HO is not a scale.

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Pat McGroyn, Aug 14, 2006.

  1. Pat McGroyn

    Pat McGroyn New Member

    I ask once here and was told yes HO is SCALE.

    Well I beg to differ.

    I have been buying lots of flat cars at shows and on ebay for a large logging layout.

    I worked over two flats today, painting them primmer red, adding chains and stakes.

    On is an Athearn.

    The other is Backman.

    The Athearn is perfect scale behind both my Backman Shays and Cimax.

    The Backman and also the Life Likes and Tycos are noticably larger in all aspects.

    To large to look correct.

    I have mostly these cheap flats I have "bashed" into trypical W Va log flats. To many I think for what I am doing.

    I may offer them on ebay and replace them with a better quality of car.

    Do you think it matters? What would you do?

    Thank you form a new poster.
  2. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    Hi Pat.

    Some older stuff like the Tycos might be a bit off scale as you've seen. Todays offerings by the major maufacturers should be compatible with each other as to scale. As to whether it matters I guess it comes down to your own preferences and willingness to tolerate some off sized models. The goal of the hobby is your own enjoyment after all.

  3. Pat McGroyn

    Pat McGroyn New Member

    I can mix 'em up.

    I have done that with O 27 & standard O many times.

    I think I will find all the ones I have unpack them and have a look.

    Might work to park the nice one on a siding, I plan to park quite a few anyway.

    Thank you for you input.
  4. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    HO is "a" scale--that isn't a guarantee that every manufacturer, including relatively low-end toy-train manufacturers like Tyco and Life-Like, will make everything to scale.

    Are the flatcars both models of otherwise identical prototypes? Obviously, in the real world, not all flatcars are exactly the same size...
  5. Pat McGroyn

    Pat McGroyn New Member

    Then it is a gauge not a scale. Which it actualy is first and if an scale second.

    How evr then my point would be that in the actual workaday week of trains, a flat car would not have wheels biger and a stamers drivers that I know of.

    But as I said, I will mix them up and see how the look going down the line.
    Thank you for you suggestions.

    Are you realy a spelling bee champ?

    I am a reversal, dyslixic they call it.

    I cant spell squat.
  6. ed acosta

    ed acosta Member

    HO Guage

    Sorry, I just had to jump in! HO is a scale and not necessarily a guage. Note that HOn3 is a different guage (3 foot) and will not operate on standard guage track. Not only is the distance between the rails narrower than standard guage, but the cars are narrower, shorter, and not nearly as wide as standard guage cars. Still, you use the same HO scale rule to measure linear distances when building either standard or narrow guage items.

    Another point is that to many individuals, HO scale means realistic detail to the Nth degree. For some, a car is not to scale unless the wheel and flanges are to exact scale and none of the ready-to-run cars are. Some critics may note that the cast-on handrails are oversize. Others may turn the car over and notice that the underbody is lacking complete brake details. These critics are never satisfied!

    Secondly, the term "prototypical" comes to mind. Many cars that are manufactured by Athearn, Life-Like, etc., were designed after a specific prototype (a 50' single sheathed Pullman Standard box car) and although the model may come decorated for a wide variety of railroads, there are many cases where the specific railroad never operated cars of that specific configuration. In this case the car may have been built to HO scale but the roadname is not prototypical.

    I hope this explanation helps.

  7. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    You're wrong, Pat: you spelled squat perfectly.:thumb: Welcome to the Gauge.:wave:
    Regarding the apparent out-of-scale appearance of some manufacturers offerings, some of the cheaper stuff has oversize details, such as the stirrup steps. These are easy to replace with those offered by A Line and others, greatly improving the appearance. Another fault of some of these cars is that the wheels do not look right. Usually, the problem is that the wheel flanges are oversize, causing the wheel to look too large. There are replacement wheels and trucks available from many manufacturers. Another reason that some of these cars appear misproportioned is that they sit too high on their trucks.
    If you are able to replace the stock trucks, it's not too much more work to cut down the bolster on which the truck mounts, thereby allowing the car to sit lower. If the car has body-mounted couplers, you may have to adjust the coupler height too. The point is, you can make acceptable models of many of these cars with only a few minor changes, and at the same time, gain enjoyable modelling experience doing so.

