Standard Gauge in scale ...yes it gets big

Hello Tinplate world ...  Standard Gauge (as the world knows it) began with Josh Lionel introducing his new 3rd rail line of electric toy trains ...first examples ( trolleys  #2 & #1) to roll off the production line ( probably a few 8" work benches) in November 1906 ( don't believe all the stuff you've read before ) .   

Of course the standard had no standard ... but repeat the lie long enough and you create a new standard.   Standard being a  standard   everything had to run on the standard ... 42" diameter...  yes it looks funny on anything bigger than a #33 ...but it's the standard.    Enter Ives, Flyer, Dorfan   everyone designs for the "standard"..... Boucher did their own thing with diameter's up to 80" ..but they had a very very small market ... so don't go there. 

By the mid 20's the kids that grew up with 1st generation electric trains wanted more ... but the little loop on the floor just did not cut it anymore ... and the soup cans on wheels had lost their charm .... enter the age of realism .."scale modeling" .       Paul Egolf headed the charge on 1/4 " scale   O gauge ,  1/2" was the domain for live steam ...  1 gauge had pretty much vanished this side the the pond ...but it scaled to 3/8"  + - ... and "standard gauge" had no standards in the scale world .... a few choose  3/8" and a few went with 7/16ths ....   Paul Egolf  bumped his diameters out to 72" ..( yes the original 072 only 10 years before the market leader Lionel ) ...but for real scale  the boys laughed at anything less then 96" for 1/4".    Standard gauge scale ... now you are up to the 10' + to come close to anything approaching reality .....and that was the breaking point for the big gauges ...  death of standard gauge was swift, big man on campus in the 1930-32 range was swept aside by 1934 with O gauge ...which in turn was struggling for second by a the rapid up start of HO by WW2 .  

 Standard gauge modeler Jack Schaaf  began as a kit basher of Ives trains .. but up his skills by 1934 with his brass E6 ..followed by his finest, a Pacific . ... Jack  modified Ives transitional Flyer cars ..   which are relatively close to 3/8" scale if you extend them ...    Jack ran on Gilpatrick's RR in CT... articles found on Popular Science January 1935 ( same issue has Bill Walther's article about his full scale M10,000 ( yes it came out the same time as Lionel's )  1 /4" ..his first entry into O scale ...leaving his standard gauge layout behind). 

Lobaugh ... Rollin known far and wide for his fine O scale ... early some 17/64ths ,,but mostly 1/4" ......and 7 /16ths   oh yes standard gauge ...    now you have the proper overhang of the cars ...     big and meaty ..think O scale kit car on steroids ...these cars built up with hand lettering set you back $30-35.00 each car 1934 that was huge money ... same money bought you a 400E ..   no engines listed in the Lobaugh catalogs ..but they have to be out there some where at least a few of them ... where ? ... 

Here you have Jack Schaaf's E6 . roughly 3/8" ...pulling a string of Lobaugh freights 7 /16ths ...around a 87" loop ... it's tight ! 

Cheers Carey 04151909320415190932b0226190139_HDR~21935 cat page box car 


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Original Post

Hello all ..track is USA  track ...Kirk Lidvig? sp sorry ...largest diameter 87" ....hope one day he'll make 96" ..the world needs it ...


E6 was originally outside 3rd rail ...oh yes .....  one day it may go back ...

Lobaugh  good chance of outside 3rd also .... very few modelers did inside 3rd  past early 30's ...2 rail became the rage  38/39 ...with HO and OO leading the way 


Cheers carey 


Seriously, I suppose one could extrapolate a "scale" for this originally not-so-standard gauge, but it would be just that. Joshua Cowen apparently knew if you repeated an untruthful claim loud and long enough, it might just become the norm, which much to his delight, actually did! Lionel "Standard" gauge, at its inception, was the ODD gauge, compared to the existing Marklin numerical gauges of the day! 

vita sine litteris mors est  (Seneca)

7/16ths is scaled to 2 1/4" (standard) gauge ...1/2" scale is 2 1/2" gauge ....

Lobaugh,offered scaled car kits for the gauge,

7/16th scale was a real thing for a very short time ...Graham and Shaw made trolleys in 7/16ths ....Shaw also made passenger cars in 7/16ths ....they are about,32" long ..both were in the 1933-6 window ...



Hello all the mid 30's there was such a stigma about the term "standard gauge" .....that NMRA  and some modelers thought it would be best to call "standard gauge"    2" gauge ...yes even if it does measure 2 1/4" ......very confused folks  ..G Vaughn  one of the prominent "standard " gauge builders .... his pieces are referred to both as 2"  and standard ...      (remember a committee like the NMRA could not even figure out the correct scale for O gauge   1/4" ok even if 17/64ths is correct ) .    Here you have two of Vaughn's pieces standard 2" .....both run on the same track ... both are standard gauge ....and modeled to 3/8" scale . 


