what gauge do I have ?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by BP61, Nov 12, 2004.

  1. BP61

    BP61 New Member

    I would like assistance to determine the gauge of a model Steam engine I have. any assistance would be appreciated. Thanks
  2. Chessie6459

    Chessie6459 Gauge Oldtimer

    BP61, do you have a picture of the engine?
  3. BP61

    BP61 New Member

    No unfortunately I don't have a photo. The measurement between the insides of the old piece of rail appears to be 32 mm or 1-1/4 "

    Is this of any help ?
    Thanks for your prompt reply
    Regards Ian.
  4. SAL Comet

    SAL Comet Member

    Welcome to the Gauge Ian, O gauge track is 1 1/4" between the rails. I don't know how many mm's that is :oops:
  5. Chessie6459

    Chessie6459 Gauge Oldtimer

    BP61 I found this on a website,

    O Gauge is not a consistent scale, but envelops various scales and non-scales all made to run on 1 1/4 inch gauge track. Unlike S, HO and N, which tend to have specific scales, O is a medley. #1 Gauge (a.k.a. G) is the only gauge which is as diverse as O, what with trains in 1/32, 1/29, 1/24, 1/22.5 and 1/20 scales all using the same track.

    The G scales are pretty much codified. This is not the case for O.

    The original O trains, like their Standard, Wide and #1 Gauge counterparts, were not made with an eye toward scale. They were toy trains. Scale was a difficult standard during the early 1900s. Toys were made for playability. Many were mere representations of real trains. Some were models of the real thing in name only. Dimensions, details and colors were dropped at will. Alteration in form and hue was commonplace. The only consistent features were the track gauges. Scale played little or no role.

    Refinement generally grows with the ability to produce it. As technology improved, so did the ability to make more realistic trains. That included scale. While Lionel, Ives, American Flyer, Dorfan and Marx continued to make off-scale toy trains, a handful of specialists produced scale kits. Many of the kits were accessories to turn existing toy trains into scale models. A few produced an entire scale model outright. The accepted scale for O varied. In Britain, it was 1/43.5, based on the standard track gauge. In America, I/48 was accepted, despite a minute difference in scale track gauge and the 1 1/4 inch size of O. 1/48 scale was convenient, since it meant a scale foot of 1/4 inch. Known also as "quarter-inch scale," 1/48 proved itself a winner. (HO, which stands for "half-O, was based on the British O).

    A scale curve for O was developed, it being a 72 inch diameter circle. That did not sit well with toy train makers. One of the selling points of O gauge was that it allowed more action in less space. The tight O 31 and O 27 curves were integral to space consideration. O 72 was too wide, and negated any advantage, especially since it was a wider arc than the Standard gauge on which O was intended as an improvement. Thus, O gauge went in three directions: smaller trains running on O27, regular trains to run on O31, and a handful of scale models built for O72.

    Enter A.C. Gilbert, who bought American Flyer and devised a brilliant concept. Since it was impossible to make 1/48 passenger cars and long locomotives capable of handling an O31 curve, why not down-scale? Gilbert figured on using 1/64, or 3/16 inch scale (3/16 of an inch equals one scale foot). His scale trains were 1/64 models, made to run on O gauge track. They worked, since even long passenger cars and locomotives could handle the tight 31 inch curves. Lionel and Marx both leaped on the idea. Marx developed an entire Scale line of tinplate cars using the 1/64 standard.

    World War II interrupted toy train manufacture. After the War, American Flyer emerged with its 1/64 S gauge, a 7/8" gauge that suited 3/16 inch scale. It was out of the O gauge entirely. Marx introduced its plastic cars, along with its older lines of scale tinplate and toy tinplate trains. The plastic cars were made in the 1/64 scale, on O trucks. What stood out with Marx's scale cars is that their trucks and wheels were smaller, thus having a height commensurate with 1/64. Lionel brought out an O27 line that included 1/64 cars on its standard O trucks. Both Lionel and Marx produced most steamers in a scale close to 1/64. This is how O27 was originally associated with 1/64 over O. To date, a true O27 car is based on the 1/64 rather than 1/48 standard.

