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at the moment, where a much higher than acceptable amount of
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any of the links below in blue, you get much more facts , plus pictures
of the cars and history in action.
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up to full size pictures.
The earliest model railways were the 'carpet railways' in the 1840s. Electric
trains appeared around the turn of the 20th century. But these were
crude likenesses. Model trains today are more realistic. Today modellers
create model railway / railroad layouts,
often recreating real locations and periods in history.
Involvement ranges from possession of a train set to spending hours
and large sums on a large and exacting model of a railroad and the
scenery through which it passes, called a "layout". Hobbyists, called
"railway modellers" or "model railroaders", may maintain models large
enough to ride (see Live steam, Ridable miniature railway and Backyard railroad). Modellers may collect model
trains, building a landscape for the trains to pass through, or operate
their own railroad in miniature.
Layouts vary from a circle or oval of track to realistic
reproductions of real places modeled to scale. One of the largest is in
the Pendon Museum in Oxfordshire,
UK, where an EM gauge (same 1:76.2 scale as 00 but with more accurate track gauge) model of
the Vale of White Horse in the 1930s is
under construction. The museum also houses one of the earliest scenic
models - the Madder Valley layout built by John Ahern. This was built in
the late 1930s to late 1950s and brought in realistic modelling,
receiving coverage on both sides of the Atlantic in the magazines Model
Railway News and Model Railroader. Bekonscot
in Buckinghamshire is the oldest model village
and includes a model railway, dating from the 1930s. The world's largest
model railroad in H0 scale is the Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg,
The largest live steam layout, with 25 miles (40 km) of track is Train
Mountain in Chiloquin, Oregon, U.S..
railroad clubs exist where enthusiasts meet. Clubs often display
models for the public. One specialist branch concentrates on larger
scales and gauges, commonly using track gauges from
3.5 to 7.5 inches (89 to 191 mm). Models in these scales are usually
hand-built and powered by live steam, or diesel-hydraulic, and the
engines are often powerful enough to haul dozens of human passengers.
Often railways of this size are called miniature railways. List of model railroad clubs.
The size of engines depends on the scale and can vary from 700 mm
(27.6 in) tall for the largest ridable live
steam scales such as 1:8, down to matchbox size for the smallest in
Z-scale (1:220). However, there is another scale that was introduced in
2007 that is also commercially available, called T Gauge, it is 3 mm (0.118 in) gauge track and is a scale of 1:450,
basically half the size of Z scale. A typical HO (1:87) engine is 50 mm
(1.97 in) tall, and 100 to 300 mm (3.94 to 11.81 in) long. The most
popular scales are: G gauge, Gauge 1, O gauge,
gauge (in Britain, the similar OO), TT scale,
scale (1:160 in the United States, but 1:144 in the UK). There is
growing interest in Z scale and T Gauge. HO and OO are the most popular.
Popular narrow-gauge scales include Sn3,
HOn3 Scale and Nn3, which are the same in scale
as S, HO and N except with a narrower spacing between the tracks (in
these examples, a scale 3 ft (914 mm)
instead of the 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)
The largest common scale is 1:8, with 1:4 sometimes used for park
scale (Garden, 1:24 scale) is most popular for backyard
modelling. It is easier to fit a G scale model into a garden and keep
scenery proportional to the trains. Gauge 1 and Gauge 3 are also popular for
gardens. O, S, HO, and N gauge are more often used indoors. Lionel
trains in O scale (1:48 scale) are popular toys. S refers to 1:64
The words scale and gauge seem at first interchangeable
but their meanings are different. Scale is the model's
measurement as a proportion to the original, while gauge is the
measurement between the rails.
At first, model railways were not to scale. Manufacturers and
hobbyists soon arrived at de factostandards for
interchangeability, such as gauge, but trains were only a rough
approximation to the real thing. See Normen
Europäischer Modelleisenbahnen (NEM) and NMRA. Official scales for the gauges were drawn
up but not at first rigidly followed and not necessarily correctly
proportioned for the gauge chosen. O (zero) gauge trains, for instance,
operate on track too widely spaced in the United States as the scale is
accepted as 1:48 whereas in Britain O gauge uses a ratio of 43.5:1 or
7 mm/1 foot and the gauge is near to correct. British OO standards
operate on track significantly too narrow. The 4 mm/1 foot scale on a 16.5 mm (0.650 in) gauge
corresponds to a track gauge of 4 ft 1 1⁄2 in/1,257 mm, 7
inches / 178 millimetres undersized). 16.5 mm (0.650 in)
gauge corresponds to 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)
standard gauge in HO (half-O) 3.5 mm/1 foot or 1:87. This arose due to
British locomotives and rolling stock being smaller than those found
elsewhere, leading to an increase in scale to enable HO scale mechanisms
to be used. Most commercial scales have standards that include wheel flanges
that are too deep, wheel treads that are too wide, and rail tracks that are too large.
Later, modellers became dissatisfied with inaccuracies and developed
standards in which everything is correctly scaled. These are used by
modellers but have not spread to mass-production because the
inaccuracies and overscale properties of the commercial scales ensure
reliable operation and allow for shortcuts necessary for cost control.
