13/04/2024

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Small Model Train Layouts Are Your Best Friend In Close Quarters

3 min read
Small Model Train Layouts Are Your Best Friend In Close Quarters

Small model train layouts are the best for small spaces and tighter budgets, however, more precision is required with construction and operation. Selection of scale and track gauge is most important for having a smaller model railroad setup.

Recommended sizes for small model train layouts:

• Arguably the most popular size in the modeling world is HO, which stands for half of the O scale. HO has the ratio of 1:87.1 compared to the real train that is being modeled. HO is the most popular because it is the target area between size, space, and price. In the UK OO gauge (1:176) is very popular as it is similar in scale to HO scale. This size model isn’t too small to work with, but it isn’t too large that it is overbearing to everything around it. With the HO scale you can get complex without paying too much. The larger in scale you go, the more you can expect to pay.

• A smaller scale down from HO is the N scale, which has the ratio of 1:160. This scale is nearly twice as small as HO, therefore producing a scale model that is a little more difficult to work with and requires more intricate design and methodical approach. If you simply are not exact enough, you should most likely steer away from scales below HO. N scale is perfect for smaller areas to build in. You can still have an extensive layout, but in half of the space as HO scales.

• TT scale (1:120) is halfway between HO scale and N scale trains. TT scale is regarded as a niche scale, so the range of accessories and parts is more limited than with the more popular scales. TT is short for Table Top.

• Z scales trains (1:220) are even smaller, and if you want something really tiny, you might want to consider Z trains.

• T scale trains are the smallest of small. At just 1:450 scale a T scale train can sit on your finger. They have magnetic wheels and can climb grades as steep as 45 degrees.

Recommended track sizes for small model train layouts:

• For the HO and N scales listed above there are corresponding track sizes. Track sizes are listed as codes which correlate to the height of the track in thousandths of an inch. So for example, code 100 means.1 inches high of railing.

• HO scale uses several size tracks. A few of them include code 100, code 83, code 70, and code 55. Therefore the heights for your HO scale railing can be.1 inches,.083 inches,.07 inches, and.055 inches. The certain height within your scale really depends on what you are modeling and what each manufacturer provides for that model, so pay close attention to these details.

• N scale uses fewer tracks. The two that are recommended are 80 and 55, meaning a height of.08 and.055 inches for the railing. Recognize that you can use these size railings for HO scale too. So if you have built one or the other with similar heights, you should be able to move between the two scales with some ease.

• Track codes also correlate to the weight of the railing. Each railing that is being modeled has a specific weight that models specific trains that would run on that type of railing. The weight of your railing really depends on what train you are modeling and your preference of weight. You can interchange many of the weights; it just depends on your opinion.

The pros to having a smaller layout:

• Obviously the one thing that you are considering is the amount of space you have to utilize. Smaller layouts are definitely recommended for close quarters, and for hobbyists who simply want a smaller layout and one that is possibly more detailed.

• Price is going to be cheaper than larger scale projects. The smaller the materials the less the manufacturers have to put in to making the products. Thus the products are cheaper to produce and cheaper to purchase. However, scales like HO and N are very popular so the production runs are greater, which produce economies for the manufacturer and a better selection for the train hobbyist. So if you go with a small model train layout, you will be looking at saving a little bit of cash.

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