Why the G Gauge Scaling Variations

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by gromit, Apr 10, 2003.

  1. gromit

    gromit New Member

    The number of G Gauge hobbiests is fairly small when compared to the overall Railroad modeling hobby. I think it has something to do with the fact that you can purchase quite a few items in say HO Gauge for the price of one G Gauge Engine. Now if I were a Manufacturer of a line of G Gauge products, I would want to appeal to the largest number of potential customers possible knowing that there aren't all that many to begin with. Why is it then that there are so many scales within the G Gauge field, farther segmenting the market? After all I'm sure they are fully aware most hobbiest pick a particular scale and stick fairly close to it, to try and make there model layout as proportional as possible. Why do they not get together and set a uniform scale and stick with it? I'm sure it would be benifitial to them all in the long run, having a greater number of customers. What's the logic here, Someone help me understand.


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  2. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    G started out as a toy size. (well didn't they all!) LGB (Lehmann Gross Bahn) "modelled" narrow gauge trains on a wide track gauge (wider than O, anyways). They weren't particularly conserned with making scale models, just with making it look good.
    Then other companies got into the act. The track gauge stayed the same, but the prototype gauge varied, sometimes metre, sometimes 3 feet, maybe 2 feet. Then some outfits started modelling standard 56 1/2" gauge prototypes. All on the same track; all with compatible (?) couplers. So there really is no such thing as G "scale", just G "gauge".
    So different G gauge trains are like HO and On2 1/2.
  3. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    The easiest way to answer this is with the supposition:

    "The Manufacturer - WANTS to appeal to the Most amount of people! " Absolutly right - My friend!!!!! :) :)

    Now, you as a consumer have devoted your life & collection to 1:24 th scale G Gauge -- now here I come & say the heck with you - I'm following the lead of the "other guy" & ONLY producing 1:20.3 Scale stuff. Further I'm convincing all other Manufacturers to switch to MY scale!!

    You see the problem????? You will NEVER be able to buy 1:24 stuff again!! Which of the 4 "Scales" do we switch to?????

    In order to take care of the Most people - you have to produce all the scales.

    It's the old joke " I think we should get rid of ALL the stupid people on the Earth -- Good idea??? Who decides "who's Stupid??!!?? :eek: :eek:

    BTW - G scale is more popular in germany - LGB ruled there for years!! :) :) (Lehman's Gross Baun) Lehman's Big Road

    Excellant Question!! :D :) :D :) :D
  4. Mike R

    Mike R Member

    David; much as I don't wish to disagree with you, there had to be time when I finally would.

    What really "came first" in this gauge, was "#1 gauge" tinplate trains, with a scale of approximately 32:1, running on nominal 45mm or about 1 3/4" wide track. The track represented standard 56 1/2" width at this scale, and that tinplate was later refined to scale high-end product, mainly by Maerklin, although Basset-Lowke and others also produced 32:1 models. Live steam was also available, and still is.

    When LGB came out, they built to nominal 22.5:1 scale, thus making that same track gauge the equivalent of European "meter" narrow gauge, or 39.3" wide.

    A few soon-to-be-absorbed manufacturers, like Kalamazoo, came on the scene producing models to 24:1 scale, making that track gauge represent nothing in real life. I believe the first Bachmann "Big Hauler" was approximately 24:1. Lionel produced some outright toys to no scale at all.

    Aristocraft then espoused a scale of 29:1 for "standard-gauge" trains, because somehow 32:1 trains "looked too small".
    [USA Trains now does this too]. These are very popular, despite the large scale error, due to price & availability.

    Bachmann then decided to do narrow gauge prototypes to a scale of 20.3:1 which makes that same track gauge represent a true 3 feet wide, and this has become generally known as F scale.
    There's a growing contingent of modellers in larger scale sizes, as well, ( 16:1 and 13.7:1) having that same track represent even narrower gauges.
    best regards / Mike
    ps...for lots of large scale forum action, try joining "mylargescale.com" [:D]
  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I defer to your experience; I've never owned any G gauge. I was being generous and suggesting that the models might have an actual scale.
  6. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all

    Another way to look at it...

