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N Scale Model Railroads Trains

A model railroad layout brings trains, track, industries, and stations into the home. Because homes contain smaller spaces for such fun, N scale becomes an ideal size for the hobby. The sheer number of locomotives, cars, accessory pieces, and scenery available in this scale offers something for beginners to advanced model makers.

How big are model trains in N scale?

An N scale train is sized at 1/160, which means that one scale foot equals 160 real-life feet. You can wrap your entire hand around a model locomotive because N scale locomotive models average about 3 or 4 inches long. In contrast, HO scale is at 1/87, which allows you to hold a locomotive in one hand, and O scale is at 1/48, which requires two hands to hold a locomotive. N scale easily allows you to put an entire railroad on a shelf. You can also run a longer train.

What do you buy to get started?

An easy way to get started is to buy a complete N scale train set that will typically contain a locomotive, several freight or passenger cars, enough track to make a complete loop, and a power pack. Such sets are easy to set up and let you have fun running a consist round and round. While a set can act as a foundation for a more advanced permanent layout, it’s generally designed to be temporary, so you can conveniently put it away when you’re done.

What’s the difference between DC and DCC?

A train set or locomotive may be unmarked or have the term DC, which stands for direct current. This means all the locomotives on the track get the same amount of power and run in the same direction. DC power is perfectly fine if you’re running just one train because it simplifies wiring and control.

DCC stands for digital command and control, which puts a computer chip inside the locomotive to regulate power and direction. DCC trains are more sophisticated in that you can have several locomotives running on the same track at different speeds and in different directions. In addition, trains can have special effects like lighting and sound. Some programming and wiring knowledge is needed to use DCC model trains.

How do you expand a set?

To advance in the hobby, you can expand your layout with more track, locomotives, cars, and accessory items. To narrow down your choices of what to buy, think about whether you want your model layout to focus on freight, passengers, or a bit of both. Think of the era and types of trains you want to run. Before the 1930s, trains ran on steam. From the 1930s to about the 1950s, both steam and diesel locomotives were used, and since the 1960s, diesel locos are in command. You can also decide on the areas and operations you want to model, such as hauling lumber from scenic forests to lumber mills or moving people from a small town to the big city.

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