Model Railroad Scales in Depth: HO and OO Scales

In the hobby of model railroading a key consideration before getting started is scale. There are several different modelling scales or sizes to choose from. It is key that you choose one scale for your layout otherwise your layout will appear very unrealistic with oversize and undersized scenery. Most commercial products will have the scale listed on the box. Currently the most popular scale is HO scale which has been the case since the 1960s when HO overtook O scale (the same size as classic Lionel trains). Most hobby shops stock a wide variety of HO scale equipment and it is possible to build a complete layout with commercial equipment bought off the shelf.



HO scale is 1:87 meaning every prototype is eighty seven times larger in scale. If you have a model of a forty foot boxcar for instance, stringing eighty seven models together would come out somewhere near forty feet, or the size of the real boxcar. HO means “half O.” It must be noted that this does not refer to the scale (otherwise it would be 1:96 considering O scale is 1:48) but instead the gauge, meaning the distance between rails. HO scale rails are exactly half as far apart as O. HO scale’s popularity owes to the fact that it is large enough to show detail while small enough to fit into limited spaces. Larger scales take up more room than all but a few modellers are lucky enough to have and layouts are fairly limited for most. Smaller scales, while more can be fit into a given area, have less detail and are more difficult to work with. HO scale is dominant as a result of compromise. Over the years its popularity has led to more manufacturers offering more materials. While there is no “best” scale HO scale is certainly the easiest for the beginner due to the wide variety of products available and indeed many beginners end up in HO scale simply as a result of the fact that most starter sets are HO scale. Because of its ubiquity, HO scale is one of the more affordable scales.

HO scale has advantages and disadvantages. Its primary advantage is that it is quite possible to find a ready to run model of virtually every locomotive used by a class I rail road over the past century in North America. There are three primary types of power for HO scale trains, DC, AC, and DCC. DC simply delivers the current through the rails and the engine moves forwards or backwards depending on how much power is delivered to the rails. This is the simplest method of operation and the cheapest, but wiring can get complex if operating more than one locomotive. European made trains often run on AC and feature studs embedded in the tracks in place of a third rail. DC and AC engines are incompatible. Increasingly DCC (digital command control) is a popular option. DCC is more expensive than DC but it allows you to control multiple engines at the same time with one unit. The fact that so many ready made DCC engines are available is another draw of HO scale. Bachmann’s DCC system is to be recommended for beginners, and I myself use this system. It is simple and suited for small layouts with ten trains or less. HO scale also has a huge variety of scenery and structures available for your layout, some of this comes in kit form whereas others are pre-built. Kits are usually much cheaper though.





HO scale’s main advantage, its compromising nature, is also its primary disadvantage. For modellers who will not compromise on their desired goals it may not be the best choice. If one wishes to run prototypical length trains, particularly from the modern era where long trains are a rule, even HO scale is impractical unless one has a huge layout. For those with virtually no space at all, HO scale may even be too large making N a more desirable scale. On the flip side, modellers who demand a high amount of detail may find HO scale frustrating. While considered a middle of the road scale, HO scale parts are still quite small to handle. They break easily if one is not careful, unlike rugged O scale trains which still run well after sixty years with a little bit of oil and cleaning. In spite of its disadvantages I myself am currently in HO scale. I prefer O scale and have some O equipment but it is simply too large for my limited space. HO scale is by far the easiest to work with because of its size compromise and the sheer amount of production material available. There is no right or wrong way to model, but many modellers will end up in HO scale because its compromises will outweigh the disadvantages of other scales.




As an addendum I will include some words on a related scale as well as narrow gauge modelling. You may have heard of OO scale. OO and HO scale are compatible (they run on the same track) but OO scale trains are sized to 1:76 and thus the wheels are slightly closer together than in real life. Most OO scale trains are British prototypes as British prototypes are often smaller and early drive mechanisms would not fit inside. OO scale is the most popular scale in Britain, one of only a few countries where HO scale is not dominant. The difference to the naked eye is fairly small. In fact British trains at 1:76 sometimes appear smaller than large North American prototypes at 1:87.

Narrow gauge modelling, meaning modelling of railways smaller than the standard for feet, eight and a half inches between the rails, also has a following. These will often include a lower case n after the scale label. HOn30 for instance is narrow gauge (n) and modelling two and a half foot railroads (30 inches). Most narrow gauge railroads in the USA were three foot gauge with the notable exception of the famous Maine two footers. HOn3 is a minority among narrow gauge modellers, however, for one simple reason. HOn30 runs on N scale track and thus is compatible with N scale equipment in terms of trucks, kitbashing etc. making it much easier to use. Though two and a half foot railroads were rare many find it a decent compromise when modeling either two or three foot railways since the difference in terms of a model locomotive is actually quite small to the eye. More discriminating modelers will find more realistic scales to their liking, but this will require some skill with scratchbuilding and conversions.

