HO verses O scale

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by gfmucci, Dec 30, 2006.

  1. Geno

    Geno Member

    I'm obviously pro- O gauge, but I still like to look at HO equipment (and wish I could have as many engines as the HO guys do) . Both O and HO are nice, but for me I like the size and weight of O scale and wouldn't have it any other way.

    I also like visual impact O has over HO- O is easier to see, and IMO a long train O gauge train appears more impressive than the same train in HO.

  2. gfmucci

    gfmucci Member

    Long trains

    How long (number of cars) is a "long train" considered to be in "O" scale? How big of a layout do you need to realistically accommodate a long O train?
  3. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    That's wehre size definately becomes an issue. You're not gonna have too many layouts that can accomidate a 50 or 60 car pull like HO or N gauges. I think the most we ever did on one pull was 9 or 10 cars when our track was set up on a large pool table. To simulate a really long pull, you would need a room full of O gauge track.
  4. Geno

    Geno Member

    A long train in O scale depends on what you consider long- for some that may be a dozen freight cars. My definition is a bit different.

    Well, I'm into intermodal, so what would qualify as a long train for me would be about 16 MTH Husky Stacks (each about 17.5" long), 5 K-Line 2-unit DTTX well cars (30" each), 2 K-Line 5-unit TTAX spine cars (60" each), and a dozen Lionel Husky Stacks (17" each). That would be about at least 60' long train, not including two or three diesels to pull it.

    Admittedly, this is a monster of a freight drag, but I can only run this train at my club.
    Angel's Gate Hi-Railers, is located in a 120 x 20 building that was once an Army barracks. The layout is about 100 x 20, with two main lines.

    I would have to break this train in half if I were to run it at home, but 30' train is still visually impressive for me. My layout is currently under construction- 18 x 20 L-shaped dogbone.

  5. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    And I thought I was doing good on 4x8
  6. spankybird

    spankybird OTTS Founder

    AT our museum's last openhouse we ran a train with 17 box cars on it. Our problem was lack of power (large enough transformer).


    I guess this is one reason why I like the steam era. Most trains back then were not very long.

  7. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    thats true, but i feel like at that point, the price shoots up to those $400 locomotives that hurt to buy ( like Atlas's new Alco C628 i saw in MR. Outrageous!). thats my only complaint at that point. Personally, I wonder what makesa a train costingmaybe $80 in HO scale, shoot up to 5 times that cost in O when the O is really only twice as big. The electronics seem the same to me.

    Is it the extra motor ( it seems as if O has 2 motors and HO usually has one), or does all that additional plastic and metal for the larger locomotive really push prices that high?

    Not that i'm saying O is bad. I love to see those large O scale trains you guys mentioned. I saw a Triple headed UP train with 3 SD70Ms, pulling a huge intermodal train like you describe, and it was amazing. It looks like for now i'm stuck with my 3-rail 4-4-2.
  8. Geno

    Geno Member

    The price of O gauge locomotives jumps so high due to the economics of production- for a given engine, there are alot more HO engines being made and sold versus the O gauge version, so the unit cost is often 3 or 4 times as much. Even the most popular O gauge engine is still made in a limited production run (partly due to the train company's desire to raise demand and sale price), so the price for a top of the line diesel remains high.

    I have a very decent roster of over 26 TMCC diesels, most of which I bought on Ebay for less than 50-75% of MSRP. Not all of them are new, in fact most are used, but I'm an operator first, so that matters little to me. It has taken me over eight years to build this roster, as even engines costing $200-300 aren't cheap by any means, but if you want a fleet of modern diesels it won't be cheap even in HO.

    Williams makes some modern diesels, like the Dash-9, U33C, and the GP-38. While they aren't as accurate as the offerings from MTH. Lionel, Weaver and Atlas, they have diecast fuel tanks and truck sides, as well as dual can vertical motors and traction tires. They are probably more reliable too, since they lack the complicated electronics. Priced at around $150 each, it'sa good way to have a scale-sized diesel that pulls well and is relatively cheap.

  9. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    It turns out any train that you cannot see both ends of at the same time, and takes more than about 20 seconds to pass a single point, will be perceived by the mind and eye as long. The eye's visual angle is about 110 degrees, so at normal viewing distances for our model railroads that amounts to about 13ft for a long train. 13ft train in HO is 24 40ft cars plus engine and caboose. In N, it takes about 42 cars to get a long train.

