Model trains come in a variety of sizes to fit the space you have available. Or, to cram more stuff into the space you have available. Here are the common sizes of model trains, or, if you prefer, model train scales.
Sizes of model trains, or any other model, are measured in scale. Scale is a ratio of the model’s size relative to the real thing. Sometimes people will refer to gauge as well, which relates to the track, rather than the train.
Scale-oriented O scale enthusiasts often bemoan the lack of true 1:48 O scale cars (as in automobiles) to go with their O scale trains. Often they go so far as to call 1:48 scale autos non-existent. That’s not entirely the case. There are 1:48 scale vehicles out there. Finding them just requires some creativity and imagination.
I know of more than 20 1:48 scale vehicles suitable for O scale train layouts. They fall into two broad categories: ready made diecast vehicles, and plastic 1/48 scale model car kits, which require assembly. The model kits tend to be costlier but allow a greater level of detail. Not only that, some of the model kits are 4-door sedans, the perfect ordinary car. For the realism-craving hi rail or 2-rail enthusiast, they are hard to resist.
Foam board is nice for building train layouts, since it’s lightweight and versatile. It’s easy to cut and shape into mountains and valleys and rivers. It’s also inexpensive. The problem is that screws won’t stick in it. So it’s tricky to fasten Lionel track to foam board. It’s difficult to fasten any other kind of track too.
Comparing Bachmann vs Lionel is a contrast between two very old, established names in electric trains. Lionel, in one form or another, has been selling trains since 1900. Bachmann, the largest seller of trains in the world, was founded in 1833, though they started selling trains in 1966.
Ironically, it was Lionel that got Bachmann into the train business. In the 1940s and 1950s, when every kid wanted a Lionel or American Flyer train, Bachmann sold buildings under its Plasticville brand so kids and dads could build towns for those trains to run in. As the focus shifted to smaller scales in the 1960s, Bachmann moved with it, with greater success than the companies it once shared a symbiotic relationship with.
Occasionally someone asks me to recommend an HO scale holiday village or HO scale Christmas village. The big-name villages are too big for HO scale trains, generally speaking, so I understand. There’s no big-name HO scale holiday village but there is a very affordable one.
I’ve seen a number of videos lately made by people putting dashboard cameras on their trains, which gives a view of a layout that we don’t usually get to see–the view from the trains themselves. I’ve found a cheaper option. Hit up Ebay for an SJ4000 camera, which, if you sort the buy-it-now listings, you should be able to get for less than $20.
If that’s too rich for your blood, look for the Mini DVR 808, which is keychain sized and costs more like $5.
Don’t expect the world for that kind of money, but you can get a surprisingly good view of your layout from a perspective you’ll never see in person with one.
It’s not quite like getting to ride in your trains, but it’s not bad, either.