Monday, February 10, 2014

I started working on a small flag stop train station that I plan to build in several scales. I'm teasing out the roof geometries, which is challenging with a hipped eave. It would probably be easier if I'd just hunker down and really learn how to use my 3D drawing programs... Anyway, I'm working this out in The Gimp and by building multiple prototypes. I'm old school that way.

My notion is to do the following:

  • Make PDFs of the model available in different scales, and sell them as downloads on Etsy. 
  • Sell pre-cut, assemble-it-yourself kits, also in my Etsy shop. This will be nice because it will ship flat.
  • Sell fully assembled cardstock versions on Etsy in various scales. 
  • And finally, to make at least one garden railroad size outdoor version. 

That last idea resulted in me researching just exactly what garden-railway scale actually is, and I'll write it out here just to solidify it in my mind. Regular, indoor model railroads are built to specific scales, and the track width varies depending on what the gauge of the actual train is. Thus:

  • HO scale is always 1/87 of real size, and it uses HO gauge track (16.5 mm wide) to represent the standard 4' 8.5" width of American track. When you want to model narrow gauge, which is 3 feet wide in the real world, you call that "HOn3 scale" (which is a mouthful meaning "HO scale, narrow gauge, 3') and use N gauge track (9mm wide).
  • If you're building a N scale layout, the standard track is N gauge (9mm) and Nn3 scale is actually Z gauge (6.5mm).

That's all fine and dandy, but when you move up to garden scales, that convention of using the next smaller track gauge to represent narrow gauge is thrown right out the window. Almost everything (oh, I'll deal with the oddball exceptions later) is on 45mm "Gauge One" or "G gauge" track.

  • Gauge One scale is 1/32 size, and roughly represents the standard American gauge of 4' 8.5".  
  • G scale is 1/22.5 size, and represents 3' 3-3/8" narrow gauge.
  • H scale is 1/24 size, and represents 3' 6" Cape Gauge found in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
  • F scale (meaning "Fine scale"), aka Gn3, is 1/20.32 size, and represents 3' narrow gauge.
  • SE scale, aka (get this!) Gn2, SM45 and 7/8n2 is 1/13.7 size, and represents 2' narrow gauge.


  • 16mm or SM32 is 1/19 size, representing 2' narrow gauge running on 32mm gauge track. As if to annoy me, it's called 16mm in the UK because that represents 1 foot. 
  • O scale in the UK is 1/43, while O scale in the US is 1/48. I ask you.
  • 1 Gauge is so slightly different from Gauge One  it will make you crazy -- it runs on 44.5mm track instead of 45mm, but is still considered 1/32 size. It was used in the 1930s and a few old garden railways still run on it, most notably Bekonscot model village.

What does this all mean for my original flag stop? Well, if I make an HO scale model as my starting point, I'll most likely be making the garden model in G or F scale, which means...

  • HO (87)  divided by G (22.5) is 3.86666666... so I'd round up to two decimal places to make it 3.87 and I'd enlarge by 387%
  • HO (87) divided by F (20.3) is 4.285714286, so I round up to two decimal places to make it 4.29, which means enlarge by 429%.


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