Different Scale Dimensions & Use

So I've been pondering the idea of writing a simple include file for Pov-Ray (www.povray.org for those who are curious) which will allow one to more easily
build model train scenes. It serves many purposes, one is that I want to get back into Pov-Ray more, another is the capability to make models railroads and put the viewer in certain perspectives, and lastly it serves as sort of a rudamentary mock up for when I want to build a real model. The latter is a ways off becuase I'm stuck in an apartament right now and there is no space for such a feat (which is perhaps another reason for writing the file so I can sort of enjoy a model railroad without having one :).
In any case, I need to know the dimensions of the track. I was probably going to use HO scale as it is what I used to use when I did have a small train set. Unfortuantely, I no longer have the track to measure myself. Also, what is the difference and pros and cons of different scales? I had intended on using HO since I can more directly use the raytraced model to make the real model; but I noticed in looking around on the Internet that there are many more scales than I last remembered.
Is HO still even popular? Has it been superceaded by something else?
Thanks!
Tim S.
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Two popular ones now are N Scale and On30 (O Scale rolling stock on HO scale track.
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N Scale - Credit Valley Railway
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Comparing the sizes of the Walther's Catalogs, HO (1/87) still seems to be the dominant gauge, with the largest selection of merchandise available. I would suspect (but don't know for certain) that N is second, O or large-scale (G, etc.) is third and everything else is following.
As Will pointed out, On30 is coming on strong, but the major amount of product is still HO, and it is probably a pretty safe assumption that the amount of stuff on the market reflects demand in the market.
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Well if the track is the same then I can just use HO for at least the rails for my modelling. As far as On30 itself; why is it popular exactly? Are the trains themselves more to scale than HO trains? I always liked HO because it seemed to be just the right size, at least in terms of the track, to be somewhat compact but still eye-catching.
Anyways thanks to the both of you for the info!
Tim
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Tim, On30 (O scale 30 inches between the rails) is popular mainly due to the excellent On30 products made and marketed by Bachmann. Prior to Bachmanns entry to this scale/gauge On30 was a scratchbuilder / basher scale that offered a cheap way to model O scale narrow gauge and industrial railroads using HO mechanisms. Up until a few years ago there was no ready to run On30. Expensive On3 ( O scale 36" between the rails) brass locomotives, limited products and scratchbuilding were the only options if one wanted to model O scale narrow gauge. Over the years it appears that large numbers of people developed an interest in narrow gauge but were put off by the cost, possibly by the few craftsmen type kits available, scratch building required, or the reputation of problems in the still expensive but smaller HOn3 scale. Sn3 equipment is much the same as On3 in being expensive, with a limited number of products available. Until recently if you wanted to model narrow gauge in any scale you basically had to be an extreme scratchbuilder or a craftsman with deep pockets. Now with Bachmann and BLI providing excellent running locomotives and some very nice RTR rolling stock along with a number of companies offering kits parts and details anyone can model narrow gauge, have stuff that looks good and runs well but is no more expensive than HO. It looks On30 has been very well received. Another factor is that O scale narrow gauge track arrangements and equipment don't need much more space than HO. At least until you starting adding structures. That's when you discover how much space O scale can really take narrow gauge or not. Bruce
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*OH* ok. That cleared things up quite a bit, thanks! I hadn't expected that much depth, but it certainly was quite interesting to read. I didn't know model railroading was that varied, to be honest. So in a nutshell, On30 is HO but for narrow gauge railroad models?
Well in any case, I put up an extremely rough example of what I'm trying to do (and why I have been asking about scale sizes) at
http://www.moocowproductions.org/test.jpg . Very rough but should give anyone curious an idea. A few things are arbitrary (such as the dimensions of the ties and the width of the rails, for example) but I tried to be as true to the HO spec as I could. And once I get my hands on real track again, I'll refine it further. I am modelling the track after Atlas Code 83 Track.
Anyways, thanks again for all the info everyone! It cleared things up immensely! Can't wait to jump back into it again!
Tim
On Sun, 30 May 2004 05:46:35 GMT

