Are you confused about model train gauges, scales and are not sure how to create realistic model train sets? Here is your answer to it in simple terms.

Gauge is the distance between the two rails on the train track of your layout.

Scale refers to the distance in size when something is compared to real life object.

Though there is a wide range of train gauges and scales used all over the world, it is up to you to decide what suits best for the space available to you. You also need to take into account your vision, desires, requirements and budget when you decide upon a suitable gauge or scale.

Usually, a 9mm gauge is predominantly used for model train sets and hence the name N-gauge (N for nine).

Model Train Gauges and Scales

Here are some popular gauges and scales used:

  1. HO or OO scale – This has the ratio 1:87 when compared to the actual size. This is one of the most popular scales in use and is equal to 3.5mm scale of the 1-foot model. So for every foot, you add 3.5mm i.e. if the actual size of box car is 40 feet then the HO scale would be approximately 5.5 inches (140mm). The gauge for HO scale is 16.5mm.
  2. N Scale – N gauge – The scale ratio is 1:160 when compared to the actual size. In the N scale terms, 2mm is approximately 1 foot. For example, door frame in N-scale is half an inch and if you are planning to use models of people on your layout, use the ones that are shorter than ½ inch. N scale is almost 50% less in size when compared with HO scale and if you have limited space, you can use N scale to accommodate more within the available space.
  3. On30 scale-gauge – The scale ratio is 1:48 and this is O scale running on HO tracks. Compared with the regular O scale it is much smaller and easily adaptable.
  4. TT scale-gauge – The scale ratio is 1:120 with the track gauge of 12mm. It is 33% larger than that of N scale. It is more popular in European countries than in the US.
  5. G-scale-gauge – The scale ratio is 1:22.5 to the actual size and is much larger when compared with HO or N scale. The gauge size is 45mm. It is best used in open spaces like a garden for more realistic look.
  6. Z scale & gauge – The scale ratio is 1:220 and is the smallest of all the scales and runs on 6.5mm gauge track. It uses lesser space than the N scale but due to limited models, it is not as popular as the N-scale.Model train gauges








The “Model trains for Beginners” is a book that captures the essence of train scales and model train gauges that are loaded with amazing tips for scenery and improving layouts, which can be applied to any size railroad gauge. This is a must-have book that is created especially for railroad enthusiasts who are amateurs or experienced.

This book exercises sound clarity to illuminate the pros and cons of different scales and what scales you can consider for your model railroad. Furthermore, it explains in detail what you need to buy and the ideal place you can purchase it from. Choosing the right type of gauges and scales can be confusing and this book aids you in making the right decision based on your budget, available space and interests.

This book advances in full array of details on weathering apart from choosing the right scale. Weathering is a technique used to make new objects look old to create realistic sceneries to the existing layout. You can apply weathering for fences, bridges, buildings etc. to make them look rustic and genuine.

Here are some additional resources to help you with more specific details pertaining to different types of model train gauges and scales:

  1. The Planning and Designing HO Gauge Model RailRoad Track Plans

This book is for those who are puzzled and who need the correct information in dealing with planning and designing HO gauge model railroad tracks. It explains in great detail why you should choose HO gauge and scale and what the benefits are when using this gauge. HO gauge system is very popular in the US and this book comes with a variety of HO gauge track plans you can choose from.

model train gauges



  1. The Making A Start in N Gauge Railway Modelling

This book highlights the layout with respect to N scale and N gauge system. In addition, it includes various types of track products that are available in the market. The difference between sectional and flexible tracks used in the N gauge design is explained with clarity.

If you would like to investigate the N gauge system and learn more about it, you can do so by checking out the resource. model train gauges



  1. The Realistic Tracks for O Gauge Trains


This is a book you should read if you want additional information about O Gauge system for your layouts. This book features track plans in relation to sectional and custom designed operational track setups. It is easy to understand and clearly explained for those who use O gauge tracks. model train gauges chart


Creating a model train layout is an art, perception of things relative to the scenery is crucial. The more creative you are the better, the more experimentation you do the better outcome it will be. Everything needs to be proportionate to one another. That is the reason why scaling and gauging are so important. A large model train with relatively smaller trees and buildings will not look great; it will, in fact, put them out of place. Make the right choice bearing in mind your budget, size, the complexity of design, the level of skill required and time is taken to see through your project to fruition.

Choose “Model trains for Beginners” to understand the nuances of model train gauges and scales and how they are put to use for that perfect realistic effect. Experience a sense of accomplishment with your creativity and talent.