like ships on rough seas.

Is your old track brass? Are the rails gold, or silver, colored? The gold-colored rails are brass, and will require more frequent cleaning than the silver-colored ones which are nickel-silver. Either type will work, but brass rails in a potentially damp environment will oxidize quickly and need to be cleaned before running trains.

Regards;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I greatly appreciate everyone's insights, this place is awesome and very helpful. I stopped at my only local hobby store tonight for ideas, was surprised to see they stock N scale Kato track only, all HO is EZ. As much as I like my local hobby store for my drone/rc car needs, they lack much in model trains. Said there isn't much interest which is sad. So that trip wasn't helpful. Got home and son wanted to run trains again so I filled our living room/hallway floor with about 60 feet of track and ran them for a bit. Didn't realize how much I had and could of doubled it. Going to work on cleaning out the basement this weekend to see how much space I have. Only thing I worry is with this old house we sometimes get moisture in our basement but am always running a dehumidifier so I hope that won't hurt anything.


Waffen06;

You're welcome! That's what we all do here is share information among model railroaders, and try to help each other.

Hobbies grow and fade in popularity. As you know, R/C cars, and especially drones are "hot items" right now.
To have a really good selection of model trains in a hobby shop, the shop has to be very large and stock lots of products for lots of different hobbies, or it needs to specialize in trains. I'm lucky enough to still have a good train-specialized shop in my area. They, and hobby shops in general, are fast disappearing though. Even my local train store is up for sale.
The attitude, knowledge, and cooperation level of shop owners also varies a lot. Some shop owners make it their business to try and stay up on what's available, and are willing to help you pick out and order whatever you want. Others only stock, and care about, whatever is selling best right now.
Online shopping has changed the market drastically. About the only advantage the brick-and-mortar shops have left is hands-on merchandising and personalized service. Once they give up on those, they're destined to fail.

About your possibly damp basement. The dehumidifier is a very good idea, but how likely is your basement to flood? Has it ever done so? If that's not a serious problem then the basement should be a good location for your railroad, once you get it cleaned out! <img src="http://www.modeltrainforum.com/images/smilies/eek.gif" border="0" alt="" title="EEK!" class="inlineimg" />

One thing you can do to minimise warping of the wooden benchwork is building all the frame, and leg, pieces as "L-girders" , typically a 1x3 and a 1x2 screwed and glued together in a wood version of an "angle iron."
I use yellow carpenter's glue for this job, since it's more resistant to moisture than Elmer's-type, white glue. L-girders are impossible to bend, and warping is simply a form of bending.
Another warp-fighting technique is painting, or sealing, all the wood. I live in a fairly dry climate and my layout is in a garage rather than below ground, but I still use all painted, all L-girder benchwork. I saw the effects of warping at my old club, and I don't want to see my trains bobbing up and down on warped plywood like ships on rough seas.

Is your old track brass? Are the rails gold, or silver, colored? The gold-colored rails are brass, and will require more frequent cleaning than the silver-colored ones which are nickel-silver. Either type will work, but brass rails in a potentially damp environment will oxidize quickly and need to be cleaned before running trains.

Regards;

Traction Fan
Current track that I had in storage is the black base EZ track, silver rails. Might use that temporally as I think the sections of flex track will give me better options.
Oh and the basement had never flooded just has some moisture but since the humidifier and cleaning out our gutters (neglected that for years) its been pretty dry
 

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EZ-Track vs flex track

Current track that I had in storage is the black base EZ track, silver rails. Might use that temporally as I think the sections of flex track will give me better options.
Oh and the basement had never flooded just has some moisture but since the humidifier and cleaning out our gutters (neglected that for years) its been pretty dry
Waffen06;

I agree heartilly with your choice of flex track over Bachmann EZ-Track. The EZ-Track limits your choice of curves, and other track shapes, to whatever Bachmann offers, which isn't much. Flex track however can be any shape your heart desires. The files I sent you have some info on the different brands of flex track available.
You mentioned that you had some track switches (We call them "turnouts" here, to avoid online confusion with electrical switches which are also common on model railroads.)
Were those Bachmann EZ-Track switches? If so, did you have any derailments, or other problems, with them? I've never owned one, since I make my own N-scale turnouts. Nearly all I have read about them on here has been bad. Apparently they are both overpriced, and poorly made, but that's based only on second-hand information.
It sounds like your basement will be hosting a model railroad for you and your son. That's great that you two guys can share a hobby together. How old is he?

Cleaning out the gutters! Boy that brings back some considerably-less-than-fond-memories! :eek: A few years ago, we had our gutters replaced and I paid for the optional screens to cover the tops and keep the $#&^@! leaves out. Excellent choice! That *&^%$ job was never any fun at all, and now that I'm old and disabled, I couldn't do it at all.

I hope you and your son have a great time with your railroad, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

regards;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
 
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