So what is "narrow?"

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Model Railroading' started by BrownMouse, Jul 5, 2007.

  1. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Yes, there were a few Garratts in Britain, many in Australia, some in India, Spain, Algeria and Brazil, and one or two in Russia.
  2. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    Hum, not to be a brat, but I've always heard 4' 8 1/2" referred to at "American Standard Gauge" or "English Standard Gauge".
  3. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Jbaakko, that depends entirely where you are from/are/when.

    Such an opinion (I'm saying that it's yours, but undoubtly some people hold to it) is reasonable.

    As a general rule of thumb, the #1 reason do have standards is for uniformity. PCs have to have uniform standards or else Dell can purchase DVD roms from Toshiba, etc... Macs avoid this uniformity which limits the efficiency of 3rd party hardware, but allows them not to be limited by them. I have 2 dell laptops, but my wife's is a mac. Neither way is better.

    How does this relate to railroads? If I operate a railroad from Chicago to Cincinnati on 3' gauge and I have a competitor whom uses 56.5" game...they don't necessarily have an advantage on me in shipping a boxcar full of sprockets to Chicago. But! If its going to Milwaukee over a 56.5" gauge railroad, they're going to be able to do it faster and cheaper than me, as I have to transfer the load. Hence a major reason why many railroads switched gauges...creating the unofficial standard gauge.

    Since steam railways were invented in England, it makes sense that most other nations would start by copying the English practices...commonly purchasing British engines (like the John Bull). When the British railways largely became standardized...this standardized, to a degree...the theories of track gauge that foreign engineers learned in Britain.

    Hence, the British standards were adopted by the continent and elsewhere.

    If you were in a country like Japan that already had 42" gauge as common, you would have a good reason to build 42" gauge...interchange business.

    I suspect that a major reason that Japan switched to 56.5" for their high speed service is that there was ample european information available for 56.5" higher speed trains and possibly some limitations from their existing network.

    Since everyone learned from the British...we copied their standards too more than we developed our own...and hence we ended up adopting their standards as they were already the widest spread ideas even before they became standard.

    Note that many of the coupler and brake rules in the US actually only applied for interchange usage.

    Interestingly, a standard British double track railway practice was to run trains on the left track...while in America, it was on the right track. This specifically affected the signal set up as the engineer needs to see the signals. But, the Chicago and Northwestern was financed by British investors, so it operated on the left hand side like a British railway! It did so into the UP ownership.
  4. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    Oh yes I do understand. As I said, thats what I've heard it referred to as. I bet you if you ask someone in a country where it is not prevalent, what standard gauge is, they won't say 56.5"!

    Anyways... General rule of thumb seems to be < 56.5" = Narrow Gauge, 56.5" = Standard Gauge, and > 56.5 = Wide Gauge.
  5. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Oooh, I typed "(I'm saying that it's yours" when I meant it type "(I'm NOT saying that it's yours" . I presumed you to be playing the devil's advocate...and I definitely agree that there are local, national, and international standards...commonly which are unofficial...but defacto standards.

    I wish 3' steam was still the standard in Colorado! :mrgreen:

    At least we still have the Georgetown Loop, Silverton Branch, and 64 miles of the Narrow Gauge circle...if only Bill Gates wanted to reopen the Alpine tunnel district and build a replica mason bogie...sign1

    Oh, and here's too the odd gauge locomotives running in the US!

    I know of the Russian decapod (with extra wide tires) at Union, IL...the Panama 2-6-0 (same deal...5" gauge design with extra wide tires) in Arkansas, and the odd gauge mason bogie at Greenfield Village.
  6. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    Maybe you should ask him...
  7. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    This one is always mentioned, while the DM&IR which was also left-hand is often forgotten.
  8. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Fascinating! I wasn't aware of that!

    I love the ex-DM&IR 0-10-2 in Greenville, PA! Someday I hope to get up to see all of their wonderful preserved engines in Minnesota....or at least a 2-8-8-4!
  9. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    But when you think about it, that practice keeps the market and industry for rolling stock within the country, and effectively blocks outside manufacturers. :rolleyes:
  10. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Actually, it never really helped all that much. Manufacturers will gladly fill an order for any gauge of track.

    But it did help slow down invasions!
  11. Meiriongwril

    Meiriongwril Member

    Irish gauge

    Interestingly - although just across the Irish Sea from Britain - Ireland's standard gauge is 5'3". Some narrow gauge lines did exist (some preserved), mostly 3 foot gauge.
    Wikipedia has an intersting article on the early gauges (inc. 6'2", 5'2", & 4'8.5"), and why this gauge was chosen. (History of rail transport in Ireland - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

    Any stock transferred between Britain and Ireland had to be re-gauged of course. For many years the railways of both the republic and Northern Ireland have been independent of British railways, but in the early part of the 20th century many of the Irish companies were subsidiaries of British ones, so such re-gauging did sometimes take place.:thumb:
  12. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    That is an interesting article, Meiriongwril
  13. bill937ca

    bill937ca Member

    This does not match the facts.

    Gauge Total KM

    1435mm....... 3,204 km
    1372mm....... 77 km
    1067mm....... 20,264 km
    762mm....... 11km

    On a percentage basis.

    1435mm 13.60%
    1372mm 0.33%
    1067mm 86.02%
    762mm .05%

    1435mm is 4ft 8 1/2 in
    1372mm is 4ft 6in (known as Tokyo streetcar gauge)
    1067mm is 3ft 6in (Japanese standard gauge)
    762mm is 2ft6in

    Using standard gauge for Shinkansen lines probably had more to do with getting 5 seats abreast in economy coaches.

