Importance of Scale and Gauge

Importance of Scale and Gauge

Many people purchase model railroading items for various reasons. Perhaps around Christmastime, families enjoy setting up a holiday themed train set to encircle a Christmas tree. Maybe kids are fans of a particular movie or television show and they would like to have memorabilia. These are just casual reasons, but they are enough to jumpstart a lifelong love for model railroads and model railroading items.

Like with most collections, collecting train sets is a lot more involved than simply purchasing whatever train set one may happen to come across in a local toy store. Often times, collectors will have to go out of their ways to track down and acquire certain items at specialist train set stores. When looking for items, there are many factors to consider. A seasoned collector may be able to glance at the display of a train set and immediately decipher its specifics, but a novice obviously won t recognize the differences from G scale or HO scale for instance. A novice may not even understand what that means, but scale size is very important when selecting a train set.

The biggest thing about model railroads is that they attempt to create a representation of real life. The best train sets have such distinct qualities that capturing them on film should be able to give someone pause as to whether or not they are seeing real life. Many things contribute to this illusion, but it all starts with the size of a train.

Two factors involved with train size are scale and gauge. As the name suggests, scale refers to the train set s proportion to real life. This is very important to consider as a collector will want to include accessories like street signs and cars as well as scenery in their setup. You must be aware of the model railroad s scale in order to surround it with the appropriate sized extras. Having an unnaturally towering tree beside a dainty sized passenger car will emphatically rob a setup of its believability.

The gauge measurement refers to the distance between rails, as it also does in reference to real life railroads. It is important to correlate scale size with gauge as you will need to buy tracks that match your cars. The most common railroading scales from largest to small are G, O, S, HO, N, and Z.

Every scale size can be used to create a model railroad setup and the preference should be dictated by the area of your setup, the parts you are using, as well as cost. The most common scale size is HO as it is most readily found in toy stores and hobby shops. If you are just taking the first step in your model railroading world, then HO is definitely where you should start.

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