The finescale standards include the UK's P4, and the even finer S4,
which uses track dimensions scaled from the
prototype. This 4 mm:1 ft modelling uses wheels 2 mm (0.079 in) or less
wide running on track with a gauge of 18.83 mm (0.741 in).
Check-rail and wing-rail clearances are similarly accurate.
A compromise of P4 and OO is 'EM' which uses a gauge of 18.2 mm (0.717 in) with more
generous tolerances than P4 for check clearances. It gives a better
appearance than OO though pointwork is not as close to reality as P4. It
suits many where time and improved appearance are important. There is a
small following of finescale OO which uses the same 16.5mm gauge as OO,
but with the finer scale wheels and smaller clearances as used with EM-
it is essentially 'EM-minus-1.7mm.'
In addition to different scales, there are also different types of
couplers for connecting cars, which are not compatible with each other.
In H0, the Americans standardized on horn-hook, or X2F couplers,
though these have largely given way to working knuckle couplers (Kadee)
which are a close approximation to the "automatic" couplers used on the
prototype there and elsewhere. Also in H0, the European manufacturers
have standardized, but on a coupler mount, not a coupler: many varieties
of coupler can be plugged in (and out) of the NEM coupler box. None of
the popular couplers has any resemblance to the prototype three-link
chains generally used on the continent.
For British modellers, whose most popular scale is 00, the normal
coupler is a tension-lock coupler, which, again has no pretense of
replicating the usual prototype three-link chain couplers. Bachmann and
more recently Hornby have begun to offer models fitted with NEM coupler
pockets. This theoretically enables modellers of British railways to
substitute any other NEM362 coupler, though many Bachmann models place
the coupler pocket at the wrong height. A fairly common alternative is
to use represantations of chain couplings as found on the prototype,
though these require large radius curves to be used to avoid
Other scales have similar ranges of non-compatible couplers
It must be emphasized that, in all scales, couplers can be exchanged,
with varying degrees of difficulty.
scale layout, 47 × 32 cm (18.5 × 12.6 in) in size.
The landscape in this N scale town includes weathered buildings and tall
Some modellers pay attention to landscaping
their layout, creating a fantasy world or modelling an actual location,
often historic. Landscaping is termed "scenery building" or
Constructing scenery involves preparing a sub-terrain using a wide
variety of building materials, including (but not limited to) screen
wire, a lattice of cardboard strips, or carved stacks of expanded polystyrene
(styrofoam) sheets. A scenery base is applied over the sub-terrain;
typical base include casting plaster, plaster of Paris, hybrid paper-pulp (papier-mâché) or a lightweight
foam/fiberglass/bubblewrap composite as in Geodesic
Foam Scenery. The scenery base is covered with ground cover, which
may be ground foam, colored sawdust,
or commercial scatter materials for grass and shrubbery. Buildings and
structures can be purchased as kits, or built from cardboard, balsa wood, basswood, paper, or
polystyrene or other plastic. Trees can be fabricated from materials
such as Western sagebrush, candytuft, and caspia, to which adhesive
and model foliage are applied; or they can be bought ready-made from
specialist maunfacturers. Water can be simulated using polyester casting
or rippled glass. Rocks can be cast in plaster or in plastic with a
foam backing. Castings can be painted with stains to give coloring and
Weathering refers to making a model look used and exposed to
weather by simulating dirt and wear on real vehicles, structures and
equipment. Most models come out of the box looking new, because
unweathered finishes are easier to produce and many collectors want
models to look pristine. Also, the wear a freight car or building
undergoes depends not only on age but where it is used. Rail cars in
cities accumulate grime from building and automobile exhaust, while cars
in deserts may be subjected to sandstorms which etch or strip paint. A
model that is weathered would not fit as many layouts as a pristine
model which can be weathered by its purchaser.
Weathering purchased models is common. At the least, weathering aims
to reduce the plastic-like finish of scale models. The simulation of
grime, rust, dirt, and wear add realism. Some modelers simulate fuel
stains on tanks, or corrosion on battery boxes. In some cases, evidence
of accidents or repairs may be added, such as dents or freshly painted
replacement parts, and weathered models can be nearly indistinguishable
from their prototypes when photographed appropriately.
Methods of power
The sugar-cube sized electric motor in a Z scale model locomotive. The entire
engine is only 50 mm (2") long.
Model of WP Steam Locomotive(1:3 size) at Guntur, India.
Most early models for the toy market were powered by clockwork and
controlled by levers on the locomotive. Although this made control crude
the models were large and robust enough that grabbing the controls was
practical. Various manufacturers introduced slowing and stopping tracks
that could trigger levers on the locomotive and allow station stops.
Other locomotives, particularly large models, used steam. Steam or
clockwork driven engines are still sought by collectors.
Early electrical models used a three-rail system with the
wheels resting on a metal track with metal sleepers that conducted power
and a middle rail which provided power to a skid under the locomotive.
This made sense at the time as models were metal and conductive. Modern
plastics were not available and insulation was a problem. In addition
the notion of accurate models had yet to evolve and toy trains and track
were crude tinplate.
