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An Overview of the Various Large Scale Trains

Find out the truth about Large Scale Trains and see if they are up your alley. Learn all about Large Scale Trains for free on the Internet.

Thinking about getting a train set? Considering taking up a model railroading hobby? Before you run out to the local toy store and bring home a few hundred feet of trains and track, there’s a few things you may want to know.

The Real Thing (Almost)

If you’re just looking for something to run around in a circle under the Christmas tree, then any old train toy will do. But if you’re interested in real model railroading, you’ll want to skip past the toy aisle and head to your local hobby store to check out what are called Scale Trains. Scale Trains are a lot different than the common variety toy train you see in the local toy store. Scale Trains are actually realistic replicas of real locomotives and train cars (also known as “rolling stock.” Because these trains are designed to be as realistic as possible, they are constructed to have the same proportional measurements as their real life counterparts, only reduced in size so that a single engine won’t take up your entire front yard. This reduction in “scale” is what makes these far more intricate models “Scale Trains.”

Once Gauged, Now Scaled

Originally, these type of hobbyist trains were known by the term “gauge;” a reflection of the idea that real trains are described by the width (or gauge) of the tracks they run on. But in recent years, the term gauge has been replaced by the word “scale,” to better show that the entire train, track and all, is a reduction of the real thing. Here are the major scales you’ll want to know about.

HO Scale

There are many types of Scale Trains available to the discerning hobbyist. One of the most common types is HO scale. With an approximate scale that makes them an 87th of the size of the real thing (also known as 1:87 scale), these model trains are probably the most popular and most easily available. HO scale also corresponds to common scales used in model race cars, allowing hobbyists to combine their itch for tiny race tracks with tiny train tracks. HO is a great scale to start with; arrangements of tracks (called layouts) are small enough to fit around the family room or even be stored under a bed. And the larger size means that

N Scale

Got a smaller place? Then N Scale Trains may be what you’re looking for. N scale is roughly 1:160 of the size of the real thing; at a little under half the size of HO, you can pack a lot of train tracks into half the space. In the past, there were fewer accessories available for N scale, but over the years this scale category has seen an explosion of new products (although you still can’t buy a model car set to match).

Z Is More than Zero

Z Scale Trains are the smallest types of trains available. At 1:220 of the real thing, these miniature marvels are true “desktop railroads; “ in fact, the pioneering Z scale company Marklin has offered entire Z scale railways that would fit inside a briefcase (trains, rolling stock, buildings and all). Z scale has few accessories and what is available is extremely expensive, but if space is a factor and price is no object, the jewel-like quality of Z scale can be irresistible.

Go BIG. And Even Bigger.

Don’t want to go small? Then step up to O and G scales. O is the scale that many older adults remember from the classic “Lionel” trains of the 50’s and 60’s. At 1:24th of the real thing, O scale will take up a lot of space—a single oval loop can cover six or more feet—but the classic styling and special features (like whistles, smoke and lights) make it a favorite of those who have the room. G scale is even larger; at a whopping 1:48th scale, these trains are usually the proud centerpiece of huge outdoor garden layouts. But you may want to reconsider going with G unless you happen to own a small mansion with a big back yard.

Hit the Rails!

So if you’re looking for a great hobby, consider model railroading. Big, small, or really tiny; with Scale TrainsScience Articles, you’re certain to find the right size for your space and budget. All aboard!

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