N vs. HO

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by OnTrack, Oct 3, 2006.

  1. OnTrack

    OnTrack Member

    Hey, im starting my first layout well trying to lol, and i have a question for you N scalers.
    I have very limited space, well not too limited and i want to do an HO layout, but im leaning more towards N now obviously becuase i could do more. My question is : Does N scale, have just as much opportunity as HO does? Like same availability of items, loco's, freight cars, buildings, scenery and all of that. Thanks.
  2. MCL_RDG

    MCL_RDG Member

  3. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    N scale has less popularity than HO scale, but there is certainly a lot of N scale equipment out there. It's a strong second place to HO scale's #1, though, and you will find plenty of N scale equipment and models at any decent hobby shop. If your interest leans towards narrow gauge, early railroading, streetcars or small locomotives then the selection is considerably less (although there is some out there.) If you prefer big locomotives from the later ages of steam through the present day you will find plenty of N scale equipment.

    One thing to ask when considering HO vs. N is if you prefer long trains and big sweeping vistas, or smaller equipment and highly detailed close-up scenes. N scale is very well-suited to long trains (since the cars are half as long) and it is much better suited to dramatic scenery. Curves and layout sizes which are close quarters in HO are pretty broad in N scale: the archetypal 4x8 layout, considered fairly cramped for many HO purposes, is comfortably broad enough for articulated locos and full-size passenger equipment in N scale. If you're really cramped for space, you can put the same amount of track as you'd find on a 4x8 on a 2x4 foot piece of plywood that will easily store away, and if you like shelf layouts you can do quite a bit on top of a bookshelf, or build a switching puzzle that fits in a drawer!
  4. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Disclaimer: I'm no expert...I've only modeled N scale.

    I think you've hit upon the key - availability. HO has the greatest amount of items available at almost any hobby store. You can find just about anything you want, and even find it at places like WalMart or Target (espicially vehicles and scenery items). Sure you can do more modeling in an alloted space with N or Z scale for that matter, but you have to look harder and search out N scale items. Don't get me wrong, I like modeling in N scale and have invested lots of $$$ towards my layout...but would I to do it over again and had the space, I'd start off in HO. The quality of N vs HO are about the same, of course you'll be able to get more attention to detail with HO since it's larger and easier to create more detailing from the manufacturer. On the Nscale side, you might find it easier to fool the eye and create a good looking layout since the fine detail isn't there like in HO, so you're eyes see "the entire picture" and you mentally assume details are there (that really are not). The small detail is very good with Nscale but will never get to the level as HO in my opinion. You'll find you can obtain almost any building, track, vehicles, cars, engines, etc as HO...but it might cost a little more. Again, all this is just my opinion and I've only been modeling my layout for about 2 yrs, so there are plenty of others with much more experience that can add to this thread with greater expertise.
  5. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    In one word: No. For Santa Fe fans, for example, you can't get a plastic CF7, RSD-15 (at least of a quality worth using), GP60M or GP60B in N. The F45 and FP45 are coming, though.
  6. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    From what I have noticed when I was gathering for my n-scale layout is that there are just about the same amounts of equipment as HO (I have an HO layout and going to start an N-Scale one too) but when it came to looking for buildings, I fownd it more difficult to find what I wanted. Walthers has a ton of buildings in HO and only some of the same ones that they make in HO are in N. Just my thought, I am obviosly not against N because I am going to start one. I have seen tons of rolling stock and locos in N that I see in HO too.
  7. R. MARTIN

    R. MARTIN Member

    For building a model railroad empire "N" can't be beat but alas, it will be an empire of plastic ready-to-run structures and rolling stock. If you want to build fine craftsman kits, if not now perhaps in the future you need to consider "HO". So much to consider before you start.
  8. OnTrack

    OnTrack Member

    Thanks for all the input guys, appreciate it.
  9. umtrr-author

    umtrr-author Member

    HO has been the market leader for decades now and as such the variety of equipment and other items easily outpaces N Scale. N is slowly closing the gap in many areas-- for example, it's now possible to do a "real" American small town with residences, industries and a business district-- but there's still a long way to go. This from a more than 35 year N Scaler.
  10. KATY

