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Unsure of Train Scale and Model

Umbra asks readers:

“So my grandpa passed away a few years ago and one of the many items I received from his collection was a model train. It had 3 pieces of track, 1 Santa Fe locomotive, 1 Santa Fe Shipping car and 1 Union Pacific Coal car both cars being an almost brownish red. Up until now I’d been using them as display pieces but I’ve gotten more into model trains and would like to get them running. Only problem is I don’t know the scale or name of the train. He’d probably own it for years before I got it so there’s no box or instructions for me to check. At first I thought it was a Santa Fe F7 Warbonnet but the fans atop the train are bunched up at the rear of the train and not alligned in the middle, I’m almost 100% sure it’s O scale but I could be wrong. If someone could help me figure out what the train’s called it would help me a lot.”

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9 Responses to Unsure of Train Scale and Model

  • Lou Burnssays:

    O scale is usually 3 rail track and is 1 1/4″ between the outer rails
    Scale Ratio Standard gauge
    T 1:480 3 mm (0.118 in) .
    Z 1:220 6.5 mm (0.256 in) .
    N 1:160 9 mm (0.354 in) .
    H0 1:87 16.5 mm (0.65 in) “Half O”
    S 1:64 22.5 mm (0.886 in)
    0 1:45 32 mm (1.26 in)
    1 1:32 45 mm (1.772 in) 32 mm 22.5 mm 16.5 mm 12 mm –
    II 1:22.5 64 mm (2 1⁄2 in) 45 mm 32 mm 22.5 mm 16.5 mm Known as Gauge 3 in the UK;
    III 1:16 89 mm (3 1⁄2 in) 63.5 mm 45 mm 32 mm 22.5 mm –
    V 1:11 5 in (127 mm) 89 mm 63.5 mm 45 mm 32 mm –
    VII 1:8 184 mm (7 1⁄4 in) 127 mm 89 mm 63.5 mm 45 mm –
    X 1:5.5 260 mm (10 1⁄4 in)

    • Michael Williamssays:

      You missed TT 1:120, OO (two rail & three rail) 1:76, Standard 1:26.5, and Large (1:20-1:32) scale. Also T scale is 1:450 scale. Then there is Lego scale.

  • Frank Bsays:

    Hi Umbra,
    Please would you post some pictures of your rolling stock ?
    Then it’s much easier to see what we are looking at and try to identify it.

  • Steohansays:

    It could be 027, Lionel or American Flyer.


  • Ed McEnteesays:

    Pictures would help. Include a ruler in the shot so people can judge the size correctly. Also, see if you can get a photo of the underbelly of the engine and rolling stock. There may be some information that would help identify.

  • Jeansays:

    What you can do is measure the space between the wheel flanges.
    If space is: 30 – 32 mm, then O gauge
    If space is: 22.5 mm, then S gauge
    If space is: 16.5 mm, then HO gauge

  • Frank Bsays:

    Take them along to your local model railroad club, there will be many be people willing to help in all kinds of ways.

  • Randall Styxsays:

    If it came from your Grandfather, and he grew up in the 1950’s, it’s most likely a Lionel O gauge unit. The loco, which premiered in 1948, was an F3. By the way, O gauge and O-27 are the same track gauge, but O-27 was designed to have a 27 inch diameter circle instead of the 36 inch diameter circle of Lionel O gauge, and the track height is slightly less. The O-27 line of track and equipment was a less detailed and less expensive line than the regular O gauge products.All O-27 locos and rolling stock will work fine on O gauge, but only some O gauge equipment will run on O-27. The curve radius is too tight especially for some of the higher end steam locos.

  • Michael Williamssays:

    Can you post a picture of the train and track (and possibly a ruler)? The picture will tell us for sure of the scale it is and the type of track. In O scale, there is three rail (Lionel) and two rail (true scale).

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