HO scale or O scale?

Mike’s been in touch with a common question: HO scale or O scale?

“Hello Alastair, my new friend:

I wrote to you once before, but I have more to the story.

I was re-introduced to model trains when my grandkids convinced me to get a Lionel Harry Potter Train set after vacationing in Florida.

I went crazy over Lionel and invested heavily for about a year building a large layout for trains to run free on four 4×8-foot tables in the basement.

No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t seem to find enough room to develop landscapes and city systems.

Not long after, I found your web site and have enjoyed every email update you have sent to me, but always intrigued with how much everyone was having with HO scale.

After seeing for the last time my lanky Lionels making sharp turns on my confined layout, I came to the ultimate decision. I have spent the last three months selling off ALL my Lionel O Gauge trains and track.

My new passion is HO scale which I am now invested heavily.

Much more realistic and on the old Lionel tables, these little trains have real room to move.

I also have much more real estate upon which to develop my scenery, and I have decided to recreate movie studio backlots on my train layout.

Now having the time of my life designing and building sets.

Attached are a few photos which I have scaled down a bit to keep from overloading your email. I hope you enjoy, and many thanks for setting me on the correct path.

Cheers, and all the best!

Your friend in Michigan,


HO scale or O scale dogbone

HO scale or O scale

HO scale or O scale

HO scale or O scale

HO scale layout 4x8 dogbone

And now on to Henry who gets in touch around this time every year:

“Hello Al

Here is this year’s update.

Thank you for a wonderful service to the model railway community, I eagerly await your emails every day.

Thank You


Latest ebay cheat sheet is here. Still going strong and goes mad this time of year. Take a look.

Remember theres only way one you can update your layout – and that’s to make a start on one. Just like Mike has done.

A big thanks to Henry and to Mike for sharing his answer on the thorny question of HO scale or O scale.

I have to say, I do find it very encouraging when people mention the blog has helped them to make a start. I shall keep going with this theme.

That’s all for this time folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you stop dreaming, and start doing, don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here.



18 Responses to HO scale or O scale?

  1. Tom Strangeway says:

    Mikes layout is fantastic.
    First thing I thought when I saw the edge of the city hall was back to the future then a few pics further on my thoughts were confirmed. I absolutely love it.
    Keep going with this. Cant wait for the sequel.

  2. Malcolm hodgson says:

    Don’t let the trains get to 88 mph or you’ll never see them again!!!

    Great idea. Love it!

    North Wales

  3. Nice job you are doing there Mike , its the best part of building a model railway builds and scenics , you can use your imagination to its best …….Henry you are building a nice interesting layout , keep up the work and dont leave it too long for the next update …Dangerous Dave

  4. Robert Brady says:

    Best thing you did was rid that 3 rail center pickup track and loco. Never cared for Lionel. not to mention over priced. Good luck and so far so good .Looks like either Kato track .or Bachmann. Good call in any case
    The Critic

  5. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Mike…… I did the same thing… I went from O guage to HO gauge. I just didn’t have enough room for the O gauge. I tried to sell my 11 sets of Lionel, but because I did not have what is called “collector items”, so I couldn’t get a decent price. I gave all my Lionel to my brother for his grandchildren. I have been working on my first 9 x 7 HO layout of PRR’s Sunnyside Yards for the past 3 years.
    Your layout looks great so far….keep going.

  6. Fred Svoboda says:

    Nice work, Mike. I’m also in Michigan (East Lansing) and considering selling off my older Lionel and newer MTH O trains and moving to N for many of the same reasons that you moved to HO. O is great for kids but very toy-like unless you go to two rail and have a huge area, like a museum public exhibit.

    Out of curiosity, how did you sell your O stuff? Ebay? To one of the big dealers?

    Best wishes.

  7. Ron Susarchick says:

    HO scale makes larger turns than Lionel track.
    You need a bigger space for turns than Lionel.

  8. Terry Miller says:

    Henry–I really liked the magnet-background idea. I will use that idea in the future.
    MIKE–pretty ambitious project but looks great.

  9. john thorogood says:

    Mike sells his O scale to make room for HO scale now he can have TWICE as much fun, space and trains. Good choice where space is a concern.

  10. Jimmy L Robinson says:

    Thanks for posting a diagram of your whole layout. Good closeups are helpful and appreciated; however, I very much like to back away and get perspective on the whole layout.

  11. Alabama Mike says:

    Henry, I enjoyed your video very much, especially when you were running your switching routine. I also noticed the hinge arrangement you have set up for lifting up the track for a passage way or folding up the layout. This just maybe what I have been looking for to make a lift gate on my layout.

  12. Rocco Maley from New Jersey says:

    Great layout Mike. What is the size and the maximum radius of the layout?

  13. Brian Chisholm says:

    Nice layout mike. will come fantastic when the roads go in.
    Great work.

  14. Mike Bifulco says:

    Many thanks for the encouraging and positive responses! I’m loving HO and the building continues. Nearly completed the Universal backlot, now I’m recreating Old Tucson from the movie “Rio Bravo.” I’ll send photo updates soon. Cheers!

  15. Robert Brady says:

    Henry seems what you showed us i could have done in a few hours. Don’t take up custom painting for a hobby. leave it to the pro air-brush artists
    The Critic
    4 years ?

  16. Mike Bifulco says:

    Thanks again to Al and everyone for the encouragement. A few questions to answer: I sold all my Lionel (lots of it) via ebay; and maximum radius is 22″ and minimum is 18″. I have a 2-6-4 loco that works great even on the 18″ radius, a smaller loco for the Western town area, but mostly I’m running diesels. Update photos coming soon.

  17. Robert Brady says:

    OK Mike lookin forward to the photos.
    The Critic

  18. Fred Svoboda says:

    Thanks for the response, Mike.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *