HO and N scale's

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So iv'e been doing some thinking and it just seems that the space required for the track plan i'm happy with takes up too much space then i have in HO scale, now i know that everyone said's to use N scale when space in an issue but is it going to be difficult to model and repaint locomotives since its so small? I like N scale since you can pack more in a smaller space and now that N scale loco's have sound decoders its like HO just smaller but iv'e never seen N scale in person so i don't know what it looks like.


Stuck in the 1930's
Its about 1/2 the size of HO. If you don't have great eyesight and good hands N is not for you. The trackwork must be perfect or you will have issues. Repainting may be an issue since masking such small things can yield less than adequate results. Scenery flaws seem to stick out and even doing scenery in N scale is really an art.


Whiskey Merchant
I agree with all the Y3a said above. I have a fairly large N scale layout years ago with about 11 scale miles of mainline track. The problem I had with N scale back in the late 70's is that the locomotives were crap compared to what we have today. I tore everything out and moved to HO scale, but I do have a decent space in a basement.

When I look at N scale today, I can't believe that I worked with it years ago. Getting old is a bummer along with the eyesight and dexterity going down hill. Glad that I did move to HO scale. A lot more kits, rolling stock, locomotives, detail items and such are available in HO compared to N scale.

You CAN get a lot more railroading into the same space than in HO scale. The locomotives are smooth running and reliable. You won't be unhappy with the locomotives and rolling stock, but scenery can be a lot more of a challenge.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Actually N scale is about a quarter the size of HO in volume when comparing like against like. Half the length, width and height, yes, but put the same loco in N alongside an HO, and you'll see what I mean.


Alight I'll stick to HO, I'll have to re work my plans to have it fit in the space o have to work with

Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
I've been in N since 1970. Took a break when I found out what girls were for. After my 2nd divorce, I found my trains & realized that the trains were better:cool:. Went to a hobby shop & the guy tested new Kato NS SD-80's. I saw the ditch lts & $600.00 later, I was hooked. That was 2001. I now have a good sized layout(12x10x8) 400 more engines. I belong to an HO club, & I still love N over HO.


Well-Known Member
I think we need to start a "model railroading anonymous"! The only thing I know of that can cost more than model railroading is antique gun collecting! I went to a model railroad show today hoping against hope that none of the dealers had one of the new Bachman E-7 in Burlington Route colors. No such luck! The only good thing was that they had one discounted 45% (plus tax), and the "bad" thing was they took "plastic". I don't need another Burlington E-unit! For that matter, I don't need any more motive power or rolling stock. My 14' x 14' folded dogbone layout has three times (at least) as much rolling stock as there is room to run them. In fact, I have a four-track x 10 foot book shelf storage place in the basement (layout is in a purpose-built room on the main floor)! Boy that Bachman E-7 runs and sound great, though... :rolleyes:

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
I went to a model railroad show today hoping against hope that none of the dealers had one of the new Bachman E-7 in Burlington Route colors. No such luck! The only good thing was that they had one discounted 45% (plus tax), and the "bad" thing was they took "plastic".
We probably tripped over one another. However I was not looking for Bachmann E's I had forgotten they were even out. I was looking for the BLI T&P 2-10-4 but the only one I found was at the BLI booth not for sale. Now that you have one, are the E units the correct height or are they like the Bachmann F units being about 6 scale inches too tall? On the good side, I didn't end up having to go back to the bank after a round one. I actually spent only about half of what I had budgeted - probably a new record for me.

Back to the topic of the thread, I had to abandon N-scale when I found out I could not make a finely detailed model. It seems physically impossible to have scale sized 3/4" grab irons, breathing on them would probably break them. I have problem enough with 3/4" hand rails in HO scale. So, yes, depending on what you are wanting out of the models they could very well be too small.
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A few years ago I had a reasonable foray into N scale after years of HO, and I found the same thing Iron Horseman did. For me, they are just too dang small! The availability of everything from buildings to vehicles is way limited compared to HO. It will always be a matter of personal choice for each of us, and many folks model a little in both scales. But for me I am happily back to my HO roots once again.


Whiskey Merchant
A lot will also depend on the amount of space one has. Like Diane, N scale is just way too small. After years being in HO I can't believe that I was actually in N scale when I see some of the exhibits running. Makes the hair on my neck stand up.

If you want to see long trains run and don't have a lot od space, N scale is the way to go. The quality of todays locomotives is excellent.

If you are looking to build a highly detailed layout, and running long trains isn't important to you, HO scale is excellent. The availability of locomotives, rolling stock, buildings and vehicles is very good. I model the transition era and over the years have built up quite a collection of vehicles that are excellent for the transition era. I have seen many switching layouts built on shelves that have excellent details work and switching that can keep one busy for hours.

I am lucky enough to have a decent size room in my basement but chose the layout to be mainly a switching layout, although I can run trains continuously with the aid of hidden staging tracks.

Best of all, I can see and work on it.

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