Model Train Scales
Before you start with model trains and a model railroad, you have to make an important decision: Which model train scale are you going to use?
Your choice depends on the space you have available, how much detail you want to have, which brand you prefer, and how much you are willing to spend. Also, accessories such as stations, tunnels, bridges, mountains, houses, roads, and other landscape features all depend on which scale you are going to use. You want to know the train scale you are going to use before you purchase anything. Let’s go through the different sizes.
The scale is the size of a model train compared to the real train size.
The Model Train Scales
There are four popular model train scales:
G, O, HO, and N.
G scale has a ratio of 1:22 (this size is used for garden trains, there is also a 1:12 scale)
O scale has a ratio of 1:48 (In Europe the scale is 1:43; G and O are the larger scales)
HO scale has a ratio of 1:87 (HO stands for Half of O)
N scale has a ratio of 1:160 (half a size smaller then HO, in the UK the ratio is 1:144, in Japan the ratio is 1:150)
Not so popular are the I, S, TT, OO and the Z scale.
I scale has a ratio of 1:32
S scale has a ratio of 1:64
OO scale has a ratio of 1:76
TT scale has a ratio of 1:120
Z scale has a ratio of 1:220 (these are the smallest trains)
There is also T Gauge, with a scale ratio of 1:450, about half the size of Z scale.
The amount of space you have available, will very much determine which model train scale you are going to use.
If you don’t have much space, you are better of starting with the smaller scales like Z, N, or HO.
Most Popular Model Train Scale
The HO and O model train scale sizes are the most popular. There are a lot of interesting accessories available and plenty choice of locomotives. Getting parts or accessories is not hard at all. HO model trains have all the details of the bigger models, but are small enough to build a beautiful scenery around it. This model train size will fit in any scenery. HO scale model trains are for people who want to have the best realistic scenery and take their hobby to the next level. HO is the best model train scale size to start with.
N scale model trains don’t use up too much space, while having more detail on them than the smaller model trains. This size can be build in only 1/3 of the HO scale size and is right for people who don’t have a lot of space, but still want to have a vast layout with nice details.
The S scale is becoming more popular because it only needs 10 percent more space than the HO scale while it is just a little bit larger but got more detail.
The TT scale is doing well in Europe, while there are not many fans of this model train scale in the United States.
The Z scale model trains only need a small amount of space and is suited for small rooms or even a table top. Because of the size, these trains should not be used if you have little kids, because of the danger from swallowing them.