# O Gauge or O scale ??

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by rtraincollector, Dec 30, 2007.

1. ### rtraincollectorMember

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I've always gotten this mixed up I always thought it was O gauge and ho or n scale but on a Trains (that they sent to preview) vidio they were talking about an s gauge layout a guy had with (now heres the biggy and he was running Lionel post war train set) O scale outer layout.
2. ### spankybirdOTTS Founder

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Some people use the term Gauge and Scale as being the same.

In O Gauge - Scale,

Gauge is the distance between the outer rails. Such as 027 and 031 are both O gauge and a train that runs on 027 will run on 031, they are both the same gauge.

Scale is the size of the cars, engines. O scale is 48:1 or 1/4" = 1'. When purest (other wise known as rivet counters) refer to O scale, they also mean scale fanges on wheels, scale size couplers which are mounted to cars not the trucks and oh yeh, 2 rails.
3. ### 60103Pooh Bah

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Everything started out as gauge. When all we had were toy trains, all that mattered was whether they would run on the same tracks. Scale was not a consideration. Any toys that we had were used with it (up to a point).
Then someone got the idea that they could be made to a scale and be real models of the prototype. So we became fussier about what we had and tried to keep the accessories in proportion.
The somebody said, "Gauge is the distance between rails. How can a building be O gauge?" So we started describing everything as O scale or HO scale.
Sometime in the last couple of decades, the 3-rail fellows decided that they would call their stuff O gauge and the 2-rail stuff O scale. That seems to be where it stands; some of them can apparently be pretty shirty about it.
And the narrow gauge descriptions are a gauge: On3 is O scale but running on 3/4" (scale 3 foot) track; there is no separate On3 scale.
4. ### spankybirdOTTS Founder

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Is this not the definition of Gauge? Are you saying this is not true?

Is not On30 = 30" gauge and On3 = 36" gauge as the O part of it is O scale?
5. ### pgandwActive Member

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Tom and David - you are both right. Gauge is the distance between the rails. Scale is the proportion of the model to the real thing.

But in model railroading vernacular, "O gauge" is often used to refer to the 3 rail scene - which may or may not be true O scale - and "O scale" is often used to refer to the 2 rail, pretty much strictly to scale stuff.

Usually the context will allow us to determine which meaning applies.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
6. ### 60103Pooh Bah

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We can get along alright with sloppy terms until someone reads either a railroad rule book or a dictionary. Then you end up arguing about gauge vs scale, or calling a spiral a helix. And then there's block and switch.
7. ### spankybirdOTTS Founder

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David, I believe what you are seeing is the confusion that Lionel has caused over the years. Most liking starting way back when the claimed that they had Standard Gauge track.

I work at our local Model Train Museum and the bigest question I get is what is the differance between O27 and O31. Both are O gauge.

After HO made its popularity in the 50's is when 2 rail scale O gauge started. And yes the engines are scale in size to the prototypes. But now both MTH, 3rd Rail, Atlas and Lionel make Scaled engines in both 2 and 3 rail versions. MTH even makes them that can be run on both 2 and 3 rail scaled engines. Scale meaning that the size of the engine is correct to the prototype.

As for buildings in O scale, again there are building that are scale and those where have be comperised to fit a smaller layout. Most Plasticville are clsoer to S scale then O scale.
8. ### Renovo PPRJust a Farmer

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Plasticville S gauge buildings look nice until you mix them in with real O scale buildings.
9. ### MarcOMember

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Agreed - Im always confused

I understand the differance betweeen scale and gauge but its confusing for Lionel stuff on ebay etc.
Im new to "O" and looking for true 1/48 scale lionel right now. A few items say "Standard O" which I take to mean 1/48. None of them say "Tradiational O" But many times they arent listed either way so I have to ask.... its a hassle and most of the time they dont know. If its later than 2000 you can look up the items in the online catalog.
10. ### ozzyActive Member

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im not sure when lionel started making 1:48 stuff . but i think its only in the last few years.
11. ### MarcOMember

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I bought a SP gondola car with coal load, looks to be from the 70s/80s via the blue and white Lionel logo and it says "standard O" right on the box.

Is there some huge data base to get info if I have the part number for Lionel? The online catalog at the lionel websites only go back to 2000.

