Anyone that has had any type of introduction to model railroading will know that it is one of the more creative hobbies out there. The amount of decisions you need to make between the layouts, scenery, locomotives among other things will guarantee that by the time you finish your project you will truly have a layout that is a reflection of your own personal vision.

While most decisions will be based on creativity, others will be of a more practical nature. One such decision is what scale you will be using, making the right choice has practical implications that being aware of is only to your advantage. This article will be specifically looking at the merits of the HO scale.

An introduction to the HO scale

Initially there were 4 scales known as scale 1, scale 2, scale 3 and scale 4. However these were too big for mainstream model railroading to take off. So a smaller one was conceived, which was scale 0. However the zero became confused by the letter O and that is the version that stuck. The HO scale (1:87) is half the size of the O scale (1:43.5) and therefore stands for “Half of O”. The typical gauge (distance between the tracks) is 16.5 mm.

HO scale is a good fit for homes

A completed HO scale model layout is typically a good size fit for a spare room or garage. This is especially true when you buy an “all in one” kit where the size of the layout takes into consideration the average space people usually have set aside for model railroading. The HO scale is also suitable for homes with young children in terms of the dangers due to swallowing small model pieces. Usually the locomotives, rolling stock and scenery are too large for this type of accident to occur. Therefore if you ever think of getting a friend or family member a model railroading kit to lure them into the hobby then considering the points made above should be useful for your consideration.

Thinking of using a HO scale layout in your garden?

While some model railroad builders do use the HO scale for garden projects, the results generally are not as good as if the same layout was constructed using a bigger scale. Firstly the fragility of the models makes them poorly suited for the outdoors in terms of weathering and being able to withstand an uneven surface. Secondly assuming your garden is not tiny the layout will not have that much of a visual impact because of its relative small size when in an outdoor setting. Making the layout bigger does not really solve the problem that well because there would still be an issue of viewing relatively small trains and scenery from a distance. Placing the layout on a table as opposed to the ground would allow for better viewing, but this greatly limits the amount of space available for the construction of the layout.

Popularity and choice in abundance

One of the best things that the HO scale has to offer is its high level of popularity. This stems from the fact that this particular scale is the largest one that is still practical for tabletop layouts. This practicality makes it a very popular choice for mainstream model railroad enthusiasts. The choice in terms of locomotives and rolling stock is absolutely huge. A quick look at the Amazon and eBay marketplaces will show a wide variety of models. Produced by very reputable manufacturers such as Bachmann, Like-Like and Hornby.

When constructing a HO scale layout there are two points you should be aware of that will prevent you from limiting the components you have at your disposal. Firstly do not be afraid to mix different brands into one layout. There is a lot of compatibility between manufacturers these days. So if you’re building a “World War 2″ era layout consider the appropriate models from all manufacturers, including the less known ones to give yourself the best chance to achieve the layout that you set out to. Secondly do not limit yourself when choosing scenery in terms of the “scale”. For example the smaller N scale or the bigger O scale might provide scenery that will be better suited to your landscape than anything available in the HO scale.

Is the HO scale the right one for you?

After reading the information above you are in better position to decide upon whether the HO scale is the right size for your project. A good way to go about making a decision would be to list the advantages against the disadvantages and consider the importance of each point to your particular project. For those of you that are experienced model railroaders will count upon the experience to make such a choice. However for beginners having as much information as possible to make such decisions will only lead to richer, better and more sophisticated model railway layouts in the future.

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