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Model Railroad Scales


Model railroading comes in many scales. Each scale is determined by a letter and represent certain ratio compared to the real-life size. Gauge is also another word you will hear and used as well, however gauge refers to the distance between the rails.


Z Scale

Proportion: 1:220
Size 3/4" x 1/2"

Z scale is the smallest working model. It was developed by Märklin in the early 1970's.

N Scale

Proportion: 1:160
Size 1" x 5/8"

N scale allows for more complex layouts and easily fits into an appartment or limited space. Excellent accessories selection.

HOn30 Scale

Proportion: 1:87
Size 2" x 1.5"

HOn30 scale is the same size than O scale but runs on N scale track. This scale is equivalent to narrow gauge HO. Very limited accessories available.

HO Scale

Proportion: 1:87
Size 2" x 1.5"

HO scale is the most popular of all scales. HO means "Half-O scale". This scale offers the most accessories and allow modelers to do the most detailing.

S Scale

Proportion: 1:64
Size 2 3/4" x 2"

S scale appeared in the 1950's and American Flyer was the most popular manufacturer. Accessories as limited but great if you want to scratch build buildings, rolling stock, etc.

On30 Scale

Proportion: 1:48
Size 4" x 1.5"

On30 scale is the same size as O scale but runs on HO track. It is a narrow gauge for O scale. Limited accessories. Great size for Christmas Village display.

O Scale

Proportion: 1:48
Size 4" x 2.5"

O scale is a great size for under the Christmas tree. Developed by Märklin in the early 1900's, this scale remained the most popular in the United-States until the 60's. Lionel Corporation used 0 gauge for their budget line, marketing either Gauge 1 or standard gauge as their premium trains

G Scale

Proportion: 1:22.5
Size 8" x 5"

G scale stand for "Garden" scale, known also as "Large Scale". Suitable for outdoor use and most popular for aerial display. Limited accessories.


These are the most popular scales available in the United-States. Other scales are available but not mentioned.
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