Model Railroads

Most of us have had a toy train when we were young, some of us just never got over it and have collected many more of them into our retirement years. Model railroading is a fascinating hobby ranging from the tiny N gauge trains to huge Gauge 1 garden layouts. The first miniature trains appeared soon after the real ones in the mid 19th century but were rather crude compared to the replicas of later years.


Gauge and Scale - History - Downloadables & Software - Online Guides & Tools - Projects - Personal Websites

Gauge and Scale

Gauge and scale are two terms that are frequently misunderstood and used incorrectly when refering to model railroads.

Scale refers to the ratio in size between the model and the full size prototype, it can be stated as a common fraction such as 1/30, as a ratio 32:1 or written as 1/4" equals 1 foot. In what ever way it is written its purpose is to convey an exact dimensional relationship.

Gauge refers to the distance between the rails on the track.

All this would be quite simple to understand if there were not a few twists thrown in as will be apparent as you continue reading.

Gauge 1 at 45mm / 1.75 inchs is the largest practical size to build a model railway, any larger layouts are usually refered to as minature railways. The scale is 3/8" = 1 foot, or 32:1. A metric measurement of 10mm to 1 foot is also used that gives a less accurate ratio of 30:1.

Gauge O is 32mm / 1.25 inches, the scale varies, often 7mm to 1 foot, (43;1) but in America 1/4" to 1 foot, (48:1) is fairly common.

S Gauge is exactly half of Gauge 1 at 7/8", the scale is 3/16" to 1 foot, (64:1) and primarily has a North American following.

HO Gauge is literally Half O at 16.5mm / .65 inches, the scale is 3.5mm to 1 foot (87:1). HO is the most common gauge today in most of the world.

OO Gauge is also 16.5mm / .65 inches but the scale is 4mm to 1 foot (76:1) and is the most popular British standard.

N Gauge stands for 9, the 9mm / .35 inch width track, the scale is 160:1 in Europe and America, with the British using 148:1.

Z Gauge is a micro/minature 6mm / .24 inch track used by Marklin in Germany.

There are also other variants of different combinations of gauges and scale as modellers strive for a more exact relationship between the two.

Relative sizes of the common gauges and scales

History & Information

All Gauge Model Railroading Page

Collecting Live Steam Toy Trains 101

Golden State Model Railroad Museum

Largest Model Railroad In The World (Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg)

National Model Railroad Association

Rail Transport Modelling - Wikipedia

Tin Plate Train FAQ

Tri-ang Trains

Tyco Trains Resource

Weeden Steam

Downloadables & Software

Inventory Your Model Railroad

JMRI Model Railroad Interface

Railmation, Animated Railroad Art

Scott's Model Railroad Screensaver

Small Buildings for 0, 027 & S Gauges Paper Kits

TBrain Software

The Railroad Paint Shop

Xtrkcad (Limited Use Demo)

Online Guides & Tools

Full Size Scale Rulers

Hornby Railways Collector Guide

How to Build A Model Railroad

Model Railroad Life Size Scale Calculator

Online Hobby Calculator Figuring Out Scale


Electrical Circuits You Can Make

Holiday Display Layouts

HO Track Layouts

Model Railway Scenery & Strucrures

Level Crossing Lights Project

O Gauge Model Train Layout

Scenery & Structures

Personal Websites

Bill's Railroad Empire

David Element's Model Railway Web Page

Grindham Home Page

Model Live Steam Locomotives

Neil Young and Lionel Trains

Lundsten's Basement Project

Shaun's Model Railway Project

Weeden Steam

eBooks from Project Gutenberg

Lives of the Engineers by Samuel Smiles

Space for Rent

Feature Your Ad in this Prominent Position

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Weeden Catalogue Reprint
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47 product images

Keeping Track Clean

An important factor in keeping track clean is eliminating sources of dust and dirt. Among the best ways to do this is to put your layout in a finished room. If you have a layout in a basement or attic, install a ceiling (solid or suspended) in the entire room or just over the layout to minimize the amount of dust and dirt that gets on the rails and scenery.

Listed Condition of Collectibles

Mint: brand new, often in its original, unopened packaging with all original paperwork included.

Like new: free of any blemishes, nicks, or scratches with original condition throughout. Boxes in pristine condition often are sold with the item.

Excellent: exceptionally clean with minute scratches or nicks but no dents or rust.

Very good: clean, with a few noticeable scratches, but otherwise free of dents, rust, and warping.

Good: quite a few scratches with some small dents and dirty spots.

Fair: well-scratched, chipped, dented, rusted, or warped.

Poor: particularly beat-up; these items often are used for parts or restorations.

In 1901 Lionel made its first electric train for use in store display windows.

"Tinplate" is a term applied to toy trains originally built of thin stamped metal, but it includes plastic trains as well, the over-riding characteristic being that they were built for mass-market enjoyment rather than precise scale.

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