    Here are a couple of cheapies ($2.00 or less) that have had the simple upgrades that I mentioned. I think one is a Tyco and the other LifeLike.



  8. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    You go wayne! That's a fantastic way to approach this quandry! I was waiting to see if you'd reply. :)
  9. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    Well it's really all about punishing the lower quality product by beating it into submission ;)

    You will be pretty and you will like it!
  10. Pat McGroyn

    Pat McGroyn New Member

    Great work on those, did you paint and letter them also?

    Here is what i am talking abaout.

    Unless this Backman is protypicly larger and I dont know what I am talking about it looks a little odd to me.



  11. Pat McGroyn

    Pat McGroyn New Member

  12. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Ho is a scale, but there are also toy trains made to run on ho track. With a few exceptions on some of their older locomotives, Athearn stuff will be scale. When you get Bachmann, Model Power, Lifelike, tyco, or some of the Mantua built when Tyco owned them, you are buying toy trains not scale trains. Some of them can be made into decent scale trains, and some of them can't.

    I think your url may be too long to post as a link, but is it really "yahoofs" or should it be yahoo?
  13. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    ed acosta hit the nail on the head--a "gauge" represents the distance between the rails. When one sees HO "scale" one can assume that the gauge is standard gauge. That an HO model will be 1:87.1 is a standard for manufacturers to follow, not an ironclad guarantee that manufacturers will do so. But the fact that some companies produce oversized equipment does not take away from the fact that many HO manufacturers do take great pains to manufacture equipment which is accurate to its scale.

    Near as I could make out, you said that these gons had wheels bigger than a steam engine's drivers? I'm curious to see that...are you sure these are HO scale items, or did you pick up an On30 gondola car?

    And yes, I did win a few spelling bees in high school...that was 20 years ago, and my skelling spills, or my spelling skills, have only improved since then.
  14. Pat McGroyn

    Pat McGroyn New Member

    Click on to those pics they are larger than the shay or the climax

    It boils down to you get what you pay for I guess
  15. Pat McGroyn

    Pat McGroyn New Member

  16. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Depends on the Shay or the Climax. I clicked on those links and all I got was "This page could not be displayed" error, so I don't know what is in those photos--you might try posting the photo in the message. The drivers on the Shay and the Climax were small--geared locomotives normally have very small drivers. So if you have a Climax with, say, 24" drivers and you have a flatcar with, say, 33" or 36" wheels, then having bigger wheels than a locomotive is a possibility. I thought you were talking about a traditional rod locomotive, which typically have wheels a lot more high-stepping than a Climax.
  17. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    Unfortunately, NONE of those links seem to work for me! :rolleyes: Oh, well... :(
  18. Pat McGroyn

    Pat McGroyn New Member

  19. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    I'm not seeing a problem here...the flatcar in the bottom photo appears to be a pretty heavy-duty flatcar, with metal sideframes and heavy-duty trucks with three wheelsets each, and appears to be about 50 feet long--the sort of thing intended to carry very heavy loads. The other flatcar appears to be a more conventional 40 foot flatcar, of metal construction with stake pockets on the sides. Flatcars come in different lengths--early 1800s flatcars were around 30-36 feet, 40 footers were more common in the early 20th century, but they come in 50, 60 or 80 foot lengths, some with extra-heavy trucks or depressed centers or other fittings to carry special loads. If you're modeling a backwoods logging operation, you're more likely to need logging disconnect cars rather than flatcars anyhow, but a heavy-duty flatcar like the one in the bottom two photos is probably too modern and too heavy to see use on a logging line that runs Shays and Climaxes.

    Put it this way--set your logging lokey next to an HO scale model of a Union Pacific "Big Boy" or a Southern Pacific AC-12 cab-forward. Your locomotive is a lot smaller, yet both are HO scale--because locomotives come in different sizes. Similarly, your two flatcars are both HO scale, but come in different sizes because flatcars come in different sizes.
  20. Pat McGroyn

    Pat McGroyn New Member

    I asked that above somewhere.
    I have a photo of steel flats used by the Navy in WW!. Mower Lumber used them.

    These look similar.

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