Why Stick With N?

My eyes are failing. My hands are shaking. I'm losing my ability to work "small." So why do I remain in N Scale? Why not switch to HO, as some N Scalers I know have done?

Size is relative. There was a time when I was a pioneer in scales smaller than N. Indeed, I was all about small scales—hence the name of my former modeling company, NZT Products, which was devoted to the three smallest scales.

Z Scale (1:220): I not only embraced it, but I pushed the envelope of what could be done in the scale. My James River Branch showed what was possible, as did (to a slightly lesser extent) my Gorre & Daphetid.

T Scale (1:450): I can't prove it, but I'm pretty sure I was the first American to own anything made in T, and I promptly shared everything I knew about it. I went on to do some of the same things I'd done in Z Scale, but at half the size.

During these years, I'd also explored even smaller scales, although they were of my own invention: I made functional models of model layouts, one at 1:13,920, the equivalent of an HO Scale layout built in N Scale...

...and then one at 1:35,200, or an N Scale layout built in Z Scale...

Now I've reached a station in life where I have neither the ability nor the drive to push the boundaries of what can be done in the smallest scales. I'd lost interest in Z Scale years ago after having been a manufacturer of 1:220 products: the industry is rife with ill will between certain business owners, and I adamantly refuse to be involved in such nonsense. Life's too short to constantly be on the defensive against unethical creeps—in a hobby, no less!

And as for 1:450, as I'd predicted, T Scale has remained a novelty—best case. Honestly, it looks to be on a very long, slow death spiral; a decade or two from now, I expect it'll be little more than a footnote on some modeling scale chart. As for my work in T, nearly all of my photos and information were lost. But, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter; I made my mark, and I've nothing else I wish to prove.

So why stick with N Scale? I've actually spent some time working in HO and even O Scale in the past, so given my current limitations, why not switch? Multiple reasons.

Familiarity. I've worked in N Scale practically since its birth, and far longer than any other scale. My eyes are calibrated to 1:160, and my hands—shaky as they are—know just what to do with materials when I'm modeling in N.

Nostalgia. I feel good working in N Scale because I've been doing it for roughly fifty years. Even though I may no longer be able to accomplish what I used to in N, I still enjoy working in the scale since it reminds me of the good times I've had.

Practicality. Switching scales would involve a major financial investment. I have tons of N Scale products, and if I went to another scale, I'd have to buy everything new. Being on a budget precludes a move like that.

Enjoyment. Obviously I'm no longer in a position to do anything groundbreaking in N Scale, but to be honest, it's no longer important; my enjoyment is paramount, and to that end I shall remain in N until my last breath.

—DKS, 15 March 2020


Copyright © 2017-2020 by David K. Smith. All Rights Reserved | Site Map