How to Buy German N Gauge Locomotives on eBay

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How to Buy German N Gauge Locomotives on eBay

Europe is one of the largest marketplaces in the world of modelling, and scale model locomotives are an incredibly popular pastime in all corners of the continent.

Locomotives are available in an all manner of guises and sizes with N gauge trains being one of the smaller styles of model on the market today.

The following buying guide focuses on German N Gauge locomotives, how they differ from other N gauge locomotives and the best method in which to buy them safely and securely on eBay.

What Are N Gauge Locomotives?

N gauge refers to two different things. One is the width between the tracks the locomotives run on, and that is officially known as the gauge. In this case it measures 9mm.

The N refers to that gauge number and in the case of German locomotives it stands for ‘Neun’.

N also refers to the scale of the models up against their real world versions, and it means the trains may sometimes be talked about as an N scale. For instance, the scale of the model train will fall somewhere between 1:148 and 1:160.

N gauge locomotives are one of the smaller types on the market. As such, they are appropriate for enthusiasts that don’t have a huge amount of space in which to build a set.

Locomotive Assembly

Locomotives are offered at various stages of assembly on eBay and choosing the right one is key to prevent having to set aside a lengthily time putting it together.

The table below shows the different assembly types with a description alongside each:



Kit Built

All parts came in a kit in the box and were put together by the original owner.

Kit Unbuilt

Parts came in a kit from the manufacturer and haven’t been assembled fully. At what stage of assembly they’re at will differ from one product to another.

Scratch Built

All components were purchased individually and then constructed to create a locomotive. Must check that additional replacement parts can still be bought.


Item is in the same state as it left the manufacturer. Will either be New In Box (NIB) or Used.

Not Specified

Check with the seller as to what condition it’s in or go to the product description.

Powering an N Gauge Locomotive

Model trains are powered by a variety of different power sources and when choosing a locomotive it’s important to pick a suitable power source. The following table explains the available sources in some more detail:

Source of Power


Electric AC

  • Rare type of power that provides more control over the speed of the trains.
  • A system of different knobs controls speed.
  • AC stands for Alternating Current.

Electric DC

  • Most common type of power used.
  • Works using a transformer linked to the track using a fork.
  • Locomotives can only go in one direction and at one regulated speed.
  • DC stands for Direct Current.


  • New system of power that uses an Alternating Current.
  • One computer chip in the train is linked to one in the Command Centre.
  • These work together and can control direction and speed.


  • Small boiler inside the locomotive provides power.
  • Very rarely seen in N gauge locomotives due to space constraints.


  • Battery inside the train powers the engine.
  • Some will need regular charging.
  • Safer and more suitable for children as there is no electricity involved.


  • Earliest model trains used this to power movement.
  • Train is wound up using the clockwork system and let go.
  • May have to be wound up often.

Buying Considerations When Purchasing a German N Gauge Locomotive

Like all other model trains available on eBay, there are considerations that must be taken into account before committing to a purchase.
Below are a number of bullet points that are useful to consider when buying German N gauge locomotives on eBay:


Locomotive cost is affected by a number of different factors, all of which must be taken into consideration when making a purchase.

The factors are:

  • Condition
  • Age
  • Stage of Assembly
  • Number of Past Owners
  • Limited Edition or Not
  • Source of Power


Particularly apt with items that are country specific like these ones and the buyer must make sure the item is from a reputable German supplier.

Background research into trusted German manufacturers is a good way to make sure the item being bought is as accurate and authentic as possible.

Room to Construct Track

Space must be taken into consideration when buying any model railway items, as a large area is almost always needed.

N gauge is a smaller than normal scale of model and as such will take up less space.

The set will still take over a room of a sizeable dimension though.

Design of the Engine

One way to distinguish a German N gauge locomotive from others will be the design of the engine itself.

German locomotives come from all eras and it’s worth looking at photos of the real-world equivalent to check whether the item is authentic.

Newer models are based on the trains currently used by the country’s national rail operator and photos of these will be particularly easy to find online.

Type of Engine

Germany has a rich history as far as the railways are concerned, and various different types of power mean engine types have varied hugely.

Steam, electric and diesel are the three main types of models that have been produced, and again it’s a case of looking at photos online to confirm a product’s authenticity.

Condition of the Engine

Buying any item on eBay means checking the condition the model is in before finalising a purchase.

It’s imperative with all models, as receiving a model in a used condition can mean any number of different things.

New and New In Box (NIB) locomotives are usually fine though.

Age of Operator

With any modelling, it’s important to react differently if a child is the primary user.

Adult supervision is required at all times as model trains are very delicate and most sets will have some kind of electricity involved.

Battery powered trains can be more appropriate for child users.

How to Buy an German N Gauge Locomotive on eBay

Model locomotives are no different and listings for German N gauge versions will be extensively put together to make sure all the information is available at the click of a mouse.

When buying a German N gauge locomotive, buyers may want to get other items to complete their set and collection. eBay has specific pages that list all of the Track, Coaches, Buildings, Animals & Scenery, Tunnels & Bridges and many more components.


Models are a popular pastime for enthusiasts young and old, with railway models being one of the most accurate of any models available.

German locomotives are an extremely interesting addition to any N gauge collection, and eBay has one of the most extensive collections anywhere online.

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