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For model railroad builders, used tracks and rolling stock are an economical way to start a collection or expand a layout. Minuscule T scale trains run on 3-millimeter gauge tracks and are the newest addition to the family of scale model railroads.
Although they are no longer the smallest scale available, Z scale trains are typically fewer than 3 inches long. N scale model trains have variable rolling stock sizes ranging from about 2.5 to 5 inches, but they roll on a standardized track gauge.
Popularized by some of the largest model train manufacturers, HO scale trains are about 6 to 8 inches long. O scale train sets are popular for vintage collectors and feature cars about 8 to 12 inches in length.
Like T scale and G scale trains, N scale railroads are defined by the gauge of the track and not by the scale of the rolling stock. N scale railroad sets' exteriors tend to be in better condition than some of the larger scales because they are more often owned by collectors and model enthusiasts than treated as children's toys. Used N gauge track should have clean rails and be completely free of dents or nicks that could affect its operation. Because they are stationary, layout elements such as buildings, park benches, and decorative statues do not typically undergo the wear that track and rolling stock receive. Running a model railroad on a budget is a challenge, but used N scale railroad sets can make the hobby more affordable. A train set that is in excellent or better condition will fetch a higher price, but many in good or very good condition are excellent entry-level buys for novice collectors or modeling enthusiasts.
Manufacturers have historically released limited-edition rolling stock to drive interest in a new line or model of trains.
Find the All Categories tab on eBay's main page and hold the cursor over it to reveal a pop-up category listing.
Depending on their condition and availability, N scale model trains and railroads can be a bargain for novices or a significant investment for collectors. Nine millimeters separate the tracks for all N scale railroad sets, and the cars are scaled up or down to fit this standard gauge.

If the train set is being sold in like-new or excellent condition, it will look very similar to how it looked when it first left the factory. Train sets are collectors' items as well as the centerpieces of a miniature village or railyard, and some rare models command high prices. Those who are interested in creating lifelike dioramas with authentically weathered rolling stock may find that trains in good to fair condition make appropriate set pieces, particularly if their flaws will be further concealed under layers of artificial dust. Train gauges and scales were not standardized until the 1950s, but the earliest sets compatible with N gauge track appeared as early as 1927. These limited releases are often worth far more than their original sticker price, especially if they are in excellent condition or are older models.
With availability at every price point and a scale compact enough for tight spaces, N scale model railroads are becoming increasingly popular. While various train sets can run on N gauge tracks, each element of a set must run with similar scales to ensure accurate proportions and proper function.
Like other collectibles, railroad sets are often categorized by the amount of wear the item has received.
Other train sets may feature paint, decals, or simulated weathering applied by a previous modeler. Note any build-up of dust, scale, or excess lubrication; these could be signs that the train set may need reconditioning before it is ready for the track. Small scratches that resemble brushed metal could indicate previous use of steel wool to polish the track, a practice that could shorten the time between cleanings and impede the smooth travel of trains over the track. Examples of these early models and of the first standardized N scale editions hold special interest to collectors and are therefore costlier. Train sets from manufacturers that have gone out of business are also of keen interest to collectors.
The Toys and Hobbies link may also be visible on the front page, depending on the browser and platform used to view the site. Scale model train enthusiasts shop for used railroad sets for a variety of reasons, but all of them can find models in excellent condition with the right knowledge. Some model train enthusiasts collect numerous N scale sets, but they run only one set at a time, often changing out parts of the railroad's layout to maintain accurate scale with buildings and people.

The following table lists common categories for wear and use of model railroad sets as defined by the Train Collectors' Association (TCA). Those who enjoy operating trains and building layouts more than detailing the trains themselves may find this a benefit; modelers typically prefer rolling stock that has not yet been altered from its factory standard appearance. Many of these items are designed to be refurbished, so an otherwise intact storefront that has faded over time may need nothing more than a fresh coat of paint.
Select this category from the pop-up listing or from the main page and locate the Model Railroads & Trains department on the left margin. The primary characteristic that any miniature train hobbyist notes first about a model is its scale.
Well-made models are sized down proportionately for an exact replica of a real or literary full-sized train. Like other eBay categories, this section has an option to shop for new or used tracks, rolling stock, and accessories. For example, a tiny T scale boxcar in 1:480 scale might be one inch long and resemble a car 40 feet in length. Using trains of significantly different scales on N gauge track can result in a less than realistic appearance or cause connection problems, but many collectors find that the subtle differences in scale between 2mm trains and 1:148 models is negligible. However, connecting cars and engines may still be problematic, so note the connection points on a used model train set to ensure its compatibility with current rolling stock in the collection.
Scale is distinct from gauge, the measure of the distance between tracks; this is why some scales vary widely while using the same track gauge. N scale trains fall toward the middle of the size spectrum and offer a good combination of detail and economy of size.

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