The “N” scale model train is one of the smallest available (though there are smaller, the smallest at the date of this writing is “T” scale, 1:450). N scale model trains are the smallest of the 4 popular scales, with scales ranging from 1:148 in the UK, 1:150 in Japan, and 1:160 worldwide. The 1:160 version was developed in Germany in the 1960s. A model of a 2-6-6-2 locomotive in N scale is about the length of a lead pencil!
The track gauge for all N scale model trains is 9mm, that is the space inside each rail is 9mm. That’s pretty small!
N scale is about ½ the size of HO scale trains. As such, an N scale model railroad can fit about twice as much scenery into the same amount of space as an HO layout. With N scale you can have vast expanses in your layouts, without taking up too much room! Imagine a wide prairie scene with your locomotive chugging along in the distance.
Alternatively, if you want to set up an HO scale layout and increase perspective, you can place some N scale track and train in the “background,” which will increase the apparent distance on your layout. This is an advanced trick and one that you can use quite simply to amaze your friends and fellow enthusiasts.
Some N scale modelers have actually build layouts in shoeboxes! This offers a fascinating, challenging way to use your creative abilities, while constraining yourself in very interesting ways. Imagine building several shoebox “modules” which you can connect together to create a full working railroad layout. With a few friends who are interested in the same idea, you can create a wide variety of layouts, based on shoebox sized scenes! And of course, when you are done for the day, you can store your shoebox railway in the closet!
N scale equipment is made by all the major model train manufacturers, including Athearn, Atlas, Bachmann, Bowser and others. Track, electrical controls, buildings, structures and accessories are all available from a wide variety of suppliers. Finding the supplies and equipment to replicate an older or existing railway line may take some searching, however, there are many models that have been made over the years.
The cost of N scale model trains is comparable to the cost of HO model trains. Locomotives can run from $45.00 on up, and can be configured with sound, smoke, DCC. Rolling stock is also available in the full range of detail, models, manufacturers and pricing.
Scenery is can be purchased or made by hand. Scratch building is popular, though it can be challenging to older hands and eyes. Full kits can be purchased, as well as separate components such as windows and doors. Figures and vehicles, animals and trackside equipment are all available in this popular scale. You are only limited by your imagination with N scale model railroading.
Kitbashing is becoming more popular in the N scale world. Kitbashing refers to purchasing multiple kits, and then composing your own hybrid from the components. This offers the modeler the ability to create unique buildings and scenes without the hassle of constructing the parts by hand.
N scale model trains offer another variation in the wonderful world of model railroading. When you are planning your layout, keep this useful and fun alternative in mind. You get lots of detail in a small amount of space – you literally can double the fun (over HO) for about the same cost of equipment and space!
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