HO or N


Central Phoenix Railroad
Well I'm still trying to design my layout :( :mad: And I'm in a predicament. I don't know what I should do. Should I:
A make a small HO layout,
Or B make a big N layout.
I have more HO stuff but have no idea what to do. I would appreciate your help.
Chris -

Not an easy one to answer. While my first love is operation, I still model in HO in limited space. Here are the reasons for my choice -

The selection of available equipment, buildings, and details for my time period.
I like the "feel" - the size and handle-ability - of HO, maybe because N details are too small for my old eyes ;).
I still believe that "one of these days" my wife will move her woodworking equipment to an outside shop with higher ceilings and I'll get the basement to build my empire. Until then, I've got a 12 x 18 bedroom.
I can still operate: industrial switching and yard classification. Just 'cuz the made-up trains have no where to go…….
I spend time building buildings and detailing everything. I can do most of that work in the living room while my wife reads and we can still talk.
I don't have miles of wiring to keep track of (no pun intended!)

So I guess here is what you should do:

Determine your primary interest: running trains, freight operation, passenger operation, building structures, building scenery, creating highly detailed models, or a whole lot of other activities I haven't included but others probably will. If it's running long passenger trains, go N. If it's detailing structures, go HO. If it's a mix -- you're in a predicament :D.

Well you see, I have no free bedrooms. So the only place is in the garage and outside. I'm really having trouble. I'll keep you updated.
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Go N!

I'm not here to knock HO, but my vote is for N scale.

HO does have just about everything you could ever want, but if you look closely, N scale is really starting to close the gap.

The main reason I model in N scale is the scenery to trains ratio.......you can really build incredible scenes that dwarf he trains, just as it is in real life.....that's really an advantage, to be able to model entire mountains or scenes instead of part of a mountain or scene........to do that in HO you need more than a room, you need an entire basement.

Quality is no longer an issue either, as N scale locomotives run with the best of 'em. Detail is excellent, and getting better all the time not only on locomotives, but also passenger cars, freight cars, buildings, autos, trucks.....etc

One thing that alot of modelers don't realize is the cost comparison. N scale is less expensive...in most cases, locomotives, rolling stock, structures, track, etc are 20%-50% less than HO.

I would suggest maybe building a small diorama in N and HO and compare the two......good luck :)
Thanks, I'll be studying up! It would be great to build an N Scale empire but you see I have no N Scale stuff. I'll let you know what I choose!
I understand the dilemma you are in, space...oh, what we can do with more space. I model in N because of space restrictions and find it advantageous. I am able to run long trains (passenger and freight) without 'tail chasing' and do some good scenics in a small compact area. I am also not here to badmouth any particular scale but to share my experiences as I am actually given the balcony space for my layout!

A make a small HO layout,
Or B make a big N layout.
I have more HO stuff but have no idea what to do. I would appreciate your help.
Hi Chris, I feel that size, scale and type of layout is pretty much a personal choice. You make all the decisions and you live with the results. The first choice you have to make is just what is it you want to do, run long trains, switching, or both. The decision you make for those factors plus the space you have available will determine what scale you will have to model in. To do the things you really want to do (an Empire) you may have to model in "Z" scale :D no matter what it will have to be your decision. The next factor and not the least will be the cost, can you afford it? If not stick to something you can afford, it may not be an empire you'll end up with, but at least it will be something you can live with. To help you decide ->
(a) What type of layout do you want? (b) How much space do you have for it? (c) What scale to model in? {not enough space, go back to (a) or change scale} (d) Can you afford it? {if not go back to (a)}

Chris I doubt if anyone can advise you on exactly what you should do without having all the facts that would contribute to the best logical decision. If you have limited funds, a small area, and you already have HO then perhaps a switching layout in HO would work best. On the other hand the eBay suggestion is a way of partially funding a "N" scale layout with twice the operating capability, I'm afraid you will have to make this decision on your own :D Now if you decide what you'd like to do maybe we can help with that part of the planning
Cheers Willis
Well Willis I was just joking about the empire! I'll have to make this decision soon. I let you know what I choose. I would really appreciate it if you could help me plan also! Uumm, yes I'm planning on doind a small switching area and then an area for long trains. EXP: A small switching yard feeding into a main line. Also Cliff, whats the price like for N Scale track?
Thanks for the info and feedback,
Chris Moore
I believe you mean track costs? Well, I use Peco flexi tracks which is cheaper than set tracks. You have a choice between Micro-Engineering and Peco which are both well rated and a 36" piece (code 55) costs around $3.70 to $4.50 depending where you shop. There seems to be a price difference between concrete and wooden ties.
Hope this info helps.

Well guys, I have 90 square feet to build a layout. I can't decide which scale to put in, HO or N. It's kinda bugging me. Which scale can you go into more detail with?
I say stick with HO!

Also, Model Railroader has a book for sale that should interest you.
I believe it's called Track Plans for small spaces or something like that.

Atlas has published a book of track plans too.
Those plans are for 4x8 and allow for exspansion to boot!!
The larger the scale, the easier it is to detail and super detail. Think about it, a 4 inch downspout on the side of a building in HO is 0.046 inch (about 3/64"). In N, the same downspout is 0.025 inch (1/40" or about 3/128"). A 1 inch handrail in HO is 0.011, in N its 0.006. Basically, if you're detail oriented, everything in HO is about twice as big, twice as easy to see, and twice as easy to work with.


PS: As Willis said, the dimensions are all important. Also let us know if there is any access not included in the 90 sf., that is, is your space a 9 x 10 closet with walls on three sides or a corner of the basement between the furnace and the washer.
No its on a side of a patio. If I extend it off the patio the track will melt. It gets up to 110 degrees here. Which leads me to my next question. Which scale is easier for beginners?