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Standard Guage~O Gauge, what's the difference

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Standard Guage~O Gauge, what's the difference
Posted by Fred Bear on Wednesday, August 9, 2006 4:27 PM
Will standard gauge run on O gauge and 027 and vica versa? What is the difference between 0 gauge and standard gauge? Thanks to all responding, Jake
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Posted by Fred Bear on Wednesday, August 9, 2006 7:10 PM
Any takers on this one? Jake
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Posted by Railphotog on Wednesday, August 9, 2006 8:31 PM

This is the Model Railroader forum, mostly for HO scale model trains.  Ask this question on the Classic Toy Trains forum, that's where the Lionel guys hang out.

Bob Boudreau

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Posted by GearDrivenSteam on Wednesday, August 9, 2006 9:32 PM
I don't know about satndard gauge. I know O gauge is the same gauge as o27. Some think that o27 refers to narrow gauge o scale. This isn't true. O27 means o gauge track and 27" radius. That much I know.
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Posted by tomikawaTT on Wednesday, August 9, 2006 9:32 PM

Unfair reply, Bob.  We're here to help any model railroader, even one who runs Lionel O27 (which is what I started out with, shortly after the dinosaurs became extinct.)

First, let's separate two words.  Scale does not equal gauge.

Scale defines the relationship between the size of the full-size object (locomotive, house, park bench...) and the model thereof, and is expressed as a numeric ratio.  American O scale is 1:48, or 1/4 inch(model) to the foot(full size).  This, incidentally, is a very commonly used architectural scale.

Gauge is the distance between the inside faces of running rails.  Full size standard gauge is 56.5 inches between the rails, and scales down in the same way as any other full size dimension.  (The use of 1.25 inch gauge for American O scale standard gauge is a compromise that goes back to the early days of the hobby.  It is actually 5 foot gauge in O scale.)  There are other full size gauges, one of which, 3 foot gauge, scales down to 3/4 inch in O scale.  This combination is known as On3.

What Lionel calls O gauge refers to their track, which is actually 5 foot gauge in O scale.  HO "gauge" refers to a scale of 1:87 (3.5mm = 1 foot) running on 16.5mm gauge track (which is almost exactly a scale 56.5 inches in 1:87 scale.)

Now, going back to ancient toy history, some of the earliest toy trains were built to a rather huge scale and ran on tracks with a gauge of about 2.5 inches.  Those "standard gauge" toys have been history for a long time now.

Lionel track has extremely sharp curves when compared to O scale standards, and the wheel/track geometry is nothing like that of National Model Railroad Association standards for 1:48 scale.  It might be possible to fit short (in length) scale model cars with Lionel wheels, but they wouldn't look like pure scale models.  On the other hand, models designed and built to run on O27 curves - will.

Hope this helps.

Chuck  (who models Japanese prototype in 1:80 scale on 16.5mm gauge track)

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Posted by conagher on Thursday, August 10, 2006 1:17 AM

Chuck...that is an EXCELLENT reply.

Lionel also calls some of their "near-scale" cars---Standard...not to be confused with Standard Gauge. These cars are noticeably larger than the 0-27 sized locos & cars which are made to successfully negotiate the tight 27" radius curves often found in Lionel starter sets delivered by Santa Claus. Certain Standard-size Lionel cars might have some difficulty going around the sharp 0-27 curves.

It gets confusing here because both Standard Lionel & 0-27 run on the same gauge (width) track although one is slightly larger than the other in actual car body size as previously noted.

Then there's Hi-Rail O gauge which is 3-rail made to look more prototypical than the regular Lionel track to accommodate the hobbyist who likes the looks of realistic track, cars, scenery, etc on his layout. Hi-rail track is made by people like Gargraves, MTH and Atlas and generally, the middle rail is blackened (to hide it) and the crossties are made to resemble wood....or are real wood as in Gargraves. It's kinda like HO with 3 rails...but larger.

Then there's 2-rail O scale which is very prototyopical in appearance. It's locos and rolling stock use the same track width as O gauge but because it's DC, it will not run on the 3-rail AC.

