Model trains vary in size and scale. If you are a beginner, the most common mistake that you’d most likely do is confuse a scale from a gauge. A scale is basically the proportion of your prototype to the actual equipment. A gauge, on the other hand, is the width between the inner running ends of the track. So sit back on your comfy recliner and let’s discuss. 

Deciding on the size and the scale of your model train can be a bit complicated. That’s because each size comes with several adjustments on the model train.

Model Train Scale

In determining the scale of your model train, you can start by learning about the different scale options you have. For example:

HO scale is 1:87. HO-scale item is 1/87 of the actual equipment. Therefore, the conversion is 0.138 inch to 1 foot.

Some model trains may also be a standard gauge or a narrow gauge. Examples are:

  • Z Scale is 1:220 converted as 0.05 inches to 1 foot.
  • N Scale is 1:160 converted as 0.075 inches to 1 foot.
  • TT Scale is 1:120 converted as 0.1 inches to 1 foot.
  • HO/OO Scale is 1:87 converted as 0.138 inches to 1 foot.
  • S Scale is 1:64 converted as 0.1875 inches per 1 foot.
  • /O27 Scale is 1:48 converted as 0.25 inches per 1 foot.
  • G/No. 1 Scale is 1:32 converted as 0.375 inches per 1 foot.
  • Standard Gauge track sizes are based on the actual standard gauge pathway.
  • Narrow Gauge track sizes are based on the actual narrow gauge pathway.

For those who plan to build model train as a hobby, here are some factors to consider:


If you’re working on a budget, before planning to buy the materials for your model train, it is wise to plan ahead. Cheap and expensive materials are available. Consider the numbers of a specific model train size you’ll need to fit your layout.


Bigger model trains aren’t always better. Work on the space or layout you have. There are a lot of model train options available if you do not have wide spaces. Smaller scales may have the best scenery. Switch layouts for mid-sized scales or simple large-sized scales.


Age is frequently a factor when choosing model trains. For children, making a decision doesn’t get any easier. Some children would want a simple model while some would choose complex models. A lot of older creators prefer larger scales since their vision and handiness becomes limited.


At the end of the day, the size of your model train will depend on what you enjoy most about creating model trains and what you plan to with your models. If you’ll be able to balance your goal together with your budget and your abilities, you can surely easily achieve your goals.

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