Questions about modeling in HO vs O the “Sierra West” way.

edited September 2018 in Off-Topic Forum
Good evening, all. I have corresponded with a few of you and appreciate your insights. Karl suggested it might be an interesting forum topic, so I’m going to paraphrase my note to him. I appreciate any thoughts you guys have, as the level of modeling on this forum is what I aspire to, even being at it off and on for over 30 years.

Not only are you all supremely talented, the camaraderie and fellowship here is very cool.

Well, here goes...

"" I have lurked on this forum for quite a few years, joining in 2016. I had hoped at that time to begin a return to modeling, purchasing O'Neill's in HO scale. Unfortunately, some health issues (myself and family members) derailed that. I ended up selling the kit along with another I had bought from Brett.

At any rate, I'm hoping to be back for real now. I've modeled since the 80's, entirely in HO, although many of my scale modeling heroes prior to finding this forum (Bob Brown, Chuck Doan, Brian Nolan) did amazing things in larger scales.

My wife and I downsized a couple of years ago, so a layout is out of the question. I continued to be drawn to the fine work here in general, but in O scale in particular and finally bit the bullet last week and bought the Wood Cutter's Shack (along with the Reaper Paint Set) as a foray into O Scale and I find myself hugely excited.

Your work, especially your Scratchbuilt Loco Shop played no small part in making the decision. I was wondering what you feel the pro's and cons are of modeling in O vs HO?

I find it ironic that I am starting in a larger scale, though having less space, but the other thing I want is maximum value for my modeling time and budget and with Brett's kits, I believe I've found that. If I enjoy the larger scale, my plan is to then build the O Scale O'Neill's as well as trying to find some of the smaller Sold Out kits.

I appreciate your thoughts and thank you for the camaraderie and positivity that I have seen you exhibit in the many threads I have read here on the forum. ""

Kind regards,

George Welch
Loudon, NH


  • I enjoy the extra detailing that can be done with O scale. It's not to say that HO scale is too small for very fine detailing, I think it is just a personal preference. You will really enjoy the Wood Cutter Shack and suspect that you will want to build more O scale. But there is nothing stopping you from building both scales if you like.
  • Hi Bryan,

    Appreciate your thoughts and have enjoyed your fine building skills here on the forum.

  • I guess for me the choice is HO primarily due to the abundance of HO vs O....just look at what Brett as well as other manufacturers have available....that being said, I’ve been giving some thought to ordering an O scale kit from Brett merely because of the additional detailing in O......since I don’t model for a layout switching it up for a kit or two wouldn’t matter too much
  • Thank you, Terry. I have to agree that there are more offerings in HO, but am looking forward to detailing things I can see and handle better.

  • Firstly George, appologies for the delayed response, it's been one hell of a week and my forum time has been limited.

    Secondly, I'd like to thank you for posting this question publically so that some discussion may arise from it.
    Now sure, most of the guys only hit one scale, be it either HO or O, so cant compare the two, however, I find it most interesting to read why guys jump to O from HO or N.
    Obviously HO is where most start and have most invested, but the switch to O and the reasons for it I find fascinating.

    Pure modeling pleasure,
    Health (eyesight)
    Investment (time/money)
    Product availability
    And more...

    I'll add to this in a moment with my own thoughts.

    Thanks again.
  • edited September 2018
    One question was.... "I was wondering what you feel the pro's and cons are of modeling in O vs HO?"

    I enjoy modeling in both scales, I get great modeling satisfaction from both and I do find them quite similar, and also different... ha... here are some thoughts, not right, not wrong, just my thoughts.

    Your question also opens the door to the question, "" What do you mean by 'modeling'...""

    Do you want an expansive layout with trains and track running through it..? cities, towns, etc depicting a RR
    Do you want to replicate a small logging branchline with trees, trestles, etc or another type .
    Do you want 50 buildings to fill up space or
    Do you want to build an incredibly detailed structure.
    Maybe building a highly detailed HO or O diorama will give you the most personal reward.

    So, my first response would be, what do you enjoy most about this 'modeling' hobby. What gives you the most reward.

    Most peoples first response is that there is more available in HO than O, while yes this is true if you are into running trains and building a layout, HO can definitely be 'fluffed out' with alot more offerings, however, at the pinacle and the high end of the hobby the balance is pretty even. Therefor it depends on what you want, hence my prevous short list.

    For instance, if you had a 12x 15 bedroom for a layout, you could def use only top level HO kits to complete it,

    equally for the same space,

    although top quality O has less available quantity wise you only need half as many to complete that space..
    like for like it balances out.

    Or, you could be like me, and many others and just have shelf units along two or three of the walls in that 12x15 room containing dioramas and structures in N/HO/O, because I just like to model.

    I'll compare HO apples to O scale apples in the next post.

    Hopefully a few of the other guys who have modeled in more than one scale will add their thoughts and comments to this thread.


  • edited September 2018

    Thank you for your thoughtful responses.

    For me, over thirty years, my modeling tastes have evolved.

    I have had room-sized layouts in the past, but that changed when I discovered craftsman kits.

    That, in turn, evolved when I discovered the Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette and some of the fine modeling there. I was especially taken by Mic Greenberg and Gary Nash's work from the late 70's, along with Chuck Doan and Brian Nolan.

    I saw that these guys were taking great pains to finely detail their models.

    Seeing and hearing all the platitudes for Brett's kits, building some Sierra West models seemed like a no-brainer. Building in O scale is attractive, but seeing the incredible work here in HO, makes that intriguing as well. I'll be modeling in both scales as well.

    I'm starting with the Woodcutters Shack in O but I've also acquired a few discontinued kits in both scales.

    Looking forward to the journey and appreciate other responses.

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