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I have been in the hobby for 4 yrs., have been to the SELTS the last 3 yrs., i am lost, when you talk about narrow gage , what is narrow gage? thanks tommy in s.c.
 

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Some of the older railroads used a lighter guage rail that was set closer together. The most popular was a 36" spacing. But there was also 30" 24" and I'm sure others. Modern rail is spaced at (I don't know the exact measurement) about 5'. Hence the rail was narrower than standard so the term "narrow guage" was used.
In largescale trains, they use the same size track, but make the locos and rolling stock different sizes. So, to make a "narrowe guage" loco which would be a smaller loco, they make it bigger (1:20 scale) to make the track look small. Where as a loco that would be on a mainline or standard guage rail they make smaller (1:32, 1:29, 1:24) to make the track look bigger.
Clear as mud? I'm sure someone will have a better description to help u out a bit more.

Terry
 

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Narrow Gauge indicates that the rails are less than 4' 8 1/2" (which is Standard Gauge) apart. There are many narrow gauges; in Maine two feet between the rails was common, my favorite, southcentral PA's East Broad Top, is three feet as are some of the Colorado railroads notably Cumbres and Toltec and Durango and Silverton and their progenitor the D&RGW. There were some 30", 40", 42" and even some industrial lines 18", 15" and 12", really narrow. The European railways modeled by LGB are Meter Gauge, 39 inches between the rails.
To confuse the issue in the early days of this country there were also some Broad Gauge roads, wider rail spacing then standard.
Hope this helps,
Tom
 

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Narrow Gauge was usually chosen because it was far cheaper to build, especially in the mountains and other rugged country.  A three-foot gauge line typically only required a roadbed that was half as wide as a standard gauge line (4'-8½"), an important consideration when blasting the roadbed out of the side of a granite cliff, or carving a mile-long tunnel through a mountain.  Not only was the gauge narrower, but so were the locomotives and rolling stock (and shorter as well).  Narrow gauge trains could negotiate sharper curves than standard gauge, another important consideration in rugged country.  Still, even in the flatlands, a narrow gauge line was far cheaper to build.

As has been said, 3' gauge was the most common, but there were 30" and 24" gauge lines as well.

The drawback to a narrow gauge line was that it's rolling stock was not interchangeable with standard gauge lines, so freight had to be manually unloaded from the narrow gauge cars and reloaded onto standard gauge cars whenever interchange was required.  That wasn't as big of a deal back in the days when labor was cheap, but as labor costs increased, it became more and more of a factor.  Passengers also had to change trains.
 

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In large scale, 1:29 and 1:32 are usually standard gauge train models. The other large scales {1:13.7 (2 foot ng), 1:20.3, 1:22.5 and 1:24 (3 foot and meter ng)} are usually narrow gauge train models.

-Brian
 

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Dwight, you forgot to mention that sometimes the cars would be lifed right off their standard gauge trucks and placed back down onto narrow gauge trucks, without unloading, as was the case in Newfoundland.

I understand this is still done in parts of the world.

ps: Three foot may have been more common than two foot in America, but across the world, 2 foot (60cm) was more widespread, with many industrial lines operating until the 1960s.
 

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Dwight, you forgot to mention that sometimes the cars would be lifted right off their standard gauge trucks and placed back down onto narrow gauge trucks, without unloading, as was the case in Newfoundland.
I thought about that, but I'm not sure how common a practice it was, at least in the USA which are really the only railroads I know anything at all about (yeah, I know, another arrogant American - hehehe). Also, that was never done with passenger equipment so far as I know. I think the large majority of narrow gauge railroads used commodity transfers.

Besides, the wider, longer standard gauge freight cars would negate some of the advantages of narrow gauge (curves, clearances) even if riding on narrow gauge trucks. That's probably a big part of why this didn't become more common practice. :)
 

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Tommy

Just to add my two cents to the mix.

The terms Narrow Gauge, Standard Gauge, & Broad Gauge when referring to railroads all share a common term 'Gauge', which refers to the distance between the rails that carry the rolling stock (i.e. locomotives, and the respective railroad cars of various types).

