Name of our "Scale"

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Name of our "Scale"

Post by SCBryan » Mon Apr 13, 2015 3:10 pm

I have found the definition of Grand Scale to mean 12" - 24" gauge railroads. What I have not found is an official name for our gauges, specifically .5"/foot to 1.6"/foot scale trains. I have heard "Live steam gauge" used sometimes but is that it?

Just curious.

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Re: Name of our "Scale"

Post by Eric M. » Mon Apr 13, 2015 3:39 pm

I hear a lot of "G" gaugers use the term "ride-on scale" which seems like a reasonable blanket term to me. "Live steam gauge" doesn't do it for me because so much live steam is happening nowadays on smaller scales (1:32 & 1:20.3) and there is also plenty of non-steam powered equipment in the 2.5" - 7.5" gauge realm.

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Re: Name of our "Scale"

Post by WJH » Mon Apr 13, 2015 5:21 pm

Scales very, narrow gauge, standard, etc...
I just say 7.5" or 7.25" track... Keep it simple, the rivet and stay bolt counters can further elaborate beyond what gauge track the equipment runs on, to suit their ego's

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Re: Name of our "Scale"

Post by Harlock » Tue Apr 14, 2015 12:26 am

G-scale - Garden Scales

2.5", 3.5" and 4 3/4 / 5" gauge - small scales live steam

7.25 or 7.5" gauge - live steam

9" - 22" gauge - grand scales live steam

Some notes -

9" gauge now very rare - one major railroad still exists (Mesa Grande Western) 1/4" scale of 36" gauge. I.E. 3" scale.

There was a major 9 7/16" gauge railroad - the Centerville & Southwestern, which existed in the 1950s. Unlike the MGW it was standard gauge prototypes.

12" gauge commercial use was popularized by Herb Ottaway. Only one major 12" gauge club remaining in the states, and one 12" gauge commercial operation (Folsom Valley Railway, with a narrow-gauged Ottaway formerly owned by Erich Thompsen of the Redwood Valley Railway) and more private 12" gauge tracks. Miniature Train Company also made 12" gauge park trains.

15" gauge is the most common in grand scales. The so called "Minimum Gauge" coined by Arthur Heywood as also having utility on a practical level beyond excursions.

16" gauge - mostly used by the Miniature Train Company park trains - the MTC-16 series.

18" gauge is both a common US commercial park train gauge and early British industrial gauge.

There is one private 19" gauge railway, the Swanton Pacific, with all of the locomotives from the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition built by Louis MacDermot.

San Francisco Zoo Railroad is 22" gauge with a rare Cagney "E" class locomotive currently being restored by Hillcrest Shops.

When you get to 23 and 23.5" gauge you're getting into full size that was intentionally brought below 24" gauge to avoid FRA oversight. Of course there are also "full scale" 15" and 18" gauge industrial and estate railway engines in Britain (and those few exported abroad) as mentioned above, so there is some overlap at the larger gauges of full size and scale models.

General note - scales on gauges vary widely. You could almost consider 3 3/4" scale equipment on 7.5" gauge as being 'grand scales' as they are much larger than many 12" gauge engines. I tend to separate by gauge and not scale, because there is a very large difference in participation and frequency of 7.x users vs. anything larger in gauge. (or anything smaller, for that matter) which is the whole point of 7.5" currently just being "Live steam"...they have the numbers to be the vast majority at the moment, so they can have the generic title and everyone else can have a prefix.

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Re: Name of our "Scale"

Post by cbrew » Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:07 am

SCBryan wrote:I have found the definition of Grand Scale to mean 12" - 24" gauge railroads. What I have not found is an official name for our gauges, specifically .5"/foot to 1.6"/foot scale trains. I have heard "Live steam gauge" used sometimes but is that it?

Just curious.
I sometimes call it H gauge, you have three guess what H stands for :wink:
If it is not live steam. its not worth it.

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Re: Name of our "Scale"

Post by FLSTEAM » Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:10 am

I sometimes call it H gauge, you have three guess what H stands for :wink:
I know, I know......Sore Back

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Re: Name of our "Scale"

Post by SCBryan » Tue Apr 14, 2015 11:18 am

Thanks for all the input. I had been using "live steam gauge" but with all the discussion on another thread about the non steam contingient (of which I currently am one), I had wondered if I was using the wrong term.