Thanks.
12. ### ozzyActive Member

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whats the road # on the side of the car? i will look it up , at least get you the years it was made.
13. ### Dave FarquharMember

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Lionel experimented with some full 1:48 rolling stock in the 1970s, during the MPC era. But 3-rail 1:48 O scale didn't really catch on until the 1990s.
14. ### MarcOMember

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Box says 6-9821 for the SP Gondola

Can you check on the warhorses in this thread for me??? http://forum.zealot.com/t155421/
Thanks!
15. ### ozzyActive Member

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the SP gondola was made from 1973 to 1975, it is 1:48 as far as i can tell. it sold new back then for 39.00.
16. ### MarcOMember

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oz thanks for your help on this and my other post!

is there something online I can use to find this stuff out?
17. ### ozzyActive Member

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get Greenberg's guides Lionel trains pocket price guide. . thats what i used to find out the info, you can buy it at amazon.com under 20.00, sometimes you can find it under 15.00. Greenberg has some other books with a lot of good info on Lionel trains as well. but i never got around to get any.
18. ### nkp174Active Member

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I love the variety of options available that are approximately O-scale.
For North Americans...1:48...for Brits...1:43...for Europeans...1:45

First there is classic 3-rail stuff. It seems to have a higher correlation with spaghetti bowl designs than any other gauge/scale combination. The track/wheels are nowhere close to being scale...and locomotives that never existed...2-6-4s...are welcomed on the rails. It seems to me to be far more of toy trains than model trains...in that older pieces can have tremendous collector value and from just the feel I get from it. I don't think that there is the slightest thing wrong with it being "toy trains"...especially when many of the new ones are definitely models that are both nicer & more expensive than my brass models. It seems that for people whom just want to run trains...and "model" aspects aren't important...the O-27 stuff is tough to beat.

Second is the plain O-scale 2-rail stuff which also run on the 5' gauge track of the 3-rail...but with closer to "scale" wheels and rail. The biggest downside is that it has all the size of 3-rail...but requires far greater sq. ft. The plus side is for those whom find the 3-rail to be hideous...they can still have big trains. It is very well suited for clubs.

Third is Proto:48. I love this stuff. It's purely awesome. For me, getting the dimensions correct is very important (no, I don't care if your train has the right # of rivets or if your favorite RR ever had that 40' box car...but I like to be able to confuse your work for the real thing). I don't have any of this...but a couple cabooses and a passenger car or two are just beyond the horizon...with no intention of ever having a layout. Proto:48 certainly has huge practical downsides despite its phenomenal appearance...huge curve radii, shortage of steam locomotive drivers, and lack of commercial support.

On18 is more for a mine carts on a larger layout...and I can't recall that I've ever seen any of it...except maybe some grandt line stuff. It's just N-scale track & wheels.

On2 is a cool scale primarily for the Maine 2' modelers. Grandt Line makes Gilpin Gold Tram cars in On2...and Coronado Scale Models makes several sets of trucks.

On30 (or actually On31)...is the certainly the hardest to define. It is a scale that is almost devoid of prototypes within the United States. Most real 30" gauges in the US were industrial lines. Instead, On30 offers a inexpensive and easy approach to narrow gauge modeling...since the mechanisms can be from HO stuff or the cheap Bachmann engines. LGB's 0-6-2t is based off of a real 30" gauge locomotive in Jenbach, AT. Most narrow gauges in the US were 36" gauge.

On3 is certainly one of...if not they...oldest narrow gauge scale/gauge combination. No proto anything will ever be developed because the entire scale/gauge is already finescale. While no where near as well commercially supported as HOn3, it does enjoy adequate support. The Rio Grande is by far the easiest road to model...followed by the Rio Grande Southern, and then the East Broad Top. It is very popular for scratch builders. The main suppliers are Grandt Line, Precision Scale, La Belle, GME (maybe), Ye Olde Huff'n Puff (maybe), Coronado, BTS, and resin lines (Trout Creek & Cimarron).

For me, running trains isn't something I do very often. I like building trains. I then love to watch my trains roll through my sculpture (layout). I love only needing 2 passenger cars or 3 freight cars to have a complete train. I want my model railroad to be a miniature version of reality. I want a small piece of Colorado in my basement, and the ability to visit events that occurred 100 years before I was born. I know the DSP&P quite well...so my cars have to correct. 27' boxcars should be noticeably larger than 26'ers...and dwarfed by the 30' peninsular cars...therefore the dimensions have to be pretty close to create that illusion. If I was working with the NKP...only the passenger cars, berks, cabooses, and passenger locomotives would need to be accurate. The freight cars could be a nice scattering of whatever is correct for the era at my local hobby shop...in the cheap section.

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