N gauge trains


Track Arrangement First Considerations… and
Which Is The Best Brand: Atlas N scale Track,
Kato N Scale Track, or Maybe Peco N Gauge Track?

Selecting or designing a layout plan is primarily about the amount of space you have and the most interesting layout you want to create. At some point early in the design, you might even have an idea of what industry, period, or area you want to model. When it comes to reality, though, all layouts are compromises of some kind. The real world doesn’t always fit into a 1:160 box, so we have to make adjustments.

You will also want to decide which manufacturer or brand of track you want to use throughout your model railroad layout. It would be best to decide on one brand and stick with that track manufacturer during the construction process. Although mixing brands can work in some instances, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially when you consider how important the N scale track will be to your layout. If the trains keep derailing, then that can spoil all the fun, and risk damaging your valuable locomotives, rolling stock, structures, or scenery. Having a $200 locomotive roll off the rails and crash on to the tiled floor is not particularly exciting.

N scale manufacturers include: Bachmann, Peco, Athearn, Atlas, Red Caboose, Kato, Model Power, Finescale, Life Like, DeLuxe Innovations, Micro Trains, Graham Farish, Hornby, Con Cor, Arnold, Unitrack, Fleischmann, Minitrix, and Intermountain. Prices, specification, and quality does differ so it is advised to look around and consider all the alternatives.

peco n gauge track

Peco N Gauge Track Turnout

Also realize that each model railroader has his or her own preferences or dislikes. Just because someone has had a derailment or electrical problems with one particular brand of track, it doesn't necessarily mean you will have the same problems. My advice is to be wary reading too much on some model railroad forums as personal opinions and experiences can often overtake the facts. The particular modeler might have dirty track or unrealistically tight curves which could be causing the problem. It may not be a fault of the track manufacturer.

Also, the biggest manufacturers typically get the most complaints because they sell the most products so are more likely to be criticised. It doesn't mean that because manufacturer “A” gets 25 complaints, and manufacturer “B” gets 150, that manufacturer “B” sells inferior quality model railroading products. The 150 complaints company “B” gets might represent a smaller percentages of complaints in relation to sales than company “B” makes every year.

Kato N Scale Track – Kato UNITRACK

This can be utilized in almost any N gauge layout situations – small or large, modular or permanent. N scale Unitrack is ideal for “newbies” to this great hobby as it is proven to be extremely reliable so avoids much of the frustration and the disappointment that can occur when trains derail or there are electrical problems on the track. However, this Kato track is not just for beginners… far from it. Kato track is also the preferred choice for many highly experienced model railroaders who want the reliability and flexibility of a busy always changing staging yard.

Model Train Resources

N scale book

Getting Started In
N Scale Model Railroading

Click Here To Watch Video


N scale Track Plans

Space Saving
From Plan To Performance

Click Here To Watch Video

KATO even offer packages complete with N scale track plans and enough track to complete a layout. The Kato packages do not include any of the scenery, buildings, locomotives, or other rolling stock. It’s just the Kato n scale track and layout drawings that are included in the packs I have seen. Kato trains, track and accessories are available from model railroad hobby shops.

n scale layouts

N scale track plans on 4 x 8 baseboards are a popular choice with railroaders worldwide.

n scale track layouts book

Download N Scale Track Plans Book

n scale layouts book 

Download N Scale Train Layouts Book

Connecting Kato Unitrack to other brands is possible. The N scale track is compatible with the standard sectional track. For around $30 (at time of writing this) you can get a Unitrack small oval set (N CV-1) that makes an oval complete with 6" track curves and 4 7/8" (124mm) straight pieces. This N scale Kato track set includes feeder track and a rerailer. Unitrack ballast (#24-039) can be used to help blend another brand of track into the Kato Unitrack without the difference being noticeable.

If you use Kato Unitrack with the built-in roadbed you won’t need to lay cork strips to support the track. This kato track also incorporates plug in wiring so soldering extension cables is not required as they can be bought with the connectors already installed.

Atlas N Scale Track

Atlas also has a range of N scale track suitable for beginners and advanced model railroaders. N scale Code 80 track is particularly popular and has been so for more than 30 years. The Atlas track has nickel silver rails and black ties.

In case you weren’t certain, the track code represents the height of the rail (in thousandths of an inch).  So code 83 rail for example is .083-inch high; code 80 rail is therefore .80-inch high.

