Thursday, June 10, 2010

O Gauge

O Gauge refers to models of standard gauge prototypes that are constructed to a nominal scale of 7mm to 1ft and that run on 32mm gauge track. O Gauge models in both the UK and Europe comply to this standard and are built to a ratio of 1:43.5. American O Gauge models, meanwhile, conform to an imperial scale of ¼ in = 1ft. This gives a ratio of 1:48. O Gauge models are, therefore, around 1.75 times bigger than their OO Gauge cousins.

O Gauge was very popular prior to the second world war, however, after the war, OO/HO started to dominate the market. Fortunately, however, the larger scale never lost its appeal and, today, still has many supporters.

2-rail, clip together track is not commercially available in the UK but flexible track and pointwork is made by Peco. Also, British outline, ready to run locomotives and rolling stock used to be virtually non-existent but this situation is slowly improving through manufacturers such as Heljan, Bachmann and Bassett Lowke. ACE Trains also make some beautiful ready to run O Gauge models and there is a selection of British outline models made by Bachmann Brassworks. These come in both painted and unpainted form.

Despite the comparative lack of ready to run equipment there is quite an array of kit and accessory manufacturers. Many kits of both British steam and diesels locos are available in brass and white metal as is an ever-growing range of coach and wagon kits.

There is also a selection of parts for making your own track from scratch.

Building a layout and laying track in O Gauge is no more difficult than it is in the smaller scales. However, because a lot of models come in kit form, a certain degree of kit-building expertise is advisable. In this respect, O Gauge is probably suited to the more experienced modeller although this fact should not deter the more competent beginner from modelling in this scale.

As far as space requirements go O Gauge layouts do, generally, take up a lot of space and main line designs are best suited to a garden with, maybe, a terminus / fiddle yard housed in a shed or garage. Of course, indoor modellers can build minimum-space layouts designed around a branch line or small goods yard.

Although individual prices of O Gauge items are quite high a small layout will probably only need a couple of locos and a few items of rolling stock so, actually, it can often work out cheaper than a layout in OO or N Gauge. O Gauge could, therefore, be perfect for those on a limited budget.

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