Your Guide to Buying a Complete N Gauge Locomotive Set on eBay

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Your Guide to Buying a Complete N Gauge Locomotive Set on eBay

Whilst other gauges and scales of locomotive sets may not be able to fit in smaller spaces, one can purchase an N gauge locomotive set that takes up very little room, all the while functioning just as well as other, larger gauge locomotives. Their compact nature, matched with their high level of performance, means that they are one of the more popularly purchased and used gauges of model trains.

The gauge is the width between the two pieces of track that the locomotive rides on. In the case of N gauge locomotive sets in the United Kingdom, the track width is 9 millimetres apart and the scale of the trains tends to be 1:148.

The following guide is written as a means of taking prospective buyers through the extensive nature of complete N gauge locomotive sets.

Components of an N Gauge Locomotive Set

There are a number of complete N gauge locomotive sets available on sites such as eBay for extremely reasonable prices. However, some sets do not comprise every component needed to recreate an accurate and realistic model railway scene. Here are the components that make up a ‘complete’ N gauge locomotive set, as opposed to those which may only be made up of certain parts:


There is a variety of different trains that may appear in N gauge locomotive sets:

  • Steam Locomotive:Locomotives of this nature are not used as popularly as, for instance, electric locomotives in the world of N gauge model railways. This is down to the scale of the locomotives. Incorporating a steam engine into a train of this scale is a difficult process. Also, steam locomotives of this size may not hold the same pulling strength and speed as other N gauge trains. On the other hand, there are steam locomotives available at this gauge that work better than older models. These may, however, be higher in price.
  • Electric Locomotives: There are three different types of electric locomotive available on the N gauge locomotive market:

AC Locomotives

These are the least commonly used type of electric locomotive available and may be difficult to get a hold of. Using alternative current, they can make quick changes in direction and other forms of electrically powered locomotives make use of some of the advantages of using this type of current.

DC Locomotives

DC locomotives are lot more popular and lot easier to find on the market than locomotives powered by alternating current. Model trains of this manner are widely used for their propensity to keep energy bills low whilst being able to produce an ample amount of power for fast locomotives that have a quick change of direction and have a high level of pulling power.

DCC Locomotives

Both direct current and alternating current locomotives are controlled via the track. However, Digital Command Control locomotives contain a decoder placed inside the train itself. This allows the user to exclusively control the train and not control it through the tracks. The decoder on the train receives a digital signal from the controller. Said controller is in charge of the direction of the train, as well as the speed at which it travels. N gauge trains that are run via DCC are becoming ever popular due to model railroad users buying decoders and fitting them separately.

There are also a number of other locomotive cars that come in complete N gauge sets. For example, there are tanks, wagons, passenger coaches and tender cars (cars which carry the materials needed for powering the train). However, it is not often that all of these will come in a complete N gauge set and may need to be purchased individually in order to complete a set. This can be done easily and affordably through an auction site such as eBay.


Pieces of track will also be found in N gauge locomotive sets. There are a variety of track styles that regularly appear in these sets that can be used to set up a number of different track plans that suit the space available to the user of N gauge model locomotives. The track styles available are:

  • Flex Track: Pieces of flex track are able to be modified into the track plan of the user’s choice. They can be bent into the style of corner track, as well as being able to be used purely as straight track. However, once stuck down, it is hard to customise the track again and more flex track may have to be purchased. Flex track is particularly useful for those who wish to create track plans that are not standardised and can be cut or styled to specific requirements.
  • Curved Track:Curved track is used by those who wish to create bends in their track and to enable model locomotives to be able ride round corners. There are a number of degrees of corner track available; there are corner tracks that cater for slight bends, as well as those that have sharper turns. These are commonly found in N gauge locomotive sets.
  • Straight Track: Track of this nature is the most popularly bought and manufactured. By the nature of its name this is straight pieces of track that can be cut to the length desired by its user. Straight track is a staple component of the majority of N gauge locomotive sets.

It is worth noting that not all complete sets will contain all the pieces of track mentioned above and they may contain only a combination of flex, corner or straight track. It is common that only corner track and straight track can be found in complete sets. However, there are sets available that contain flex track.

Buildings and Scenery

Most complete N gauge locomotive sets will contain versions of buildings and scenery that correspond to the N gauge scale. These are used by model railroad users who wish to make their railroad as realistic as possible. Most model railroad users enjoy the process of setting up scenery and buildings and some sets include scenery assembly kits, such as paints and moulds.

Some of the scenery available from N gauge locomotive sets include:

  • Figures: Whether it is a station controller or passengers, there are figurines that are occasionally included in N gauge locomotive sets in order to add a touch of realism.
  • Animals:Animals are included in sets for those who set up their model railroad as though it is going through the countryside.
  • Vehicles:Vehicles such as cars or vans may also be included in N gauge locomotive sets and are manufactured with a high level of realism to match the locomotives themselves.
  • Nature: Trees, grass and ‘water features’ are occasionally included in N gauge locomotive sets. Much like figurines, these may be manufactured with the hobbyist creating and painting these themselves.
  • Stations: There are also scale representations of railway stations that are available as part of N gauge locomotive sets. These are again used as ways of making the model railroad experience as realistic as possible.
  • Tunnels: Tunnels are also a popular piece of scenery that can be acquired. Different lengths of tunnel are available, as well as features like of bridges on which tracks can be placed.

Buying a Complete N Gauge Locomotive Set Online

There are a number of forums and online discussion sites that are dedicated to the art of model railroading. There are even those that have been designed with the sole intention of discussing only N gauge locomotives and its various entities. It is a wise idea to browse these to find expert opinions on the best brands to purchase and the best ways of setting up individual elements of the set. It may also be beneficial to ask questions on these sites as many forum users are willing to help with any queries concerning model railroading.

Those who use these sites may direct inquirers to selected specialist online retailers who sell the products they are after. Use these sites as a way of gauging the standard prices that are paid for N gauge locomotive sets. This is useful as it creates opportunities for bargains to be spotted on auction sites such as eBay.

Buying a Complete N Gauge Locomotive Set on eBay

After an understanding has been gained of N gauge locomotive sets and the prices that are generally paid for them, using an auction site such as eBay can be a way of finding similar products at more affordable prices. Visit the Collectables section of eBay and click the Trains/Model Railways link to find a vast array of model railroading products all up for auction. By using the keyword search bar or the N Gauge filter tab on the left hand side of the page one can narrow the search down further still.

If a product is found that matches requirements, work out the best way of gaining that item. It is possible that the set may be available for a Buy It Now price or be available for a Best Offer price. Generally however, it will be possible to place a Bid on the item.

Before any of this happens, make sure to be meticulous in the research of the product. Scan the images thoroughly, read through the product description and ask the seller a question if there are any issues concerning details such as shipping, collection or the product itself.

Be sure to be aware of the terms and conditions of both eBay and PayPal to enhance the security and smoothness of the transaction.


N gauge locomotive sets come in a variety of forms. Whilst one set may contain only tracks and trains, others may be more extensive in their components. Either way, by being fully read-up on locomotive sets of this gauge, one should be able to find a set that suits requirements in terms of components affordability.

When it comes to model railroading, a good idea is to measure the space available for track and scenery before trying to find a certain product. This is a useful way of helping with the layout of the track, as well as helping with the purchase of a complete N gauge locomotive set.

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