N scale pros and cons

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by ceebeenq, Oct 12, 2002.

  1. ceebeenq

    ceebeenq Member

    Open for comments......
    I have some HO locos and rolling stock. I just started thinking about modeling in the last year after being a hardcore railfan for many years. (ex-brakeman too)
    So........I look at N guage at shows, etc and think this scale certainly allows you to run "longer" trains in a smaller space. Also the scale is better for imitating the great distances involved in railroading.
    There's a lot that appeals to me in that.

    My HO buds say of course, much less selection in N and so on.

    Just wondering if anybody would care to comment on pros and cons of N........does anybody do both? .......did you switch from one scale to another..?.........and so on. Just trying to better get my arms around it and then I'll ponder.
  2. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hi cbq!
    I think a lot depends on what you want to do with your RR.
    I've had switching layouts in both HO & N scales, & I can tell you, when it comes to the basics of switching operations...manual uncoupling, slow yard speeds, etc...HO is the better way to go.
    But if you're a railfan, & you like watching long trains wind their way through big scenes, N scale just can't be beat.
    As far as selection of commercial products, HO does still lead the way, but N scale has made huge strides in this area in the last few years, & it just keeps getting better.
    It sounds like you have a built-in dilema...You said you were a hard-core railfan, & a former brakeman...
    The railfan in you will prefer N scale, for its stand back & watch the trains appeal, while the brakeman in you will probably prefer HO, with its up close, hands-on railroading...
    Choices, choices...
    :D :rolleyes: :D
  3. Catt

    Catt Guest

    I think that except for product availabilty there are no advantages /disadvantages to either scale.HO is a bit easier on the eyesite but operations wise there is no difference.

    N is my primary scale ,but On30 is my secondary scale but I belong to an HO club.My 27'5" by 10'8" N scale layout replaces a like sized HO layout.

    I am definately pro N scale "FOR ME" but I won't tell you it is the best bar none because it may not be for you.

    I would suggest finding a local N scaler and checking out the scale in the real world (sounds like you have HO buddys around to check that scale out).Then base your decision on that or ,maybe even do a small layout in each scale?
  4. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    The recent thought "do both" comes to mind if you have the space. You might want to do an N-scale layout to run your long trains and create that "distance" that you seem to enjoy. If you allocate an 18" wide by however long you can make available, you could build a very nice HO switching layout for lots of realistic operation. It really depends on what YOU want to get out of your modeling experience.:)
  5. ceebeenq

    ceebeenq Member

    Thanks N-guys.............

    I have considered the "do both" option.

    A good train room is a critical consideration in my house purchase.
    I'll have to look closer at N rolling stock, but I'm thinking you can't get the same detail as in HO. Am I wrong?
    This is not my foremost concern, but just curious.
  6. billk

    billk Active Member

    About detail - if you apply the "three foot" rule (or two foot or whatever), any detail you can't see from that distance isn't needed. So the widget that might be glaringly obvious in it's absence on an HO scale model would be invisible in N scale. That's the theory, anyway.

    Actually, some the most recent N scale releases are highly detailed - suggest you check some out at a hobby shop.
  7. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    Detail is also in the eye of the beholder. What effect are you trying to create in your modeling? And who will be your audience? If you are going to have club meetings of "rivet-counters", then you may need to be more precise in what you put on your engines, rolling stock and structures than if you plan to show your layout off to neighbors, friends and modelers who just like to see trains run.

    Myself, I like to run trains and the detail that is now on the newer N-Scale locomotives, both steam and diesel is as far as I care to go. Since I am modeling a freelanced railroad I also do not have to get too precise with prototypical structures. If I chose to include an "Erie RR" station in a community that looks more CB&Q or SF in nature, that is my choice.

    It has been said before but is important. It is YOUR railroad. YOU determine the atmosphere, the style that YOU want to project and the level of detail that YOU feel is important to show. Both N and HO let you do that. HO is a bit easier because it is larger and our fingers do not get in the way as much as they would in N but either is a good choice.
  8. ceebeenq

    ceebeenq Member

    pros and cons

    David, et al........ - Good thoughts / ideas...... and thank you.

