There are a multitude of
gauges or scales in the world of the model railway hobbyist. What makes the N
gauge railway layouts special? The world of model trains includes different
scales and gauges including N, HO, O, OO, G, S, Z, G1 and TT. So why would one
stand out over any other? What is special about the N gauge?
First of all just what is
the scale of a model railroad train mean? Basically it means the size of the
train in relation to a real actual train. The N scale is 1:160, which means the
model is 160 times smaller than the actual train. In the HO scale, the model is
1:148 or 148 times smaller than the actual train. The G scale is often referred
to as the Garden Scale because it can use outside in a garden as it is 1:122 to
1:129 or 122 times smaller than the actual train.
From this you can tell that
the N scale is smaller than any of these other scales. It is not however the
smallest of all scales as the Z scale is 220 times smaller than the actual
train. The Z scale trains are known as micro trains because they are so small.
They are too small for younger children and some older folks to deal
The three most popular
scales for model train layouts among the train enthusiasts are the N gauge, HO
scale, and OO gauge in the UK. The O gauge is also well known in the United
States because of the popularity of Lionel trains.
Clearly one of the most
popular is the N gauge. What makes N scale popular is specifically the size as
you can fit a much larger layout into a very small space. N scale is perfect
for those who have very little space to use for their layout or they don’t want
to use much.
If you like a model train
layout with many different types of scenery, towns and countryside, or housing
editions and you love a long train, and then N gauge is the scale for you. You
can make an empire with an N gauge railway layout with twenty or thirty cars
attached to your engine. The American market was introduced to this scale by
the Arnold Company in the mid-1960s.
Because of the smaller size
of the N scale trains, they are not recommended for young children or toddlers.
They are very popular in Europe and Japan where residential spaces are so much
smaller than in the US. They are still very popular in the US as well. Recently
Australia has jumped into the fray of N Gauge trains and their popularity is
skyrocketing there too.
With standards for this
gauge set by the National Model
Railway Association of North America and MOROP in n Europe, there
is much consistency across the different manufacturers of these models. One
of the most popular layouts for N scale trains was constructed in the late
seventies by Gorden Odegard. This layout is thirteen feet by six feet and is
made of Styrofoam and aluminum in modules. Because of the Styrofoam this
large layout is very lightweight. It was considered to be innovative and
creative because of the materials used to make it. There are more N gauge
layouts in public settings and museums around the world than any other scale
Despite the efforts of
NMRANA and MOROP among others to completely standardize the gauge, there are
still variations in the train sets depending upon the country that manufactured
them. In Japan the N gauge scale is one to one hundred fifty while in Europe
the same N scale is one to one hundred and sixty.
Regardless of the standards
if you don’t have a lot of space and you want a train layout, your best bet is
the N scale model railroads.