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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Being new to this outdoor part of model railroading, I am spending a lot of time reading everything I can about it as I plan my railroad. This site is full of information. One thing that puzzles me is that most of the people who appear to be real "experts" here seem to all say their railroad is 1.20.3. I understand what this means except it seems that only Bachmann and some live steamers make 1.20.3. Isn't this limiting as far as choice? Is the quality of this size Bachmann up to the test? I have two LGB loco's and am trying to decide what to add next as far as loco's and rolling stock yet I see all this about 1.20.3? What's up with this?
 

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I'm still pretty new at this too, and it took me a long time to wrap my head around why all the different scales exist in the hobby. It has to do with how scales relate to the gauge (width) of track.

1:20.3
45mm gauge track at 1:20.3 works out to about 3 scale feet. This 3-foot gauge was quite popular and there are a number of these railroads still in operation. A lot of live steam locomotives of U.S. outline are in this scale. It's also really large, which makes it pretty neat. Even "small" 0-4-0 logging locomotives at this scale are pretty big. Anyway, if you want to model 3-foot gauge locomotives on 45mm track, you use 1:20.3

1:22.5
45mm gauge track at 1:22.5 works out to about a scale meter, which is the European narrow gauge or "meter gauge". This is why LGB (nominally) and some other equipment is in that scale--especially European models. The Harz line in Germany is an example of this, and LGB produces a good deal of Harz equipment, both locos and rolling stock. So if you want to model meter gauge locomotives on 45mm track, you use 1:22.5

1:29 and 1:32
45mm gauge track at 1:29 works out to 51 inches, just shy of the 56.5 inches of standard gauge. Purists will insist that 1:32 measures out closer at 55.6, which means that 1:32 is the "correct" scale for standard gauge trains on 45mm track. A lot of the big American equipment is sold in these scales. If you want to run standard gauge equipment on 45mm track, it could be in 1:29 scale. . I'm still confused as to where the 1:29 came from...


There's more to it than this, but essentially it comes down to having a single gauge of track (45mm) representing a lot of different real-life gauges. And you figure out the scale by determining what the 45mm track represents.


This picture from GVGRC helped me understand it
 

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Also, just to add to the confusion :confused: : to "really" model all these scales, the tie spacing on the track should be different, and some people run a mix of equipment (1:20.3 and 1:22.5 and 1:29--but hopefully not all at the same time)

If you are buying buildings and cars to add scenery, it's even more complicated, since the common diecast vehicle size is 1:24 and buildings are all over the place. I have a Piko factory which is clearly 1:22.5 scale, and a Piko train station that's clearly 1:29. Same company produced them both, both of recent manufacture, and in noticeably different scales. Luckily they're not close to each other on the layout :)
 

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To add to the confusion, there a cars out there that are 1:24. A lot of LGB, USAT freight cars based on Colorado 3' narrow gauge are closer to 1:24, based on the length assuming the prototype car was 30' long.

If you like the Maine 2' narrow gauge then you will be modeling in 1:13.7.

All this is confusing. In the other modeling scales you would need two layouts if you wanted 3' narrow gauge and standard gauge trains. They keep the scale constant and change the gauge. We keep the gauge constant and vary the scale.

I prefer our way as I like both. I run 1:20.3, 1:22.5/24, and 1:29, not at the same time. I think that 1:29 started when LGB started making longer more "MODERN" freight cars. They were famous for using the"rubber band" scale ruler. If it looked good and the proportions were OK. That was fine. These cars looked nice and I bought some. They scaled out to about 1:29. Then AristoCraft and USAT started making cars and engines to match the LGB cars. It is rumored that Lewis Polk president of Aristo said that he chose 1:29 for the "WOW" factor. Liking that size over the smaller but correct scale of 1:32.