    KATY Member

    I see you are 18 so eyesight should not be a problem. Having had HO in my 30's and being out of the hobby for 25 years, I went with N on my present layout. It looks great and I enjoy it when whatever I'm working on is put together and up and running. However, the older I get, even with the old bifocals, the small things associated with N scale become increasingly more frustrating. Makes me consider going back to HO the next time around (if retirement ever comes), but I keep trying to remember the old saying, "If you can't see it from 3 feet away, forget about it!"
  11. KCS

    KCS Member

    Well, one thing is for sure and I've seen it for myself. Some HO items are cheaper than N scale. HO is about the cheapest way to go. The smaller or larger you go the more the cost. Don't ask me why this is because it still puzzles me. I like HO becuse like everyone is saying, you can get just about anything as to where in larger or smaller scales your a bit limited. I like HO more than ever now when Sergent Engineering came along with their true scale couplers in HO. That was a turn key point for me when I swapped all my Kadee's for Sergent couplers. I'm going for the most detail without becoming what is known as a "rivit counter". Another down side to me about N scale is that thing's are harder to repair sense they are smaller.
  12. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    I've been in N scale for awhile because of the amount you can put into relative small spaces.

    However, I recently bought a new Athearn Genesis UP SD70 locomotice and some Athearn intermodals to put on display.

    Just looking at this sitting out together just looked so great. The details you get in HO are amazing compared to my N-scale stuff. I picked up the 2007 HO catalog just love all the stuff that's readily available. So all that right there prompted me to change to HO for my next layout I'm gonna build next year after we move into our first (owned) house. Plan on doing something based on Pelle Soeberg's layout in the garage.

    Of course, I've been buying up intermodal units (don't know what is it, but I love intermodals) on ebay and dummy Athearn engines on ebay to grow my HO display until the layout comes around :)
  13. umtrr-author

    umtrr-author Member

    KCS, I think the reason why some (but not all) items in HO are less expensive than their counterparts in other scales is, in a word, quantities. There are more potential customers in HO, it's therefore possible to make more copies, therefore the fixed costs are spread over more items, lowering the cost. That usually translates to a lower price.
  14. jasbourre

    jasbourre Member

    My two cents...
    I started with N gauge, but I found it hard to find stuff at my LHS (Northern Ontario), I ended up getting about 5 boxes of HO stuff throu an old friend that passed away, so I started over in HO, a year later, I decided to make an N gauge shelf layout, so now I have both gauges in the same room.
  15. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Pluses and minuses with N scale over HO:

    • Getting four times as much in the same amount of space.
    • There is no difference in scenery costs, therefore you're spending less for scenery.
    • Pride of achievement when you hear, "You did THAT in N scale?"
    • The challenge to do something so that you will get those types of comments.
    • There is more than an adequate supply of kits, locos and rolling stock to satify anyone. Not as much as for HO, but good enough.
    • Most kits cost a bit less in N scale.
    • Keeping trains on the track. A defect that wouldn't be felt in HO will derail most N scale stuff.
    • Details, you can't get the details you can in HO. Yeah, at three feet away, it doesn't matter, but you know that you want to do better.
    • Finding parts you loose. It is exponentially harder to find an N scale part you drop as opposed to an HO part.
    • Engines and rolling stock cost as much or more in N scale and usually aren't detailed as well. Things like grab bars and couplers are way out of scale.
    It's obvious that I model in N scale and as long as I can still work at that scale, I'll continue to do so.
  16. DarkWingDuck

    DarkWingDuck New Member

    Has anyone mentioned sound yet?

    I like my n-scale trains, but do often get jealous of the sound opportunities in HO.
  17. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    There may be some considerations as to which parts of the hobby you want to pursue.
    If you want to build kits then HO is the scale. There are kits for all skill levels as well. If you want something very specific in N you may have to build it yourself.
    Operations: may be more reliable in HO if you do a lot of reverse moves. N will be better if you just want to run long trains.
    Space: if you're tight, go for N. If you have more room, a small HO layout or a middle sized N one.
    Electronics: ther is more room in HO than N. DCC chips can be fitted and will work as well as HO. Sound units will not produce as good a sound.
  18. n2trains

    n2trains Member

    the answer to your question: YES! It's growing as we speak, and is most likely never going to be equivelant, but a very VERY close 2nd place. I believe that if you were to do an N-scale layout, you would NOT be dissapointed one bit in the availability of motive power and rolling stock, even the accessories are quite nice!

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