Sunday, 28 July 2013

Model Railway Update No.3

Where, oh where should I go? As discussed in my last post I would like to use N-gauge track. The scales that are most common for N-gauge are based on standard gauge. This narrows the location settings for my model railway to, well, most countries in the world. Maybe the best thing to do is look at ease of acquiring locomotives and rolling stock.

Locomotives and rolling stock are produced ‘ready to run’ in n-scale for several different countries.
Main manufacturers
Australia-N, Powerline
Central Europe
Arnold, Guarniero, Lemke, Liliput, Minitrix
France/Eastern Europe
Arnold, Guarniero, Jouef?, Lima, Minitrix
Fleischmann, Liliput, Minitrix
Kato, Tomix
United Kingdom
Dapol, Graham Farish
United States
Bachmann, Kato

Well, why not stay here in Australia? The first ‘why not’ that comes to mind is that until recently the liveries of the railway rolling stock was specific to each state and therefore it was unusual for mixing of different corporate (usually government owned) colour schemes. Standardisation was also a big factor in operating railways in Australia, each operator limited themselves to a small number of locomotive types. However, This can also be a good thing since you can buy two products and just change the running numbers to differentiate them. Australian Railways are also governed by huge distances and infrequent services, so running lots of trains would not be very ‘prototypical’ Additionally, although quality is becoming extremely good it is a little hard the cost is a bit more than in other countries.

Continental Europe? Hmmm… well, lovely scenery in many parts of the continent but, well, I just don’t know anything about European railways.

North America? This is a possibility for me because US cultural influence is great in Australia so my familiarity is ok. There is also a huge range of locomotives and rolling-stock and all available for a very cheap price compared to most other locations. This is probably due to the enormous market in the USA. So maybe Canada or the USA are an option for me. Importantly I am horrified by the English used to describe railway models in North America – “model railroading”

Japan? My brother lives in japan but I’m only familiar with the bullet-trains, not the local railways. Additionally, Japan has one gauge for the main lines and another for the high-speed lines which may make designing a layout difficult.

What about the UK? Well, this is my preference. I think it is because the UK has a very strong railway modelling population, was the first place to develop the steam engine and steam locomotive, used steam locomotives until relatively late in the 20th century, and much of my family heritage is from the Lancashire or Wiltshire and my wife’s background is southern Scotland. The potential for scenery is great, the diversity in rolling stock and locomotives is great, the price is middle of the range, the quality of ready-to-run stock is very high and I already began model railroading with some British models. The thing that gets me is that the UK model railway stuff is slightly out of scale with the 9mm track. It should be 1:160 scale but is instead 1:148. I don’t know the reason for this weird scale.

Since ease of start-up is one of the biggest considerations other than what interests me I think I’ve narrowed the selection down to either the UK or USA. Obviously, I’m leaning toward the UK at this stage.