I got into 1:20.3 when I bought the Bachmann Connie when it first came out. I knew that it was a different scale, but I had mixed 1:22.5 (LGB) and 1:24 USA and Delton cars with no visual problems. That is a difference of about 10%. So I thought the 10% difference between the LGB and Bachmann wouldn't be too noticeable. MAN, was I wrong. The Connie dwarfed LGB cars. That is when I measured the LGB cars and discovered they were closer to 1:24. That is a 20% difference. Of late most of my NG purchases have been in 1:20.3 and all of my SG have been 1:29.

Chuck
 

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Not really a "Scale" issue but ..... I have a couple Bachmann "Big Hauler" cars that I used to check on clearances then I got a "Big Hauler" 2-4-2 for Christmas. Ready to do the initial run of the engine yesterday and was surprised when the couplers on the cars were lower than the engine's and they wouldn't lock together. Same brand, series, etc but still not exact more like 1:20.3 engine and 1:22.5 cars. Visually the engine looks pretty close to a Piko Mogul which is supposed to be 1:24 even when side by side. Welcome to the G scale world. My attitude is if it looks good run it or build it.
 

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Alan

Bachmann makes a step down coupler that might fit. It came with my 1:20.3 Shay. I needed it to lower the coupler height so it would couple with my Bachmann long caboose.

Chuck
 

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This picture from GVGRC helped me understand it
I dont know who GVGRC is..but the place where that chart was first posted was..mylargescale! ;)
funny how things come full circle.

(I dont mind that the chart has made its way to various places around the web..thats what its for! :) spreading knowledge..)

Scot
 

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Alan

This is the Bachmann stepdown coupler and how I used it on the Shay.



I had to remove it from the shank and drill a hole.



and then mounted it in the L&P pocket.




Now it mates with the long caboose and other spectrum cars.



Now back to your regularly scheduled thread on Scale.

Chuck
 

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JCutter. There is hope while still deciding the scale issue...
Some items from LGB are close to 1:20.3 such as the Porter saddle tank.
Most of the Bachmann Big Hauler cars are around 1:24 but the goods cars can pass as early era 3ft gauge in 1:20.3 since they were a lot smaller back then. AristoCraft Classic wood hopper works well for early era too.
Some items are simple to upscale such as Bachmann Anniversary. A bigger stack and cab is all it needs to pass as 1:20.3.

What are the two LGB locos you have?

Andrew
 

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I guess in reality, even the other gauges play games with scale... How about HO track and 1:48 scale vs 1:87 called On30 I think there is a similar 1:87 scale running on N gauge track. We are a niche using 45mm track and many folks are not familiar with all the fun we have!
 

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When USAT and AristoCraft (Polk) started out in G, they decided, sort of, I guess, that the trains looked more massive in 1:29 scale. Which of course, is the wrong scale for the track gauge. So, that's where it came from. Basically, a marketing ploy. MTH and Accucraft use 1:32nd scale, meaning of course, that they're not "compatible." The Bachmann Spectrum series uses the correct 1:20.32 scale, as does the AMS "Classic Series" lines. The Bachmann "Big Haulers" are supposed to be 1:22.5 to better match the LGB equipment. Which is a variation of "Matchbox" scale. (Matchbox, of course, makes toy cars to no particular scale, they're made the size they are to fit the standard box.)

And then, and then, there's also 1:20.32 scale using Gauge 2 (64mm) track rather than Gauge 1, to represent Standard Gauge. In reality, Gauge 1 (45mm) represents meter gauge in 1:22.5 and Gauge 2 represents standard gauge in 1:22.5.

And, if you want more confusion, when LGB introduced their trains running on Gauge 1 track, they marketed it as "K" scale, rather than "G" scale.

So, to summarize: G is the gauge of the track, 45mm between the rails. the ratios represent the scale, or the relationship of the trains to their prototypes. So, although people may refer to all of them as G Scale, in fact, G Scale is only accurate if you're describing 1:22.5 scale.

1:20.32 is usually referred to as "F" scale, and when used with 45mm gauge track, Fn3. Or F scale, narrow gauge, 3 feet between the rails. Similar to HOn3, Sn3, or On3. On30 uses HO gauge track, but represents 30 inch gauge.

