N Is The New Normal

When I was a child I had an HO trainset. My father was kind enough to build a 5 x 9 table set on sawhorses, and I set up the tracks and built structures to the best of my ability. It wasn’t scale modeling by any means, but it kept me entertained.

Fast-forward 40 years.

After armchairing for the best part of 20 years, I decided to jump in and actually build something. It’s tiresome watching others have fun when you’re aching to take part. The thing is, what you want to do, and what you can actually do may not be the same.

The boiling point was reached in December 2014, when I decided that I had the desire and wherewhithal to build a scale model railroad. This blog details that process. Its been a whale of a lot of fun. Every day I work on the railroad I learn something, and I look forward to time on the layout. But there’s a slight hitch.

No secret to most readers, but eyesight isn’t the same in your 50’s as it was in your 20’s. I’d love to model in HO or larger. But space constraints dictate N-scale. It’s small. I’ve noticed that one becomes accustomed to the scale, and scales larger appear absolutely huge. HO is about twice as large, but takes up four times the volume.

I appreciate N-scale for the operational aspects: I’ve packed a lot of railroading into 2 1/2 x 4 feet without looking too crowded, and the scenery aspect ration is hard to beat, but I’d love be able to see what I’m doing most of the time.

There’s also the equipment problem. While manufacturers have well supplied N-scale modelers, there are some gaps. I’m looking to model the Milwaukee Road’s Snoqualmie Pass operations for my next layout, and nearly everything will have to be scratch-built or kitbashed. As the Northern Pacific Project progresses, I find that I enjoy scratch-building, but doing it for rolling stock in N-scale is a whole different kettle of fish.

I find that overall I prefer N-scale. I’d model in S if I had the space, but for the space most modelers have, N is preferable. It’s small, it’s hard to see what you’re doing, it’s hard to make tonnage look real, but if you can pull it off, the rewards are satisfying.

 

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