Types of Model Train Tracks
The type or scale of a model train’s tracks determines the size of the train and the surrounding objects in a layout. Gauge refers to the distance between the rails, but the terms gauge and scale are often used synonymously to describe model train sets.
The smallest is the Z-scale. This size is hard for a lot of people to work with because it is so small. It can make an interesting layout in a very small space. Accessories are available but not as common as with other scales. The ratio is 1:220 with a track gauge of 6.5 mm. The next to the smallest is the N-scale, with nine millimeters being the distance between the rails. It is not the most common or popular scale, but many accessories are available and a layout can be built in a small space. The ratio for N-scale is 1:160.
The next size up and the most popular is the HO-scale. Pronounced as the two letters “H” and “O”. It is large enough to show up well but still will fit in a small space. Accessories are very easy to find and come in a large variety. In H0-scale, rails are usually spaced 16.5 mm with a ratio of 1:87.
Many people are familiar with O-scale model trains which is the size of the popular train sets from the forties and fifties. Still popular and in use today it requires almost a full room for a nice layout. O-scale is two times as large as HO-scale. O-scale trains usually require three tracks and are not considered as realistic unless altered to run on two tracks. They
have a ratio of 1:48.
There are other scales, but the largest of the most popular five is G-scale, which is most commonly seen in large garden settings with the train often running outdoors and around lawn water features. This size can be quite expensive and is often used at tourist attractions. The tracks are spaced 45 mm with a ratio of 1:24.