00 gauge or 00 scale (also spelled OO gauge and OO scale) model railways are the most popular standard-gauge model railway tracks in the U.K. This track gauge is one of several 4mm-scale standards (4 mm:foot / 304.8 mm or 1:76.2) used, but it is the only one to be served by the major manufacturers. Despite this, the 00 track gauge of 16.5 mm (0.650 in) is notoriously inaccurate for 4mm scale, and other gauges of the same scale have arisen to better serve the desires of some modellers for greater scale accuracy.
Double-0 scale model railways were launched by Bing in 1921 as 'The Table Railway', running on 16.5 mm (0.650 in) track and scaled at 4 mm to the foot. In 1922, the first models of British prototypes appeared. Initially all locomotives were powered by clockwork, but the first electric power appeared in autumn 1923.
00 scale uses the same track gauge as H0 scale (3.5 mm to the foot, 1:87). However, the large propulsion mechanisms could not fit into the small British prototypes, so the scale was enlarged to 4 mm to the foot without altering the gauge.
In 1932 the Bing company collapsed, but the Table Railway continued to be manufactured by the new Trix company. Trix decided to use the new H0 standard, being approximately half of European 0 gauge (1:43 scale).
In 1938, the Meccano Company launched a new range of 00 models under the trade name of Hornby Dublo, and 00 gauge has remained the UK's most popular ever since.
In the United States, Lionel Corporation introduced a range of 00 models in 1938 as well. Soon other companies followed but it did not prove popular and remained on the market only until 1942. 00 gauge was quickly eclipsed by H0 scale. The Lionel range of 00 used a track width that was more to scale,i.e. closer to the actual width of 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in). This is closer to the British EM gauge track width.
16.5 mm (0.650 in) gauge at 4 mm:1-foot means that the scale gauge represents 4 ft 1½ in (1,257 mm), 7 inches (178 mm) narrower than the prototype 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm). These noticeable differences are aggravated by the over-scale rail section, over-scale wheel width and deep wheel flanges used on many models. These departures from scale require much larger clearances on pointwork and are particularly noticeable when looking along the track. This scale gauge more accurately represents the narrow gauge railways built to 4 ft (1,219 mm) gauge, for example the Padarn Railway and Saundersfoot Railway in Wales and the Glasgow Subway in Scotland.
Full article ▸