Trying to decide

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by pablo, Oct 18, 2004.

  1. pablo

    pablo New Member

    I posted this note on the HO forum, but have not received many replies, so maybe the N/Z team could hel pem

    Need some wise advise, on what should I get to start our train (my son is 6 my daughter is 7)
    I've read some material, and the recommendation is HO scale, and not a starter set, rather, a "good engine" good power, etc., etc, because of the age of the kids
    Our situation is: a) I will not be able to vacate space to build a 4x8 model or larger, and a transportable 4x8 will be cumbersome and to dependent in me playing with the kids. b) Budget is limited, at least, until I see the kid/s getting interested.
    The 2 options I see are
    Scale N, so I can build an interesting layout, on a 2x4 or so, or Scale HO and build something simple that could fit in a 2x4, or 2x6 or so (in this last option, I did not see too much examples, mostly ovals with not much space)
    On the other point, "budget", I was thinking in good used material, N and HO are similar in prices, (with more variety in HO, and probably more chances to access to a larger inventory of used engines), or not so good new pieces.

    What'd be the best compromise for both of our needs? Any help?

    Thank you ... Pablo
  2. hswn

    hswn Member

    Might I advise that you take a look at some of the modual styles. I'm currently working with a group in bent track, all I need is two ballons and I have a home lay out. Check in your area if there are any modual groups active in n scale, build a couple of moduals to there standards. This will also give you some local people to help you. I recomend N scale you could build two 3x4 foot table that join together for a home lay out that is portable. Or if you are given to doing some fine wood working build your wife a new coffee table with a N scale model railway in it, this would give you the oppertunity to teach your children some wood working skills as well.
  3. theBear

    theBear Member


    How much space can you devote to the layout?

    Have you seen the layouts on or ?

    I have no idea what the little ones would like to do so it is hard to answer your question, in addition keep in mind that N is fairly small and it would be easy for things to get broken.

    I'm trying to think back to when my children were that young and keep coming up with my daughter would be able to handle the N scale a couple of years earlier than my son. I don't know what the others on the board would think, my feeling is (and not knowing your children, I could be wrong) that 6 is too young for N scale.

    This kind of question is loaded because every one of us has a favorite scale that they are at home with and in my years on this planet I haven't seen two children that were the same.

    All that aside:

    1. The smaller the scale the more you can get in a given space or the less space it takes to model what you want to model.

    2. Availibility of items also comes into play since there is more stuff availible in the more commonly modeled scales.

    3. The other gottcha is that the smaller things get the easier they break and the harder it is on the eyes to do the work.

    So I'm still left with the question:

    What do the little ones want to do?
  4. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    Just some thoughts. Absolutely right to avoid starter sets -- get one good quality loco (Kato or Atlas). One possibility is to get some Kato Unitrak on ebay and check it out, then if you find that N is too small for the kids you can re-sell it without having lost much. If you really like it then get more stuff (rolling stock for example is fine second-hand), and perhaps later move from Unitrak to ...errr... "real" track (*thwack* sorry Unitrak lovers, couldn't think of another word :)). Be very careful with second-hand locos especially if you don't know what you're doing -- not many people sell good old ones, but they often sell shoddy old ones they're sick of. Kids will very quickly get tired of trains that work slowly and occasionally -- I certainly did when I was that age...

    Buying Unitrak means you don't have to commit to a shape (start off on a bit of plywood until you make up your minds). 6-7 year olds will likely want loops rather than too much switching, but you never know...

    Modules are a great idea, perhaps as the next "stage" from a plywood start, but you have to make sizes to fit everyone else, and making enough modules that work as a loop in your own home is quite a job and a lot of space (three modules needed).

    Search google for small layouts or micro layouts, there are some excellent websites showing possible plans (mostly HO, but of course you can always make them in N).

  5. Bikerdad

    Bikerdad Member

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