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Are HO Trains More Reliable To Run Than N Scale?

Mike has this interesting question for readers:

“I am wondering if N scale track is more likely to cause loco hesitation and stoppig than HO? I am ready to tear out and sell then go to HO. I don’t run trains daily but the layout is in a heated and cooled interior room and shouldn’t need cleaning from one week to the next. I have used everything but goo gone or WD 40. No I haven’t bought the expensive brass car.”

13 Responses to Are HO Trains More Reliable To Run Than N Scale?

  • Thornwell Richburgsays:

    No I disagree with that that they are not more liable to run than N scale even though my favorite is O scale

  • Russsays:

    If you haven’t tried this than switching scales will not help you. Do a google search for “no-ox train track cleaning” . It is basically an electrical corrosion preventer and works great for keeping your tracks clean, brass or NS. You need to clean track first and I wipe it down with 70% alcohol on a clean cloth. Then put a little no-ox paste on a finger tip and wipe on the top of the rails. Wait a few hours to let it bond with metal rails and wipe the rails with a clean cloth. You may see a lot of black on the cloth but that is just the old oxidation coming off. Use no-ox sparingly. A two ounce package is a life time supply. It is not greasy and will not effect your traction. I did this 4 years ago now and the only cleaning I do is a lite wiping for dust. Sometime I just run an old track cleaner pad around once with a locomotive.

  • Graemesays:

    Hi Mike I run both HO and N scale with no trouble on either. What I did find with N scale is there are loco’s and then there are LOCO’S in other words the good the bad and the down right ugly. So what I found was worst to best. Bachmann Graham Farrish Arnold Atlas Flieschmann Athearn and top of the pile Kato.these are all N scale with DCC fitted I also went away from peco track and went solely with Kato track and turnouts. Now I laid the track and sanded each joint smooth so the track on each piece was the same height at the join this eliminated any bounce and also a lot of noise. I run only Kato loco’s without any problems sometimes it’s six weeks or more between runs and I have no problems at all even with turnouts it’s so reliable it’s boreing .

  • Graemesays:

    Better picture

  • Dale Arendssays:

    Mike, there is actually another factor to this problem. I, too, run N scale and have found that keeping the track clean is only half the issue. Don’t forget to occasionally clean the locomotive’s wheels and pickup wipers.

    And while you’re cleaning the track, pay attention to the contact surfaces of the points of the turnouts.

  • W Rusty Lanesays:

    Like Russ says, switching scales will do nothing to stop hesitation and stops and starts. You need to clean your tracks. Although I´ve never used the no ox, I´ve heard alot about it. I think that no ox would be my next trial before I decided to switch scales. I have HO and O scale layouts and there´s nothing better than CLEAN tracks to stop the hesitations, stops and starts. I do not have an expensive brass track cleaning car, just 1950´s Revell track cleaning car for my HO scale railroad. I am gonna give the no ox a try since I´ve heard so many good things about it.

  • Frank Bsays:

    If you have regular nickel-silver track, you only need to clean off the dust (and maybe fingerprints). Indoors, there will be virtually no corrosion (and the oxide is conductive anyway), so no chemical or abrasive cleaning is needed.

    As it is a finer scale, N locos will be more sensitive to dust. Your problem may be solved by simply covering your layout with a plastic sheet to keep dust off between running sessions.

  • David Stokessays:

    Yep, it isn’t the scale you’re using, although N Scale can hang up on pointwork (switches), in all other respects the issues are no different between the HO and N scales. As above, it might not just be dirt on the track but on your Loco and rollingstock wheels. Clean the track for sure, and yes, if you’re not operating at least one a week, your track WILL accumulate dirt between sessions. The biggest hidden dirt depositor is dirty loco and rollingstock wheels. If you clean the track and locos the rest of the train will undo your work very smartly if you miss the wagons rolling behind There is a product called Relco which purports to burn the dirt off but do NOT use it if you are running DCC. I would also ensure that every piece of track has jumpers to bus wires under the layout. Just belts and braces security that the track is getting power.

  • Daniel Hsays:

    I agree to alot of what has been said here, plenty of good advise. Keeping the wheels on all stock is important and I like to get rid of all plastic trucks and replace with metal. Metal trucks are easier to clean and sty clean longer IMHO. I use CRC 2-26 electrical lubricant for track cleaner and it works great and will not attract dust like WD-40 and should help reduce oxidation. Make sure all connections are connected well and have power going to track in more than one location. Another thought is to take that shell off and clean/lubricate those loco gears, they will gum up and get stiff to move. Good luck

  • Monty Batessays:

    For me, like several other users have pointed out, it has been keeping the loco wheels clean. Dirty loco wheels will absolutely cause hesitation! I’d clean them too if I were you.

  • Ralph Burkinshawsays:

    Hi Mike, you need to clean track regularly, especially if using DCC, there is plenty of materials on the market That will do the job. Please do not use WD 40 on track or your trains that ain’t going to help, Track Magic is excellent for track conductivity just clean your tracks and give a light coating of Track Magic. It a good idea to check back to back on the wheels of the engines and clean the wheels and lubricate per the manufactors instructions. We all invest in the stock we purchase so it’s worth the effort after all we are the engine driver signalmanand the maintenance engineer and want to have our trains without problems; what ever the scale. Good luck! hope it helps you to get back to enjoying your hobby.

  • John Byerssays:

    About 70 years ago there was this cartoon in Model Railroader magazine. A man brings a model railroad built in a cigar box to the local club. Everyone oohs & aahs until the train stalls. The man gets out a microscope, looks, and says, “well no wonder, somebody got bacteria on the track.”

    Between the added weight of the loco and increased contact area between the wheels and track, a larger scale should have less problems than a smaller scale. However, like most things, a poorly constructed or poorly maintained large scale layout will not work as well as a well constructed well maintained smaller scale layout. All other things being equal, HO should be easier to keep running smoothly. But, many people have successfully operated N scale layouts, so it is possible. It would be cheaper to buy the best track cleaning car made than to tear out your N scale & start over. Unless you just want to build a new layout anyway.

    Your comment that because the layout is in a heated & cooled interior room it shouldn’t need cleaned is optimistic. Dust is floating in the air ( I understand there are thousands of microscopic particles in 1 liter [that’s half the size of a 2 liter soda pop bottle]) & it settles. Surfaces oxidize. Track & wheels need cleaned.

  • Phillip Collinssays:

    I had many problems with running my N scale layout, especially dirty track. I spray electrical contact cleaner/lubricant (Spanjaard) onto a cloth and apply that to the rails. I also use it sprayed onto those cotton wool things to clean loco wheels. I also have a soft copper brush for loco wheels and turn-out contacts. I can go about 3-5 months without recleaning track, unless I’ve been doing dirty work.
    TwO things to note about Spanjaard: it’s highly flammable (the non-flammable one is much more expensive), and you MUST ensure adequate ventilation. I know other modellers in South Africa also use it.

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