Looking to get back in, what scale do you guys recommend?

I'm thinking of getting back into model railroading. I might try building a layout. I've been leaning toward N scale, since I don't have a huge amount of square footage. Money's not really my main consideration, although I'm concerned with some comments I've read about N scale engines not being of the greatest quality. I'm not sure I've got the space for HO, although the added detail of HO cars and associated models is appealing.

So basically, I'm asking what you all would recommend? Should I go with my first instinct and buy N? Or is N scale mainly for SERIOUS hobbyists? Would I respect myself in the morning if I bought HO, even if it meant I'd have to give up my dream of a double track layout?

Thanks for any opinions.


Reply to
Mark Myers
Loading thread data ...


Personally I prefer N-scale, I used to be involved with HO, but it was just too space consuming. I have had the greatest experience with all of my upper end models (life-like/Proto 2k, Atlas, Kato etc). The Proto 2k is the cheapest, but gets good bang for your buck. Kato is expensive, but it's top of the line. Atlas is not quite as expensive as Kato, but it's still right there near the top)

You can get a surprisingly large amount of detail even on N-scale using some of the detail products available from many different manufacturers.

I consider myself a real SERIOUS hobbyist at this time, just trying to perfect some of the arts such as wiring for up to 6 simultaneous cabs and getting money faster heh

But it is my recommendation to go with N-scale to run prototypical double tracked mainline (or 3 if you like the PRR) with more operating potential.



Reply to

Mark Myers wrote:

Instead of answering directly I'll just tell you my experience. I started in HO scale. Had several layouts through grade school until

1969 when Atlas came out big time with N-scale. I switched. Being in Jr. High I finally had room for a double track main line on a 2x4 foot layout that actually fit in my room. I later made a 3x4 foot and then a two different 2x8s. I scratch built some equipment and did some really nice looking scenery (my skills were developing). In 1980 I got more serious and began researching the prototypes and looking for specific equipment. I started seriously re-doing the 2x8 to fit into a larger layout. I wanted an FT locomotive and to model the NP North Coast Limited. I believe it was Con-cor that came out with the NP North Coast Limited in a set and when I looked at it I realized it was just a stock set of cars painted Lowey Green. I investigated what it would take to make an exact model in N-scale and when I realized a 3/4" hand rail was entirely too fine to do in N. For my GN and NP I switched back to HO. For a while I maintained the Santa Fe in N-scale and for a while was greatly impressed with the quality of the "new" brass locomotives that started being produced. The FT's ran flawlessly compared to the plastic ones. Then (about 1984) the N-scale became more expensive and still didn't have the detailed look of HO. Also that is when Atlas brought out the Kato drive in their HO locomotives that made everything else HO or N seem like junk. So I sold or traded my N-scale brass and Kadee equipment and converted the others into Christmas tree ornaments. N-scale has improved even more since then and now running on much better looking/operating track. One good closeup look at any handrail and it looks toylike to me.

If you like running long trains and watching them from a bit of a distance, N-scale is hard to beat. If you like the detail on the equipment, HO or larger is the way to go. You might even change your mind through time.

If I was starting over from scratch today I would seriously consider On3 or On30, and if I could afford it the 1:29 scale equipment coming out that runs on G-guage track. There is a ABA PA set at a local hobby store I could just stare at its detail for hours......

Reply to

I just got back into the hobby myself (after selling all my HO stuff about 3 years ago). I went with HO again after going through some of the same considerations as you. In the end, I think it depends on what's most important for you personally.

It sounds like you really want to do N and are just asking for confirmation that it's ok to do so. I think it's ok to do so if it's what you already want. I have been very impressed by Kato models, and as I like to model Amtrak and also have an interest in Japanese passenger trains, that almost convinced me to go N right there - they actually make better Superliner cars than any plastic modelers in HO that I've seen so far and are really *the* company to go for for Japanese passenger trains. Plus, I live in a New York apartment (hopefully not forever) so my space is really limited right now too.

So I almost went N and I don't think you necessarily lose much detail if you do so. For me, though, other things are also important. There is still more modeled in HO than any other scale, and the quality of plastic models is just miles better than when I used to buy stuff years ago. I also like a little heft - I like a solid, substantial feel to models. And I like to display my trains when I'm not using them, and HO scale models are just more noticeable on display than N scale. When people come over, they're not like "what's that little worm-like thing over there?" It's more like "cool, a train!" right off the bat.

If space is the most important thing to you, and you just want the pleasure of running your trains on a layout and don't really care about displaying them otherwise, then just go with N. Just maybe make sure ahead of time that the equipment you specifically want to buy is actually modeled in N scale by one of the better manufacturers.

// Jeff Williams // snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com

Reply to
Jeff Williams

Mark, one more thing to consider...

Not sure your age, but as you get older the N scale stuff becomes harder and harder to work on. I know of several older members in my model railroad group that used to have N, but then had to switch to HO because they couldn't keep working on the small stuff.

May be a long while until you get to that point...but it will eventually happen (I'm just hoping I don't wish I modeled in S or O scales in another 20 years...)


Reply to

There have been some good recomendations already. There is a similar thread on the Atlas Forums.

formatting link
asking N or HO.

Depending on what you want from the hobby... you might also consider being Bi-scaler! :-)

I know some guys that operate on the N-scale modular clubs for running the LONG trains, and have HO at home. I also have met a few that run N at home and are in an HO club to run the long HO trains that they really want to see.

So, you do not really have to limit yourself to one scale. There are options out there to accomodate almost anything. You can also run both for a forced perspective look. HO up front, N in the back. I have seen at least one modular clubs doing this at GATS. I also found one website back in 01' that had Z (far), N(Middle), and HO(Front) in the same layout.

Whatever you decide, Have Fun!!!


Reply to
Mike Naime

Thanks for all the great opinions. I'm 37, so I think I can handle the size of N, but my three year old might have a different opinion, and my wife prefers HO. Lord knows that 20+ years of staring at computer monitors has ruined my eyes. Good thing I have some basement space. Think I'll draft out a track layout and see what I can put together. Plus, I wouldn't mind running an Acela passenger train, and I can't find that anywhere in N. Think it's time to visit the local clubs and see what sort of scenery the guys have been able to put together, and make my decision. I'm in Portland, OR by the way.

Hope to be active in the group soon!


Reply to
Mark Myers

I was going to ask what your era interest was, but the Acela tells me you must be modern. OTOH, how much space do you have? Is train length important to you? What area do you want to model or represent. N scale can give you a great mountain scenery to train ratio, but if you are modeling Nebraska, central Louisiana, or some other flatland, iI don't see the difference between N and HO. Gene ABV61-1043.001.HCB

formatting link
"Skinny Dipping and Other Stories" On the web at
formatting link
formatting link
and look for "Into Joy From Sadness" soon.

Reply to

PolyTech Forum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.