About fiNe-scale modelling
An example of a landscape module with mostly scratchbuilt items.
Less is more
But it are not the dimensional differences between standard N and fiNe-scale that make you into a fiNe-scale modeller.
There are in fact essential ingredients that make up a fiNe-scale modeller.
FiNe-scale modelling has everything to do with a philosophy and attitude applied to your work. Closer to prototype, visual appearance and better performance are all important. And this can be applied to all sorts of modelling whether it is loco building, landscaping, signalling and layout operation, wagon or coach building etc. Choosing your own prototypes in modelling instead of those offered in the shop will distinguish your work. Please forget the idea that if stock comes from a major manufacturer it will probably be OK, because they have done their homework. In lots of cases it won't be OK, in order to shrink the development time to minimum they have taken all kinds of liberties to produce a result that just will suit the average modeller.
A real modelling approach offers advantages. In the first place it gives more satisfaction. Another one is that you have to realise that in most cases time will form a natural limit and not the financial resources. At best you can buy some components that you need but more often you have to scratchbuilt items. As a result the costs per hour of your hobby will be much lower. Also big projects will fall outside your scope thus smaller spaces will suffice for lodging higher quality models. Also you have to find out a lot more about the prototype for your own projects. This can be a hobby in itself, offering lots of pleasant hours.
If you are the type of person that wants to have instant results or buy it in a shop and put it on the train table then you better refrain here. However if you are a modeller that gets satisfaction from better visual appearance with modifications and additions to commercial products then please read on. In most cases the fiNe-scale approach doesn't cost more time. You just have to learn to apply the same materials you probably already use with different techniques, use more care in the blending of colours and combination of products. Combined with a critical view on your own work to see if the dimensional accuracy is still there and dare to reject items that are too coarse or need a redo. Only a critical look comparing with photos and drawings of the prototype will reveal if items are acceptable. Often a good approach is to regard r-t-r products as useful starting elements that can save some work. On the other hand rigorously rejecting everything with a small blot will not bring you any further. Somehow you have to find a fine balance between time available and modelling ambitions. Progress in your results is the main drive for a fiNe-scale modeller and don't be afraid to venture new roads in your modelling. Seeing your first home built loco rolling first time under its own traction is very satisfying.
how to start?
Learning by doing is the way to built experience. But be sure that on most roads many people have gone before you. Modellers that have written down their own experience in order to help others. Thus the best start is by reading and learning from other people. This often avoids traps or dead ends which save effort, together with visiting shows, club meetings and attending seminars or get-togethers for direct contact. In my view there are two clubs of which membership offers many advantages. That is the 2 mm Scale Association and FREMO. The richest source of knowledge on modelling in small scales you will find in the publications by the 2 mm Scale Association and you will find their components a help in saving time. FREMO offers practical workshops, seminars, running sessions and a wealth of knowledge on 1:1 railways and their workings together with lots of meeting events all over central europe. Standing strong in developments of modern electronics like DCC applied with sense into models this club points the way forward. The e-mail lists such as the 2MM VAG and various FREMO lists are valuable platfoms for questions giving fast response times with helpful answers.
A good approach would be to visit a FREMO meeting and see and find out all about fiNe-scale in person. Check out the general links in the left column for our club meeting locations, alternatively you can subscribe the fremo160 list to contact FREMO N gauge enthousiasts all over Europe.
Useful study material
An overview of the working set of fiNe-scale standards on this site.
Modulhandbuch N-FREMO version 4.1, German language.
Full set of all FREMO-N standards on modular approach complete with many tips and description of best practice.
Modern image captured, a rare feature in fiNe-scale but perfectly feasible.