Narrow Gauge?

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Model Railroading' started by nalmeida, May 26, 2004.

  1. nalmeida

    nalmeida Member

    Well probably most of the persons must know it but there are some things I would like to know about narrow gauge.

    Did it appear before or after normal gauge?
    What were the advantages of using it?
    Was it only used in logging, mining and urban transport?
    Was it particular from a country or was it world wide spread?

    That's all for now :confused:
  2. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Narrow gauge happened at the same time, but initially was the dominant gauge.
    Track was lighter, right of way required less space, Using the construction materials of the time (wood), narrow gauge rolling stock had a higher load to car weight ratio, in mountainous aras, less blasting was required, and lighter trestles could be used.
    Narrow gauge was universal, it existed in all the states, with the possible exception of Wyoming. Most trolly systems ran on 42" gauge (narrow)
    There were narrow gauge railroads pretty much world wide. 18",24", 30",36",
    Meter, 42", all were narrow gauges. There were also some wide gauge, those which exceded 4'-8 1/2" bteween the rails.
  3. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    I beleive it used to be there was no "standard" if you go back far enough, then they standardized to tie stuff together. After standardization, NG remained for reasons Pete mentioned, it was cheaper.

    Today, some countries "standard" is NG. For example, the Philippine National Railway runs on 3 1/2 ft gauge. We believe they also have 750 mm, 20" and 2 ft gauge, and probably others.
  4. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    As far as use, as far as I can tell it was, and is in other countries, used for about anything and everything it's big brother was used for. The exception would likely be extremely heavy loads on modern lines. Hmmmm, NG schnable? I have seen quad trucked (12 axle) NG flats, but only models :D
  5. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    The D&RGW narrow gauge was orginally built with the vision of someday being converted to standard gauage. Somethings (such as bridges) were actually built to standard guage practice in anticipation of this.

    But the main overall reason a railroad was built in narrow gauge was cost. It simply takes less land and less labor and less material, which of course equals less cost.

    But, this does not apply to model narrow gauge railroads.....everything costs more!!! :eek: :D
  6. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Nelson, in Europe there are still quite big narrow gauge railroads alive and in business.
    Because of the metric system in Continental Europe most French, German and Swiss narrow gauge systems were in meter gauge (1000 millimetres), in Austria however they used quite a lot of 750 millimeter track (which is almost equal to 2 1/2 ft).

    I believe the Swiss Rhaetian Railways operate the biggest narrow gauge system in Europe. It is connected to other systems in the Alps like e.g. the Furka-Oberalp Ry.

    No, not at all. The mentioned lines are full-fledged railroad systems, both for passenger and freight. Passenger traffic (tourists!) was and is very important.

    An example is the famous 'Glacier Express' luxury train which runs daily in 8 hours over 180 miles (280 km) through 91 tunnels and 291 bridges from Zermatt to St. Moritz (both very fashionable tourist resorts). There are also lots of other name trains in the Swiss Alps, like the Golden Pass Express, Panoramic Express etc.

    The main reason for building narrow gauge lines was cost, like Vic said. On the other hand, in the narrow valleys the curve radii just had to be so tight that the construction of a standard gauge track simply was impossible.


    The picture shows the Glacier Express on one of the most spectacular viaducts over the Landwasser river.

    Attached Files:

  7. nalmeida

    nalmeida Member

    Thanks a lot for all the answers, they were all great :thumb:
  8. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    WOW Beuatiful pic, Ron!

    Welcome, Nelson!
  9. kettlestack

    kettlestack Member

    What a magnificent picture Ron. The Swiss were building stuff like that long ago and led the world at it! You're lucky you're only a car drive away from scenes like that.

  10. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    "Standard" gauge was set by George Stephenson (Rocket) who was the engineer for the first successful steam-powered railway and shipped locomotives around the world. There are a lot of tales tracing 56.5" back to the ancient Babylonians.
    If you want large narrow gauge steam, look at South Africa.
    There was an interesting thread on Trains.Com about the various gauges in Australia.
  11. JBBVry

    JBBVry Member

    I read somwhere a few months ago a story on why the rails were 4 foor 8 and one half inches it said somthing like this. that the romans used a war chariot that the wheels had to sit betwint the foot tracks of the 2 war horses that pulled it so the roads in rome were made that wide. the space from betwint the legs of one horse to the middle of the legs of the other where the wheels had to go was 4 foot 8 and 1/2 inches. so the trains of today run on that becaus that is the spave betwine 2 horses butts. i have no clue if this is true or not but i did read it a few months ago.
  12. neilmunck

    neilmunck Member

    I've heard that the roman story was not true. It seems a bit far fetched. WHy would the british engineers in the 18th Century pick that gauge when all trace of the roamns more or less disapeared.

    4' 8" is fine but they found you need 1/2" play for smooth running so they increased the gauge by that. In the 5' or 5' 3" systems the wheels are spaced a bit closer to overcome the same problem.
  13. philip

    philip Guest

    Oh boy................................................... a guessing game.........So they would look like Ancient " Low Riders"?:cool:

    Honestly I have no idea................


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