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  1. #1
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    Question How did the scales get their names?

    How did N scale get to be N scale?
    And HO?
    And S?
    And O?

    I think I figured out G to be for Garden.
    Proud Owner and Operator of The LESSONS LEARNED LINE

  2. #2
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    Popular legend has it that HO scale was considered to be roughly "half O" so the name HO was coined.

    N scale was originated in Germany and since the track gauge is 9mm and the German word for nine begins with an "N" (So I'm told, I don't speak the language.) so that was picked up.

    "Garden" would make sense for G scale, but could it also be for "large" like the "G" in LGB?

  3. #3

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    N = Nine Millimeter gauge
    HO = Half O
    O = Oppressivly large?
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  4. #4
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    I seem to remember "Half O" and "Nine (German: Neun) Millimeter" as well for the explanations of HO and N. Had to do a little research on "O" however and found this:

    "The original name for O gauge and O scale was 0 [zero] gauge or Gauge 0, because it was smaller than Gauge 1 and the other existing standards. At the time (around 1900), it was believed to be impossible to make a toy train any smaller. It was created in part because manufacturers realized their best-selling trains were the smaller scales."

    Original Source: encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com

    Sounds plausible to me... [img]smile.gif[/img]

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    -Mike

  5. #5
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    (Please note, this is coming from my memory rather than from reference material. There may be errors, but I think it's correct in the main.)

    Originally, the popular toy train scales (or more correctly gauges, since very little was "scale" about most of the equipment) were numbered. No. 2 gauge (2.25", if I recall correctly) was the most popular initially, but No. 1 (which had a gauge that corresponded to 1:32 scale) overtook it.

    Furthering the trend toward smaller trains, manufacturers introduced the No. 0 gauge, meant for (roughly) 1:48 scale trains. The zero in No. 0 became corrupted to a letter O, and 1:48 became known as "O scale." Lionel, of course, was perhaps the major driving force in O scale, although they certainly were not alone.

    American Flyer introduced S scale ("S" meaning "scale"), 1:64, to compete with Lionel. The selling point of S scale was that by using a smaller scale, American Flyer could produce realistically proportioned models that were still small enough to be practical. In addition, American Flyer opted for realistic two-rail track instead of Lionel's three-rail system. This concern for realism means that S scale can be considered the first scale introduced for "model railroading" instead of "toy trains."

    OO--"double O" or "double zero"--scale is 1:96, exactly half the size of O scale. However, at the time it was introduced, 1:96 was a bit too small to hold workable motors, so most OO equipment was actually built a bit oversize. After working with this discrepancy for a time, the modelers finally standardized on a slightly larger scale, 1:87.1. This scale was called "HO," for "half-O," to distinguish it from the slightly smaller OO. (I can't recall the reason for the odd ratio, but I think it's related to metric-to-English measurement conversions.)

    As technology improved, smaller equipment became possible, and the TT (for "table-top") scale, 1:120, was introduced. Unfortunately, it encountered a problem that S scale had already run into. TT, like S, wasn't enough different from the already-existing scales to carve out a niche for itself, and never really took off as a mass-market scale (except, apparently, in East Germany, where the Iron Curtain shielded TT from the encroachment of N scale).

    A British company, Lone Star, introduced the OOO ("treble-" or "triple-O/zero") scale, at 1:152. Once again, however, the scale was pushing the limits of technology, and modelers tended to build equipment slightly overscale to accomodate the mechanics, especially in England where real locomotives are generally smaller than in the US. Much "OOO" equipment is actually built to 1:144 scale, but as far as I know the 1:144 has never acquired its own name in the fashion of HO.

    While Lone Star worked on OOO scale, a West German company called Arnold introduced its own, very similar, scale, at 1:160. At that scale, the track had a gauge of nine millimeters. Since the word for "9" begins with the letter "N" in the majority of European languages, they called the new scale N scale. Several model-railroad companies in Europe picked up on N scale, and OOO was simply overwhelmed. (OOO equipment, however, will run just fine on N scale track, so it was more of an assimilation than a conquest.)

    Z scale, 1:220, was introduced by the West German company Marklin, apparently because they didn't move fast enough to get a chunk of the N scale market. I don't know the reason for the choice of 1:220; I presume the name "Z scale" was chosen because "Z" is the ultimate letter of the alphabet and Z scale was (and still is, for all practical purposes) the ultimate smallest model railroad scale. Like S and TT, however, Z is too close in size to the already-established N scale. That, and the significantly higher cost of Z scale equipment, have prevented it from seriously challenging N scale in the marketplace.

    G (for German "gross"="big") scale, 1:22.5, was introduced by LGB (Lehmann Gross Bahn). The scale was chosen so that No. 1 track, normally used for standard-gauge 1:32 equipment, could be used to accurately represent one-meter-gauge track for narrow-gauge railroading. Unfortunately, "G scale" equipment from various manufacturers ranges in actual scale from LGB's 1:22.5 to No. 1 scale's 1:32 ratio. This is mostly due to the desire to manufacture American-style equipment to run on G scale layouts, even though one-meter gauge is not accurate for any railroad in the United States.

    Q scale, 1:45.2 scale, was developed because at O scale, Lionel track actually represent five-foot gauge, not the correct 4 feet 8.5 inches. Thus, Q scale equipment is built slightly larger, to bring the Lionel track down to the proper size in proportion. This is purely a scratchbuilder's gauge, and relatively rare. More common are people who build and gauge their equipment correctly for O scale's 1:48, and hand-lay track to the correct gauge to accomodate it.

