Read about the S Scale SIG over the weekend. Interesting to see that S scale has come so far since I “abandoned” my HOn3 for Sn3. At that time, Sn3 seemed to be in the realm of the scratchbuilder with only P-B-L providing superb ready to operate (RTO) motive power. Sure, there were some other brass importers, but PBL had excellent running, and nice looking engines. However, one problem was that the motive power was very limited to several well-known western narrow gauge railroads. Now I like all things narrow gauge, but to not have any eastern narrow gauge steam motive power was an issue. Along came Railmaster Export and Bills’ Train Shop (B.T.S.) with kits that could build some of the eastern narrow gauge motive power.
Why did I chose Sn3? Had a chance to meet the PBL folks and operate some of their engines at a local train show many years ago. The heft of the engines, level of detail, and running qualities convinced me that S scale is the perfect scale for modeling 3 foot narrow gauge lines. Larger than HOn3, but much smaller than On3 scale, S scale is 3/16″=1ft, and makes a nice scale with ability to perform some of the slow speed switching that makes operating fun. Locomotives, rolling stock, and buildings can have high level of detail that you would expect in O scale and the larger scales.
Since moving to Sn3, I have seen the introduction of more building kits, RTO rolling stock, excellent hybrid engines from PBL and a wealth of new detail parts from vendors such as Wiseman Model Services. PBL has recently started to produce limited runs of RTO stock cars, high side gons, and boxcars to help the narrow gauge fan get a start on their layout with some exceptionally detailed freight cars that operate very well. So even if you are not that comfortable building kits, you can put together your own “train set” and start to operate an Sn3 model railroad as you improve your various talents.
If you are new to model railroading, do yourself a favor and join the S scale SIG to discover what S scale has to offer. You will be presently surprised! If you want to model 3 foot narrow gauge, also join the Sn3 Yahoo group to learn more about this great scale!