Please help a new guy decide scale

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by jhoban, Jun 18, 2005.

  1. jhoban

    jhoban Member

    Hi all, I am hoping someone can help. I will start with a little background.

    My grandfather turned me on to model railroads long ago. I am now 25 and haven't touched a train in 15 years. I am just starting myself back into the hobby. When I was young, I had an HO scale train. Now that I am getting back into it, I am thinking about N scale, due to size.

    What I need help with is deciding if N scale is right for me. Please just post some of the benifits of going with N scale, aside from the space requirement issue.

    My main issues would be sound, speed, and price. Do trains this size still have a nice sound whipping around a track, or is it kinda wimpy since they are smaller. Are they as fast as your average HO train. Also, how does the cost compared to HO.

    Any other info would be much appreciated as well.
  2. jhoban

    jhoban Member

    One other thing. Is there any good FREE software for laying out track design that is simply drag and drop. Meaning, they have a typical track size pre-programmed, and all you do is drag it and drop next to other track peices, and have them connect.
  3. belg

    belg Member has a free track planning program, there are several more out there and I'm sure someone will mention them.
    Now as for your choice of scale, I would think a little more info would be needed to help you decide like the space you have and the type of layout you want to build;ie switching runaround? The quality of your eyesight?
    As for the price I have to say that N is a little cheaper and better quality is now(not saying N is better than HO) available as long as you buy the newer stuff, I myself have a ton of N scale products (that I'm looking to sell) because I made the switch to HO because of the eyesight thing. Another consideration I think would be to choose something that you could build onto after you leave school. Good luck and don't be afraid to look around and ask questions. But above all, jump in when you make up your mind. Pat
  4. jhoban

    jhoban Member

    Well, eyesight is not an issue. I have good vision, and hope it stays that way. I am well out of school, so this will be a project I work on over the next year, give or take.

    Right now I have a 4'x8' space set aside. I know that is enough for a decent HO, but I have no room to expand. I would like a track with quite a few switches, dont like just watching a circle track. Forgive me, I dont know the terminology.

    Right now I am looking to get a cheaper set, then expand the track right away. From there I will pick up scenery to give it a nice look. When I am happy with that, then I will go with the quality trains.
  5. cpNscale

    cpNscale Member

    Only real advice i can give you is.Buy a good quility Locomotive on its own.Loco's offered in sets usally are not the best.Sets tend to give you controllers that again are lower quility and track pieces that you may never use.I built my first model railroad about 20 years after my youth days of HO modeling and have been very happy with N scale.
  6. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    You mean HO isn't the only scale out there? ;) :thumb: Welcome to The Gauge :wave: N is a good scale, having modeled in it in the past. I am getting ready to put together a coffee table loop for fun later this summer. Other than that, they make great fodder for HOn30 equipment. :D :p

    One thing train sets, No Train Sets, NO TRAIN SETS...just not a good place to start.

    Attached Files:

  7. Zman

    Zman Member

    Wanna spend a small fortune and lay an enormous amount of track in a 4' by 8' space?

    Go Z scale.
  8. jhoban

    jhoban Member

    Sorry Zman, eyesight isn't that good, besides, I am trying to avoid the small fortune part. N scale is making me nervous enough, but Z scale *shudders*
  9. Hoghead

    Hoghead Member

    Don't buy a cheap set. In the long run you will regret it.

    Good quality locomotives from Kato or Atlas will go a long way.

    I run both Kato and Atlas engines with Micro-Train cars and barely ever have any major problems that can result from purchasing cheap stuff.

    Remember, you get what you pay for.
  10. SteamerFan

    SteamerFan Member

    if you have space restraints, go ahead and go N-Scale, I'm actually making the conversion from HO to N after realizing what i wanted to do would take up more room than i had in HO scale. As for the eyes ststement, I know several 70+ people still running N Scale and even one running Z scale, the secret? Maginifying glasses for working on the equipment, most hobby shops and Micromart sell a setup for our purposes.

    And ditto on better to buy quality over a set, in the long run you'll feel better about it.
  11. jhoban

    jhoban Member

    OK, let me ask this. Is it possible to get a good engine in the $50 range. Yes, I have been looking around and seen reasonable prices, but have no idea of the quality.

