O SCALE

O scale (or O gauge) is a commonly used railway modeling scale introduced by German toy manufacturer Marklin around 1900. Up until the early 1960s, O scale was the most popular model railroad scale in the United States. The popularity of the scale declined in Europe before the Second World War due to the introduction of smaller scales.

O scale was in its prime when model railroads were seen as toys, with more attention on cost, durability, and the ability to be easily handled and operated by pre-adult hands. There was not much emphasis on details and realism. O scale is still a popular choice for model railroaders who enjoy running trains more than other aspects of modeling however recent developments have addressed the concerns of scale model railroaders making O scale popular among fine-scale modelers who value the detail that can be achieved. The size of O is larger than OO/HO layouts, and thus is a factor in making the decision to build an O scale layout. Collecting vintage O scale trains is also popular and there is a market for both reproduction and vintage models.

HISTORY

The name for O gauge and O scale is derived from “0 [zero] gauge” or “Gauge 0” being smaller than Gauge 1 and the other then-existing standards. It was created in part because manufacturers realized their best-selling trains were those built in the smaller scales.

In the United States, manufacturers such as the Ives Manufacturing Company, American Flyer, and Lionel Corporation used O gauge for their budget line, marketing either Gauge 1 or ‘Wide gauge’ (also known as ‘standard gauge’) as their premium trains. One of the Lionel Corporation’s most popular trains, the 203 Armoured Locomotive, was O gauge and ran on tracks with rails spaced 1.25 inches apart. The Great Depression wiped out demand for the expensive larger trains, and by 1932, O gauge was the standard, almost by default.

Since the early 1990s, O scale manufacturers have begun placing more emphasis on realism, and the scale has experienced a resurgence in popularity, although it remains less popular than HO or N scale. However, newer manufacturers including MTH Electric Trains, Lionel, LLC, Atlas Model Railroad Co and Weavermodels are making very exact, 1:48 scale models of trains.

SCALE

O Scale in the UK is commonly 1:43.5 or 7 mm to the foot, in continental Europe it is commonly 1:45 though 1:43.5 is also used particularly in France, and in the USA 1:48. Each region tends to design models to its own scale. The NMRA and the MOROP maintain detailed standards for a variety of scales to help model makers create interoperable models.

SOURCES

https://web.archive.org/web/20100111220851/http://www.gauge0guild.com/whatis.asp
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O_scale

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