    In O, that same long train would only be 11 cars plus engine and caboose. However, O is usually viewed from further back, and the 20 second rule comes into play. It would probably take about 20 cars in O running at 30 scale MPH to keep the same perception of a long train, which would be on the order of about 20ft.

    my thoughts, your choices
  10. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    are there many detail parts in O? are these williams on par with maybe an Athearn Blue box kit of HO in terms of detail? It sounds like an interesting detail project to work on a GP38 in O.
  11. Geno

    Geno Member

    The biggest noticeable difference btween Williams and the other makes is detail- Williams uses the cheaper flat stamped-steel handrails, while everyone else uses steel wire. Shell detail on the Williams is not as inrtricate as the other makes as well. Williams also skips on truckside details, and depending on the model it may or may not be accurate.

    The Williams steamers on the other hand, are very nicely done, as well as diecast.

    But if you can live with those inaccuracies, and are just looking for a rugged, dependable, good pulling diesel or steamer, Williams is an excellent choice.

    GEC- nice layout! Imagine if you had that in O gauge!

  12. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    lol! thanks! yeah, then it would be 8x16! those walthers buildings would be huge!

    are detail parts available in O scale? I know they probably are, but suppose if ibought a william GP38-2, would there atleast be detail parts with which i could improove upon?
  13. Geno

    Geno Member

    The Williams shell itself isn't bad, it's the lousy stamped steel handrails you would need to get rid of (as well as replacing them with wire handrails). After that, a few detail parts would go a long way to making that Williams a nice scale piece.

    I bought three K-Line GP-38's a few years ago for about $150 apiece- all have TMCC as well as the nice K-Line detailing. IMO this would be a better starting point, and has better sounds (not to mention the TMCC).

  14. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    I saw some K-line Reading electric MU commuter car for O. I've been spying these for a while because they interest me, but i haven't put he money down because i don't know if they are worth it. Considering K-line is apperently gone, should i grab these?
  15. Geno

    Geno Member

    If you like them - grab them while you can. K-Line prices have spiked because of their exit as a independent entity from the O gauge market. You can bet that Lionel will be selling alot of their equipment at typical Lionel prices.

    I bought the Alaska GP-38 on Ebay about six months ago fo rabout $150- that same engine, with the highly touted TMCC II, is now retailing for about $350. Aside from the new elctronics, what price would you want to pay?

  16. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    they were only $250, but i had bought a similarly priced GG1 just previous, and i haven't really been able to earn back much of my money. ( because of recent events i've missed work for two weekends, when i work) and so i'm reluctant to spend the money on them. If i risk never seeing them again for that price, i'll dot it though.
  17. Battle

    Battle New Member

    GF, are you interested in building your equipment or in buying everything ready to run? Does it all have to be new or is gently used OK? I am in O Scale 2 rail and find lots of good stuff used on ebay. However I like to rebuild and fix stuff. The O is definitely easier to see and work on, and is generally sturdier. I am 62. HO is cheaper, so you can have more stuff if that is important. I am more interested in better trains than in more trains. Wiring is simpler if you go with 3 rail(Lionel). 2 rail wires the same way HO does. Write if I can help (Gbattle1944@aol.com) or go to oscalerail.com,my website.
  18. Geno

    Geno Member

    I hear you- work is slow for me this time of year as well (carpentry). But I have side projects to pick up some cash, and plenty of honey-dos to keep me busy.

    I've missed some sweet deals due to the realities of life-bills, mortgage, etc.- but I always kook at the bright side, I've got more than enough trains to keep me happy. And plenty of work to do to get my layout done.

  19. gfmucci

    gfmucci Member


    Thanks for your reply. I will tend to buy new to begin with, until I get a better feel for prices, quality, and features of different brands. Right now, buying anything railroad on e-bay based on my current level of knowledge would be a real crap shoot. But I think I will focus on ready-to-run vs. kits or scratch built. If I do anything to the engines or rolling stock, it would likely be weathering. I want to spend the bulk of my discretionary time on building the system and scenery, not on building cars. But I don't plan on buying anything else for at least a year. I will take the advice of many by spending the next couple of years planning my layout and learning about different approaches to various aspects of railroading such as scenery, layout, digital control, sound, etc. I'll be spending that much time planning and researching not so much because I want to spend that much time doing that (I am generally an impatient man) but out of necessity because I won't have the space for the layout until after I move to a larger place in two years. In the meantime, I purchased RR-track software to discover what I can do in different space configurations with different track systems. As of this moment, it looks like Gargraves gives me greater flexibility than Lionel FastTrack due to the O32 vs. the O36 curves. But then, after my wife and I deliberate on whether we want the layout consuming the majority of the rec room downstairs, I could very well forsake the small investment we have in O and switch to HO, which consumes much less space at much less cost. The destination is the journey.

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