As to the "H" scale, even my interurban weighs in at over 400 pounds. So, besides the obvious, I might suggest (H)oly crap, that's (H)eavy and if you lift it wrong or mishandle it out on the the line, you could get (H)urt.


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Re: Name of our "Scale"

Post by ccvstmr » Tue Apr 14, 2015 1:07 pm

...uh Steve, I don't think they meant "(H)eavy gauge". More like..."(H)ernia gauge"! :roll: Carl B.
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Re: Name of our "Scale"

Post by SCBryan » Tue Apr 14, 2015 4:26 pm

That was actually what I was alluding to with the heavy comment as that is what you would get if you lift it wrong. That and the sore back referred to above!

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Re: Name of our "Scale"

Post by Loco112 » Tue Apr 14, 2015 8:28 pm

The 7.5"-12" gauges were often called "Tweener" gauges, because they are between the "club gauges" and the grand scale gauges of 12" -24". Its sort of a dark void that few stray into, most never return.

The gauge of about 600mm or 2' started in Wales in about 1835 at the Ffestiniog Railway with a gauge of 1 ft 11+1⁄2 in (597 mm). This was a horse drawn tram route. The gauge was wide enough to allow the horses to use the ties as a hoof hold and added to their tractive effort. I don't think it is known why they chose this exact gauge.

The Darjeeling and Himalayan was one of the earliest (built in 1880) of the full 24" gauge (610mm) intended for steam locomotive from the inception. Most of the around 2' gauge rr's were already being built to 600mm at that time. Built under British rule. I'm not sure which flanges they used.

The Otavi Mining and Railway Company (OMEG) was built nearly 20 years later, its gauge was 600mm, 1'+11+5/8", it was all German owned and engineered. It probably used the same huge flanges that later African 600mm rrs used. In Africa during the 20th century, the gauge was 600mm, 1'+11+5/8" gauge, but flanges are taller and wider. If that huge flange was trimmed up to look like our 2-footer flanges, that would probably result in a gauge of about 625mm.

There were also 608mm RRs , built somewhere in the world.

Thicker "African" flanges allows the center of the wheel tread to be wider, resulting in a wider stance of the locomotive, and also allows the productive use of wider rails, which also widens the stance, both options lower the center of gravity of the rolling equipment.

George Mansfield ended the controversy for us and went with 24" and 3/4 sized flanges, and a 16" coupler height.
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Re: Name of our "Scale"

Post by Pontiacguy1 » Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:08 am

I usually describe our scale as "Large Scale Ride on size" to people who are not familiar with the hobby. I know that encompasses a lot of different scales and gauges, but for most people when you say you are into large scale trains, those unfamiliar are thinking LGB size stuff that they've seen running in shopping malls and restaurants. Telling them that you actually ride and operate these trains gives them a whole different mental picture about the size. Here in the Southeastern US, there really isn't too much confusion about it: There is 7 1/2" gauge, and that is about it. Anything in the smaller gauges is almost non-existant, with only a few 'lone wolves' out there doing their own thing. Ditto for anything larger other than the occasional park or zoo train.

I really liked Harlock's explanation, except that I would simplify it as follows:

7 1/2" gauge and smaller (down to 2 1/2" gauge, min) is Live Steam (ride on scale)
Smaller than 2 1/2" gauge (and sometimes even including 2 1/2" gauge) is Garden Railways (scenic scales)
Larger than 7 1/2" gauge is grand Scales all the way until you get up into full size

2 1/2" gauge is in-between as far as the classifications go: It is the largest of the traditional 'scenic scales', and is also the smallest size that can be ridden behind and driven. Therefore, it can actually be both, and often was used that way. I think that is sort-of the same scenario with 2 foot gauge models running on 7 1/2" gauge tracks (3 3/4" scale). Like Harlock said earlier, they are often much larger physically than standard gauge models running on 12" gauge tracks, so really kind-of straddle the fence between grand scales and Live steam scales.

Does this make sense for anyone other than myself?

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Re: Name of our "Scale"

Post by 6491 » Wed Apr 15, 2015 5:00 pm

I just refer to mine as "ride on trains" when talking to people who have had little to do with them.
As I don't do "scale" they are normally called "Minimal trains".
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