I seemed to have wandered away from N gauge modelling in recent posts. So with my 100th post on the blog, it’s back to my roots (for now) and to ask the question, why model in N gauge.
A little background may be in order. I started with model trains with a Hornby clockwork ‘O’ gauge system on the floor of the living room. Great fun! At the age of 10, my father and I upgraded to ‘OO’ gauge with a 6×4 and then 7×5 layout. We started at a reasonable standard, with Peco track and points (when they first came out!)
In my mid-teens, the 7×5 became a shelf layout along one side of my bedroom, and then we built a 9×8 shed in the back garden – a cosy empire with heat, light and insulation. Best of all, in winter you could turn the heat on from the house to warm the shed up before venturing outside. We built a continuous run layout round the walls, but reading the model magazine convinced us of the need for a fiddle yard / staging, so the final layout in the shed was the classing end-to-end branchline – Southern of course! I learnt a lot about model building at that time, and scratch built a few coaches (quite respectable) and tried a loco or two (kit built, OK, scratch build, far less so).
Then to university and dabbling in the Great Eastern in EM. Followed by flat sharing and marriage. Railways took a back seat, but moving to a house in Redhill meant we had a loft space, and I returned to ‘O’ gauge. I still have the kit and scratch built stock from this era. Moving house in Redhill and converting the new house’s loft into a fourth bedroom was the end of modelling for a while.
Then, 15 years ago, ESNG approached Earlswood Baptist church with a request for the club to meet in the church hall. I was on the church leadership team at the time (and I still am), and knowing my interests I was told, ‘Jon, you can liaise with them’. So I not only liaised, but also joined the club and went ‘N’ gauge, and quickly adopting USA outline as having reliable models and interesting prototypes.
Yet walking around Alexandra Palace last weekend, I was thinking, why do I model in ‘N’? I came away still very satisfied with the scale, and really quite uninspired with the other scales. Why? I suggest there are a number of factors involved:
- ‘N’ is small enough to fit in the house.
- ‘N’ allows me to model trains in a landscape, rather than just a railway.
- It’s getting quite rare to see an ‘OO’ (and larger) layout that really appeals. People seem to have done everything, and the classic GWR branchline is, to quote a well known phrase, boring if nice. ‘N’ layouts often still manage to do something a little different.
- ‘N’ models are still improving release by release. It’s exciting to see the advances made in quality and reliability, now matching the larger scales.
- There are just too many commercial models in ‘OO’. I can now buy off the shelf most of the models I hankered after or tried to build as a teenager – a T9, and N class 2-6-0, a King Arthur 4-6-0, and M7, a Beattie Well Tank, an O2 coming, a C 0-6-0. The list goes on…. Really, it’s just become too expensive and easy! Perhaps this will change as ‘N’ improves further?
The future? I may go back to scratch building in ‘O’ gauge if my eyes give up on ‘N’. I do like making things, and an ‘O’ gauge trolley layout would be small enough for my now reclaimed loft. Or for a real challenge, what about ‘S’? Then I would really have to build nearly everything! And then there is the other challenge to dabble in fine scale 2mm….. Whatever! There’s more than enough to keep me interested in this excellent hobby!!