Now, the manner in which this distance (i.e. gauge) between the rails is measured varied from one location to another. As far as I know the two most common methods were; 1) The less common of the two methods, is measuring from the center of the railhead on one side to the center of the railhead on the other side, and 2) The most common method, is measuring from the inside edge of the railhead on one side to the inside edge of the railhead on the other side.



OK, now that we've got the term 'gauge' defined. Where do the terms Narrow, Standard, & Broad fit in? Well, the use of these terms evolved over a period of time.

First off, the vast network of national and international railroads that we're familiar with today didn't exist at the start obviously. In the beginning there were a whole bunch of small individual railroads built by various individuals that had varying ideas of just what the best design was. In the area of gauge the "best choice" was all over the place. Ranging from a gauge "seven feet" to "fifteen inches."

Most of these railroads were built to connect two specific points to each other mainly to move goods from their point of origin to the market place where they could be sold. In many cases the distance between these two points weren't more than a couple of hundred miles, and most were very much less.

As the network of these independent railroads began to develop. One of the problems encountered was the fact that where two railroads of different gauges came together. To move the goods any further they had to be unloaded from one railroad's cars and loaded on the railroad cars of the other. Regardless of the method used, this process took time and labor, which directly translates to an increase in the price of the goods. Another result of this problem was the term "break in gauge" was coined.

The next step in the evolution was that within specific geographical regions a general consensus developed between the various railroads that it would greatly benefit all to settle on a common track gauge. This helped to reduce the vast number of gauges used. However, there were financial, control, and even national security concerns that limited further development of a common gauge being accepted by all the railroads.

Eventually these concerns were addressed in one manner or another and the gauge of 4 feet, 8 and 1/2 inches was settled on as the "best choice" and was called the "Standard Gauge". After the general acceptance of the Standard Gauge, any gauge measuring less was referred to as a Narrow Gauge, and any gauge measuring greater was referred to as a "Broad Gauge"
 

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Hi Guys,
Great topic.  I would like to add a couple of comments.

Dwight,
Great explanation!  I would add that the upfront savings of building narrow gauge proved to be a false economy.
As the transportation of goods by rail increased, bigger and heavier cars and engines were required to maintain 
cost effectiveness and the narrow gauge could not compete with the wider heavier rail bed and corresponding
equipment of the standard gauge.

Steve C,
I would add that in this country the driving force behind standardizing the rail gauge was the Union Army Civil Engineers 
during the "War of Aggression".  Not so much because of cost or a shortage of manpower but because of time restraints.  
It was much faster to put goods or troops to the front lines if they didn't have to change from one set of cars to another every few miles.

Thanks for your time.
Rick
 

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Okay guys! He was lost before, so let's not get carried away with boxcar full of meaningless details. Though it looks like that's already been done.

-Brian
 

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Posted By SteveC on 03/03/2008 5:52 PM


Tommy

Just to add my two cents to the mix.

The terms Narrow Gauge, Standard Gauge, & Broad Gauge when referring to railroads all share a common term 'Gauge', which refers to the distance between the rails that carry the rolling stock (i.e. locomotives, and the respective railroad cars of various types).

Now, the manner in which this distance (i.e. gauge) between the rails is measured varied from one location to another. As far as I know the two most common methods were; 1) The less common of the two methods, is measuring from the center of the railhead on one side to the center of the railhead on the other side, and 2) The most common method, is measuring from the inside edge of the railhead on one side to the inside edge of the railhead on the other side.

Steve
& the reason that method (1) wasnt very practical is that its ok, -  until the railroad later upgrades the profile of its rail ( more Lbs / ft) which in effect widens the rail head thus causing a reduction in the width that the wheel  back to backs have to run through & then you have to change gauge on all your rolling stock as well.
It also causes similar problems when buying in 2nd hand from another railroad
Regards
Don
 

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Posted By Dwight Ennis on 03/03/2008 2:53 PM
Dwight, you forgot to mention that sometimes the cars would be lifted right off their standard gauge trucks and placed back down onto narrow gauge trucks, without unloading, as was the case in Newfoundland.
I thought about that, but I'm not sure how common a practice it was, at least in the USA which are really the only railroads I know anything at all about (yeah, I know, another arrogant American - hehehe). Also, that was never done with passenger equipment so far as I know. I think the large majority of narrow gauge railroads used commodity transfers.