    "rivet counter".....that's a good one. Never heard it before but I understand exactly what you mean. A couple guys I've been introduced to are mildly obnoxious in this way and if they come to my basement and start that stuff, they can invite themselves out the door. (heh heh!) Whatever they wish to do on their own turf is OK with me.
    If I become a detail nut, then that's my journey. Not terribly concerned now.
    I just wanna have some fun. Design a fun layout. Run em.

    My plans are to definitely "freelance" a route/road which will include some general rail areas I've been to and enjoy.

  9. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hi cbnq!
    It sounds like you have a great attitude, & that's worth a carload of rivets & details!
    It's what makes you happy...that's the thing to shoot for!
  10. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi cbq,
    I have modelled in both scales and have had excellent results in both. It all depends on what you personally require from your modelling.

    The degree of accuracy and modelling skills is dependant on the individual. Therefore, if you are just a raw beginner, then your modelling skills will be reflected no matter what scale you want to model in. These skills take time and effort on the individual.

    Just to show what can be achieved if you really put your mind to it.
    Here are a couple of structures I scratchbuilt (Both are the same structure) in N & H0. N scale is at the top. The H0 version was not completed when this photo was taken, no longer have it.


  11. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member


    What ever you do listen and learn from Shamus!!! He be da MAN!!!:D :D

    Shamus, did you do that bash from a plan or was that freelanced also?
  12. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    My first layout was HO. But in my early teens I lost interest in the hobby. When I got back in a few years ago I had figured I'd fall back on HO, but I quickly realized that space was going to be a big issue (no pun intended...OK, maybe it was intended, so shoot me :)). Anyway, that's how I initially made the decision to go to N-scale: I wanted a continuous run but couldn't afford the space necessary for a decent HO layout.

    It was a surreal experience at first...handling all those tiny little engines and rolling stock...and the rails seemed waaay too close together... I got used to it, eventually. One of my fascinations with N-scale is the incredible amount of detail that manufacturers are putting into the models these days. I mean, seeing a well detailed off-the-shelf HO-scale model is sorta "ho-hum" when it's sitting next to an equally well detailed N-scale model. And to me, N-scale often looks better in motion. I think that's partly due to the fact that you're able to get more action out of a space than with HO. For example, an N-scale train can look pretty good going around a fairly tight 20 inch radius curve on a modular layout, but an HO train looks kinda toyish...

    However...if I had a large amount of space in which to build a layout, I'd go with HO because of the greater variety of stuff, generally cheaper prices, and greater ease on the eyes (for building and such).

    Just to illustrate the point a little further, my layout is 5 feet wide by 2.5 feet deep. To keep the same proportions in HO scale, that would be 9 feet wide and over 4.5 feet deep! My wife wouldn't allow me THAT much room! :)
  13. kettlestack

    kettlestack Member

    Shamus !! you've been holding out on us :eek:

    Those are the kind of model buildings I love to see, the roof lines fascinate me and the details/weathering is fantastic. They fit into the surrounding scenery as if it were ordained. I love them sir!

  14. ceebeenq

    ceebeenq Member

    Shamus-- those are excellent buildings. (I'm not knowledgable, but it looks like the stove is outside on those...:^))

    Roryglasgow-- thanks for the observations. I will be at a large show soon and will definitely look at a lot of N items.

    I do hope (hope prayers, etc) to have a large space. I'm single so no "boss" to hem me in! I am hoping to have a large room (I'd like 300-400 sq feet) or basement area totally devoted to trains- model layout plus photos, plaques, books, etc. Railfan Haven.

    I certainly agree with one thing-- an HO layout in a cramped space doesn't do it for me.

    I may be on the road awhile so I hope to check in in November.
    thanks again to all who offered ideas.
  15. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    Have a good trip and be safe.:) :)

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