As accuracy became important some systems adopted two-rail power in
which the wheels were isolated and the rails carried the positive and
negative supply or two sides of the AC supply. Other systems such as
Märklin instead used fine metal studs to replace the central rail,
allowing existing three-rail models to use more realistic track.
Early electric trains ran on batteries because few homes in the
late 19th and early 20th centuries had electricity. Today, inexpensive
train sets on batteries are again common but regarded as toys
seldom used by hobbyists. Battery power is used by many garden railway
and larger scale systems because of the difficulty in obtaining reliable
power supply through the rails outdoors and because the high power
consumption and thus current draw of large scale garden models is more
easily and safely met with rechargeable batteries. Most large scale
battery powered models use radio control.
Engines powered by Live steam are often built in large, outdoor
gauges, and are available in Gauge 1, G scale,
16 mm scale and can be found in 0 and H0. Hornby Railways produce live steam locomotives in 00,
based on designs first arrived at by an amateur modeller. Other
modellers have built live steam models in H0/00, 009 and N, and there is
one in Z in Australia.
Occasionally gasoline-electric models, patterned after real
diesel-electric locomotives, come up among hobbyists and companies like
Pilgrim Locomotive Works have sold such locomotives. Large-scale
petrol-mechanical and petrol-hydraulic models are available but unusual
and pricier than the electrically powered versions.
Modern manufacturing techniques mean mass produced
models achieve a high degree of precision and realism. In the
past this was not the case and scratch building was very common. Simple models are made
using cardboard engineering
techniques. More sophisticated models can be made using a combination
of etched sheets of brass and low
temperature castings. Parts that need machining,
such as wheels and couplings are
purchased. Etched kits are still popular, still accompanied by low
temperature castings. These kits produce models that are not covered by
the major manufacturers or in scales that are not in mass production. Laser machining techniques have
extended this ability to thicker materials for scale steam and other
Coin-operated model train layout in Germany
The first clockwork (spring-drive) and live steam locomotives ran
until out of power, with no way for the operator to stop and restart the
locomotive or vary its speed. The advent of electric trains, which
appeared commercially in the 1890s, allowed control of the speed by
varying the current or voltage. As trains began to be powered by transformers
and rectifiers more sophisticated
throttles appeared, and soon trains powered by AC contained mechanisms
to change direction or go into neutral gear when the operator cycled the
power. Trains powered by DC can change direction by reversing polarity.
Electricity permits control by dividing the layout into isolated
blocks, where trains can be slowed or stopped by lowering or cutting
power to a block. Dividing a layout into blocks permits operators to run
more than one train with less risk of a fast train catching and hitting
a slow train. Blocks can also trigger signals or other accessories,
adding realism or whimsy. Three-rail systems often insulate one of the
common rails on a section of track, and use a passing train to complete
the circuit and activate an accessory.
Many layout builders are choosing digital operation of their layouts
rather than the more traditional DC design. The industry standard
command system is Digital Command Control (DCC). The
advantages to DCC are that track voltage is constant (usually in the
range of 20 volts AC) and the command throttle sends a signal to small
circuit cards, or decoders, hidden inside the piece of equipment which
control several functions of an individual locomotive, including speed,
direction of travel, lights, smoke and various sound effects. This
allows more realistic operation in that the modeller can operate
independently several locomotives on the same stretch of track. Less
common closed proprietary systems also exist. Several manufacturers
offer software that can provide computer-control
of DCC layouts.
Several organizations exist to set standardizations for
connectability between individual layout sections (commonly called
"modules"). This is so several (or hundreds, given enough space and
power) people or groups can bring together their own modules, connect
them together with as little trouble as possible, and operate their
trains. Despite different design and operation philosophies, different
organizations have similar goals; standardized ends to facilitate
connection with other modules built to the same specifications,
standardized electricals, equipment, curve radii.
NTRAK, standardized 3-track (heavy operation)
mainline with several optional branchlines. Focuses on Standard Gauge, but also has
specifications for Narrow Gauge. Due to its
popularity, it can be found in regional variations, most notably the
Imperial-to-Metric measurement conversions. Tends to be used more for
'unattended display' than 'operation'.
a European-based organisation focusing on a single-track line, HO
Scale. Also sets standards for N Scale modules. Standards are
considerably more flexible in module shape than NTRAK, and has expanded
over the years to accommodate several scenery variations.
operationally similar to FREMO, standardises around a single-track
mainline, with modules of varying sizes and shapes. Designed with the
existing NTRAK spec in mind, is fully compatible with such modules.
uses a double track mainline running down both sides of a module.
Modules can be of any length, or width in the middle and any overall
shape. The "standard" called Z-Bend Track only applies to the last five
inches (12.7 cm) of the module’s interface to other modules, the
electrical interface and the module height.
N Scale, two-track main with hidden third track (can be used as NTRAK's
third main, as a return/continuous loop, or hidden yard/siding/on-line
storage). Australian scenery and rolling stock modelled in Standard
NMRA, National Model Railroad Association, the
largest organization devoted to the development, promotion, and
enjoyment of the hobby of model railroading.
European Union of Model Railroad and Railroad Fans, the European
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