Proto:48 is an exact 2-rail duplication of the real world. It's track is slightly wider than O gauge track. With slight wheel modification, it could possibly run on O gauge track.

Joshua Lionel Cowen & Harry Grant originally misread the Marklin specs and that's why Lionel O gauge track is different from European O gauge.

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Posted by Railphotog on Thursday, August 10, 2006 5:20 AM
 tomikawaTT wrote:

Unfair reply, Bob.  We're here to help any model railroader, even one who runs Lionel O27 (which is what I started out with, shortly after the dinosaurs became extinct.)

So with this reasoning, it would be OK to ask on the Classic Toy Trains forums questions about HO items?    Post where those with the answers are most likely to hang out.  Seems logical to me.   But I guess logic escapes some people.

Bob Boudreau

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Posted by GearDrivenSteam on Thursday, August 10, 2006 10:23 AM
Yes, I would think so, Bob. Not all classic trains are O scale. It says "classic" train forum. To me that's not scale specific. There were some ho classic trains too, you know? Maybe you don't.
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Posted by Railphotog on Thursday, August 10, 2006 11:15 AM

 GearDrivenSteam wrote:
Yes, I would think so, Bob. Not all classic trains are O scale. It says "classic" train forum. To me that's not scale specific. There were some ho classic trains too, you know? Maybe you don't.

 

Well Kalmbach's Classic Toy Trains magazine deals mostly with the larger scales, and I assume that's what their forum does too.  The original poster refered to standard and O scale trains, which ARE toy trains.  I do know the differences,  I have friends who have both and I've seen both kinds.   

Bob Boudreau

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Posted by Jetrock on Thursday, August 10, 2006 3:00 PM

To make things slightly less clear:

 

"Gauge" refers to the distance between the rails, REGARDLESS OF SCALE. Standard gauge in North America (and much of the world) is 4 feet 8.5 inches. There is also "narrow gauge," railroads which use rails closer together than that distance--common narrow gauges are three-foot gauge (used in the American west,) meter gauge (used in Europe,) two-foot gauge (rare, found in some New England logging lines and Welsh slate industry) and thirty-inch gauge (rare in prototype, more common in modeling for various historical/hysterical reasons.)

 

There is also broad gauge--railroads where the tracks are farther apart than standard gauge. As mentioned above, while Lionel equipment is technically 1/48 scale, the track is 5' apart in 1/48 scale, so technically all Lionel equipment is "broad gauge."

 

Toy-train track gauges were originally numbered--3, 2, 1. #1 gauge was the same size as "G scale" track. 0 (zero) gauge was originally designed to be half of 1 gauge, and 00 (double zero) was half the size of 0. The original 0 gauge was 1:43.5, at which scale 1.25" in the real world equals 4 feet 8.5 inches (which is why Lionel gauge is 1.25" apart) and 00, half its size, is 1/87--half 0, or as it is now known, HO scale.

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Posted by dave hikel on Thursday, August 10, 2006 8:28 PM

Hi Fred Bear,

I'll try to keep things short, because your question is really rather simple.

No, Standard gauge trains will not run on O-gauge or O-27 track.  Nor will O-gauge trains run on Standard Gauge track.

Standard Gauge refers 2.125 inch gauge track whereas O-gauge measures 1.25 inches.  Lionel started calling 2.125inch gauge "standard" in the early 20th century at a time when most other toy train manufacturers used differnet gauges.  The trains that run on this track are much larger than O-gauge and are mostly made of stamped sheet metal enameled with bright glossy paint.  Lionel, MTH and other smaller companies continue to make "standard gauge" trains to satisfy those who enjoy the purely toy like appearance of pre-war trains.

The difference between O and O27 is limited to the size of the rolling stock and how thight a curve it can run on.  O27 refers to sub 1/48th scale trains that can run on a 27inch diameter curve.  O gauge refers to any train that will run on 1.25inch three rail track.  All O27 trains will run on O gauge track.

Dave

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