1:29th has been described by some as "Frankenscale". You might want to don your asbestos suit before referring to it as that on the forums. 1:32nd is, strictly speaking #1 scale or Gauge One, which is how MTH labels their products.

Note, that us G guys aren't the only ones. Lionel in O gauge actually uses the wrong scale (1:43.5) so that the track gauges out to 5' even. The accurate scale using O gauge track should be 1/48th scale.

And HO uses the same track gauge as OO scale, yet uses the correct 1/87.1 scale rather than the similar 1/76 scale for European models. Same with N gauge. In the US, it's 1/160th scale, in Europe it's 1/144th scale.

Robert
 

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Jcutter, the history and conclusions to some of this narrow scaley stuff: :)

LGB became popular in the USA with European narrow gauged prototypes then some USA manufacturers started making USA 3ft narrow gauge models in the common scale of 1:24 which was a similar scale and size to LGB 1:22.5 items.
They all looked a similar size and fit fairly well into smaller spaces along the same principles as LGB.
The problem is that 3ft gauge modeled in 1:24 on 45mm track is incorrect. It scaling more accurately to 3' 6" gauge or 'Cape gauge', more common in Africa and Australia.

The new scale of 1:20.3 was speculated and developed which was correct for 3ft gauge modeled on 45mm track.
1:20.3 items tend to be far more detailed and pricey. Larger prototypes in 1:20.3 are quite huge, some way too big for people's available space and pricey on their pockets. There is a huge difference in size and price between a Bachmann Jackson Sharp coach (shortened) in 1:24 and say an Accucraft prototype model of the same in 1:20.3.
http://forums.mylargescale.com/15-model-making/25318-knotts-berry-farm-railcars.html

Although 1:20.3 is correctly scaled and more finely detailed it has strayed from some of the aspects that have made LGB so successful. Some people prefer 1:24 / 1:22.5 USA narrow gauge models because of space issues and the models tend to be more robust (less bits to fall off) and some far more affordable.

Many people run Bachmann 1:24 coaches and cars behind smaller 1:20.3 locomotives such as the Spectrum 2-6-0 and 4-4-0 and they look fine to the casual eye even though nowhere near the same scale.
Many 1:24 goods cars will pass as smaller early era goods cars in 1:20.3.
Some locomotives with little modification can pass as 1:20.3, others don't. Coaches are probably the main issue.
With careful selection of models you can play it both ways until you are fully committed to one scale or the other.

Below is a comparison between two Forneys of different brand/scales, both of which are models of 2ft prototypes so both incorrect as far as gauge goes. To me they look fine together.
Often a difference of 10% or less in scale is tolerable. Just depends how fussy you are.
http://forums.mylargescale.com/11-public-forum/26450-double-forneycation-pictures.html

It's great to have choice!
Andrew
 

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Being a new guy around here I understand the original posters reason for starting this thread. Selecting a scale for your layout is something that has to be done for the 45mm track used for G scale. The fact that you can mix and match close scales with decent results doesn't mean you can at the extremes of the scales available.

The other thing to make note of is that even on prototypes not every tank or box car that flys by is exactly the same dimensions. This is especially the case for tank cars. One just has to park at a railroad crossing to notice the odd car going by from time to time.

Frankly the "scales" are something I've yet to decide upon. This is actually a bit frustrating.
 

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W

What do you like; modern, pre1900, narrow gauge, standard gauge, steam era, stream/diesel transition, etc.?

I could also add North American or European to the above list. Pick what you like best. You can add others in time. What is great about our segment of the hobby is that we can run different scales on our track. As I said earlier I run three different scales, I just don't mix them in the same session.