    I am pretty convince not to get a set. However, I am still concerned about sound and speed. Just a comparison to HO would be fine.

    Few other questions that have come to light while researching.

    1. Do power packs from HO work on N?

    2. 55 code, 80 code, whats the difference?

    3. Flex track.....seems handy but not a good idea, am I wrong?
  12. Zman

    Zman Member

    Hi Jhoban, let me answer your questions one by one. The more experienced modelers can elaborate on them.

    1. Do power packs from HO work on N? In general, yes. Power for track is generated by a direct current (DC), and can usually be transposed to any scale. The use of DCC requires modified elecrical engineering.

    2. 55 code, 80 code. what's the difference? The code refers to the height of the rail. The higher the code number, the higher the rail. If you're modeling an American railroad, the lower code is preferable as it is more prototypical. Code 55 track just looks more like the real thing. Be aware that some older Atlas engines will have problems running on Code 55 track.

    3. Flex track.....seems handy but not a good idea, am I wrong? Flex track is the choice of most professional railroaders. I can only speak for myself, but having the flexibility to alter curves in very subtle ways is very important to me. Working with flex track, however, does require some skill, but it's easily learned.

    Finally, as to your first question about engines, there is an abundance of wonderful engines available to the N scale modeler that cost less than $50.
  13. seanm

    seanm Member

    More about code 55. I am using Atlas code 55 after using code 80 on my previous layout. It is every bit as reliable but I do find it more "fragil"....If you use Atlas n-scale code 55 track (which is a GREAT value for the cost) then you need to use low profile wheel sets on micro-train cars and some old engines and some lifelike engines may have some trouble. Still worth the trouble. It looks great!
  14. jhoban

    jhoban Member

    OK guys/gals, thanks for answering so quickly. I found a good looking whistle stop store only a few miles from my house. Hopefully they are the helpful type and let me run some n scale on the test track just to see it run. The abundance answer really does reasure me. Young family man and all, price is a big key here. Thanks again, I know where to come when I really get this started. I will post back when I get under way.

    Thanks again.
  15. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    The biggest asset is the the wife's approval, that goes a long way toward enjoying the hobby. Too many members of the club I'm in live by the "Forgiveness is easier to get than permission" philosophy. My beloved trusts I'll never spend a dime she doesn't know about and I'll never breach that trust. My Galloping Goose model that I built onto the mechanism of an older (late 70s) Atlas GP30 cost me $9 on eBay and runs like a fine watch. As an N scale loco it was one of the finest made at the time, right up there with Con-Cor's PA units. Keep your eyes on the "Buy, sell or trade" forum. :thumb:
  16. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    Hello Jhoban

    Last year, I chose N Scale becuase I could get alot in the area I had.

    There are N Scale locos coming out with DCC and Sound, not a problem there, the price is about the same as HO.

    The cost of things are about the same as HO. As for overall cost of the layout, you will spend more in the end because you will be putting alot more onto it. For example, The Blair Line Gas Station in HO measures 5 x 3.25" and costs $39.99 (Walthers), while in N it is only 2.75" x 1.75" at $34.95. Almost 50% the size, but not 50% the cost. Therefore if I am detailing out a 12"x12" section of town, in HO that would be 3-4 structures, while in N it could be 10-12.

    However, there would be more to look at in N Scale, as well, in the same space, you can have more to operate in N.
  17. FrankG

    FrankG Member

    Here's why I decided to go with N and not HO.

    For me, the trains are only a minor part of the layout -- they add a level of animated realism to a miniature world.

    I think trains look much better when running in a large "slice" of scenery. It's really the scenery and level of detail there that I really push for. So, in order to do that without taking up an entire room in the house OR breaking the budget, N scale was a no brainer.

    Obviously, it's a train layout, so they do play an important role, but it's the big picture that I find more appealing.
  18. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    I agree with Frank, as my layout progresses, I hope to be able to detail it to my high expectations. :eek:

    I hope my talent is as big as my mental image of what I want. :confused: :wave:

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