Why Ho Model Trains are the most Popular

Is there any male child who has not had a model railway set at some point in his life? There is also a good chance that the model railway was of the same scale the HO Scale. These are pretty safe assumptions, as even in today’s electronic world the hobby has evolved to include modern technology. Train sets are still a must have present for many youngsters and model railways are a worldwide past-time. Worldwide HO scale is by far and away the most popular scale for your railway modeller.

HO Scale equates to 1:87 ratio, and is there half of the O scale, thus giving the name HO Half O. In real terms this means that 1 foot on a full size locomotive relates to 3.5 millimetres on the model. It should be noted that scale and gauge are used as interchangeable terms in the world of modelling but in the stricter sense, scale is the proportion to the original, whilst gauge is the measurement between the running rails of the model railway.

HO scale initially hit the markets in the 1930’s in attempt to take over from the O gauge that had been the market leader for several decades. It did take 30 years for the HO scale to displace O gauge in Europe and the United States, though OO gauge took the lead in the United Kingdom.

The predominant reason for this shift in scale came as the emphasis went from the train set being a toy, to a wish for a realistic reproduction. Perversely the smaller scale means that even though the model is more delicate, it is easier for greater detail to be placed on it.

Then came the chicken and the egg scenario. Popularity has lead to more popularity. As more people became enthused by the scale, manufacturers produced more stock and variation in their products. Themes developed to match the demands of the enthusiast, while a whole support network of clubs and publications also developed.

With so much variety and options in the hobby, more people became drawn to model railways. New modellers discovered that they could build a layout to their own specifications, in the full knowledge that it would be totally different to that of their neighbour.

Nowadays the HO scale is in general the cheapest scale for modelling, although even then there are expensive models on the market. The cost is cheaper than the smaller gauges because the manufacturing process does not require as much detail and intricacy. HO is also cheaper than the larger scales, which use more material in the manufacturing process.

There are other benefits other than cost and product availability. The scale allows for a high level of detail and can be housed in a relative limited space. HO has advantages over other scales of models available. HO does not require the same space as the larger O gauge layout would. HO is also more detailed than its larger versions in general, especially historically. The smaller scale of N-gauge does have the benefit over HO in amount of space required for your layout, but smaller pieces do add a problem with younger children swallowing the smaller accessories.

I also use the HO scale because of the availability of other models, to use on the model layouts. Model airplanes, vehicles and people, all come in a scale of 1:72 or HO/OO scale, meaning that whilst not exactly the same scale, these models do not look out of place on the layout. Living in the United Kingdom I have a mixture of HO and OO models. OO is a slightly large scale at a ratio of 1:76, in most cases tracks and locomotives are interchangeable.

A child who is enthusiastic about model railways will often carry this interest into their adult years and retirement. Equally though, those individuals who have had no interest in their early years will often become enthusiast late in their life. Model railways are a hobby for all ages.

The main reasons why I have collected HO/OO scale models and built up a detailed layout are detail, cost and layout size. The availability of second-hand models has made model railways a cheap hobby, which has brought the steam locomotives of the past back to life in detailed form.