scale sizes for mountains & buildings

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Wyndigo, Apr 1, 2006.

  1. Wyndigo

    Wyndigo New Member

    Hi everyone :wave: I'm new to the hobby and was wondering, in HO scale what is the approximate size of a mountain compared to the trains, I've seen pictures where they used 2" thick foam stacked up around 5 or 6 layers high then thinned down with knives/scrapers/etc. Also I built a sawmill (Atlas model) and compared to the locomotive (Athearn Diesel HO) it looks small.

  2. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    nearly all buildings and scenery is scaled down relative to the trains, because even the smallest scale hill in HO would be huge. Let's say a hill just 200 feet tall - a steep hillslope is 30 degrees - the angle of repose for most unconsolidated materials. That means the base would be about 700 scale feet across. there are 87 scale feet in a foot, so that means a mountian about 2.5' tall and 8' across. None ov us have that kind of space to devote to that. And keep in mind, 200 foot tall mountian in real life is barely a hill.

    Another reason for making things smaller is perspective. How far away something appears to us depends upon it's apparent size. The size something appears depends upon the optics of our eyes. remember, we can't scale down the distance between our eyeballs, so scale buildings and scenery anywhere beyond our sunject of interest (the trains) would look HUGE and dominate the scene. Ideally, you want the things further from your eyes to be smaller than scale, to fool your eye into thinking they are far away.

  3. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    nachoman has a good perspective on this issue. :) Seriously he's right. With mountain scenary it really does come down to how things appeal to your eye using the space you have available to work with. As for structures, there are a number of commercially made industries that do seem small compared to the trains and you'd wonder if such a place would really be served by rail. If you aren't satisfied with the appearance you might add additional support structures around the mill, build up an addition to it, place it a little farther behind the tracks to create an illusion of distance, etc.
  4. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    How many of my industries wouldn't warrant a UPS truck a week muck less three frieght cars a day.:thumb: Ahhh, such is compromise...:D
  5. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Bob, in our model worlds EVERY industry would be served by rail! :)
  6. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    I use forced prospective on my layout. That is where you use smaller things to make it look as though they are further away. My mountains are any where from 8 inches to 3 feet depending on what I wish to accomplish. This scene is about 4 feet deep. The houses appear to be 1/2 mile or so away. They are n scale houses.
  7. Very nice Lester!A great explanation! I have many H-O models that I have not used since I began building an O layout.I spent many...MANY hours building and detailing them.I often wondered how I could use them. and now I'm excited to pull them out and work them in!
    By the way I love that C&O!
  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    One of the great model railroads, the Gorre and Daphetid, (destroyed over 30 years ago) used floor to ceiling scenery in the basement. He wrapped the tracks back and forth over one mountain face five or six times, with wild collections of bridges and trestles.
    On a moderate sized layout, I wouldn't make a mountain over a foot high (above the highest tracks) and then continue it on the backdrop.
    Model buildings are often too small; they have to get them in a box and keep the price down.
  9. zedob

    zedob Member

    It really depends on how the layout is going to be
    viewed. The less "bird's eye view" you have, or the closer the rails are to eye level, the easier it is to portray model depth with less real depth. However, not all modelers want to have their layout at eye level. It's great for scenic effect, but tough on switching operations, so most compromise somehwere in between.
  10. Wyndigo

    Wyndigo New Member

    :wave: Hi everyone and thanks for the quick replys, maybe I'll use the sawmill in the back of the layout to keep it in perspective and add a few "loggers cabins" near it and have them a tad smaller in size. Also I'm thinking of adding a second, smaller mountain, the one I have already also has a tunnel through it.
    Thanks again everyone! :)

  11. Canopus

    Canopus Member

    I've spent quite a lot of time working with buildings and trying to get them to scale, and you're quite right in that it's not actually very easy to work out how big or small a place needs to be.

    Where you're going wrong is comparing it to a locomotive. Remember that locomotives are HUGE machines compared to human beings, especially American locomotives (compare them to British ones and they seem like giants!). The best way that I have found to work out scale sizes is to use an HO scale man standing up - he needs to be average height, about six foot. Compare him to doorways, stand him next to buildings and see how big they are compared to him, see if you think that's about "right".

    As for mountains, most mountains are 1000 + foot tall, which on a model layout would be about 35 meters high!

    Whoever said "it's a small world" was so damn wrong he might as well have been telling us that the moon was made of cheese.

    Just as a "guide" (because you'll probably suprise yourself at how small "big" buildings actually are!) the walls of a one storey high building are usually 9 foot, doors are 7 foot, and windows tend to be about 2 foot by 3 foot.

Share This Page