Cheers Carey 

Vaughn NY MR 19360408191615a_HDR


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Very inventive for those that prefer a "scale" to create more precisely proportioned models, but not to rain on anyone's parade, I personally prefer the toy aspect of this Lionel-conceived, thrust-upon us gauge! Afterall, there is indeed a certain charm in Lionel's fore-shortened and unrealistically colorful metal toy trains, and it is a BIG tent! CHEERS!  ☺

vita sine litteris mors est  (Seneca)

Not to " rain on anybody's parade"either.

Dorfan, Ives, and Lionel all promoted their trains as "Toys for Boys".  Imagination and creativity were the tools kids used to make their railroad empire real. The "scale" to a child meant nothing. If a dump truck looked good , had a play purpose, it was incorporated.  Lead soldiers and other figures that were all that was available at the time, made play more realistic. No one was concerned with "scale".  Hard rubber toys, diecast cars, lead figures, oversized cross bucks, litho buildings with no opening doors or windows all were part of the play...none of it to " scale".

The size of a 42" oval of track and the "size" of a bed room or living room floor, as well as " moms" disposition toward a reasonable amount of toys being strewn about the house, all came into play limiting what could be displayed and played with the train set.

The vendor catalogues gave subtle psycological suggestions by way of images of kids playing with the train and limited accessories, as to what a desireable " layout" should be.

"Scale" is something that I personally believe resulted from a european perspective and influence. Probably more promoted by firms like Marklin and Bing ,and others.

Either way tinplate is fun for kids of all ages " even us BIG kids, "scale" or not.

Again, there is a dichotomy, though admittedly less pronounced during the golden years of tinplate, between the scale modeler and the toy train enthusiasts, which still exists today to a greater degree. There will always be different approaches, and none being more valid than any other, because as I said earlier, it is a big tent, and there is room for all! CHEERS!  

vita sine litteris mors est  (Seneca)

Hello all ...scale or tinplate is a personal choice ....but the mass market moved away from classic "tinplate " in the 30's.

Grass roots of the scale movement can be traced to Modelmaker magazine beginning in 1924 giving a voice to follow modelers who wanted more realistic trains. Ives 1134 die-cast steamer in 1928   is a much more "realistic looking engine compared to other "toy train manufactures offerings ...and it's sale to AF in 1929 helped push their steamer line  to more realistic appearances than Lionel's. 

Lionel with it's introduction of their "Lionel Magazine " ....and marketing push to "sell" model railroading as a father & son  learning / binding activity encouraged train modifications of the Lionel product  to create a RR empire . The shift to push the "toy train " from a annual loop around the tree to a year long "hobby"  was to stimulate train sales through out the calendar . 

The Century of Progress 1933-4  did more to advance the scale world than any other single factor ..and is cited as such in numerous testimonials by former "tinplaters" now scale modelers in many of the periodicals late 30's and 40's . The Century of Progress with is numerous large O scale layouts with realistic rolling stock and wide curves was contrasted by American Flyer's  standard gauge layout where visitors raced the trains around the layout at a push of a button . 

 1933 Model Craftsman is begun, 1934 Model Railroading begins ,  concurrently standard gauge sales drop and Lionel scrambles to retool for a more realistic looking models ...releasing the M10,000 November 1934 in it first step to bring a more realistic look to it's product line.  1935 HO gets a foot hold on the model train market with 2 rail operation.  1939 two rail operation is common among O scale  replacing outside 3rd rail. 1941 in the  Model Railroader pole  HO surpasses O gauge as the preferred gauge due to space and cost requirements . 

 Tinplate has it's many charms but the market winds changed in the 30's and all the toy manufactures had to change with it  to keep up with the public's evolving taste.  

Not picking any fights,  or scale is better than tinplate ...just calling the runners in the horse race as they round the track.

I swing both ways ..tinplate and scale ... each have an interesting history . 

Cheers Carey 


Carey: The late, great Hal Carstens published a wonderful and instructive book entitled "150 Years of Train Models" about two decades ago, in which he traced the origin of all train models and the evolution from tinplate toy trains to scale model trains, with an emphasis on the early pioneer manufacturers, hobby and trade organizations, and publishers of key periodicals that supported those early modeling efforts, including his own excellent Railroad Model Craftsman. Quite an informative read, with lots of photos. Highly recommended, and, heretofore, my main schooling in the important transitions in our great hobby. Worth a look! CHEERS!

vita sine litteris mors est  (Seneca)

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