    Lionel introduced its regular line of O gauge cars. These were slightly smaller than scale, yet larger than O27. The standard O car became the 6464 boxcar. It was notably wider and longer than 1/64 cars, yet smaller than true 1/48 scale models. The "classic" cars followed suit. They were a middle ground between O27 and pure 1/48.

    Scale emerged from time to time. Notable in Lionel's "Standard O" line. However, pure O scale was mainly a thing for two-railers. Three-rail O found itself with 1/64 over O, the 6464 semi-scale, and the 1/48 pure scale item that emerged occasionally. Then there were odd pieces, such as handcars, that might be as large as 1/24 scale.

    Though many diesel locomotives were made to scale dimensions, the cars remained a bit small. It is only recently that 1/48 scale became a big issue for O gauge. Currently, scale pieces are available through MTH (Premier line), Lionel, K-Line, Williams, Atlas, Weaver and 3rd Rail. MTH's Railking Line, originally promoted as "O27," tends to be a larger O gauge based more on a 1/48 standard than 1/64. Lionel still produces its semi-scale and O27 pieces, while K-Line's Classics embody the common sizes akin to Lionel as well as pure O27 pieces. For the O gauger, it helps to remember that Railking tends to run taller and closer to 1/48.
  6. BP61

    BP61 New Member

    Thanks Very much Guys that has been a great help. I will take some photos of what I have . Is there a way of posting those photos so that you or anyone else can view them on this site ?
    Regards Ian .
  7. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member


    :wave: from Nth NSW. :cool:

    And yes there is. Go to the "Photpgraphy, Scenery" sections, and there is a thread in there (at the top) that is about attatching pics.

    Hope to see more of you around here. :)
  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Livesteamer left out 2 variants on O gauge that have died out.
    17/64" to the foot on 1 1/4" gauge track. A more nearly correct scale, keeping the track gauge.
    1/4" to the foot on 1 3/16" track. Corrected track gauge, scales out to 4'9".
  9. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    The photo will help--because "gauge" is dependent upon scale. There aren't too many things a train with 1-1/4" wide wheels could be, but often that isn't the case.
  10. BP61

    BP61 New Member

    Thanks Guys , I have posted photos on the photography Scenery Section.

    Thanks Ian
  11. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Just to round off the O scale variety, in Europe there are two scales in use, fixed by the NEM (Norms of European Model trains):

    Track gauge is 1-1/4" = 32 mm for standard gauge models. The scale of the rolling stock is officially 1:45, PLUS (as the NEM puts it) 'in some countries also 1:43.5' Meant are the British, of course :D :D :D.

    BUT: You find also Continental European brass locos in both scales, depending on the manufacturer and/or importer. To add to the confusion, Rivarossi (ATLAS) made some plastic models in the American quarter-inch scale 1:48. :confused: (I wish we had a NMRA in Europe, too. IMO, the NEM rules aren't much more than recommendations which simply aren't followed by all the manufacturers.)

    An anecdote: I remember having seen two elder model builders at a model show, who had a flaming controversy about their respective models. They both entered the same locomotive type for the model contest, in these two scales. To the naked eye you couldn't even tell the difference between the 1:45 and the 1:43.5, when they weren't standing side by side. The 1:45 model was of course a little bit smaller. And its builder made first price, because his loco was in the 'right' NEM scale, although the quality of the other model was clearly superior. The quarrel of the two modelers radiated to the bystanders, the discussion heated up, and after a few minutes there was a general uproar in front of the judges table. :eek: :( :mad:
    The outcome? Sorry, I don't know, since I had my (then) little daughter with me, and I preferred to leave the scene before we were entangled in a general punch-up! :D :D :D

  12. petey

    petey Member

    I have just recently become interested in O gauge. I considered buying a MTH Allegheny w/sound. Decided not to do that, but purchased a MTH Railking UP FEF, thinking I was buying a set. Since I have only the engine, I now must find track and a transformer. I believe the FEF is three rail, and is to run on AC current? Also, am I limited to Rail King, for additional purchases, for compatible size considerations? Any suggestions?
    I enjoyed the "O Scale" treatise by Live Steamer.:)

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