Besides, the wider, longer standard gauge freight cars would negate some of the advantages of narrow gauge (curves, clearances) even if riding on narrow gauge trucks. That's probably a big part of why this didn't become more common practice. :)" align="absMiddle" border="0" src="/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/smile.gif" />


Dwight 
Some lines did do passenger transfer, cant remember where but I have seen pics of a French  change of gauge where the passengers are still IN the coaches while the bogies were changed.
Also somewhere in NW england there was a tram system that actually had ADJUSTABLE wheel gauge when going from one system to another( obviously at low speeds one would hope!)
I believe the Japanese still use a similar system still in places , but I might be wrong in that.


regards
Don
 
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a change of weelsets or setting whole cars with or without their weels on other gauge trucks:

Also, that was never done with passenger equipment so far as I know.

that was done (and maybe is still done) with trains that connect russian cities to western european cities.
the russians having a gauge, that is way broader, than european standard gauge.

korm
.
 

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Posted By Dwight Ennis on 03/03/2008 2:53 PM
Dwight, you forgot to mention that sometimes the cars would be lifted right off their standard gauge trucks and placed back down onto narrow gauge trucks, without unloading, as was the case in Newfoundland.
I thought about that, but I'm not sure how common a practice it was, at least in the USA which are really the only railroads I know anything at all about (yeah, I know, another arrogant American - hehehe). Also, that was never done with passenger equipment so far as I know. I think the large majority of narrow gauge railroads used commodity transfers.

Besides, the wider, longer standard gauge freight cars would negate some of the advantages of narrow gauge (curves, clearances) even if riding on narrow gauge trucks. That's probably a big part of why this didn't become more common practice. :)" align="absMiddle" border="0" src="/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/smile.gif" />


As we're digressing here, let me add my 5 cents...  The EBT commonly swapped trucks on std gauge cars without unloading them - there are plentyof photos around of them using the 'Timber Transfer' [crane] to lift the car.  

They didn't do it with passenger cars, but the Russians did - their gauge is 5' and has been kept that way to inhibit invasion.  (Apparently Hitler had all kinds of supply problems due to the change of guage.)  I've seen photos of coaches being lifted onto new trucks at the border. 
 

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Dear Mr Chops - the Japanese do not have adjustable gauge-change facilities, but RENFE in Spain does.  The TALGO Express adjusts in motion - very SLOW-motion - whilst passing through the gauge-change facility. 

The Japanese National Railway company, JR, uses two gauges - 90% of the country is covered by three-foot six inches track - the so-called 'Cape gauge' invented by the British who started Japan's railways off in the late 19th century, and the high-speed Shinkansen, that runs on the so-called Standard Gauge we have been discussing.  

Russian state railways have lift-off gauge change facilities at numerous locations in eastern Europe and China where their rails come up to those of the other country.  The cars - with NO passengers in them - are lifted off one set of trucks and placed on those of the receiving nation tracks.  They do not have gauge-change facilities between Russia and Finland.

This might be useful....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail gauge

tac
www.ovgrs.org 
 

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I have been on the TALGO when it passes from France to Spain -just to see what it was like.... When I came back from Spain to France I got off and then back on after the change over -like quite a few others!!! The Leek and Manifold had transporter wagons for freight on their 2 feet 6 inch gauge tracks but the strangest thing I know of are the convertor wagons used by Rhodesia Rail to move stuff from East African Railways Metre gauge to the Rhodesia Rail Cape Gauge track. They had special wide wheels that had a flange machined out of the thick tread of the Cape Gauge wheels thus they could (if you took it carefully) move from the Cape Gauge to Metre gauge with a special set of rails. The Cape Gauge side of it fell away and the Metre gauge rails rose up through the middle. The wear on them was horrific -but it got stuff from Beira to Salisbury during the worst of the "Sanctions" period.

regards

ralph
 
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