Welcome to all newcomers to O Gauge
This page has some suggestions about starting in O Gauge finescale. What
track is available, what locos, coaches and wagons could be considered
by a beginner to get you going quickly.
It is worth remembering that for a given room space you need
less O Gauge stock than you would need in the smaller scales.
So while O Gauge at first sight may seem to be expensive per item,
the fact that you need less quantity of stock makes the overall
cost about the same. The larger size gives the models more presence and they are nicer to hold.
For the quickest way to a working layout, you can buy ready to run (RTR) locos, wagons and coaches either new
or secondhand. The Guild has a number of secondhand sources for members, namely via the "Sales and Wants"
page or via the "Executor and Trustee" service.
There are even specialists who can build your boards, lay track and provide
scenery - all at a cost of course. Alternatively you make your own models. The sections
on the right try to suggest what to look for in selecting the
different items you need for a layout.
For the least cost outlay, scratch building should be considered.
The larger scale makes it much easier to make quality items, both
in rolling stock and buildings. There are numerous sources of
material. Plastic sections and sheet are readily available from
model shops, Eileen's Emporium and Metalsmith stock lots of metal
sections, wires etc. If building rolling stock there are wheels,
axle guards, buffers and couplings for all major railways available
from the various O Gauge stockists. First class mail order facilities
mean that you can get hold of anything you need very quickly.
The superb Duchess loco scratch built from styrene sheet by
the late Paul Heard.
This page contains suggestions of what to look for in track, locos,
wagons and coaches so you can start in 0 Gauge finescale.
The electrical system you need is also discussed.
Finding good track is one of the easy bits. There are a couple
of manufacturers of plastic sleepered track ready made in flexible
yard lengths, namely Peco and C&L. Left and right hand, Y points and double slips
suffice for most track layouts. More advanced layouts can be
made by making your own track using readily available components from Exactoscale or C&L,
easily glued together. Also use the classified adverts which come
each quarter with the Gazette; there is usually at least one advert
for second hand track which would be very economical. For more complex
track arrangements such as single slips or crossovers, MarcWay offer
a custom build service at reasonable prices.
For details of the various track standards associated with 0 gauge,
please see the "What is 0 gauge?"
A scene from 'Napier Street' by Nigel Bowyer showing the intimate
detail possible in 7mm scale. The entire layout is only 10'6"
Hobbs Warren - a motive power depot layout just 7'6" long. You can see more at www.hobbs-warren.co.uk
For the beginner, Ixion, Dapol and Heljan provide ready to run
locos at very reasonable prices. Couple one of these to a small
rake of coaches or wagons and you have an instant train.
||Ready to run
Left - The Heljan class 47
Right - Ixion's Hudswell Clarke saddle tank
Many brass RTR engines are now built in China to a very high standard,
and painting services are often available from the retailer who sells
them. Lots of small companies and individuals offer ready built locomotives.
You only need to scan the adverts in the Guild's Gazette to find them.
Buying a high quality ready built engine from one of these sources
can inspire you to build your own. It gives you a standard to aim
Most people move into O Gauge because they want more detail in the
stock they own. This is achieved by building your own locos
from kits. For a beginner choose something simple to start with.
If it is a steam outline engine, then choose a simple tank engine
first, with main drivers only, and no outside valve gear.
Connoiseur have recently reintroduced their 0-4-0T starter kit, which is a very simple
engine to start on.
Preferably select a kit which has the boiler, smokebox and firebox ready formed
in resin or cast in whitemetal or pewter, limiting the amount of
soldering of etched parts. Once practised, soldering etched parts
is not difficult, but it is a skill which needs to be learnt and
this takes time and dedication. Find someone who knows already,
and learn from them. It is so much quicker than using trial and
error. The best way is to join one of the model railway clubs with an 0 Gauge section.
||An example of a simple etched loco kit from Connoisseur Models
RTR wagons are increasingly being offered. Skytrex, Dapol and
Lionheart offer a wide range at very reasonable prices. Again, look
for second hand wagons already built.
There is an excellent range of plastic kit wagons from manufacturers
such as Slaters and Parkside Dundas. They are easy to assemble and
paint, and look very good when complete. They come with all required
parts so there is no need to trawl the shops and trade for extras
like wheels, couplings and buffers.
A Dapol ready to run wagon (left) and wagons built from kits
from Slaters and Parkside Dundas
Ready made coaches are somewhat less common, but again Skytrex
can offer some simple BR style coaches at low prices. Chinese built
and painted coaches are also available, and offer fair value when
the time to build your own is taken into account. Some suppliers
of coach kits such as Sidelines also offer their coaches ready built
There are some plastic coach kits available but the bogie ones are more complex to
assemble and more expensive than the wagons. There is quite a range of cast resin kits from JLTRT available.
The level of detail is exceptional, and they fit together well.
There is a wider range of etched brass kits, but some skill is needed to build
and complete these kits. (see the comments above for locos).
Most 0 gauge locos are powered by electric motors driving the wheels and work with the normal 12 volt DC system,
although sometimes higher voltages are used. If you are buying second hand stock check that the voltage is as expected.
Usually because 0 gauge engines and stock are heavier than 00 gauge stock the current drawn is higher and therefore
heavier duty controllers need to be used. If you are starting in 0 gauge then it is recommended that the modern DCC
system is considered (DCC is Digital Command Control). There is a slightly higher initial cost involved, but the
benefit is much simpler layout wiring, control of all engines simultaneously, control of points from the same
hand held controller, and the ability to fit sound to the
stock. Having sound transforms the enjoyment of the layout enormously.
The best advice is to start small. Decide first on what you would
like to model, be it pre-grouping, post grouping, nationalised or
whatever. Choose simple prototypes first. It may be wonderful to
have a express 4-6-2 pulling 10 pullman coaches, but consider whether
you would ever complete the stock and do you have the skills. Build
the skills slowly; visit the Gauge O Guild shows and talk to the
demonstrators. They have great advice to impart. If you can, join
a club and ask advice. When you think you want to buy a kit, open
the box before you buy and inspect all the parts. If it all looks
too much work then it probably is, and maybe you'll never finish
it. Say your apologies and tell the seller that you'll buy one when
your skills have improved !
But most of all, persevere. There is nothing more satisfying than
finishing a model to the best of your ability, placing it on a layout
and admiring it. For the next model, consider how you would make
it better. Be inspired by what others do and use their standards
as something to aim for. Buy the best tools. They are worth their
weight in gold. Enjoy what you do; it's a hobby after all.
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