How many feet and inches is an N scale mile?

How many feet and inches are you going to need to model one mile of track or landscape in N gauge?  The answer will surprise you.

Most of us who model in N scale have chosen it because it’s small. In fact, it’s the second smallest commercially available model railway scale, coming after Z gauge. You can fit a lot of N scale track, landscape and town into even the smallest of areas.

Yet if you’re recreating an actual place or location in N scale you’re in for shock when you work out how much space you’ll need to model even a mile of the real world.

To work out how much a mile modelled in N scale will take a simple bit of maths is used.

One mile is 5,280 feet in the real world. British N scale has a ratio of 1:148. So divide 5,280/148 and you get 35 feet, six inches. So a mile of the real world is 35.6 feet in British N gauge.

For US / European N scale, the ratio is 1:160. And 5,280 / 160 is exactly 33. So 33 feet of N scale landscape will be needed for each mile.

That’s a lot! Actually, it’s a LOT more than I expected.

Thankfully, we can use a technique to compression that helps and allows our model railways to still mirror the real world but in a lot less space than 35 to 33 feet for each mile. There’s more on compression in this article.

If you’re building an N scale model railway, I recommend getting a head magnifyer and not strain your eyes. I reviewed easily the best head visor I’ve come across here. It’s well worth getting if you’re working in N gauge.


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