DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything through one of these links we will earn a commission.
When learning about the exciting world of model trains, hearing terms like “scale” and “gauge” from model train enthusiasts is kind of intimidating. You might be thinking that building model trains and scenery is way out of your league. But, as your love of trains grows so will your understanding of the terms used within the model train world.
When hobbyists are looking to set up the perfect layout with the perfect train running on it they first have to consider size. Model trains and train tracks are made by many different manufacturers in a variety of sizes. Luckily, with so many choices, you can find the one that is right for you.
In order to ensure any brand of train fitting on any brand of tracks, train makers make trains and tracks according to specific scale and gauge. When the model train hobbyists are talking about the scale of the train, they are talking about the size. Scale is exactly that, a scaled down replica of the life-size (or prototype) train. It is a ratio with different letters assigned to the scales to reflect the natural differences in ratio.
One of the smaller scale trains is the N scale train. When compared to the four most common trains, the N scale train comes in as the smallest. It has a ratio of 1:160. This means that the N scale train is 1/16 of the size of a full sized train. It is just slightly over one half of the size of the HO scale train. The HO train is the small size of 1/87. The HO scale train is perfect for the train lover that just does not have the space to use a larger scale train. It is also preferred by the train advocate that would prefer to have a large amount of scenery and background and a smaller train.
The N scale trains are built to take up a substantially lower amount of space but the details that are on these trains are stunning compared to some of the other trains. The train set creators that use smaller scale supplies and rail cars will find that they can maintain their creation easier and can add on to it much easier at a later time. If you love the look of the scenery, the smaller scale trains and tracks will make it stand out more than using the larger trains and tracks.
N scale trains were developed in the 1960s. They are much newer than the O scale, the standard scale, and the HO scale trains that have been around for an entire century. The N scale trains were named this because they are nine millimeter gauge. There is 9mm of space from one rail to the next on the track. The gauge is a term that is used to describe the distance that is found in between the rails of the track. The code tells people how high the rails are on the track.
N scale model trains are just one of the many different aspects of building model trains and scenery. It is entirely up to the train building to use whatever train size is best for them. No matter what the size of the train is, the thrill is all the same.
Welcome to N gauge model railways, an introduction for beginners!
This series is all about getting started in the wonderful world of N Gauge model trains. Collecting locomotives, buying a train set, and getting started on your 1st layout, there are so many possibilities. Enjoy!