Its nasty outside…
What a foul day here in DC today. It is raining cats and dogs. On top of that, my trusty weather station is showing only 36 degrees now. A few degrees lower and I’ll have to get our snowblower cranked up.
On the other hand, this is just the day to futz around in the attic and keep building my N scale railroad empire. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I have decided to switch from HO to N scale. By now, some N scale track has been put down and a few trains are already running. It is still very much a work in progress though: there is no scenery yet, a lot of track still needs to be put in place, there are no signals, but there is now a train station! One can not have a model train layout without a train station or a tunnel, they are just absolutely de rigueur. I finished the Faller N scale model kit of the Bonn main station just the other day. It took a while to put it together. As is expected in N scale, some of the bits were a bit fiddly, but with lots of glue and a bit of griping I managed to do it.
No passengers yet and I couldn’t leave the name at “Bonn”. Just had to change it to my place of birth.
Another view of the Hildesheim Hauptbahnhof. Like I said, a lot of work is still to be done.
As far as track is concerned I have pretty well decided on using KATO and Atlas. To my great relief I have found that both kinds of track are easily interchanged. KATO track on the right with the locomotive on it. Atlas track is on the left with Woodland Scenic track bed. With a little detail work this will just look like the real thing! KATO actually does produce a “conversion” track piece, but I have found that so far it is not necessary.
A KATO “conversion” track piece. On the top the standard KATO track. On the bottom an Atlas Code 80 N scale track piece.
I am quite fond of KATO track. It is easy to use, particularly for long, straight main lines. The track connectors are virtually fool proof (incidentally they are the same for N and HO scale). The track pieces are as easily separated as they are put together. KATO also makes a double track piece, which is great for modeling a main line and now also makes a double track “slab track piece” for a high speed line.
Standard double track on the left and the “high speed slab track” on the right.
Of course, as with everything, there are a few caveats. KATO’s N scale track selection is limited. It is not particularly DCC friendly. Neither are a lot of their N scale locomotives by the way. There is no flex track and the choices of turn outs is also somewhat limited. For example one can not do this with KATO track:
KATO also makes a double crossover switch which is nice. The switch machines are already built in. But that switch has its quirks. For some reason KATO decided to electrically isolate the inside rails, so one has to make sure that power is being fed from both sides of the switch.
I am also experimenting with N scale catenary. That is indeed a bit of a challenge at N scale size. It will just be for show and not electrically connected, since I am running DCC and all locomotives have decoders. Sommerfeldt catenary with a KATO N scale Amtrak ACS-64 electric locomotive and a Hobbytrain “Vectron” Deutsche Bahn electric sticking its nose into the picture. Out of the box the KATO locomotive has two plastic pantographs. Those are totally useless and, more importantly, look awful. So I changed them to working, metal pantographs, also from Sommerfeldt.
So there is progress! As they say: Stay tuned.
All photos by Ralf Meier (iPhone X)