Hello and have a question about passenger cars


Mr Moffat Tunnal

:D Hello my name is Jeff I am a big Rio Grande and Grew up in Winter Park Colorado. I am an HO owner and slowly switching to N Scale reason for the size. What is the best radius curve for passenger cars in a layout. So when I get back from iraq I can start my layout. Thanks Jeff
Hi Jeff, and welcome to the Model Railroad Forums. I'm in HO myself and I imagine the same rule of thumb applies to N scale as well and that is the larger the radii, the better the cars look. Myself I wouldn't run full length pass. cars on anything less than a 30 inch radius so I guess for N that would be around 15R In HO there are some short pass cars made by Roundhouse that look ok on sharper curves. Another point to consider is the clearance between parallel tracks on curves, the longer the car the more distance that is required between the parallel tracks.
Anyway I'm sure some of our N scalers can answer you much better than I.
Cheers Willis
Red Oak & Western said:
Jeff -

Thank you for your service.


My thoughts too, and I serve... Where you at in Iraq? You can give me a general area, I prolly know it... Ever been to TQ?
Hi Jeff,
If you intend running passenger cars and those new, big diesels go for a minimum radius of 11" to 12" or more to avoid that 'overhang' look around curves.

Welcome to the forum Jeff.
How much layout space will you have?
To run passenger trains well, and look good doing it, you'll need some pretty big curves.
One trick you could use is to have large radius curves where they show, and then use tighter radius curves where they can be hidden. I'm thinking of a continous running loop with visible track out front and a return track that is hidden under or behind scenery or buildings.

Jeff, Thanks for your service!

Cliff's reply about 11" radius is correct for a minimum. I would suggest getting some flex track and laying out different radius's starting at 11" and then going larger. I suggest trying at least 12", 15", 18" radius curves. Make them long enough to get 2 or 3 passenger cars on the curve. Then choose the largest one that fits your space. Hopefully it will be the one that you think looks best. Picking your minimum mainline radius is an important step in planning your layout and it is always a compromise.

I have been in N scale for over 35 years. I discovered over 30 years ago that I could get a 27" curve on benchwork that is only 12" wide on an around the walls layout. Passenger cars really look good on large radius curves.

I agree with Glenn a larger radius will be ideal. Sometimes the restriction is due to the width of the layout. Many of us would like wider areas for large radius curves, scenery etc. but later find access problems especially retrieving stalled or derailed cars. I find a width of 36" to 40" ideal for having 12" - 15" radius and still have access.
Hi, Jeff.

I, too, appreciate your service to your country. Stay safe!

As far as passenger cars are concerned, the bigger the radius, the better. The suggestions above are all good. My personal opinion is to go for at least 18" or larger for full-length passenger cars. You can still fit that radius on a 4 x 8 foot layout.

What you use will be determined by the amount of space you have available.

Good luck with whatever you do. Come home safely and keep us posted on your progress.

Darrell, quiet...for now
Hi Jeff

Thats a 445mm Radius, that's about 17 1/2 ".


I don't have a Pic with Passenger! :mad:
As a general rule, the mininum radius should be 2.5 times the length of your longest car. If the car is 6" long, 15" radius is the ideal mininum.