    Proto:48 and Proto:87 modelers build equipment in O scale and HO scale, respectively, but insist on using actual scaled-down railroad standards for parts such as track, wheels, and couplers, instead of the "compromised" standards accepted by most modelers in the name of easier construction and operation.

    Did I miss anything?
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  6. #6
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    Rob M, you have the scales off slightly. First, the correct scale for 1.25 inch or O track would be 1:43.5, not 1:48, which is how HO became "Half-O" OO is actually 1:76, slightly larger than HO, rather than slightly smaller. British models are built to OO scale but run on HO track. At one time, Lionel, and a few others, made scale OO gauge track and equipment for the US market, but it was pretty much moribund by 1950.

    British OOO is 1:152, or half of OO, 1:76, while Japanese N is 1:150, since the standard trackage in Japan is 42" gauge.

    Bachmann makes 1:20.3 trains to run on No. 1 gauge track. This is the correct proportion for 3 foot gauge, while LGB's 1:22.5 is correct for meter gauge. It gets confusing, doesn't it?

  7. #7
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    Lightbulb

    Interesting Question and got me into "Search" mode and I found this From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    The original name for O gauge and O scale was 0 [zero] gauge or Gauge 0, because it was smaller than Gauge 1 and the other existing standards. At the time, it was believed to be impossible to make a toy train any smaller. It was created in part because manufacturers realized their best-selling trains were the smaller scales.

    In the United States, manufacturers such as the Ives Manufacturing Company, American Flyer, and Lionel Corporation used O gauge for their budget line, marketing either Gauge 1 or Wide gauge (also known as standard gauge) as their premium trains. The Great Depression wiped out demand for the expensive larger trains, and by 1932, O gauge was the standard, almost by default.

    Because of the emphasis on play value, the scale of pre-World War II O gauge trains varied. The Märklin specifications called for 1:43 scale. However, many designs were 1:48 scale or 1:64 scale. Entry-level trains, usually made of lithographed tinplate, were not scaled at all, made to whimsical proportions about the same length of an HO scale piece, but about the same width and height of an O scale piece. Yet all of these designs ran on the same track, and, depending on the manufacturer(s) of the cars, could sometimes be coupled together and run as part of the same train.

    After World War II, manufacturers started paying more attention to scale, and post-war locomotives and rolling stock tend to be larger and more realistic than their earlier counterparts.

    Since the early 1990s, O scale manufacturers have begun placing more emphasis on realism, and the scale has experienced a resurgence in popularity, although it remains less popular than HO or N scale.
    HO scale (H0 scale in continental Europe) is the most popular scale of model railway in most of the world outside the United Kingdom, where the slightly larger in scale OO gauge is most common. The name is derived from the German Halb-null ("half-zero"), because its 1:87 scale is approximately half that of O scale.

    Modern HO trains run on realistic-looking two-rail track, which is powered by direct current (varying the voltage applied to the rails to change the speed, and polarity to change direction), or by Digital Command Control (sending commands to a decoder in each locomotive). Some trains, most notably by Märklin of Germany, run on alternating current, supplied by a "third rail" consisting of small bumps on each tie down the centre of the track.

    HO scale trains first appeared in the United Kingdom in the 1930s, originally as an alternative to OO scale. It proved unsuitable for scale modelling UK trains. However, it became very popular in the United States, where it took off in the late 1950s after interest in model railroads as toys began to decline and more emphasis began to be placed on realism in response to hobbyist demand. While HO scale is by nature more delicate than O scale, its smaller size allows modelers to fit more details and more scale miles into a comparable area.

    In the 1960s, as HO scale began to overtake O scale in popularity, even the stalwarts of other sizes, including Gilbert (makers of American Flyer) and Lionel Corporation began manufacturing HO trains. HO locomotives, rolling stock (cars or carriages), buildings and scenery are available today from a large number of manufacturers in a variety of price brackets.
    N scale
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
    N scale is a popular model railway standard, allowing hobbyists to either build layouts that take up less space than HO scale, or to pack longer runs with more detail into a similar amount of space. The name is an abbreviation for Nine millimeter. It is also sometimes called "2mm to the foot," in reference to its scale.

    N scale uses 9 mm-gauge track, and a scale of 1:160 worldwide, except for the United Kingdom where a scale of is 1:144 is used because of the problems early on in fitting mechanisms into smaller British trains. In Japan 1:150 is used for most trains and trams, to proportion the trains correctly for Japan's 3'6" track gauge, while 1:160 is used for standard gauge Shinkansen models.

    Although trains and accessories of similar gauge and/or scale existed as early as 1927, modern N scale appeared in 1962. Unlike other scales and gauges, which were de facto standards at best, within two years N scale defined the gauge, voltage, and polarity of track, as well as the height and type of couplers.

    N scale is second only to HO scale in popularity as a modelling scale worldwide.

    2mm scale

    A fair number of modellers in the United Kingdom use 2mm scale, an older standard than N scale. 2mm scale, as the name implies, is scaled at 2mm to the foot (1.152) with a 9.42mm track gauge. Exact scale track and wheels are used rather than the somewhat coarser N gauge standards.

  8. #8
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    Gentlemen-

    I commend you on your contributions this board. I never expected such quick and informative responses.
    Proud Owner and Operator of The LESSONS LEARNED LINE

  9. #9
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    Thumbs up

    That's what I love about TrainBoard as no matter what question you have on the hobby there is always someone ready to help

  10. #10
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    Excellent responses guys, Rob thanks for the time and effort, interesting information.
    Paul

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