Scale & Gauge

The terms Scale & Gauge are often used transposed - as if they have the same meaning.  This is not the case.  These terms have very different meanings.

GAUGE: This is the distance between the rails.

SCALE: This is the proportion or ratio of the model compared to their full size counterpart.

Models of the same scale may run on a different gauge track. For example, each scale has a representative narrow gauge and broad gauge, as well as standard gauge.  The may also be different variations of narrow gauge. 

As in the full sized world (often referred to as the 1:1 scale), there are various Scales & Gauges used in Model Railways.  We will show the most common here along with some variants. We will stock items for most of the scales shown and can easily acquire equipment for those we do not have in stock.  Many of the items we stock are not made for a specific scale and are therefore available to "All Scales". 

Notations re Gauge:

NMRA popular model railway scales and gauges
Scale Ratio Model Gauge Notes
Z 1:220 6.5mm NMRA does not provide any further guidance with Z scale apart from the gauge. The gauge is the SG equivalent - Actual SG 6.52mm
N 1:160 9mm SG equivalent
HO 1:87.1 16.5mm SG equivalent - Traditionally considered to be half "O" scale although it is slightly larger than half "O".
OO 1:76.2 16.5mm SG equivalent - Actual SG 19.05mm but HO track is used due to commercial availablilty. OO only used for British Models 
On30 1:48 16.5mm NG - represents 30" gauge track - Actual NG 15.88mm
O 1:48 31.75mm SG equivalent - Actual SG 29.9mm  

The European (NEM) Standards only vary slightly:

Scale Ratio Model Gauge Notes
On30 1:45 16.5mm NG - represents 30" gauge track - Actual NG 16.9mm
O 1:45 32mm SG equivalent. Closer to SG than the NMRA Counterpart at 31.9mm

The British Standards vary also:

The main British Railwys used the international standard gauge but their loading gauge was narrower and lower than their European and American counterparts. This is one of the reasons the British has used its own distinctive model railway scales which are rarely found outside of Britian.

Scale Ratio Model Gauge Notes
N 1:148 9mm SG equivalent - British adoption of N scale for modelling British prototypes with the smaller loading gauge. Actual SG 9.7mm
OO 1:76 16.5mm SG equivalent - Most popular scale in Britain - replacing HO to allow for the smaller loading gauge. Actual SG 18.88mm but HO track is used due to commercial availablilty.  OO is only used for British models
O 1:43.5 32mm SG equivalent - Actual SG 33mm  Use of the larger scale to compensate for the smaller loading gauge.

There are other variants, specifically narrow gauge and scales specific to particular countries e.g. Japan.

We are able to obtain products for some of these but many are commercially unavailable.

We do have some sound decoders for Large Scale locos e.g. O Guage, LGB, and other larger scales.  These will be listed generically under Large Scale.



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