Picking out a good hobby train involves more than settling on the period in history the train is going to evoke. The train should be more than something from the 19th century, for example, or one of those 1950s super-sleek locomotive set-ups.
One of the prime considerations will have to be the amount of space a person has in which to put down track and set up a realistic-looking model railroad environment. In hobby trains, it’s all about size and how it can be utilized. So if there’s not a lot of space, it could be smarter to go with smaller.
The sizes that trains come in are referred to as their “scale.” And their scales are a way to equate the small size of the hobby train to the actual size of the trains they resemble. An ‘N’ scale train is made in a 1:160 ratio, which is a tiny train, indeed. Train enthusiasts know, though, that perhaps a better indicator for size, the same as real trains, is gauge or width of the track on which the train rides.
Gauge in hobby trains is just like gauge in real-world trains. It has to do with the distance between the outside rails of your train’s track. In the O scale (or gauge) example used above, that’s about 1.25 inches in width. This size is just one of several aspects involved in finding the right hobby train, and the tracks themselves may look different from the real ones, depending upon gauge.
After it’s been decided to go with having a hobby train set, take some time to research on the matter of the size of the trains to be gotten. They can range from tiny – as in the case of N scale, or “postage stamp” trains, up to some that a person can actually sit on and ride. Most personal home hobby train enthusiasts set up environments for N scale (1:160) up through O scale.
In terms of which trains are the most popular, N, HO and O gauge and scale trains seem to hold their popularity year after year. When space is at a premium, wonderfully-detailed tiny N scale trains can bring an interesting look to an area. In fact, detail in model railroads is very impressive nowadays.
HO seems to be the most popular size, as it’s been for years, and is also a good mid-range choice for a model railroad. They need at least 4 feet by 8 feet of space, though, to build up a really nice environment. Plus, it’s a good choice for younger kids, who may not be as nimble with their fingers. For them, “the bigger, the better” always works best.
Some of the hobby train environments which can be constructed are fascinating examples of great detail and craftsmanship. The right hobby train for the right space doesn’t have to be a limiter when it comes to model railroads, though. In fact, it can be the prime guideline in helping make a railroad of great complexity and memorable character.