OO Gauge Trains Buying Guide

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OO Gauge Trains Buying Guide

Collecting OO model trains and OO model railroads is a very popular pastime with people all around the world. Many begin collecting the trains at a young age and find that the hobby becomes a lifelong love.

Using a site like eBay to search for model trains is a great idea due to the variety available and the excellent value for money that can be obtained.

This guide will help any first time buyers understand what is meant by OO gauge, and how to use eBay to successfully locate and purchase this type of model train.

What Is OO Gauge?

The gauge of a model train refers to the distance between the two running rails found on the track. This is not to be confused with the scale of the train, which refers to the ratio relationship between a model and the full sized train it is based on. If a model train is described as being OO gauge, then this means that it runs on 16.5mm gauge track. OO gauge trains are the most popular size available in Britain today.

History Of The OO Gauge

  • Before World War I, the standard size trains used by most British people were the German made O gauge and 1 gauge. The war saw a drop in interest in German made products and this included their model trains.
  • A British engineer by the name of Henry Greenly worked with the Bing model company to develop a table top model train set half the size of the standard O gauge. This is how OO gauge received its name.
  • The first models appeared in 1922, and as with the majority of other trains were powered by clockwork engines.
  • OO gauge instantly became popular with the British public, but the outbreak of World War II saw British companies manufacturing this size slowing down their production rate.
  • After the Second World War, model railway clubs started to spring up around the UK, renewing interesting in this uniquely sized gauge.
  • Companies like Hornby began to mass-produce OO gauge trains and railway sets and continue to dominate the British market to this very day. The Bachmann Branchline has also been successful in generating great sales in their OO gauge trains.

OO Gauge Specifications

  • 4mm scale.
  • 1.76 ratio.
  • 16.5mm gauge.

OO Gauge Trains

There are two main types of OO gauge trains available to buy, and these are either locomotives or rolling stock. The locomotive is the vehicle that provides power to the train and drags the rest of the cars along behind it. The rolling stock is the name given to any of the cars that are found behind the locomotive. Rolling stock cars will never contain a power source and are used purely for decoration. Model trams are also available to buy, and these are similar to locomotives in that they are powered but they are unable to pull rolling stock.

OO Gauge Train Power Sources

There are a number of different power sources that can be used to give the model train motion. Keep in mind where the track will be set up as some power sources are more suitable to particular environments than others.

Electric DC/AC

  • This is the most common form of power source for model trains today, and is the one most used with OO gauges.
  • Electric power sources comprise of a transformer and a control box. A mains is needed to supply the train with power.
  • The transformer prevents the voltage from reaching a dangerous level when in use.
  • The control box is in charge of the speed of the train and controls which direction the train is heading in. Model trains using electric power sources are only able to travel forwards and backwards.
  • Model trains using Direct Control will run very smoothly, but using an Alternative Current can sometimes cause involuntary operations of train functions such as lights and sounds.
  • Only one locomotive at a time can travel on a model track that is using an electric power source.
  • Electric power sources are suitable for indoor use. Outdoor use is possible but only in weather permitting conditions and if a mainline is near the track.


  • Battery powered OO gauges are common but tend to be avoided by modern day collectors. However, using a battery-powered train is sometimes the only option for outdoor tracks as a mainline may be inaccessible.
  • Batteries were the choice power source for the majority of 19th century model train enthusiasts.

Digital Command Control

  • · Digital command control (DCC for short), operates in a similar manner to DC and AC powered trains but uses an internal chip to directly control the trains movements.
  • · The control box used in DCC is more refined than the electric powered counterparts, and offers more functions and greater control of the train.
  • The chip also controls any additional features such as sound and lighting effects.
  • Two trains can be run at once on the same track when using DCC, and DCC powered tacks require less wiring then electric tracks.


  • The very first OO gauge model trains used clockwork engines to create motion.
  • To create motion in a clockwork locomotive, first a gear is tightly wound and then released. The gears turn various parts such as the wheels.
  • OO gauge clockwork trains have a very limited run time due to their small engines and gears.
  • Very few manufactures still produce OO gauge trains, and early versions are often highly sought after by collectors. These trains can fetch very high prices as they are considered to be an important part of model railway history.

OO Gauge Model Train Tracks

OO model train tracks can be grouped into one of six categories.

  • Straight tracks make up the majority of a set. They are connected by clipping the ends together.
  • Curve tracks are available in a number of angles and lengths, allowing for bends of varying sizes.
  • A flex track is gently bent into shape before being laid. Flex tracks need to be glued to a base to stop them from shifting shape when being used by a train. Before the train is glued to a base, a model train should be gently run along it to make sure that it can be traversed.
  • Crossings allow tracks running in different directions to intersect each other. Crossings can be bought in a number of degrees, with the most popular being 90 degrees.
  • A function track assists with any additional work such as connecting the track to a power supply or shifting stray wheels back on track.
  • A turnout has a single entry point and two or three exit points. These allow the train to change direction.

Popular OO gauge brands include Hornby, Hornby Dublo, Bachmann and Lima. The majority of model trains for sale are based on real trains that have been in use at some stage in history. Spend some time researching into the various brands and their makes and models as this will help when searching later.

Searching For OO Gauge Trains On eBay

  • Head to eBay.co.uk, and click on the All Categories tab found to the left of the search bar on the title page.
  • Once on the Categories page, scroll down to Collectables and click on Trains/Railway Models.
  • Head down to the Categories table on the left and click on the OO box found under the Gauge heading.

This will load up the OO gauge listings page. Use this page to browse through the various trains and track pieces available to buy on eBay.

  • Use the filters table on the left to refine the search.
  • The Product Type filter allows buyers to list particular items only. Buyers can choose to list locomotives, rolling stock, train tracks and model railroad accessories such as scenery and model buildings.
  • If looking for a piece made by specific company use the Brand filter. 
  • OO gauge trains and tracks are listed as one of three buying options. These are Bid Now, Buy It Now or Best Offer. Pieces listed as Bid Now are on auction, pieces listed as Buy It Now are for sale at a set price and pieces listed as Best Offer will be sold at the price the seller considers to be most fitting.
  • To change the amount of listings shown on the page, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the relevant box amount. Buyers can choose to list 25, 50, 100 or 200 OO gauge pieces per page.
  • Use the Sort By drop down menu to choose how items are listed.

Clicking on the title of an OO gauge item will load up the individual item page.

  • The item page contains all the relevant information for an OO gauge piece and some time should be spent reading over it before making a purchase.
  • All listings should be accompanied by a photo of the item in its current condition, and if an OO gauge train or track is missing one then request it using the Ask A Question function. This is found at the bottom of the page under the Description box.
  • The information to the right of the photo deals with the current bid, the time left in the bid and the location of the OO gauge piece.
  • The Description box contains additional information such as train or track specifications. Always check here for any messages from the seller.
  • Postage and payment contains details regarding postage costs and delivery times.

Buying With Confidence

  • Spend some time reviewing the seller’s past transactions and see what kind of feedback they have received from other buyers. To do this click on the Seller Information link found on the top right of the item page.
  • If the seller has received a considerable amount of negative comments then search for another OO gauge listing.
  • Search for the RRP of any OO gauge item before making a purchase. This will help establish if the eBay price is fair or not.


OO gauge trains and tracks are the most popular size available in Britain today, and collectors and first time buyers alike are spoilt for choice thanks the many brands, makes and models. When searching for a train spend some time researching into the different power sources, as some will be more suitable than others.

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