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I know this is an O scale forum but I would like some advice on adding a county fair/park to my O scale lay- out. I have an area that is 24” X 18” and would like to add fair type miniature train. I am thinking either Z or N scale but I know nothing about them. First, can either scale make an 18” diameter turn? What type of transformer is required AC or DC?  

I figured there must be some people here that have done something like this and would like to get some feedback instead of reinventing the wheel.

Thanks Arnold

Original Post

It seems like most of the starter sets I'm seeing come with a 24" diameter circle or oval depending on the brand, although it does appear that Kato carries 9-3/4" radius curves (19-1/2" diameter).  I don't see why most basic N scale stuff wouldn't run on that, but you'd have to check the specifics of the locomotive or cars you're looking at.  Z scale will definitely fit that size though.  I had a N scale train that I ran in a park area of a Christmas layout I did.  I made makeshift seats for O scale figures on an N scale flatcar pulled by a Kato F7 locomotive.  Size-wise it fit pretty well as a representation of a ride on type model train that are out there.  I'd probably lean towards N scale for this project as you'll probably have a bit more reliability with what's available out there.

You'll be looking at a DC power supply for either of them.

KATO CV (CV-1 / 2 / 3) series is made for small trolleys... The curves are pretty tight, much tighter than regular N, think of it as O27 compared to O54 or something to that effect. That being said, I can run my Atlas GN GP7 or Kato RSC-2 around it no problem.

For Z, Rokuhan makes the ZShorty line. They're comical short little EMU / DMU / RDC cars that would make a good fit in a park. Either way, the stuff is cheap but probably only available from Japan on ebay. Start with a seller called "PlazaJapan" or do a few searches for the above listed stuff and go from there.

Both these run on normal DC. The Z will run at a good pace on 2 AA batteries, the N will work on any of the cheap 2-12v PWM motor controllers that are available on ebay or amazon.

 ZShorty stuff below! 



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Last edited by SteamWolf

I used Bachmann N scale in my Mesozoic Park dinosaur layout. I used the 9 3/4" radius track. As Dan said, the Kato engines are noted for being some of the best running in that gauge, but I happened to have a Bachmann F7 on hand. I added some styrene seats to the gondolas for the O scale kids. As has also been noted, all N scale runs on a DC power pack.

MesozoicPk 001





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Last edited by Jim Policastro

I did an amusement park for the Holyoke MA Senior Center in HO scale and we run a N Scale train ride in the park. If you get a small steam engine and some small cars I think you can run on an 18" curve. Our oval is about 24". The HO to N scale works good HO people fit good in an open N Gauge passenger car. O Scale people will be too big for N Scale. HO, N, and Z scale run on DC. I run a HO mining operation on my O Gauge layout that looks good but you couldn't get 18" with the HO>IMG_3099IMG_7256




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Arnoldoo posted:

I have this DC transformer (See Attachment) will this run the N Scale train? Or is this over kill?

Thanks Arnold

Hi Arnoldoo,

Not only too much voltage, but way too much amperage.  If you loco derails and shorts out, probably won't be nothing left but a charred, blackened pile of ashes and melted plastic where it once stood. 

I'd recommend N-scale over Z-scale, because it's been around a lot longer and is a lot easier to find at most hobby shops, hobby & craft stores (if they carry any train stuff), train shows, etc., etc.  9-3/4" radius is the defacto standard for the curved track included with virtually all N-scale starter sets offered on the market these days.  I haven't heard of 24" dia. curves being included with any N-scale sets, I believe this is just the suggested room you should have available for the 9-3/4" radius curves included in virtually all sets.  Which will also limit you to 4-axle diesels and smaller steamers, and 40'/50' freight cars.

Any N-scale starter set would probably make for a great park train ride on an O-gauge layout, as long as the locomotive runs halfway decently.  KATO is top-notch quality, newer Atlas train sets are too.  Bachmann and any older Life-Like (no longer in business) N-scale sets would be alright too.  Any of these sets usually include a suitable transformer, and that or any other late model N-scale transformer is the type you should use.  The voltage and amperage output is dialed in for these smaller motors.

For a park ride, stay away from any switches, as N-scale switches can be cantankerous and problematic, unless you have prior experience with them.  Just a simple continuous run, oval or figure 8 (crossings are generally not too bad) should suffice for your O-gauge train park ride.

Just my recommendations, I have been into N-scale for a long time, and also do N-scale loco repair for my local hobby shop.  So hopefully this helps you out a little.  Good luck on any decision you make. 

Arnoldoo posted:

I have this DC transformer (See Attachment) will this run the N Scale train? Or is this over kill?

Thanks Arnold

You can get an N scale train set power pack on eBay for less than $10. If your only purpose is to power an N scale train for an O gauge park scene, they are more than adequate.

Last edited by Jim R.

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