If you are searching the internet for code 80 track then you'll find the Atlas item numbers range from item # 2500 through to item # 2754. The thing to remember is the radius needs to be measured right to the rail center.

  • (item 2500) Super Flex 30 inch Track Section
  • (item 2501) 5inch Straight Track - 6 pieces
  • (item 2509) Straight Track Assortment
  • (item 2510) 9-3/4 inch Radius Track - 6 pieces
  • (item 2511) 1/2 9 3/4 inch Radius Track - 6 pieces
  • (item 2513) 5 inch Straight Tracks
  • (item 2514) 9-3/4 inch Radius Tracks
  • (item 2515) 11 inch Radius Tracks
  • (item 2516) 19 inch Radius
  • (item 2517) Rerailer
  • (item 2520) 11 inch Radius Track - 6 pieces
  • (item 2521) 1/2 11 inch Radius Track - 6 pieces
  • (item 2526) 19 inch Radius Track - 6 pieces
  • (item 2532) Rerailer Track - 3 pieces
  • (item 2535) Rail Joiners - 48 pieces
  • (item 2536) Bumpers - 2 pieces
  • (item 2538) Plastic Joiners - 24 pieces
  • (item 2539) Terminal Joiners
  • (item 2564) 15 degree crossing
  • (item 2565) 20 degree crossing
  • (item 2566) 30 degree crossing
  • (item 2567) 45 degree crossing
  • (item 2568) 60 degree crossing
  • (item 2569) 90 degree crossing
  • (item 2588) N Scenic Track
  • (item 2700) Standard Switch Remote - Left
  • (item 2701) Standard Switch Remote - Right
  • (item 2702) Manual Standard Switch - Left
  • (item 2703) Manual Standard Switch - Right
  • (item 2704) #6 Turnout -- Remote Left
  • (item 2705) #6 Turnout -- Remote Right
  • (item 2706) #6 Turnout -- Manual Left
  • (item 2707) #6 Turnout -- Manual Right
  • (item 2708) Standard Wye - Remote Switch
  • (item 2709) Standard Wye - Manual Switch
  • (item 2715) Remote Switch Machine - Left
  • (item 2716) Remote Switch Machine - Right
  • (item 2750) Standard Custom Switch - Left
  • (item 2751) Standard Custom Switch - Right
  • (item 2752) #6 Turnout -- Custom Left
  • (item 2753) #6 Turnout -- Custom Right
  • (item 2754) Standard Wye - Custom Line

How many track pieces do you require for an N scale circle?

atlas n scale track

Atlas N Scale Code 55 track features some differences when compared to the Atlas Code 80 track. The differences you’ll see are designed to make the code 55 track more prototypical. This Atlas track features fine brown ties with smaller rails than the Atlas Code 80 tracks. Some model railroaders with older style rolling stock could notice some minor problems with the Code 55 track if the wheels do not meet NMRA standards. This can be fixed by fitting the rolling stock with low profile wheel sets (Atlas #22134).

Another option to consider is the Atlas N scale Code 65 rail. It is smaller than a lot of other track on the market so looks very realistic yet allows most cars to operate without problems. The tie spacing matches US prototypes, and has a mottled highlight with dark brown ties. It even includes ballasted roadbed. Bachmann EZ track is another option for the N scale railroader to consider. 

Peco N Gauge Track in Standard Gauge and Narrow Gauge

Peco has a range of N Track in standard gauge and in narrow gauge. To give you a brief idea they have a wide range of standard N gauge track for different uses. For example; item SL-E399F is a 3 way asymmetric turnout. It features two turnouts in the one piece of trackwork. This piece of Peco N gauge track is handy for positioning near railway stations and yards, or wherever the space might be limited limited (which is the case on many layouts). This N gauge Peco track comes in a 6 inch (153mm) length for an 18 inch (457mm) nominal radius (each side) and a 10 degree crossing angle. Other Peco n gauge track items include: SL385 3 3/8inch catch turnout (Insulfrog), ST51 crossing, ST50 crossing, SLE387 curved double radius turnout (Electrofrog), SLE390F 10 degree double slip track (Electrofrog), ST11 double straight n gauge track.

Remember to download the two excellent N scale books that are featured above.