Pros and Cons: Switching from HO to N Scale, and Vice-Versa

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Christopher62, Jan 31, 2007.

  1. Christopher62

    Christopher62 Member

    I would like to hear comments and opinions from those who have switched from HO scale to N scale, and/or vice-versa. What made you decide to switch? Are you pleased with your decision? Any regrets? Has anybody switched and then switched back again?

    Thanks all!
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    There's currently a debate started here:

    I have not switched, but I can tell you the factors that lead me to choose HO:

    • my old train set from when I was a kid is/was HO
    • the nearest store at the time I got back into trains was HO almost exclusively
    • the Nscale layouts and modular groups I saw tended to be "runnners", not "operators", and I felt I wanted hands-on switching
    • HO scale is easier to see and handle
    • HO seems to offer more kits, whereas a lot of Nscale stuff seems to be RTR, especially rolling stock, and I like building kits
    • sound is better in HO than N
    • HO offered a wider selection of stuff, especially steam era (although this might be debated now - several years later)
    • the majority of the modellers I met in my area are in HO, so I have plenty of help ;)
    • the prices for HO seem the most reasonable for what you get

    Hope that helps.

  3. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    What about the size factor? I'm just getting into it and having a real problem deciding which scale to use. Part of me wants badly to go HO, but another part of me does not want to sacrifice tihngs from the projected layout because they just "won't fit".
  4. Christopher62

    Christopher62 Member

    You're preaching to the choir Mountain. I've been wracking my brains for the past year trying to decide what scale I want to model. Hence my post. I want to hear the various opinions. I'm hoping one of the experts will offer up some tidbit of information that will help tip the scales one way or the other.

    And I know all too well that the respective modelers' will be biased towards their current scale, so the really helpful posts will be more along the lines of, "I don't like my chosen scale because..."
  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    How about "Drawbacks to HO" to complement my post above...?

    • More space required for continuous running, helices, etc.
    • Running looooong close-to-prototypical-length trains almost impossible in most home layouts.
    • "Scenery to railroad" ratio might be considered low - that is, the railway is almost always the dominant feature of the layout, as opposed to some "off-line" scene.
    • Sometimes detail parts are finicky to deal with - and they wouldn't even be visible in N! ;)

  6. Alan Bickley

    Alan Bickley Member

    If the thought of needing more space for a layout is putting people off modelling in HO, I suppose that they could always try building a HOe layout instead. At least that way you'll have the benefit of the availability of all those layout accessories - as well as putting that N gauge track to good use if you've already bought it!
  7. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Among North American prototype modellers at least, narrow gauge basically means steam-era shortline. If that's the type of railroading you like in standard gauge, then narrow gauge will seem acceptable. Otherwise (like myself), it won't.

    I haven't switched yet, but while I had my old HO layout, I decided that my next layout would be N.
    I'm more operation-oriented but not very skilled. Thus, at least to start out, I'd want more RTR models.
    No interest in sound.
    My inerests lie in diesel-era mainline modelling.

    So, I don't expect to be too disappointed. I know that I have little interest in the things N is poorer at.
  8. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Lately, I have been browsing N-scale sites and checking out layouts in magazines for N-scale. The level of detail is every bit as detailed and compelling as anything you would see on an HO layout, and more nd more manufacturers are getting into the burgeoning N-scale market.

    I think one of the biggest points of contention is how important it might be to you for others to be able to see and appreciate your work. The smaller the scale, the closer they have to get, one of the premier reasons many folks like to do logging and so forth in On3.

    As I develop the first overall layout plan and consider my goals, I am leaning more and more towards N-scale simly because - believe it or not - I can't accomodate what I wanty on a 20x20 layout without overcrowding and eliminating things I want! The more I think about that simple fact, the the more I realize the sheer absurdity of that one single fact.
  9. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    I would sell my soul for a 20x20 layout. :oops:
  10. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Not in HO, you wouldn't. :rolleyes:
  11. cnw1961

    cnw1961 Member

    I would!!:D :D My HO shelf layout is only 12 x 1 1/2, and a 20 x 20 layout would be a dream. I started MRR a few years ago with N, but after a year, I switched to HO. N was to small for me. When I looked at my layout, I always felt like sitting in an aeroplane and looking down from great height. A second reason – I love scratch building and and it is nearly impossible to do right to scale in N. Most parts are so small, you can’t handle them anymore. It is true that you have to limit yourself when you model HO, but you have to know what is important to you. I never regretted having switched.
  12. Christopher62

    Christopher62 Member

    Good points Kurt. I like hearing the opinions of one who has switched from one scale to the other.
  13. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    OK - here is yur challnege. I am designiong a narro gauge.railroad modeled on an actual area from 1890 to early 1900. Within a circle only 40 miles in diameter you have the folloqwing:

    1. Coal mines
    2. Gold mines
    3. Oil wells
    4. Cattle ranching
    5. Two towns
    6. A small settlement at midpoint (depot, hotel, track crew house and siding + spur
    Gold reduction plants (2)
    7. One rover with at least two branches
    8. A creek with over 20 bridges
    9. Extremely steep and rugged mountain gorge (ho,e to creek) with 2 tunnels which connects town #1 with town #2

    That is my minimum list. Tell me what you would scrap to make it fit reasonably. Remember that 400 sq. ft. is not the amount of space available for modeling, but the otal space of the layout from side to side minus aisles. My initial projection has the layout running around the walls with an aisle in the middle that branches like a slingshot with top squared off. I'm basing my plan on point to point with switching operatins at origin, terminus (The gold camp and mines, and the midpoint. BTW - at this period in history, there were no turntables used by anyone, just wyes. Basically, one each is needed at origin, terminus and midpoint, and the midpoint is located in a narror steep-walled canyon filled with other stuff as well.

    I love to model buildings too, but in HO a decent building has a large footprint. A reduction mill, for example, has a huge footprint.

    BTW - anyone else with advice above and beyond the usual "selective compression" is more than wlcome to jump in. I'm not a big fan of "selective compression" because the West, particualry the regions served by mountain narrow gauge railroads, reacts poorly to being compressed. For example, in a mountain narrow gauge point-to point, there can be no other rail lines crossing passing except for the ever-pesent passing sidings.

    Anyway, that's my dilemna. When I first conceived it, the space seem very generous to me, too, but after struggling with XTrcCad and looking at the space required for a simple wye in HOn3, I regretfully realized that it wasn't nearly as roomy as it looked.
  14. Connor

    Connor Member

    I've switched to N scale. However, I wish I could do more with it.

    I like HO for the following reasons:
    It's what I had when I was a kid
    Easier to install DCC with (and sound)
    Larger and easier to work with.

    I like N for the following reasons:
    Easier to transport the trains AND cars to the club
    More Scenery area
    More Track area
    And the biggest reason - My Wife thinks they're cute and she likes them! :)

    All in all.. If I could have my way.. I would do BOTH!
    I have N, HO, O, and G right now. But, I only have 1 layour per say, and it's a coffee table layout in N.. I'm working on my G scale outside, the O is going to be running around the room on a shelf, and the HO has be retiered to the shed. and I'm building a large layout for N at the moment.

    Thanks, Billy
  15. cnw1961

    cnw1961 Member

    Mountain Man, it all comes down to what you like most. As I said before, I like scratch building in HO and I am satisfied if I can build a good looking model, even if it is only a short section of a branch. The operational aspect of the layout is not important to me. If you think you need all those industries, mines etc. for your layout to work properly and to build a complete shortline is the most important aspect of the hobby, you can only go for n-scale.
  16. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    Why not both? I am in N scale and HO, the more you have, the more fun right? :thumb: sign1 :D
  17. CNWman

    CNWman CNW Fan

    and more money:rolleyes: ....
  18. countyofficer

    countyofficer New Member

    Well like most, I had HO has a kid, loved it,still display the engines on a shelf 30 years later. But when it came time to build a new layout I chose N scale!!:thumb: Reasons for choosing N scale ws after much research, space allotment was the most critical, like mountain man I wanted lots of scenery,track,towns.....etc. After researching what is available today for N the options are endless and becoming more and more popular and easier to find engines,cars, buildings, scenery and now it is also easier not only to find blueprints for scratch but also with the computer software to design your own plans for scratch. I have only begun the building of models for my layout but have built 6 scratch buildings, plans for an entire town made out of scratch and various other trackside buildings from photos and real-life blueprints scaled down.
    Yes I will agree that the parts are small,......very small and at times frustrating to hold,glue and make look as real as you can in small size but with the use of a desk magnifier with built in lamp it makes life a little easier. Plus with the use of some specialty tools had at most hobby shops holding and placing the small size parts is a little easier also. As far as DCC it is becoming more readily available for N scale, sometimes having to use a Z scale decoder in certain engines but even getting better to buy pre DCC equipped engines off the shelf. So I have not regretted switching to N. And to see a single engine pull 36 cars is amazing!! my layout not including the future expansion is L shaped 9'x7', with an expansion joining off for another section 5'x3' to tag into a 16' x 3' the possibilities are there for huge layout without losing the family room. So the choice comes down to you, want you want to accomplish, how much you want to add and how long your eyesight lasts to continue building LOL:D .
  19. 2680

    2680 Member

    i just got back into this hobby about 2 months ago. had lionel stuff as a kid, then just bought some ho stuff for my son. we have a mining town layout started with two tracks and a mountain, etc. it is great.


    i went to a show two weeks ago and saw a bunch on n-scale stuff, one layout was pulling 60+ cars and looked really neat! to pull that many cars in ho, you need some real space!

    i am tempted to do two seperate setups, but haven't been able to convince myself that is a good idea.....
  20. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member

    My biggest complaint. Why is the N scale stuff almost the same same price as HO stuff?:rolleyes:


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