For would-be Gullivers, N scale model trains from Athearn, Atlas, Bachmann, Kato, and others are a terrific way to go. Just as HO scale model trains are half the size of O scale trains, N scale model trains are half the size of HO, measuring between 1/148 and 1/160 the size of their real-life counterparts (the exact proportion depends on the country you live in or the manufacturer who made the model train). One thing is standard, though, and that is the gauge of the track, which is always 9mm wide.
N scale trains are most popular in Japan, no doubt owing to the premium put on real estate in that island nation. Most Japanese N scale trains are 1/150 the size of the real trains running on the real 3-foot, 6-inch narrow-gauge train tracks there. Models of Shinkansen (bullet trains), however, are 1/160 scale.
In England, a ratio of 1:148 is typical, although some N scale trains are 1:152. These latter models are understandably confused with the vintage Lone Star OOO scale trains that had the same scale.
Space alone is not the reason to choose N scale over HO scale. Many collectors have plenty of room to house their passions, so collecting at N scale simply allows those lucky folks to amass twice as many examples in N scale as they could in HO.
Unlike O scale, standard scale, and HO scale, some of which have been around for a full century, N scale only came into prominence in the 1960s. While the relative youth of the collectible limits the vintage value of N scale trains, it does mean that N scale collectors can generally mix and match components—standards were agreed upon early by manufacturers, making the interchangeability of many parts viable. Just having standard gauge tracks is an enormous help.
The downside of this rush to standardization was that one manufacturer, Arnold, was given the right to produce the N scale’s standard coupling, the Rapido. Not surprisingly, competitors were loathe to steer their customers to Arnold’s coupler, so they developed couplers of their own, even though Arnold owned the patent.
As it turned out, the Rapido did not work very well for automatic uncoupling and it was a bit bulky relative to the N scale’s diminutive size. Today, most serious N scale collectors prefer the magnetic knuckle couplers produced by Micro Trains.
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Recent News: N Scale Model Trains
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Holiday schedule set for model train displayGettysburg Times, October 29th
The largest display, featuring "O," "HO" and "N" scale trains, is in the Harmony Ridge Community Center basement. A single large layout for "O" trains is in the Gallery Lounge of the Health Care Center/Main Building. The Gallery Lounge is immediately...Read more
Saturday essay: The trolley busTribune-Review, October 24th
The junior engineer imagineering has begun anew in the basement workshop. That's where the massive 8-line N-scale train platform has been moved to begin work on updates in advance of its third Christmastime “run.” But first, there will be some ...Read more
WEEKEND: Model train show, swap meet set Saturday, Sunday in SequimPeninsula Daily, October 17th
Children's train set. Children can run an electric train on a 12-foot-by-6-foot track. Brio wooden trains will be available for the very young, Stripp said. New this year will be a 9-foot-by-3-foot N-scale track. Modeled after a Japanese bullet train...Read more
A duo for the railroadSequim Gazette, October 15th
As model railroaders, Darlene and her husband Gary converted a portion of their Carlsborg home's three-car garage into one-part train set, another part art studio and another wood shop. Darlene said she willingly gave up her parking space though. “I...Read more
Trip Report: 2014 Maker Faire New YorkThe Gadgeteer, October 5th
Every year since 2011, my boyfriend and I enjoy going to Maker Faire in Queens, NY. Maker Faire is a large family friendly, creative, tech-influenced event that is held in multiple cities around the US and globally. We love to see the inventions and...Read more
St. Lawrence Valley train expo draws all walks of lifeWatertownDailyTimes.com, September 28th
In addition to the approximately 15 vendors, Norwood Model Railroad Club President James M. Shaw said there were eight types of running train sets laid out ranging in size from an “N” scale, the smallest set, to an “O” scale, the largest. “So...Read more
Tiny trains part of Old 97 Rail DaysGoDanRiver.com, September 28th
Tom Kaeser, of Ashland, watches his sections of N-scale model trains at the Pepsi Building during Old 97 Rail Days over the weekend. Previous Next. Rail Days 2. Denice Thibodeau/Register & Bee ...Read more