The Advantages of 7mm Narrow Gauge.

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Mountain Goat
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The Advantages of 7mm Narrow Gauge.

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Post by Mountain Goat » Mon Nov 05, 2018 8:07 pm

There are plusses and minuses in all gauges and scales so it's about what suits your own needs and requirements, but I thought to share some advantages and the odd disadvantage to modelling in 7mm narrow gauge.
I will confine my comments to the most common gauge width of 16.5mm (The same gauge width that 00 and H0 use).

7mm narrow gauge using 16.5mm gauge width comes in three forms:-
In the USA its known as 0n30 and has a fair bit of support in ready to run form along with kits etc.
In the UK its known as 0-16.5 which is supported by kits but currently has no ready to run support.
In the rest of Europe its known as 0e and used to have ready to run support but unfortunately not at the moment. However, there are kits available.

Now the main advantage to the modeller in regards to narrow gauge is that one can make a layout with sharper curves then a standard gauge model can negotiate, thus one can model in a larger scale without the need for so much space. While it doesn't always work like this, it certainly works in regards to one's track plan. To get the most from a small space I'd recommend going for 0e or 0-16.5 as the American 0n30 prototypes tend to be a lot larger to begin with. I'd also recommend choosing smaller prototype models if one wants to take the best advantages of modelling in a small space.

While I mentioned that very little has been available in 0e and nothing in 0-16.5 forms in regards to ready made models, there are kits which are not too difficult to build.

Track is available from Peco and if one really wants to save costs one can use cheaply obtained 00 gauge track and hide the small sleepers.

Couplings. While the American 0n30 use Kadee type couplings, there is no general standard for 0e and 0-16.5 modellers to use. However, this need not be too much of a problem. Some modellers use tension lock couplings. Some use kadees, and other like me make my own couplings.

I have covered the advantage of mixing a large scale in a small space, but what other advantages are there? For me, one of the large advantages is that one can model in this gauge and scale very economically. For example, I can scratchbuild a simple little waggon very cheaply, as the largest costs are the wheels and couplings which, if I don't mind using plastic wheels and making my own couplings they don't cost much to make at all.

If I keep to kits from Peco, Smallbrook Studio or Slimlines, to bulk up my scratchbuilt stock, the savings already start to show.

Other advantages of narrow gauges are that one can model short trains and they look right. I find that a passenger train of 4 wheel coaches will take up less space then I used to allow on previous 00 gauge layouts.
And another advantage is that somehow, if I build something freelance, it blends in better then if I'd made it in standard gauge as with narrow gauge the term "There is a prototype for everything" couldn't be more abt after reading many books on narrow gauge history. I've been amazed at how various little narrow gauge companies adapted and built things which were complete home workshop one offs!

To sum up the advantages.
•Sharp curves can be used. (I can turn my stock 180° on a 2ft wide board).
•Ideal for budget modelling.
•Ideal for freelance modelling.
•Ideal for those with limited space.
•Ideal for those who like to kit and scratchbuild due to the larger scale. (Tea sturers and lollipop sticks are just the right size).


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