Frequently Asked Questions for Expo Narrow Gauge

Frequently Asked Questions at the Expo Narrow Gauge model railway exhibition.

Scale and Gauges

More so than in any other form of railway modelling scale and gauge affects the narrow gauge modeller.

Gauge is the measurement between the rails. Sometimes this was measured between the insides, sometimes between the outside and occasionally between the rail head centres.

Scale is the scale size we are modelling at.


What is Narrow gauge?

Narrow gauge is considered to be any gauge of track smaller than that of standard gauge as you find on the mainline railways of Great Britain and much of the rest of the world (although not all 'mainline' railways are standard gauge). This is 4 foot 8 and a half inches and narrow gauge modelling concentrates on railways where the track gauge was less than this. Common gauges include 3 foot, 2 foot 6 inches (two and a half foot gauge: Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway, 60cm /1 foot 11 5/8 inches gauge: The Ffestiniog Railway) and down to 18 inch.


What are narrow gauge scale and gauge combinations?

This more than any other aspect confuses the casual onlooker and quite a lot of modellers! Often you will see a model referred to by its scale/gauge moniker. Generally this is the scale of modelling first followed by the gauge used. Often the letter 'n' is also used to indicate narrow gauge. Some examples of common combinations:

Often scale and gauge combinations revolve around the gauges of available standard gauge track as this means that track does not need to be manufactured and loco chassis are more readily available. For example, 009 is set at 9mm gauge so that the N Scale locomotive mechanisms can be used and N gauge track though specialist 9mm narrow gauge track is available. With modern can motors, 3d printing and computer aided drawing there are now many kits available enabling the modeller to build chassis and bodies which are far closer to the original rather than using a chassis from a different scale.

If you have a few moments spare then ask any of the layout operators at the show about these topics - they are usually happy to chat!


Where should I start with narrow gauge modelling?

There are several societies for Narrow Gauge modellers and some good quality magazines available in Narrow gauge modelling. Narrow Gauge and Industrial is a high quality quarterly magazine looking at advanced modelling techniques and layouts. Voie Libre is a French publication focusing on narrow gauge and now available digitally in English. Narrow Gauge World covers all aspects of narrow gauge railways including modelling. Often the Railway Modeller will have Narrow Gauge layouts featured and Continental Modeller always has non standard gauge layouts in abundance.