    Some JR Freight photos which would all be on 3ft 6in lines. Freight is minor factor in Japanese railways. Most freight in Japan is moved by ships.


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  14. pjb

    pjb Member

    Subordinate Commentary

    The VIRGINIAN's triplex was a steam compound 2-8-8-8-4, NOT an electric locomotive. They also
    operated 2-10-10-2s that had the largest (low
    pressure) cylinders on any locomotive to serve
    on this continent. Unlike their triplex, the
    2-10-10-2s had lesser problems with engines'
    parts wear, and making adequate steam to get
    over the road. So they lasted longer than any
    ones triplexes.
    For what it is worth the MoPac bought
    compound 2-8-8-2s for similar service as
    the VIrginian's behemoths. Namely as
    banking engines (a/k/a pushers), to shove
    the hills. One was ordered (I believe #4000 or
    5000) with multiple auxiliary locomotive
    engines for both tender bogies (a/k/a trucks).
    Auxiliary locomotives (a/k/a booster engines),
    were mostly based upon Bethlehem Steel
    or Franklin Railway Appliance models. This
    MoPac 2-8-8-2 (+ 6 +6) was in fact a unique
    animal. To whit, a four engined locomotive;
    a QUADRUPLEX in other words. Like the
    triplexes the extra boosters made the
    MoPac's locomotive more a headache than
    a boon.

    Probably, better quality of care in places
    where wages were a lower portion of operating
    expenses could have made all of these more
    complex locos viable.
    The VIRGINIAN 2-10-10-2s , like the
    one group of ERIE mallet's that did work well
    (their Wootten system 0-8-8-0s), soldiered
    on providing low speed muscle shoving
    trains over the Blue Ridge, and Pocono grades
    respectively, for many years.

    For what it is worth, since someone brought
    it up, the Confederacy was not more handicapped
    than the USA in the Civil War by gauge
    differences. The largest and most modern
    railroads was the ERIE, at the time. It was
    a six ft. gauge railroad (as was the Lackawanna),
    that connected with the six ft. gauge M&O
    at Cincinnati.
    So there was no interface of equipment with any "standard" gauge lines by the extensive system
    of six feet railroads.

    Ohio was covered with a maze of lines which
    were built to "Ohio" gauge. This was
    deliberately set at a non-standard gauge by
    the legislature in Columbus to force rail
    lines coming into the state to have to break
    bulk, if they wanted state assistance.
    Most, after the initial lines came, did need it.
    This was because buying rights of way at
    fair prices quickly became impossible;
    without the use of the state's power of
    eminent domain to force the sale of property
    and judicially set equitable prices.

    Erie, Pennsylvania would not let any
    line coming into the city connect directly
    to another railroad in order to preserve all
    the jobs involved in breaking bulk there.
    Richmond, Virginia had similar laws for
    similar reasons. They were not alone
    in indulging in this sort of municipal
    job preservation and creation all over
    the country.

    The burdens of inability to interchange
    freight cars was not sectionally biased.
    Read Rogers book on the railroad networks
    development in the 19th century, or
    see Bianculli's volume 2 in his TRAINS and
    TECHNOLOGY; in the Nineteenth Century.
    There also was a cultural and systemic bias
    against interchange of freight. That boils
    down to lack of organization to administer
    such a system, at the time the war broke out.
    There are many facets to the latter matter,
    but this is not the time or place to go into
    it, because few care about these details. I
    do hope these comments are helpful anyway.
    Good-Luck, Peter Boylan
  15. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I'm pro 2-10-10-2...I'm also pro 0-10-2 and pro 0-10-0. I can't imagine what it would have been like to been there on the day when one of the 2-10-10-2s blew up...and the conductor didn't know until a farmer told him. So sad.

    A Virginian model railroad would be cool...I like their MB 2-8-2s...very classy design.

    Interesting facts about the Japanese "standard gauge". There are engineering limitations on speed for a given gauge. Adopting 56.5" gauge for the Shinkansen line in Japan allowed them not only more seats, but also a more stable ride...and hence a faster line...than 42" gauge. This is not as big of a deal as it was in the steam era...but it is still a very big deal.

    I was also under the impression that they were widening the gauge of their convention railroads. I do know that they have some very serious steam hopefully don't lose their ability to operate the preserved steam engines.
  16. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

  17. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

  18. fsm1000

    fsm1000 Member

    Well Bill I stand corrected again. I suppose I can no longer trust those tv shows that tell us about railways around the world. Dang, and I so enjoyed them too. I was not aware of them lying to us. Weird. I wonder why they did that?
    Thanks again for setting me straight. Like a fool I trusted a different source. Sorry for miss informing you guys. I honestly thought they were telling the truth. I had no reason to believe they would lie about something as simple as that.
    Oh well, live and learn.
    Once again Bill thanks for setting the record straight.:) Much appreciated :)
  19. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I don't know if it is clearly a 2-12-2. It looks as if the drivers are in 2 sets under each unit, and each set isn't 6 wheels, but the outer one is the motor shaft -- you can see daylight under several of them.
    Triplex is because the 3 units form one locomotive -- note that it's numbered 100 at each end.
    (And they did have a steam triplex as well.)
  20. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    It's a 1-B-B-1 (per unit; the whole thing is a 1-B-B-1+1-B-B-1+1-B-B-1).

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