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Narrow Gauge Model Railways

The term Narrow Gauge is used for a track gauge narrower than the 4' 8½" (1435mm) of standard gauge railways. Most existing narrow gauge railways have gauges of 3' 6" (1067mm) or less. The reasoning behind using Narrow Gaugea narrower gauge is cost, being cheaper to build & operate than standard gauge and, therefore, particularly suited for mountainous regions, and places where standard gauge trains would need tunnels or bridges.

Narrow gauge railways also have particular use in mines and other areas where smaller size is beneficial, and many were principally industrial railways as opposed to general carriers. Regular uses for these industrial narrow gauge railways were mining, quarrying, construction and tunnelling.

The more famous narrow gauge railways in Britain include the Ffestiniog, Talyllyn and the Welshpool & Llanfair Railway.

Narrow Gauge Modelling Scales

The large variety of different ‘real world’ narrow gauges means that there is also a similar variety of modelling scales to choose from.  Here we outline the more common variants, with details of what is available for each one.

Name Gauge Scale Ratio Equivalent Manufacturers
G 45mm 13.5mm/ft 1:22.5 3ft LGB, Aristocraft, Peco, Piko
SM32 32mm 16mm/ft 1:20 2ft Coopercraft
O-16.5 16.5mm 7mm/ft 1:35 2ft 3in Fleischmann, Peco, Springside
HOm 12mm 3.5mm/ft 1:87 3ft Peco, Parkside
HOe 9mm 3.5mm/ft 1:87 2ft 6in Roco, Minitrains
OO9 9mm 4mm/ft 1:76 2ft 3in Peco, Parkside
N6.5 6.5mm 2mm/ft 1:160 3ft Peco
HOf 6.5mm 3.5mm/ft 1:87 1ft 11in Busch

There are others of course, such as gauge 0 (7mm / ft) on N gauge track for 18" gauge, or even N scale track and modified stock on a G scale layout for a miniature park type railway!  In fact any type of narrow gauge system can be built, even down to monorails, although these will probably require a lot of scratchbuilding of stock and locomotives.

Narrow Gauge Modelling Brands

Peco LogoOf all the major manufacturers, Peco is the one who have the widest product range devoted to narrow gauges.  Peco produce track for most narrow gauge scales, and also manufacture loco kits for N-6.5 and OO9.

Parkside Dundas LogoKirkcaldy based company Parkside offer a good range of rolling stock kits in OO9 scale for different locations and periods, and a selection of Tralee & Dingle Light Railway wagons in both OO9 and HOm scales.

Coopercraft LogoCoopercraft have a small selection of rolling stock kits in SM32 scale alongide their O and OO scale selections.  Coopercraft produce all of their range from tooling that is machined in-house, making for some very finely moulded items.

LGB LogoGerman manufacturer LGB is one of the best known brands in any model railway scale.  Their models are in 1:22.5 scale and use a track gauge of 45mm and this fantastic range covers european and North American locos and rolling stock with digital or conventional control, signals and figures.

Aristocraft LogoAnother G Scale brand, Aristocraft have a range of ready-to-run locomotives.

Bachmann LogoBachmann is another big name in the world of model railways.  In addition to their OO Scale range, they also produce G and On30 Scales.

Fleischmann LogoFleischmann's Magic Train range of O-16.5 Continental outline is a good way to start in narrow gauge, with Start Sets, locos and rolling stock available with the usual quality one expects from this renowned German manufacturer.

Springside LogoWhilst Springside's main focus is OO scale kits, the range of O-16.5 0-4-0 locomotive kits are a fine addition to any layout in this scale.

Roco LogoRoco has an excellent range of HOe, with Digital Start Sets, Locomotives and Rolling Stock in Continental outlines.

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