Thursday, May 27, 2010

N Gauge

As promised, and at long last, I will now take a look at, what is, the second most popular model railway size in the UK - N Gauge. Because of its small size N Gauge is ideal for those modellers with limited space and, here it has a distinct advantage over the larger sizes in  that it has the potential to allow the running of scale length trains. This is something that only modellers with plenty of room can do in OO Gauge.
N Gauge is applied to models that are nominally built to a scale of 2mm = 1ft and which run on track that is 9mm gauge.
British N Gauge models differ from those in the rest of the world in that they are built to 2.06mm = 1ft (1:148) compared to 1.91mm = 1ft (1:160) elsewhere.
However, all proprietary models will run on the 9mm gauge track which, at 2mm = 1ft, is a true representation of the prototype gauge of 4' 8½". This is more or less correct for non-UK models but which, for the UK market, should strictly speaking be 9.7mm.
N Gauge was developed by the Arnold company of Nuremberg in 1962 and it was later, during the mid 1960s, that British N Scale standards were defined by the newly formed N Gauge Society. As with OO Gauge some 30 years earlier, the slightly larger scale was adopted to allow readily available German motors to be incorporated into the smaller outline of the British models.
For those who choose N Gauge there is quite a selection of ready to run models and equipment available. Manufacturers such as Graham Farish and Peco offer a variety of locomotives, rolling stock and accessories and, whilst there is a limited amount of set track available for the beginner, flexible track and points can be readily obtained to suit most applications.
Although it is true to say that the choice or ready to run models is not as great as that for OO Gauge it is, nevertheless, sufficient to build and run the most extensive of layouts!
Surprisingly there are a number of firms producing N Gauge kits, from locos to rolling stock to both plastic and card kits for buildings and other structures. I say surprisingly because one would assume, given the small size of N Gauge, that kits would be rather fiddly to build. However, in many ways N Gauge kits are easier to construct than those for OO Gauge since they quite often have fewer parts.

A layout in N Gauge, being very much an off-the-shelf model railway system, can be operational quite quickly and the equipment is equally suitable for beginners as it is for the more experienced railway modeller. Greater care must obviously be exercised due to its small size - track laying, ballasting and, even, simply placing rolling stock onto the track must all be done with more precision. Keeping the track dirt and dust free is also critical since the smallest speck of dust can cause problems from merely derailing a train to getting into the mechanisms of the locomotive.

N Gauge is half the size of OO Gauge yet occupies only a quarter of the area of its larger cousin. Hence it is ideal for those with limited space and, not only that, N Gauge can provide much more scope for constructing layouts that include lots more railway. From the limited confines of a garden shed or a shelf above the bed to the relative vastness of a loft, where a huge terminus with scale length trains could be constructed, N Gauge is just about ideal! To be honest, the only place that an N Gauge layout is not best suited, due to its small size, is in the garden. Although, I am sure, even this has doubtless been achieved by someone.

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