Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Are You a Roundy or a Squary?

When it comes to model railways I'm definitely a roundy: I like being able to watch the trains go past without having to be constantly playing with the controller as you would in an end-to-end layout. Unfortunately continuous run layouts, by their very nature, require more space. In OO gauge you really need at least 6 foot by 4 foot to house a reasonable sized oval (see this previous post about using the top of the dinning table), and I don't currently have the space to build a permanent layout of that size (we will want to use the dinning table again at some point). Try as I might (and believe me I've tried) I haven't been able to come up with an end-to-end layout that I'd enjoy playing with once it was completed, and if I'm not going to enjoy the end product I doubt I'll have the enthusiasm to build the layout properly.

So given that I really want a continuous run layout that I can build in a reasonably small space there is really only one course of action open to me: down sizing. So having thought long and hard about this I've made the decision to switch from OO gauge down to N scale. As the models are approximately half the size of their OO gauge equivalents (1/148 scale instead of 1/76) I need only a quarter of the surface area to build an oval layout than I would in OO gauge; in other words I can build an equivalent layout in 3 foot by 2 foot. As you can see I've already taken the plunge and bought a starter pack of track, one wagon and one locomotive (more on these in a later post), and am happily running things temporarily on my desk. The phone should give you a fair sense of scale.

Now I've made the decision I've already got quite a few ideas for the layout and intend to mock up some buildings and scenery to help me come to a final track plan at which point I'll be able to build the base board and will finally be able to start on some real layout building.

This decision doesn't mean I'm turning my back on OO gauge for good -- I have too many models that I enjoy playing with. At some point I might build a small shunting puzzle in OO gauge with the knowledge that I still have a continuous run layout to play with, and if I really want I can always take over the dining table for a few days to build a temporary oval for some OO gauged fun.


  1. I can see the logic of migrating to N but I'd find working at that size absolutely impossible. Rock and hard place stuff for me it would be. Mind you I have a massive garage!

  2. The small size does worry me a little (I find it hard enough to paint the strapping on the side of OO gauge wagons), but with the space I have to play with it seemed the only real choice. We do have a reasonably sized garage, but it's currently full of junk and needs a really good tidy out before we could even get the car near it, so while it might be a long term option I want to build something NOW!

  3. I see your point of course Mark. The other thing I forgot to say is that 'Are You a Roundy or a Squary' was one of my favourite of Roger Hargreaves' books when I used to read them to the children.