Thursday, March 5, 2015

Where Smaller Means More

Marx’s "scale" trains are actually 1/64,. This is also known as 3/16" scale, which is 1/64 of a foot. The idea of running this scale on O track came from A.C. Gilbert. In the late 1930s, he had the idea of a more scale-size operation by using a smaller train. Today, most of the trains sold as O27 are 1/64 to 1/60 in scale.

After World War II, Gilbert switched to two-rail track with a 7/8" gauge, which he called "S". The gauge was just right for his 1/64 trains. Marx stuck to its 3/16" on O27. In fact, several Lionel O27 cars were also scaled close to 1/64.

The benefit is having a smaller train running on the more popular and cheaper O gauged track. This is ideal for smaller model railroads. We can compare the older O / O27 to S and HO scales. O27 has a 27" diameter curve; classic O is 31". Though it has a 30" diameter, 15" radius curve, HO generally tends to start with 36" diameter / 18" radius. The minimum curve for American Flyer S gauge track is 40" diameter.

A small layout of 3" by 6" can be made with O and O27. You can pack a lot of action there, too. Old doors can even provide a base for an interesting layout if you use O27 or O. They are from 66 to 80 inches long and tend to be 34 to 36 inches wide.

Smaller trains provide more action in smaller spaces. For those working in the O and O27 range, the old Marx "scale" line fits the bill. Other trains that work as O27 are the Industrial Rail O27 freights, the Lionel and Williams 12" streamliner passenger cars and the K-Line plastic streamliners. The K-Line Alco FA is also scaled just right for O27.

For trackside figures in this scale, MTH made a set of unpainted plastic figures in the 3/16" - 1/64 size. Military miniatures in the 28mm and 30mm scales work well, too. A few present-day makers produce military miniatures and various ranges of civilians in 28mm. A side effect of the fantasy-role-playing figures are civilian types from several eras. "Steampunk" types may include a few Victorian / 19th Century types. 20th century range from adventurers to plain folks.

The old Marx buildings, most of which were reissued by K-Line and "K-Line by Lionel" have 1/64 dimensions such as doorways. Plasticville is a sort of middle ground between O and S. Some of the folks supplying the fantasy gamers make structures and other items. Check them out to make sure they are usable with your trains.

Several Lionel accessories are also closer to 1/64 than 1/48.



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