Space Needed for N Scale Layout

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NorEasterNick
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Location: South Jersey

Space Needed for N Scale Layout

Post by NorEasterNick » Fri Nov 29, 2013 1:57 pm

Hello All,

After debating for a week whether to get back into HO or go a different route, N Scale due to less space being taken up.. I chose to do the latter... Yeah I love the look of the HO trains but in reality I don't really want to take up a whole 4 x 8 section of my living room..my question:

What is an average layout for N Scale? I'd like to do maybe 4 foot x 5 foot? Whats the minimum to have a decent looking layout? I want to run both freight and passenger. Like HO, do passenger cars require a larger radius?

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
"NorEaster" Nick Pittman
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For up-to-minute Weather Information you can follow my discussions at www.facebook.com/noreasternick

Desertdweller
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Re: Space Needed for N Scale Layout

Post by Desertdweller » Fri Nov 29, 2013 4:12 pm

Nick,

Welcome to the Forum!

I've been a model railroader since 1968 and a full-size railroader since 1973. In 1979, I switched from HO to N, mostly for space reasons.

Here is what I found: As a general rule of thumb, a given track plan can be built in N-scale in about 1/4 the space needed for HO. So, theoretically at least, a 4x8' HO railroad could be duplicated in N in 2x4'. As with all model railroads, curve radius is the controlling factor (assuming you want a continuous run capability).

As you probably know, HO scale is 1/87 and N scale is 1/160. So the size ratio between the scale is about 2:1.

The smallest common HO commercial track (Atlas) radius is 18" radius. The smallest common N commercial track (Atlas) is 9 3/4" radius, or (Bachmann) 11 1/2" radius. You will need a little extra width of your layout base to allow overhang of cars and locos.

If this is the case, why doesn't one see a lot of 2x4' N-scale railroads?

Because that would pretty much be the minimum size for a railroad that could do more than simply allow the train to go around and around. And because, even if 4x8' is a generally accepted minimum size (actually some are built 4x6'), most people have more space available than 2x4', even if they don't have 4x8'.

This also helps explain why Z-scale (1/220) is not more popular as a space-saver. Z-scale track curves are very close to N-scale radius. So a Z-scale railroad isn't a great space-saver compared to N, although the models themselves are much smaller.

Something you want to consider is how you would locate your railroad in your room. 4x5' would give you a good-sized railroad in N, but 4' is too far to be able to stand in front of the railroad and reach across, so you would have to butt the 4' side against a wall and have access to three sides, unless you were to make the whole thing free standing.

You may want to consider a dog-bone shaped railroad, with wider portions on the ends to turn your trains on.

Like you suspect, N-scale passenger cars require larger radius curves than HO cars do. My own railroad is passenger-oriented, and uses 11 3/4" as minimum mainline track radius. Even at that, I have had to modify most of my passenger cars to allow greater truck swing.

I would suggest you look at some track planning books for ideas. Some are written specifically for N-scale.

My own N-scale railroad is U-shaped. It is 4' wide, and getting to the back parts of it is a real problem.

Les

Eliphaz
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Re: Space Needed for N Scale Layout

Post by Eliphaz » Fri Nov 29, 2013 4:14 pm

have a a look at these http://www.katousa.com/track-plans/n-plans.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
lots of nice arrangements under 4x8.
The "Amherst 2005" plan is a very popular layout, just under 3x5.

