HO vs N. A devastating comparison

The last few days I spent a quite some time with track planning. I planned two very comparable layouts, based on Palmetto by Lance Mindheim. My first version is in HO. As I am used to this scale and I was pretty sure that this is the scale to go. Then I tried the same (or similar) in N scale. There are #10 turnouts available for the Atlas code 55 track. Awesome!

The result is devastating. I created a N scale version that is 25 % shorter and uses only 60 % of the real estate. Additionally it uses #10 turnouts instead of #8. The scene has a much more generous look and might cope with more rolling stock without unrealistically cluttered.

Switching layout like Lance Mindheims Palmetto in HO and N-Scale compared.
Switching layout like Lance Mindheims Palmetto in HO and N-Scale compared.

I am now in a scale-selection-crisis. I have excluded N scale due to my crafting skills – or better the lack of them. I thought my space would allow my to create some interesting HO scale layouts and operations. I’m sure it does. But I must acknowledge that I like the Idea of this spacious scenery and “tiny” trains a lot. I will visit a FREMO americaN meet in two weeks and hope to experience some nice, prototypical operations. I will have a look at the models and their quality. My kids will accompany me and their opinion will certainly be part of my considerations. That might tip me over in the either or other direction scale.

One Reply to “HO vs N. A devastating comparison”

  1. This is so funny since I’ve been battling the same thoughts for years. I had HO as a kid but went with N as an adult simply because I could build an empire in a smaller space. I had no limitations on how much space I had but really liked how N looked.
    Well the empire never got built and after a year of doing nothing, I decided to start once again. This time I was going to try HO, even though N was still tugging at me. I went to train shops and looked at the HO stuff. It looked gigantic! So back home to do more thinking, then back to another shop for more looking. Finally I decided to just try something different and go with HO. So back to the store, and this time I came home with a piece of Atlas track and a used boxcar. I put them in my room and the more I looked at them, the more I liked the HO. I was over how big they seemed. I bet if I started with O, the HO would seem tiny.
    Anyway, I’m now in the planning stage and still don’t have any space limitations. But I’m glad I finally made a decision and feel good about doing HO. Yes it won’t have as much stuff per square foot and the trains won’t be as long as N. But there is so much more available in HO and now the size seems right. Plus there’s nothing to say you couldn’t run both scales on your layout.
    Coming from someone who can never make up my mind, I’d say get a few pieces of each scale and set them up. Then see which one your tend to favor. I know your post is old but maybe this’ll help.

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