There is often confusion between the terms
N SCALE and N GAUGE layouts. The two terms are frequently used to refer to the
same thing. N gauge layouts as they are known in the UK are called N scale
layouts in the USA. So, if you see either of those terms used, then they are
probably talking about the same thing.
N GAUGE actually refers to the
measurement between the rails on a real or model train track. The letter “N” is
short for “NINE”, which is the distance between the rails.
SCALE refers to the sizing or ratio of the model when compared to a life-sized
real object. Anything in the N-scale world will be 1/160th (1:160) the size of
the real object. So, a locomotive or freight car would be proportioned at 1:160
to the prototype (real train) size. In the UK, it is fractionally different at
This makes N scale trains roughly 1/2 the size of HO or OO
trains. The big advantage therefore; is you can get a lot more track, scenery
(bridges, mountains, tunnels, roads etc), and structures into the same space as
you would for an HO or OO railroad. However, being smaller, N gauge
layouts take up less space
so are ideal for those hobbyists who like running long trains across layouts
with sweeping curves and wonderful open-space scenery.
Fortunately all N scale has a
gauge separation of “nine” millimeters between the rails, so that's why the terms
are somewhat interchangable.
Track and accessories are made
by several companies including: Atlas, Micro Trains, Kato, Peco, Roco, Athearn,
Bachmann, Con Cor, Marklin Trains, and Hornby. You can buy a selection of steam
engines and diesel locomotives along with freight and passenger cars, tank cars,
flatcars, grain hoppers, boxcars, cabooses, and reefers. N scale model railways can
be set up for DC or DCC operation.