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NorEasterNick
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Location: South Jersey

Re: Space Needed for N Scale Layout

Post by NorEasterNick » Sat Nov 30, 2013 12:38 am

Les,

Thank You so much for your detailed in-depth explanation. It is really appreciated. Eliphaz, Thanks for the direction! Very helpful.
"NorEaster" Nick Pittman
Chief Forecaster
SJN-TV News

For up-to-minute Weather Information you can follow my discussions at www.facebook.com/noreasternick

jaystreetcrr
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Re: Space Needed for N Scale Layout

Post by jaystreetcrr » Tue Dec 03, 2013 10:23 pm

Nick,

Desertdweller hinted at some of the problems of a train table style layout, especially the long reach over a four foot stretch. Another problem is the "donut hole" of trackless space in the middle. If you have curves with a reasonable radius then it's tough to get any track into the center, except maybe with a figure 8 plan or short radius spurs.
Check out some books and websites on track planning before you start cutting plywood or spiking track, as much as the urge to run trains is pushing you to get something done. Consider what kind of prototype you want to follow. An urban industrial switching layout or traction system can justify a spaghetti bowl of track with tight radius turns but mainline modeling and passenger cars are tougher. A shelf approach might be better for that...long narrow 1'-2' sections along the wall with dogbone loops at the ends will give you some distance so your train isn't just chasing its caboose around a circle. Even in a small scale it's hard to create the illusion of distance...a dozen N scale passenger cars take up a lot of length.
Good luck, from someone who got into N when living in a tiny apartment but is still sticking with it....John

Desertdweller
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Re: Space Needed for N Scale Layout

Post by Desertdweller » Wed Dec 04, 2013 5:00 pm

Good observations, John.

The maximum length of passenger trains will be determined by length of passing tracks, length of depot platforms, and turn radius. How does turn radius affect train length? Too long a train on sharper curves will cause derailing by string-lining.

On my passenger-oriented N-scale railroad, my longest passenger trains are nine cars, and then only occasionally. Usually, my longest trains are held to eight cars. Many of the passenger trains in my era modeled are five cars or less.

Les

scharnhorst
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Location: Tulsa, OK, Syracuse, NY - Kherson, Ukraine

Re: Space Needed for N Scale Layout

Post by scharnhorst » Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:39 am

I got a small 3 x 5 foot layout and it dose not take up much space for the apartment that I have which is 550sq feet.
no matter the weather or the country I'll still be trackside!

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Otto Vondrak
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Location: New York

Re: Space Needed for N Scale Layout

Post by Otto Vondrak » Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:00 pm

NorEasterNick wrote:After debating for a week whether to get back into HO or go a different route, N Scale due to less space being taken up.. I chose to do the latter... Yeah I love the look of the HO trains but in reality I don't really want to take up a whole 4 x 8 section of my living room..my question: What is an average layout for N Scale? I'd like to do maybe 4 foot x 5 foot? Whats the minimum to have a decent looking layout? I want to run both freight and passenger. Like HO, do passenger cars require a larger radius? Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
1) Layouts do not need to be a 4x8 rectangle. Many beginner layouts show a rectangle so that an oval of track can be included to allow trains to go around and a round. Rather than a rectangle, why not consider an L-shaped layout that fits into a corner? Cut that 4x8 into two 2x8 sheets, and you'll have a very large switching layout to run trains on.

2) Most people choose N scale because it takes up less room... Same idea applies, you don't need to stick with rectangular sheets of plywood and oval loops of track.

3) Passenger cars always require a larger radius to operate, no matter what scale. Passenger cars are much longer than freight cars, so they need the extra room. What kinds of passenger trains were you planning to run on a small 4x8 layout anyway? Even a three car train plus locomotive would take up nearly 1/4 of your projected main line on a 4x8 "loop" layout. Just some food for thought.

If this is your first layout, start small, start simple. Make your layout larger as you find time and room.

Here's a book to help you get started in N scale and will answer many of your questions:
http://retailers.kalmbach.com/product.a ... c_section=" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;{70BD2C99-98C8-480E-BEB0-ECD4B9BF38D5}&returnurl=%2Fen%2FHobby%2FProducts%2FBooks.aspx%3Fpage%3D5

Another book about general model railroading:
http://retailers.kalmbach.com/product.a ... c_section=" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;{70BD2C99-98C8-480E-BEB0-ECD4B9BF38D5}

There are many great books out there to help you every step of the way. They are very important resources and will make your life easier when it comes to putting together your first model railroad.

Good luck!

-otto-
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