Beginners guide to n scale model trains

Updated February 21, 2017

N-Scale model railroading is modelling on the small scale. Using 1:160 proportions, N-Scale modelling allows you to build your model world in a scale small enough to fit a full sized train set on a coffee table. Building at N-Scale, you can fully enjoy the hobby of model railroading regardless of how little space you may have available.

N-Scale Advantages

The greatest advantage to the N-Scale model train set is its small size. Build in N-Scale for two reasons; if your available space is limited, or if you want to do more with the space you have. N-Scale models are built precisely to scale, using as much detail as possible. Keep in scale when building your train set-up and you will find that everything fits together perfectly, from the scenery to the trains. While N-Scale began in the 1960s as a toy train set-up, thanks to serious hobbyists, the scale includes the same quality as larger scaled setups. Expect to pay the price for that quality though, as N-Scale setups can cost as much as larger scaled trains in the upper end of the quality spectrum.

Getting Started

Find the nearest model railroad hobby shop and take a look around at everything they have to offer in the scale. Ask questions of the owner, and check out an N-Scale railroading magazine or two for ideas. Plan out your railroad set-up before you purchase you first model for the best chances at success.

Mix and match component manufacturers when purchasing the parts for your railroad. Since the scale is set, the models for different manufacturers will interconnect. This gives you a great deal of freedom when building your model. Purchase track, a train and a power supply to start with. These are the basic components you'll need no matter what your ultimate building plans may be. For a less expensive entry option get a complete train set that comes with all necessary components included. That kind of set is likely to include those models and equipment of lesser quality.

Setting up

Since the scale is small, you shouldn't need much space depending on your set-up. A tabletop layout, a shelf layout, or a bench-top system might be right for you. You'll have to modify the set-up surface, so choose a surface that you can easily drill through to run the wiring necessary to power your electrical railroad elements.

A tabletop layout can be the smallest set-up of all, and is easily accessible. If you have a bit more room, a bench-top arrangement can be built on a series of connected bench-work. Use bench-work if you want your set-up to be something other than a square or rectangular shape. Build a shelf layout to spread your set-up out along the walls while still taking up little room. With a shelf layout you can even create railroads that climb up your walls for multiple levels, using the corners of your room for turning space and inclines. Mount your track to your chosen surface and connect power to the track layout.

N-Scale is a commonly used scale for model trains and has a large range of accessories available in terms of buildings, scenery, human figures and extra trains. Start small. Build a small layout to begin with, from track to scenery, then move onto larger projects.

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About the Author

Larry Simmons is a freelance writer and expert in the fusion of computer technology and business. He has a B.S. in economics, an M.S. in information systems, an M.S. in communications technology, as well as significant work towards an M.B.A. in finance. He's published several hundred articles with Demand Studios.