HO scale model trains are 1/87 the size of real trains and 1/2 the size of O scale model trains (HO stands for "half O"). As with O scale trains, the letter "O" in HO is a misnomer since the designation was initially conceived as a zero to identify trains that were smaller in scale than 1. But the use of the letter O rather than the numeral 0 crept into everyday speech among model-train buffs and remains the standard way to refer to HO scale today.

Though first invented in the 1930s, HO scale model trains didn’t become popular in the U.S. and Europe until the 1950s when the scale was heavily promoted by Märklin, Lionel, Athearn, and others. HO never quite gained acceptance in England, though, where larger 00 scale trains still predominate.

HO has two important benefits over trains of larger sizes. First, an HO scale layout of reasonably ambitious detail and complexity can fit on a table rather than requiring an entire room, as is the case with larger scales. Second, HO trains are less expensive to manufacture than OO, O, and other large-scale trains, which makes them more affordable to collectors and enthusiasts alike.

Most HO scale trains run on two-rail tracks using direct current (DC). Adjusting the voltage delivered to the tracks can increase or decrease the speed of the trains; reversing the polarity causes the trains to roll in reverse. Some manufacturers, notably Märklin, produce HO scale trains that operate on alternating current (AC), which is delivered to the train via a conductive third rail.

The gauge used by the majority of HO scale model trains is a standard HO gauge track that’s roughly proportional to the size of the trains running on top of it. But as with the OO scale trains in England that run on HO gauge tracks, HO scale trains are also made to run on a variety of different gauge tracks, which themselves are scaled-down versions of historical railroad track sizes.

Of these variants, the most common is called HOn3. This code denotes an HO scale train running on a track similar to the 3-foot, narrow gauge tracks used by Rocky Mountain railroad operators in the late 19th century.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of HO for collectors is the opportunity to join a local module club. Members of such clubs build modules of predetermined size; each module has a finite length of track. When members get together at model train exhibitions or in private homes, the modules are linked up and trains are run on the resulting massive layout, which often feels like more than just the sum of its parts.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

HOseeker.net

HOseeker.net

This site is a treasure trove of HO scale model railroad manufacturer catalogs and other reference information, inv… [read review or visit site]

Airfix Model Railways

Airfix Model Railways

Dave McCarthy's Airfix Model Railway treasure trove is an in-depth archive of the company's plastic railway kits fr… [read review or visit site]

Gateway NMRA

Gateway NMRA

This great reference site for model railroaders, from the Gateway (St. Louis) division of the NMRA (National Model … [read review or visit site]

Postwar Lionel Trains Library

Postwar Lionel Trains Library

Bernie Schulz’s Lionel Trains Library focuses exclusively on postwar Lionel trains and accessories. The site cont… [read review or visit site]

Eric's Trains

Eric's Trains

Eric Siegel's site displays his collection of O-gauge/O-scale trains, tracks, turntables, and other accessories. A … [read review or visit site]

Tech Model Railroad Club of MIT

Tech Model Railroad Club of MIT

MIT's model railroad club, as one might expect, has one of the best websites for learning about how people play wit… [read review or visit site]



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Recent News: HO Scale Model Trains

Source: Google News

St. Lucie County Community Calendar
TCPalm, April 29th

Sanctuary4kids Awareness Breakfast/National Crime Victims' Rights Week: Hosted by Guardians for New Futures and Devereux CBC. 9 a.m. April 29. Children's Services Council SLC, 546 N.W. University Blvd., Suite 201 (Kathy Basile Training Center), Port ...Read more

Cotton Belt Train Show set for this weekend
Tyler Morning Telegraph, April 28th

When the new 13- by 11-foot model train display is completed at the Cotton Belt Depot Museum, visitors will have an aerial view of East Texas. The display - which is partially complete and began construction in October - features brick streets, rolling...Read more

As I See It: Adair Village anxious to expand at the cost of the railroad
Corvallis Gazette Times, April 28th

After acquiring and modifying the service station in 1973, the club started construction of its HO-Gauge model train layout. The city wasn't incorporated until 1976. The train layout is a living, working, historical model of the local railroad from...Read more

Train Museum Grand Opening Is This Weekend
The Missourian, April 27th

Iron Spike Model Train Museum, 1498 High St., Washington, will hold a grand opening this Saturday, April 30, with trains running in the showroom and the museum from at 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Thomas the Train room also will be open during those hours...Read more

Fiddlers Grove Train Museum starts Model Train Club
Lebanon Democrat, April 26th

This will be an all-scale model railroad club. Currently, the Fiddlers Grove Train Museum has an extensive “O” gauge layout and a small “H O” scale layout with plans to expand the “HO” track. The club will be open to anyone interested in model train...Read more

Model railroad exhibit on display at McPherson Museum
McPherson Sentinel, April 21st

Starting in a shop on Main Street in McPherson in the 1980s, the model train display's modular elements moved from building to building before finally connecting at the McPherson Museum this month. This bit of moving history will be on display in the...Read more

Club has scale model railroad comin' 'round the bend
Leader-Telegram, April 4th

Don Townsend has been collecting HO scale model engines and rail cars for years, but the Eau Claire resident doesn't have his own layout featuring tracks, scenery and buildings. But Townsend, a longtime member of the West Wisconsin Railroad Club, isn't ...Read more

Model train buffs to hold swap meet
The San Diego Union-Tribune, April 1st

1950s-era miniature (HO scale) replica of the Santa Fe train line from National City through Oceanside and Fallbrook then through Temecula Canyon to Colton in San Bernardino County. This was the actual route of the Santa Fe Railroad until the surf line...Read more