CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Friday, August 7, 2015

Why model in HO scale?

In high school I modeled in HO scale, mostly focusing on the local railroad around my Rochester hometown: Conrail. HO scale was what I was given as gifts by family and friends, and there was (and is) the most variety of things to purchase in in that scale. And, for the most part, it ran well. Athearn, a company sadly that has "progressed" from affordable kits and equipment to something that competes with the other RTR giants like Atlas and Kato, played a big part in that decision. How many people cut their modeling teeth so to speak on their Blue Box kits? I know I did.

After moving into a small apartment in another town for law school, I had to put my HO trains on hold. Why? The morning of my move to my new apartment I discovered my HO switching layout wouldn't fit in the moving van even though it separated into two small sections! Realizing I had no easy way to transport it to Albany (and not wanting to make another moving trip just for the layout), I sadly resigned to starting afresh. I built several small N scale layouts around 2x3 feet in dimension and sold much of my HO equipment to fund my new N scale purchases. STUPID mistake!

I like the N scale trains but I realize now that I don't like having to go through the struggles of converting the cars to Micro Trains couplers- even with the preassembled trucks. I also didn't like having to send my engines out for a professional to mill the frames and install DCC decoders. Even worse, I really enjoyed building kits and N scale just didn't have as much (structures, railroad equipment, etc.) as HO. Finally, keeping the trains moving smoothly in N scale was just too difficult.

My wife loves the possibilities offered by N scale so I have two N scale layouts still that she can use to run trains. When we move to our new house (whenever that is!) I will keep the N scale layouts so that I have something to run while the HO one is being built. And, I still have most of my N scale collection. So, my foot isn't out of the N scale pool.

But... I began collecting HO scale cars again. It started innocently enough with the purchase of an MDC/Roundhouse gondola kit at the train store. "Just to get my feet wet again." I decided then and there that I was going to convert to Kadee couplers and metal wheels (Intermountain) from the beginning so I bought some of each. Since then, my roster has grown to over a hundred cars and a dozen or more engines. I have become one of those people who collect equipment for the future model railroad and store it in boxes. And I love it!

I love building the simple kits. I love searching train shows and reading the end labels on blue boxes for just the right stuff. This means checking to make sure the cars aren't 40' long (too old), or obscure roadnames (unlikely to be in NY), or that the contents of the box match the label (we have ALL been there before!) or that the kit isn't damaged or missing parts. I love the process of practicing my weathering techniques on cars that don't cost a fortune to replace if I make a mistake. Never mind that I might be spending $5 on couplers and metal wheels to upgrade a car I purchased for $4. Nothing makes me happier then to open my Spring Mills Depot storage boxes (http://www.springmillsdepot.com/boxes.htm) and see thirty 50' boxcars ready to roll. I tell you, when I do start on my layout my staging yards are going to explode with trains!

I still have some Lionel O scale trains, some American Flyer trains from my grandfather, and growing collection of "G scale" trains, but I am back in HO and loving every minute of it!

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