What can be made to look more realistic?

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by jcsftwre, Apr 1, 2006.

  1. jcsftwre

    jcsftwre New Member

    What scale can be made to look more realistic HO-scale, N-scale, or Z-scale? What I am more interested in is more the structures and scenery that the train itself. I have been a woodworker and cabinetmaker for going on 30+ years and have mastered the skills and I am somewhat of an artist to boot. I have just found out about the world of train modeling and I am highly excited in getting started. I would like to start with wood kits until I get use to the scale then do it from scratch. I have seen many wood kits but really, no one shows them in scale to something of known size such as a hand or a pack of cigarettes. Therefore, I cannot tell what size would be easier to make realistic and in more detail. My first goal and interest is realism, I want to do a mill by a stream with a water wheel in mountains and have a train locomotive in the early years of railroads that travels by it. Kind of like my own little peace of mind. Will anyone please enlighten me in these areas?
    Thank you very much for your time and thought.
    Rick B.
  2. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Welcome to The Gauge:wave:

    As this is an art as much as it is a hobby, realism is really a matter of perspective. I try to bring my work a step or two up from toy level while folks like doctorwayne and hminky do it on a more precise scale. It really depends on factors like money, time and desire.

    A modeler named Ben King did an outstanding model of a mill back in the 90s in MR magazine. The water work was excellent and left you feeling you could just make out a bass lying in wait under his lilly pads. What made his work all the more outstanding was that he was disabled by polio at an early age but came to scratchbuild everthing---even the cameras that he would photograph his work with. >>>http://www.nmra.org/scratch_leone2.html

    With that in mind, I would say for fine detail, O scale or even G would be your best bet. HO is a close second with the newer Proto 87 standards.

    Hope that helps:thumb:
  3. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way


    Welcome to the Gauge. If I have one regret with choosing N scale is that I cannot get the detail I would like. They say if you can't see it at three feet, don't bother, no one will notice. Well, no one but me on my layout. Still, I like N scale because I can get so much more in the same space, that it's a good trade off. I've seen some worthwhile stuff in N with super detailing that I can only dream of achieving. Some people have problems with N because of their hands or eyes. I was well into my sixties when I got into this hobby, and I still don't have a problem with hands or eyes. But regardless, I get a bit jelous when I see a closeup of a O or G scale figure and see the details that are impossible to get in N. There are also discrepencies in the scale of things in N because of the size. Handrails are one and cannot be moulded to scale.

    Still, I wouldn't change mainly because of the space issue.
  4. johnny b

    johnny b Member

    Well first question you should ask yourself is how much space is avalialable to you? Obvioslly the smaller the scale the more you can do in smaller spaces . Second how much money can you afford to spend . As the scale gets smaller the price actually seems to go up a bit.
    HO has a lot more available than N and N has more than Z. Which has more detail though is a matter of opinion. I have built in HO and am now doing N do to space. HO is much easier to do detail work than N and Z , but at least with N some detail can be overlooked like was mentioned above. I have seen pictures that you can't tell the difference. As for the trians themselves , the detial in them is just about as good in any scale now a days. N scale trains tend to be a bit more finicky than HO. More sensative to dirt ect...
    So yes HO would be easier than N for detail work and N would be easier than Z. But the question should be how much do you want to do?
  5. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    Welcome to the hobby and to the Gauge, Rick.

    I think that you will find a larger quantity of more detail structure kits in HO than in the other scales. Fine Scale Minitures and Blair Line come to mind as companies that make very detail structure kits that you might enjoy. They can be pricey but you get what you pay for. As said before, a lot will depend on what scale you wish to model and the availability of room for the structures and layout. If you are doing just dioramas and static display - the HO craftsman kits would be good.

    Take a look at a Model Railroader or Railroad Model Craftsman magazine at your local hobby store to get an idea of some of the relative sizes of the structures. Some of these photos do have a shot of real people placing materials or rolling stock near the structures.

    But most of all - enjoy what you do.
  6. Since you have been a woodworker for thirty years...I have always thought that Cincinnati's Union terminal would be stunning made from hardwoods.

    Attached Files:

  7. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Rick: Welcome to the Gauge and (possibly) to model railroading.
    The question about realism is both an artistic and a craftsmanship one. With smaller trains, you work on more of an overall impression -- you have vast vistas at your disposal. You don't have to put as much detail on to give a similar impression; the detail you do put on is smaller and finnickier. Modellers who are getting on a bit often move into larger scales because they can see it better, and then find that they have to put much more detail on because everyone can see it. In O gauge you need passengers in your coaches.
    Beautiful work can be done in smaller scales; check out The Academy section here and look at the work done by Robin Matthysen (matthyro) in N using cardboard.
  8. umtrr-author

    umtrr-author Member

    N Scale has come a long way in realism since I started more than 30 years ago. While it does not have the breadth of detail parts that HO has, it also can fall under the "three foot rule" more easily.

    I don't remember where I saw this, or who said it, but I do recall the idea that the presence of some amount of detail will trick the mind into filling in more than is actually there. That may be true because I personally find that there is such a thing as "too much" detail, which can make a scene look, let's say "theatrical." This is not to say that I don't respect layouts like this-- who couldn't have a sense of how much work it took!-- it's just not the effect I'm after.

    Despite the fact that there is more of everything including people on earth today than there ever was, there is still a lot of "white space" where there isn't anything in particular going on. I first saw or heard that term "white space" from Lance Mindheim of N Scale Monon fame. I've seen his layout in person and he really does this right. N Scale allows the modeling of "white space" more effectively than HO simply because it allows for a higher scenery to track ratio in a given space. I am trying to balance "white space" with detailed scenes on my own layout; the next area I need to work on is "white space."

    That having been said, if I were to need to take a "do over" I would very seriously consider switching up to HO and doing an urban scene, where detail is a very key element!
  9. 2-8-2

    2-8-2 Member

    If I had the space, I would've gone with HO scale. It seems like HO has the best dollar value per square inch than others, and it has the most available products in the way of both trains and scenery/structures. Unfortunately, space is a big issue for me so the tradeoff is to work with N scale.

    Another consideration is track plans. I've found several HO plans that I would use, but I don't see much I like in other scales. Personally, I find that anything bigger than HO looks toylike and out of proportion.
  10. GRSJr

    GRSJr Member

    From your description of what you'd like to do (Mountains, Mill, Old Time train), I'd suggest you look at On30. The trains and scenery are 1/4" scale, but the old time trains run on HO rail which approximates the 30" guage used in logging railroads.

    Bachmann makes an extensive line of these locos and the rolling stock to go with them. They enjoy a great reputation for both looks and operation.

    If you haven't done so already, check out Northeastern Scale Models.
    They sell scale lumber, wood kits, and all the stuff you'll need to make your models. Their quality is unsurpassed.
  11. coaster

    coaster Member

    Rick B. --

    My best advice regarding scale? Don't be too quick to choose!!

    You have a very definite idea of what you want to do (which may or may not change as time goes on and your interests are possibly piqued by additional considerations). You already possess a high level of skills. Try several scales by building at least a simple kit in each -- O Scale (1:48 proportion), HO (1:87), even (since scenery is on your list) N Scale -- to get a feel for what can be done, as well as what speaks to you as a modeler. Who knows what you might find out about yourself, as well?

    There are excellent kits in all three of those scales (particularly the first two). There are also other scales, but why over-complicate things when you're just starting out?

    Take your time. Enjoy the journey.

  12. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    "Enjoy The Journey." That's what railroading is all about...


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