Chuck

Most of my buildings are 1:22.5/24ish, kits and other commercial, pre made (such as bird houses). They also work for the 1:20.3 and the 1:29. Since we are outside, visitors aren't up close. Most of us follow the 10' rule. If it looks fine from 10' or further away, it is OK. Thesr are not dioramas for a museum, where everything needs to be scale correct. In over 30 years of hosting open houses, no one has ever said, "those buildings are not to scale." It is the overall appearance that counts.
 

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Looks like the answers covered it, but to simplify decide if you prefer narrow or standard gauge then pick a "scale family" i.e. Standard 1:32/1:29 or Narrow 1:24-1:20.3. For example while I have some more expensive Accucraft freight cars and even a K-27, I was much better off when I bought those and have been working on a budget lately so I've been content to run my LGB/Bachmann passenger cars behind my Bachman C-19 which is a 1:22.5/24 set combined with a 1:20.3 loco. The resulting train actually is acceptable to me so its just a matter of what you want.
 

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It always seems to be such a shock to the newcomer after the simple decision to "play trains in the yard" to suddenly be confronted with "what era / gauge / size / type / brand / etc. do you want to run"?... I have seen people get immediately turned off the idea when hit with such questions... the answers too often are "I don't care, I am not a 'modeler', I just want to play trains outdoors. If I can't get something that just lets me play trains in the backyard, I just don't want to get involved."

When people decide to "play trains indoors" they can pick a scale, be it "N", "HO" or "O" and have plenty to pick from spread across many manufacturers, without all the other questions hitting them in the face right off. Granted, in those other scales, there are the serious modelers that worry about the same questions of scale and gauge and era and type and brand, but that is usually relegated to the serious modeler that got hooked by the scale first and decided to delve deeper into modeling reality later.

I agree that having one gauge of track to represent many scales of different 1:1 gauges makes it easier to take 'your' trains to another's track and you still get to play, but I think it is detrimental to the "G-gauge" hobby in general to slap the newcomer in the face with the plethora of decisions that have to be made before the high denomination currency goes flying out of the wallet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks for the education

I understand the various "sizes/scales" that have evolved over the years. What got me puzzled was that several of the members of these forums who appear to me to be "experts" or at least voluminous contributors of very good information said they "run 1/20.3". So I tried to find out what they might be actually running as far as loco's to see if there was some "unmentioned" superiority of those models. Looked to me that only Bachmann had loco's readily available in this scale so I wondered if that meant anything about higher quality, accuracy of detail, etc.. I see no real evidence of this but as all have stated above, it seems to be a matter of personal preference as to what size you want to run. Thanks for clearing this up for me. I'll add loco's and rolling stock that look good to me and fit my steam era theme.
Jud Cuttino
 

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Jud

In addition to Bachmann, Accucraft makes 1:20.3 engines and cars. The Accucraft engines are metal and more expensive than Bachmann. The quality and detail is excellent. Accucraft also makes freight and passenger cars in that scale.

I have both manufacturers engines for my 1:20.3. All of my 1:22.5/24 engines are LGB. My 1:29 engines are Aristo (steam) and USAT (steam, diesel, and electric (GG1)).

Chuck
 

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And then, and then, there's also 1:20.32 scale using Gauge 2 (64mm) track rather than Gauge 1, to represent Standard Gauge. In reality, Gauge 1 (45mm) represents meter gauge in 1:22.5 and Gauge 2 represents standard gauge in 1:22.5.

Robert
Robert,
Just to add to any confusion - 64mm (2 ½") is actually Gauge 3 (Although before 1909 it WAS called Gauge 2.
Gauge 2 is 2" (50.8mm) with a scale of 1:28.25 (close to 1/29) to represent standard gauge.
So you can re-wheel all the Aristo and run it on Gauge 2 track and it will look correct!
Regards,
David Leech, delta, Canada
 

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It comes down to what you would like to run. If it is diesels, I would look pretty hard at 1/29. If you have a lot of room and like steam, 1/20 would make some sense. To be on smaller curves and take up a smaller space look at LGB and Piko. On you RR you can mix and match any and all of these and others.
 
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