    From a business point of view....

    It is a lot easier and cheaper to manufacture one type of track. No matter what scale is riding on it...

    Larger scales = narrow gauge railroading.

    Smaller scales = standard gauge railroading.
    All on the same track.
  7. marc gast

    marc gast Member

    Large Scale Scales

    Well All,

    Yes, it is quite confusing and of course the larger manufactures such as Aristocraft could care less about proper scale.

    As it was in the beginning (no, this is not a religious experience, I am about as far from that as one can get), older standard Tin Plates, Lionel, Ives, etc. were 1:32 scale on 45 mm track (3 rail though) and this was to scale for 4'8.5". LBG came along and built scale models to their metered track which was, I remember right, about 42 ". Thus LGB began making "Garden" scale trains, mostly European. By the way, "G" became the designation for all of the larger scales due to the fact many of these were placec in "Gardens". Now there are specifics for each size. To the rescue came Delton and Kalamazoo Trains, 1:24 (1/2 " scale) running on 45 mm track and were the first to manufacture American style engine rolling stock etc. Why 1:24 scale? It was easy, 1/2 inch = 1 foot. For those whom are not familiar with the Delton/Kalamazoo stuff, Delton made some fantastic brass items in 1/24 scale. Unfortunately, poor money management and businees practices force the selling of the molds to Hartland and Aristocraft (yes Aristocraft's 1/24 stuff is all of the old Delton items). Then Bachmann comes along with 1:22.5 for some unknown reason, and now there are 4 different scales in "G". So, LGB and Bachmann are @ 1:22.5, some Aristocraft and Hartland @ 1:24, Aristocraft/US Trains @ 1:29 and no one at 1:32 which is true standard 4"8.5" gauge. Well, a couple of manufactures have gotten it right and now building in 1:32 scale (MTH, Marklin) and Bachmann/Accucraft/Berlyn Loco and a few other narrow gauge companies are correctly building 3 foot narrow gauge. Now, if you are going to want true American scale on 45 mm track, you run 1:32 which is 4'8.5" on 45 mm track, 1:20.3 which is true 3 foot narrow gauge and 7/8ths which is true 2 foot on 45 mm track.
    Al of this had nothing to do with what sold the most, the manufacturers never took scale into consideration and basically forces non-scale items into the market. Now some of the companies are wising up and doing it right. The other thing that didn't help out on standardization was the "anything at 10 feet looks good" mentality. Soooo, there you have it in a nut shell. Well more like a coconut shell because of all the information. Long winded yes, however, its the only way to describe the mess. Oh ya, by the way, LGB''s new F units are 1:26 scale. You would have think they would have learned.
  8. marc gast

    marc gast Member

    Today's Business

    In another note to "What sells the most".

    That is the problem and typical of business today, who cares if it is right as long as it sells.

    Being a quality engineer in the auto industry, I see this blindsided business mentality on a daily basis.

  9. marc gast

    marc gast Member

    Today's Business

    In another note to "What sells the most".

    That is the problem and typical of business today, who cares if it is right as long as it sells.

    Being a quality engineer in the auto industry, I see this blindsided business mentality on a daily basis.

  10. SD90

    SD90 Active Member

    Hmm, very confusing, I've been thinking of getting into "G" scale for a long time now, just because I like the way the Aristo Craft SD45 and the USA trains SD40-2 ,looks and feels. But now I see that they aren't really to scale? Hmm, I think they still look good, but do you think they will ever all get on the same scale? If so, then these locomotives will be out of scale, maybe. Unless they chose to go with 1:29!

  11. Mike R

    Mike R Member

    Mike, why let a gauge error spoil your potential fun ?
    The Aristo and USA Train stuff looks good, because it isn't "off-scale", it's "the wrong gauge".....the models are scale, but the track gauge is wrong for that scale.

