Here’s a picture I found in an old magazine I was reading, that reminds me of our N-mod track. It even has the correct 4-track configuration…..
In fact, this does look very much like a model railway. Reading Iain Rice’s latest book of USA track plans, he makes some helpful comments as to why this does indeed look like a model, and why model railway curves generally look acceptable…..
But the fact is that even large locomotives and scale-length passenger cars (thankfully) look OK on curves that are, in strict scale terms, only a fraction of what they should be. Why is this? Well, I reckon that it’s due to visual compression; that is, the way our normal human telescopic vision squeezes together or foreshortens things that are viewed from any distance. Curves, in particular, are closed up so that even a gentle bend seen from a little way away looks like a hairpin, while things like parallel fence lines across the field of view are tightened together as they recede.
The point is that looking at a scale model railroad scene from our typical operating distance of a yard or so equates to viewing the real thing from a distance that is quite sufficient to allow this telescoping effect to modify the way we see curves, even when we’re looking across rather than along them. Which means that watching our model trains negotiate typical reasonable model curves actually looks quite natural. Only when the curve becomes tight enough to cause excessive truck swing and exaggerated overhang do things really start to jar visually.
That man does like a long sentence!! I’ll review Mr Rice’s book next time.