Why Create an N-Scale Database? There are many reasons that collectors desire reference information for the things they collect and to take on this question in a more general sense is beyond the scope of a simple blog article. Instead, I will present two “Use Cases” which should help clarify the purpose of this project.
Case 1) Imagine you are at a train show and a vendor offers an apparently older engine of a style that catches your eye. Perhaps it is an early E8A and the paint scheme is of particular interest. You see a price tag which looks like it is affordable but since you are not familiar with the manufacturer, you hesitate to buy it. So you pull out your phone and check the Spookshow.net reference guide on North American Engines. You notice that this engine got a nice solid review. But you might then wish to know what road names were made by this manufacturer. So you will need to look this body style up in another database (TroveStar) and discover that this particular manufacturer made 20 different road name/number combinations and luckily for you, one of those was the CB&Q. Furthermore, there were three different road numbers produced, two in an A-Unit and one in a B-Unit. You then do a quick eBay search from TroveStar and you find that these engines typically sell in the $35 - $65 range, so you can now ask the vendor if he has the road name you desire and make an educated offer to the seller when you do find one of the three made for the CB&Q.
Case 2) You are collecting open hoppers to model a coal-fed power plant in the 1960’s. You might use TroveStar to see who makes hoppers of prototype cars that actually operated in the target time period. You do a lookup in TroveStar and discover that three different manufacturers made 2-bay cars which seem appropriate for your layout. For each of the three body styles you are able to generate a checklist of the road names and numbers of the cars made by the manufacturer and quickly determine which road names would realistically be found in the geographic region where your coal plant is located. You then can click over to SpookShow to see that two of the three make excellent quality cars but that the third manufacturer’s produce neither runs well nor is particularly accurate in the details so you can narrow down your search to just the models that were well reviewed. Furthermore, you are now equipped with a checklist that allows you to ask the seller at the booth in the local train-show “I see you have a couple of 2-Bay Hoppers made by XXX. I know they also made six different road numbers for the CB&Q; do you have any of those buried in this huge stack of jewel boxes?” Show vendors surprisingly have a pretty good idea of what is buried in the numerous milk crates in their display.
There are hundreds of other use cases I can imagine or have experienced. These include “I collect D&H”, “I am assembling a TOFC unit car consist” etc. Hopefully these specific scenarios hope illustrate why this kind of tool is useful to both buyers and sellers. To quote a clothing retailer from the 90’s “An educated consumer is our best customer”.