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that much depth, but it certainly was quite interesting to read. I didn't know model railroading was that varied, to be honest. So in a nutshell, On30 is HO but for narrow gauge railroad models?
No! You must separate scale (the proportion to real full size) and gauge (space between the rails). HO, O, S, N etc. all refer to Scale. HO scale is 3.5 mm = 1 foot, or 1:87.1 proportion. HO with no following symbols means standard gauge (56.5 real inches between the rails) for HO scale, which is 16.5 mm gauge. HO followed by an "n" and a number indicates HO proportion but modeling a narrow gauge prototype. "...HO for narrow gauge railroad models" would be HOn3 or HOn30 or HOn2. So your correct statement should have been: "So in a nutshell, On30 is O scale but for 30" narrow gauge railroad models, using HO track for convenience."
In your earlier post, you also asked, "As far as On30 itself; why is it popular exactly? Are the trains themselves more to scale than HO trains?" Bruce's very good reply addressed the first part. The answer to the second part is that On30 is actually less to scale than most HO. First, most of the prototypes used by Bachmann and others for On30 are of 3' gauge equipment (since 30" narrow gauge was not very common in the US, but people are familiar with the Durango & Silverton, Cumbres & Toltec, and East Broad Top), so they are "less to scale" in that they have the wrong gauge trucks to be accurate models. Bachmann also slightly reduced the width of many of their models, I believe so that the trains would clear each other side to side on commercial HO track passing siding geometries. And track made for HO has incorrect tie size and tie spacing for 1:48 proportion (although Peco makes 16.5 mm gauge track with 1:48 proportion ties). But for all of that, On30 looks good, runs very well, and has more of the "heft" that makes O scale popular. Gary Q
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Oh ok. Gotcha. Thanks for clearing that up!
Tim
On Sun, 30 May 2004 09:50:39 GMT

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Actually I may have spoken too soon :) Digging out some good 'ole Trig I was able to figure out how to make a very nice looking curve using splines. The problem is, I want to basically extrude a spline, or complex CSG object (which serve as the rails on the track) along a splined path assuring that it does not distort along the curve. The examples from the link squashed the isosurface as it moved along.
The code I have thus far is this (modified from an example in the Pov-Ray docs): camera { location <0,4,0> look_at 0 } light_source { <-5,30,-10> 1 } #declare MySpline spline { // cubic_spline // quadratic_spline natural_spline #declare counter = 0; #while (counter < 2*pi/6) counter, <sin(counter), 0, cos(counter)> #declare counter = counter + pi/16; #end } #declare ctr = 0; #while (ctr < 10) sphere{ MySpline(ctr),0.05 pigment{ color<ctr, 1-ctr, 0> } } #declare ctr = ctr + 0.01; #end
The sphere is of course the item I want to convert into a CSG object or a spline to extrude along the path. The reason, by the way, that I want to use CSG or a spline for the rails is that I can use that same definition for other track as well - of course using the technique for the curves I want to use I could do the same for the straight peices as well I suppose. In any case, I tried playing around with boxes and things but that produced screwy results :) I'm not quite sure how the spline fits in with the object definition, since you can just change 'sphere' to 'box' and it works.
Any ideas about how to do that? Tim
On Sun, 30 May 2004 11:31:26 -0500

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Gah...sorry again. I'm trying to learn Sylpheed (News Reader - it's kinda gacky for some things). This was supposed to go elsewhere, obviously.
On Sun, 30 May 2004 12:10:03 -0500

able to figure out how to make a very nice looking curve using splines. The problem is, I want to basically extrude a spline, or complex CSG object (which serve as the rails on the track) along a splined path assuring that it does not distort along the curve. The examples from the link squashed the isosurface as it moved along.

spline to extrude along the path. The reason, by the way, that I want to use CSG or a spline for the rails is that I can use that same definition for other track as well - of course using the technique for the curves I want to use I could do the same for the straight peices as well I suppose. In any case, I tried playing around with boxes and things but that produced screwy results :) I'm not quite sure how the spline fits in with the object definition, since you can just change 'sphere' to 'box' and it works.

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Pov-Ray (www.povray.org for those who are curious) which will allow one to more easily build model train scenes. It serves many purposes, one is that I want to get back into Pov-Ray more, another is the capability to make models railroads and put the viewer in certain perspectives, and lastly it serves as sort of a rudamentary mock up for when I want to build a real model. The latter is a ways off becuase I'm stuck in an apartament right now and there is no space for such a feat (which is perhaps another reason for writing the file so I can sort of enjoy a model

going to use HO scale as it is what I used to use when I did have a small train set. Unfortuantely, I no longer have the track to measure myself. Also, what is the difference and pros and cons of different scales? I had intended on using HO since I can more directly use the raytraced model to make the real model; but

Be careful - there are some things that don't scale down -- fingers (the width between tracks), table width (maximum arm reach) and aisle width, for examples. You need to have a scle in mind when establishing these things.
I'd be interested in seeing follow-ups of how this progresses.
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