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 a 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.
|G||45mm||13.5mm/ft||1:22.5||3ft||LGB, Aristocraft, Peco, Piko|
|O-16.5||16.5mm||7mm/ft||1:35||2ft 3in||Fleischmann, Peco, Springside|
|HOe||9mm||3.5mm/ft||1:87||2ft 6in||Roco, Minitrains|
|OO9||9mm||4mm/ft||1:76||2ft 3in||Peco, Parkside|
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
Of 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.
Kirkcaldy 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. http://www.parksidedundas.co.uk/acatalog/Track___Accessories.html
Coopercraft 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.
German 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.
Another G Scale brand, Aristocraft have a range of ready-to-run locomotives.
Fleischmann'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.