    The vast majority ( I believe it's over 99% ) of "0 Scalers" use the wrong track gauge, and have done so ever since this size category was developed from tinplate, and wound up with 48:1 models on 1 1/4" gauge track. This is thousands and thousands of hobbyists having fun.

    In Britain, and a lot of Europe, except for a very few EM and Proto:87 modellers, the vast majority of "00-H0 Scalers" use 00 models on H0 track, and have ever since the days when H0 motors of the day wouldn't fit into 87:1 models of the small prototypes. This is hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of hobbyists having fun.

    So don't let anyone try to spoil your fun with scale-rule-silliness...it's YOUR railroad when all is said & done, not theirs.
    Happy New Year, and have fun,
    Mike in Meaford:D
  12. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all


    "Nothing in real life."

    I'll have you know that 24:1 is Half Inch Scale! 1/2" equals one foot. So 45mm and/or 1 3/4" is equal to 42" gauge! Or as MR would say 3 1/2'

    There are many prototype 42" gauge railroads....

    Call the gauge/scale combination Hn42....

    It would be the correct track guage if they were modelling Zero scale instead of "Oh" scale. 7mm to the foot or 43:1 like in the UK.

    But the 5' gauge is correct if you are modelling traction in 48:1 "Oh" scale.... Many prototype trolleys ran on 5' guage track instead of the "standard" 4' 8 1/2".

    To go back to the origional question....

    It is cheaper and easier for all the manufacturers to make the same track. And cheaper and easier for all the Garden Railroaders too...

    Then, you can choose what scale to run on those tracks depending on your preference.

    Anything between 29:1 and 32:1 can be considered standard guage. And it is hard to tell the difference unless you have a scale ruler in your pocket. They fall into the catagory of being close enough.

    Just like mixing 43:1, 45:1, 48:1 and 50:1 together in O scale. They are all close enough that unless you nit-pick and count rivits, it doesn't really matter.

    The other G scales reprisent narrow guage railroading from 1/2" to the foot (42" gauge) down to 7/8" to the foot (24" gauge.)

    You just need to get your hands on a chart that lists all the scales and how they measure against the 45mm gauge track....

    I used to have a copy of this chart, but I can't find it right now...
  13. marc gast

    marc gast Member

    "G" Gauge


    In comment to the out of scale. out of gauge. The trains are out of scale for the track that was desiganted (45 mm), not the track is out of gauge. If Artisto wanted to make something to scale, it would have developed the proper gauge of track to go with it. Since everything is based upon the 45 mm track width, then the issue is "out of scale, not out of gauge".
    What is nice now though, is all of the different scales in the the large scale community have secific designations which helps everyone out.
    As it is on all model railroads, its your's and do what you like! :)
    There will never be size made by all manufacturers for this large scale. Also, I belive the large scale is starting to rival N as the # 2 most popular modeling scale. Now that does say something for us "Biggies".
    This question has been raised many times and the discussion will continue on also. I prefer scale 3 foot narrow gauge, so I stick with 1:20.3. Not a rivet counter, however, do want to stay consistant. By the way, the Bachmann "original Radio Controled Big Hauler was 1:22.5. I recently cut one up. The 2-6-0 molds were the same from the beggining. Some of the cars were probably larger than 1:22.5. As a matter of fact, Bachmann stated that the gondolas, boxcars and flats were very close to 1:20.3 and that was the reason for not releasing the 1:20.3 series which they sold to Accucraft. Yes, all of the injection molded 1:20.3 rolling stock was Bachmann's brain child, just as the Bachmann 1:20.3 shay was MDC's design.
    Stranger than truth.
    Like I mentioned, its your railroad, do what you like!!!!:wave:
  14. Mike R

    Mike R Member

    Re: Yip!!!

    Sorry Ron, no New Years' cigar for you.
    "Zero" scale and "Oh" scale are essentially the same inaccurate term.( It's rumored that the usage of "Oh" for "zero" , came from telephone slang in the 1920's).

