Everyone has some type of memory from their childhood about model scale trains that has stayed with them into their adult years. For some of us these memories were so strong that they served as the motivation for becoming model railroaders, and not unlike myself, have happily invested both time and money building their model train empires.
One of the first things that you discover when researching the amazing hobby of model trains is that there are a number of scales to choose from. You’ll also realize early on that many people confuse the meaning of scale versus gauge.
If in fact you’re a little confused about the difference between the two, just remember that scale is represented in fractional form, and it expresses the difference in size between the model and the real life prototype. For example, the Ho scale model is 1/87th the size of it’s real counterpart.
Another way to understand this fractional representation is in knowing that the Ho train is actually eighty seven times larger than the model.
One of the most important and controlling factors that comes into play when deciding on what type of scale to include in your model train layout is the amount of space you realistically have available. If you have a rather large area to work with your fortunate because many hobbyist are limited to confining spaces that dictate the size of their empire. One of the fringe benefits in having a larger area to display your trains is that it will allow you to select more than one type of scale if you so choose.
Knowing that there are quite a few scales to choose from doesn’t make the task of deciding which of them you would prefer to build your layout around any easier. I’ve elected to describe a few of them that are among the most popular to further aid you with this decision.
HO Model Scale – As previously mentioned this scale is 1/87th the size of it’s real life prototype, and frequently is the modelers scale of choice. The reason for this lies in the fact that many manufacturers carry this scale, and it is well known for it’s exactness in detail, and for having a wide assortment of accessories to choose from.
N Scale Model Trains – This scale is the perfect choice if you have a limited amount of space because it is 1/160th the size of it’s prototype. Although diminutive in size it is still well known as a scale that presents exacting detail in it’s appearance, and most importantly this small scale will allow you to build as grand a layout as you please. If there is a drawback with this scale it is that smaller scales can be difficult to handle and this is especially so for children.
G Scale Model Trains – This scale is well known for it’s durability and is the perfect choice for those hobbyist who would like to set up an outdoor layout which is more commonly referred to as “garden railroading.”
Z Scale Model Trains – This scale is 1/220 the size of the real life train and if you have a small area for your layout and the N scale won’t work for you, the Z scale certainly will because it is 220 times smaller than the real version.
These are just a small sample of the various scales but should give you a good head start when your trying to decide on the type of scale you would like to include in your model train layout.
Because there are many other scales I really couldn’t cover them all in this article.