Three Ways to Get More Customers

If you are in need of more customers, there are a few things you can do. Do not stress yourself out over the needing more customers. Simply take measures into your own hands and do a few things different. In this article, I will offer a few suggestions on how you can get more customers.

Offer People Something

One of the things you can do is offer people something for free or at a discount price. For example, you could offer a free product to the first 20 customers, or offer free shipping for a weekend. Either way, offer them something that they will want to take advantage of.

Offer a Referral Program

A great way to get more customers is by offering a referral program. You could offer to give people so much off their purchase when they refer someone, or you could offer them something for free when they refer five or more people. There are many ways to do a referral program and it will definitely help you get more customers.

Use Social Media

One of the best ways to get more customers is by offering stuff on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. You could offer a drawing for everyone who retweets you, or shares your posts. You could also do 10% off every time someone shares your post. There are many ways to take to social media to build up your customers.

The one thing you need to make sure of is your loyalty. If you say you are going to do something, then do it. Don’t say you are going to have a drawing and then not have it. Don’t try to scam the people because that will cause you to lose customers. Instead, stand behind what you say. Remember, these are the people that will make or break your business. You can also place ads in your local newspaper and offer coupons in your local newspaper. If you are in need of more customers, use the tips in this article and you should see an increase in customers. Offering something free is a sure-fire way to get more customers because everyone loves free stuff!

If You Choose the Right Company Name, the Rest is History

In the Internet age, a poorly chosen business name is the butt of many jokes. Who hasn’t heard of The Golden Shower, Sherrill’s ‘Eat Here and Get Gas,’ or PCP Dining. While these are examples of small businesses that have found worldwide fame for having a funny name, they may have difficulty if they wish to expand further.

Sometimes, these off-beat names are chose on purpose, In other cases, the owners may simply have not thought their choice through very well. A company name choice can be very risky and naming consultants are able to charge thousands of dollars to help their clients select the right name from the start.

While a name is important, it will only work if the basics are present. Great products supported by a team of customer service professionals and a business strategy that is well-developed must be in place as well. Keep in mind that there are simple ways to make a good choice for your fledgling business without sweating the small stuff. Here are four simple rules to help you avoid embarrassing mistakes that can turn out to be costly.

1. Do The Legwork To Ensure You Have The Legal Right To Use Your Selected Company Name

More than 400,000 new companies are added to the existing list of approximately three million companies already registered at the UK’s Companies House. The sheer volume should be enough to make you want to do your research before you name. With so many names already chosen, it is a good bet that someone has already started a company with the same business name you want to use. Even if the regulator accepts your name, you risk a legal challenge if a larger, more established business with the same name thinks that you are using them to boost your business.

The Companies House has a list of sensitive words that you must have express permission to use. The recent case of the Café Olympic in Stratford provides an example. They found themselves in a legal battle with the Olympics Committee and finally agreed to a name change that both could live with, Café Lympic. On the upside, they received a great deal of free publicity during the controversy.

2. Leave Room To Grow

If your long-term plans include expansion, don’t limit yourself with geographic name linked to one small region. Bell Atlantic was clearly identified as a US company which eventually prompted it to change its name to Verizon when a series of acquisitions was completed. Once they had reached the larger size, they had the resources to successful market their new name to establish themselves as a leader in the field.

Jeff Bezos thought on a grand scale when he chose the name for his little online book store. His idea was to create a name with a range of products as wide as the Amazon River. He included the link from A to Z with a small arrow for the logo of his company, Amazon.

3. Avoid Offending Cultures And Communities With An Unintentionally Offensive Name

A local grocery chain in Finland will never be able to expand into the US if it chooses to keep its current name: KKK. In Ghana, a popular drink manufacturer calls itself Pee Cola Ltd and won’t find much favor for its tasty beverages if it tries to expand. The takeaway from these name examples is to pull out some foreign language dictionaries and check for offensive meanings if you plan to expand outside of the UK.

4. Keep Your Naming Group Small

You will never be able to please everyone 100% of the time when selecting a name for your company. Names are very subjective and the odds are good that you won’t get unanimous approval. If you’ve followed the steps above, trust your instinct and go with the one that you prefer. If your brand is successful, you name will simply mean quality once it is out there for a while.