    The combination of 43:1 scale and 1 1/4" gauge is also an incorrect scale-gauge combination, and was developed as a compromise also. This has been well known in the UK for several generations.
    Accurate 7mm to the foot scale requires a gauge of 32.96mm, or about 1.28 inches. 1/1/4" gauge is 31.75mm.
    So at 43:1 the track is nearly 4% "too narrow", while the 48:1 scale has track that's about 6% "too wide".

    THAT is why 3.5mm H0 scale is 87.1:1, to accurately size it for 16.5mm track......and explains why H0 scale is not 86:1.
    ...and a Happy New Year to you anyway.
  15. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all

    I stand corrected...

    As I said...

    I'm not shy about mixing 43:1, 45:1, 48:1 and 50:1 together in O scale. They are all close enough that unless you nit-pick and count rivits, it doesn't really matter.

    Just don't place a 43:1 and 50:1 model of the same subject next to each-other and most people won't notice the difference...

    I guess that makes 45:1 the closest... But don't ask me to do the math..
  16. Danny

    Danny Member

    The majority of Large Scale modellers are not rivet counters, but, do not want toy trains also. On my Rookwood Central Railway, I run a mixture of 1:20.3, 1:22.5 & 1:24 Rolling Stock and locomotives, size variations are minimal as some manufacturers scales are suspect anyway, the only oddity on my line is the Bachmann Consolidation 2-8-0 coupled to Bachmann new generation 1:20.3 rolling stock ( which is based on a very small prototypes.) LGB clerestory roofed coaches match Bachmann Jackson & Sharp coaches very closely.
    As I do not run standard gauge models I cannot really comment on 1:29 compared with 1:32 scales.
    It is your railway, have fun!
    Regards, Danny Sheehan in Oz.
  17. marc gast

    marc gast Member



    Not an oddity you running the new Bachmann generation behind the Bachmann "Connie". The consolidation protoytpe Bachmann used was a 2-8-0 built for Mexican railways (see Finescale RR for the details). Shorter cars were normal behind these in Mexico. Smaller branchlines used these cars in the US also.

    They are all close on the upper end for the narrow gauge stuff.
    These just don't look right with the smaller scales.

    I do have a 9 LGB D&RGW passenger cars which look good behind the Accucraft 1:20.3 268 Bumble Bee (C-16). Since the C-16 is a smaller 2-8-0, they match well. The cars do not look good behind the Delton (now Aristocraft) 1:24 C-16, the 1:24 scale C-16 is way too small. the LGB cars overpower this engine.

  18. Danny

    Danny Member

    Marc, Yes I know what you say is correct, ther Bachmann Connie is based on a Mexican two foot six inch gauge prototype, all I was saying was locos and car sizes vary depending on vintage, area of operation etc. Scale is not that important, wheras overall perception is more important, if it looks good it probably is good!
    Regards, Danny Sheehan in Oz.
  19. Mike R

    Mike R Member

    Danny...just curious....given the various makes you use, what couplers do you convert to, and is coupler fitting quite a task between the various makes & "scales"...(given floor height variations, etc.)???
  20. Danny

    Danny Member

    Mike, I am running a mixture of Bachmann, Aristo Delton, USA Trains, & LGB rolling stock, couplers are standardised on Bachmann knuckle type, simple conversion on USA Trains and LGB. Bachmann & Delton use same coupler. Bachmann couplers are very efficient, very rare to have an uncoupling when running trains, also extremely cheap to purchase in bags.
    Surprisingly the Aristo Delton rolling stock still use the Delton knuckle and not the Aristocraft knuckle coupler that all their 1:29 stock is fitted with.
    Scales: Bachmann 1:22.5 & 1:20.3
    USA Trains 1:24
    LGB 1:22.5 (bit suspect, some could be 1:24)
    Delton 1:24
    All my locomotives (10) are Bachmann except one LGB Porter 0-4-0, which I have fitted with an LGB Knuckle coupler, which mates OK with Bachmann.
    Rolling stock (40) are all Bachmann couplers, with the exception of a couple of transition cars with Kadee Coupler fitted.

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