N gauge trains


Make Your Layout More Interesting
By Researching N Gauge Track Plans

Guest Contributor: Ryan Watson

Track is arguably the most important element in any model railroad layout. It is the main attraction of your setup and therefore planning a track that keeps the viewer fascinated in your layout is absolutely necessary. Whether you are just a beginner or an experienced model railroad enthusiast, researching different track plan options will add life to your layout.

Since N gauge is one of the most popular scales, this article discusses different layout plans that you can use in your N scale model railroad.

The Small Oval N Gauge Track Plan for Beginners

An oval n gauge layout plan is one of the most basic and simple track plans to begin with. It takes minimum space in your railroad and is easier to start with. It can be as little as 46 inches x 25 inches, which makes it manageable. If you are only just starting the hobby then this is a great track to start with and can potentially be expanded as you progress.

There are certain modifications that you can add in your trackage to make it more interesting like adding sidings that run along the main train track or in the center. You can also improve the effects in your setup by simply designing a backdrop for your model railroad.

n gauge layout plans

The above configuration fits on a 2ft x 4ft baseboard.

Double Oval N Gauge Layout Plans

Adding another oval in your simple oval N model railroad track plan will make your layout a bit more interesting. It could be 70 inches x 28 inches with four turnouts that allow your train to move in two ovals.

Using two ovals in your track plan will allow you to add two trains in your railway that may move in different directions. Here you have the option of dividing the track electrically which will allow you to control both the trains separately.

N Gauge Plans With Sidings

Another track design option would be a layout with three siding and two turn points. The longest siding on the track could hold 5 wagons, whereas the other two sidings could accommodate 3 wagons each.
One thing that you should keep in mind while using a layout plan like this, is that the longest siding should be long enough to support the longest locomotive in your railroad. You could also add curves and then make the required changes to the track plan to add buildings, sceneries and other accessories in your setup.

Runaround Loop for an N Gauge Layout

Adding a runaround loop in your model railway will make it more interesting. However, adding a loop in your track will pose some wiring challenges. To park a locomotive in the extended loop you will have to wire it separately, which can be a bit challenging if you are not using digital command and control. Needless to say that the loop should fit your layout and should also be long enough to accommodate the locomotive that you are using in your model railway. Curves should not be too tight otherwise you could experience a lot of derailments.

There are other N gauge plans that you can add in your model train layout to make it more interesting and challenging. As you work with different tracks and gain more experience, working with different track configurations will not only become easier but it will also become more enjoyable. To make your railway setup more interesting you can add accessories and backdrop to add a touch of realism in your model.

N Scale Locomotives

N Gauge Railway Layouts

N Gauge Buildings

N Gauge Model Railway Layouts

N Scale Scenery

Small N Scale Layout

Is an N Gauge Railway Right for You?

Making the decision of which scale to model can be daunting. A simple loop of track in any scale would fit in most homes, but the attraction of having a train run around a simple loop fades quickly. Plans to expand the layout begin to form as soon as the modeling bug bites, which leads to the first conflict – where is this layout likely to be built? A roomy basement is the ideal location, but often the budding railroader will have to consider portability or restricted space. This is when the scale question becomes critical. Choosing a scale to model is a commitment well worth considering at length before the sawdust starts to fly.


HO-scale is the most popular modeling scale in the world today. There are literally thousands of products available in that scale, and the equipment and structures are convenient to work with for people with average skills. Putting derailed rolling stock back on the track is relatively easy, and the entry level cost is reasonable. HO-scale popularity notwithstanding, N-scale offers some distinct advantages. At half the size of HO-scale, the biggest draw for the modeler is the sheer amount of railroading that can be done in a relatively small space.


N-scale products began appearing in about 1962. The first locomotives were quite crude and ran poorly. As with most products, either consumer demand drives improvements or consumer apathy eliminates the product from the market. Fortunately, demand has driven huge improvements. It is now possible to buy N-scale products that are every bit as detailed and well-running as any other scale model. Kato, Athearn, and Micro-Trains manufacture beautifully detailed and superbly running locomotives and rolling stock.


For those so inclined, super-detailing parts are also available. A good magnifying headband, strong lighting, and a good set of small tools are necessary if a lot of N-scale detailing of rail equipment or structures is to be done. Working on N gauge track plans details is more challenging than a larger scale, but not difficult to master with the proper tools. Surprisingly detailed layouts have been created in about the space of a home coffee table.


As far as products are concerned, N-Gauge has a slightly smaller selection than HO. Some esoteric rolling stock only appears rarely, or is in limited production, but keeping an eye on places like eBay can often produce opportunities to acquire items that are rare and/or out of production. The pricing of N-scale equipment is about the same as HO-scale, so there’s no economy of miniaturization. N scale has benefited from the demand of being the second most popular modeling scale, but with demand goes price!


Read the two N gauge books featured above for some really helpful tips and ideas. One of the downloadable books covers getting started, scenery, structures etc., and the other one features a wide range of N gauge model railway track plans with parts lists.

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


Selecting Track

Once you decide on a layout plan and whether or not you are investing in a standard modular arrangement, the next decision you will make is just what railway track you will put down. There are details in other resources regarding the meaning of “code” types in different rail scales, and a Google search will give more information on the subject that you probably want to know. As you progress in your modeling, you will certainly come to choose a size of rail that suits you best, however actually laying the rails falls in the category of ‘rail code independent’ methods.

Track falls into three general types: sectional track, flex track, and hand laid rail. Hand laying rail is an advanced technique and beyond the scope of this webpage, but it does have the advantage of being exceptionally realistic if done correctly. Hand laying is most common in HO and larger scales.

Sectional Track

Sectional track is found in straight and fixed radius curved pieces of various lengths as well as special arrangements such as crossovers, turnouts, slip switches, re-railers, and siding bumpers. Sectional track is easy to work with, but tends to end up with gaps or overlaps when trying to create an irregular or free-form rail arrangement.

Sectional track sections are short; straight sections are usually less than 12 inches in length, and can be found in various stock length pieces. Curved sections are available in a variety of radii and lengths as well.

Flex Track

Flex track has to be one of the greatest model railroad developments in history. Where the sectional track has both rails that are firmly fixed to the tie webbing, sectional track has one rail that is only loosely attached and slides easily within the webbing attachment so that the track can be shaped into any radius curve or bent around objects easily.

Sectional track is usually found in 30 inch N gauge lengths, 36 inch HO-scale lengths, 40 inch O-scale lengths, and is typically cut to fit with a special rail cutting tool that looks like a pair of side cutting pliers.

Most serious modelers find that flex track makes for much less work in the long run. Curves of any radius are easy to do, although you may want to take the time to draw the curve radius with a compass made from an old yard- or meter-stick.

There is a an advanced technique for installing flex track on a layout. Some modelers pull out half of the moveable part of the rail and trim so that the rail joints are staggered and not both at the end of the section. This is a very good practice, but it also requires a good deal of care to get the bare rail from the adjacent section properly placed back in the tie web and to make the joint true and without a kink. It may also be difficult to accomplish this on a curved section, so if you want to use the technique it would be wise to practice on some flex track sections before you get to the point of laying your track for good.

One last tip with flex track. When creating curves, make sure the sliding rail is on the inside of the curve! 


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