Gauges and Scales

by Ivan W. Baugh

Gauge is the distance between the inside of the outermost rail heads. The gauge for most of the railroads in the world is 4' 8.5" between the inside of the outermost rail heads.

Scale refers to the ratio between the actual size (prototype-a railroad you would see at a highway crossing) and the modeled size. Scale compares inches or millimeters with feet of the prototype.


Ratio scale inches to prototype inches
scale = prototype

Examples of Manufacturers
includes links to web sites where available
Live Steam 1:8  
II Number two gauge - 1:22.5  
G 1:24 (LGB is 1:22.5) Model Die Castings, LGB
I Number one gauge - 1:32 Aristo-Craft, Electoy, Ives
O27 1:43.5 Lionel, K-Line, M.T.H.
O 1:48 Atlas, Lionel
S 1:64 American Flyer, American Models
HO 1:87 Athearn, Atlas, Bachmann, Life-Like, Rivarossi
TT 1:120 Arnold, TT Scale, Berliner, Busch (found mostly in Europe)
N 1:160 Athearn, Atlas, Micro-Trains Line, MiniTrix, Rivarossi
Z 1:220 Marklin, Micro-Trains Line

Please get a ruler, a pen or pencil, and a blank sheet of paper. Then click on the link that follows, enter the information carefully. Scroll down to see your height in the various scales.

Scale Converter (may require Microsoft Office)

Using the information from the Scale Converter web page, on the paper draw a line showing your height in each scale. Label each scale. Write your name on the sheet.

America OnLine Users: If you have difficulty accessing the Scale Converter web page, try the following steps.

  1. Load America OnLine and connect to the Internet.
  2. From the Start menu choose either Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator.
  3. Enter this address:
  4. Click on the Scout Railroading Merit Badge link.
  5. At the bottom of the next document, click on Scale Converter.