S. Berliner, III's Model Railroad Scale Conversion Page keywords = #1 F G H M X O S OO HO TT N Z T TY scale convert conversion model rail train garden Berlinerwerke Breitspurbahn

Updated:   09 Jan 2015; 10:35 ET
[Page converted 18 Nov 2011>

    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
URL:  http://sbiii.com/scalconv.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/scalconv.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

S. Berliner, III's


Model Railroad


You may wish to visit the NMRA Logo HUB DIVISION and the SUNRISE TRAIL DIVISION
  both of the


NOTE:  Page size was limited by HTML to 30kB; thus, I was forced to separate this page out from my other Model RR pages.

INDEX - because of the headers, this page does not lend itself to indexing; scroll away!
  Exceptions: - Scale vs. Gauge, the Conversion Table itself, and Garden Railway Scales.   rev (09 Jan 2015)

See also:

    Railroad page, et seq.
    Model Railroad page, et seq.
    Z-Scale (1:220), et seq.
  and the Z-Scale (1:220) Index Page.
    Berlinerwerke-Z Saga, et seq.
    Berlinerwerke Apocrypha (tall tales of the BW and its equipment and such).
    the HO Berlinerwerke and the Horseshoe Curve, et seq.
    Schnable and other Giant RR Cars, et seq.


(Moved here from the Z-Scale Page on 04 Jan 2002)


Courtesy of the Berlinerwerke

This is a Z-scale (1:220) outline of the Long Island Rail Road's first diesel engine (well, actually it was called an "oil-electric" in those days), road number 401, which was the very first diesel road switcher and the first production diesel locomotive to pull a revenue train on a main line (it hauled a train of its own spare parts on the Pennsylvania Railroad from Erie, Pennsylvania, to the Greenville float bridges on Staten Island, from whence it was floated to Long Island); for more on this and other early boxcab diesels, see my BOXCABS page, et seq.:

note-rt.gif - I have NOT added new.gif and rev.gif icons throughout the rest of this section;
most of it has been revised, with many new paragraphs and images.

401 in Z-scale 1:220

The image was to have been shown in the various most-representative model railroading scales but I was unable to upload it properly; as you will now see, them days is gone forever!  In fact, don't worry about "representative"; I got happy and added almost all scales, from full 12"=1' (1,000mm=1m) down to TY scale (1:900)!

O. K. - here's where we get a bit happy!  I now (as of 26 Feb 2002) have a newer image processor (pre-Corel Micrografx Picture Publisher 8) which can convert, however painstakingly and sloooooowly, Windows Metafile format, which my AutoSketch 5 can generate, SOOooo - I converted the drawing, allscale.skd, done in user-friendly Autosketch 2, to allscale.wmf in AutoSketch 5, then converted the Metafile to GIF and JPG formats in PP8.  As you might have seen, the conversion was a bit strange and the JPEG file size horrendous:

(what I'd done was to load both the GIF and JPG versions,
you could then see how they worked out, and decide for yourself)

There's only one little catch here; those images were among those lost and my PP8 won't work any longer, so I had to load the image into Adobe Photoshop via Netscape as a WMF and copy it to the clipboard and then paste it into PP10DCE and convert it to GIF and JPEG, which totally messed it up and the result is an incredibly low-resolution hash, barely legible.

allscale.skd in GIF Format
(Drawing by and © 2000, 2002, 2005 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnail image, click on the picture to bring up a larger 24Kb GIF image]

Finally!  After downloading only a 132Kb file,
you really were able to see the incredible amount of detail in this drawing;
you still are, to a lesser degree - it's as much of a hobby, in itself
(a form of armchair railroading), as the actual model - which exists, so far,
in HO and Z (and that latter even has a flyweel!).

Here it is in JPEG format (I did NOT recommend lightly loading the original full JPEG, which was a whopping 1.204Mb, but it's not that bad now - only ~138Kb):

allscale.skd in JPEG Format
(Drawing by and © 2000, 2002, 2005 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnail image, click on the picture to bring up a larger 138Kb JPEG image]

As far as I can tell, the full images are of equal resolution (which is simply fantastic, except for some rather odd-looking circles).  Sticklers will note that I have not yet finished detailing the trucks; in addition, the #3 window (from the right) is off a bit and the stacks are too far outboard and both will be relocated.  I also "borrowed" the end beams and steps from my 60-ton (single engined, like CNJ #1000) drawing.

[Note the caveat above about losing the resolution, please.]

Oh, yes; by "oversize", I mean that I can not in any way size the image to your screen.  Even the tiny TY (1:900) scale image is far too big; there are scale bars alongside every single scale image.

What I should have done was to print out the Autosketch 2 file, scan it, and then upload that; Done 17 Jan 2005 - not quite right (I lost the left margin in the printer, somehow, and doctored it), but better than nothing:

allscale.skd in scanned GIF Format
(Drawing by and © 2000, 2002, 2005 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnail image, click on the picture to bring up a scanned ~334Kb GIF image]

Unfortunately, the scan was greyscale and I saved it as a line drawing, so some of the fine detail was lost; I'll have to rescan it one of these days (and even then it's only as fine as the printer can give (600dpi).

Uh-oh! - I have to revise the lists and tables, IDL Motors of San Diego, California, has released (and is expanding) a line of ~1:1000 Teeny Trains that actually run!  They are described and pictured on my Sub-Z-Scale Continuation Page 2:   new (09 Jan 2015)

"SCALE" is the relationship (or ratio) between the model size and the real world or, to put it another way, the amount of reduction the modeler uses to create his (or her) miniature of the prototype.  As I aquire display models, four-wheel bobber cabooses (hacks, crummies, cabin cars) or my GN-WFEX reefers will be shown here on short pieces of track which show the rail size typically used in each particular scale and the gauge of that track.

"GAUGE" is simply the distance between the inner faces of the two rails fixed to the ties (crosspieces or sleepers).  In real life, the most "standard" gauge is 4' 8", which comes down to us from the ruts cut in the stone of the old Roman military roads in Italy and England by the iron tires on standardized Roman chariot wheels [in turn, the minimum width of the south ends of two Roman war horses headed north - if you get my drift (or their draft?)].  That was a fine width for the pioneer railroads, but as equipment became larger and wider, the width seemed ridiculously narrow.  So, a wider gauge was tried in various countries, notably Daniel Gooch's and Isambard Kingdom Brunel's incredible "Broad Gauge" of 7'* on England's Great Western Railway and 5' in all of Russia and the former Soviet Union and, more recently, 5' 5"* on San Francisco's BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) transit system.

* - I was gently reminded by Dr. Jan-Martin Hertzsch of Germany on 17 Apr 2008 that the GWR was 7', not 5' and BART is 5½'; mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!  Viele Dank, Herr Doktor.

[Whil(e)(st) speaking of Germany, we should add the 3m (9' 10⅛") gauge Breitspurbahn (broad-gauge railway) proposed for the Third Reich by Adolf Hitler, himself, but never realized:   added.gif (04 Jan 2014)


The monster 16-wheel cars were to be full double-deckers, measuring some 42m (138') long by 6m (19' 8") wide by 7m (23') high, fitted with restaurants, movies, swimming pools, barbershops and saunas, and carrying 2,000 to 4,000 passengers per train at 200 kph (120 mph).  They were to have been pulled by steam and diesel loks of 24,000 to 40,000HP.  The original idea was to have 4m (13' 1½") gauge track, quickly scaled down to 3m, extending from Berlin out to Hamburg, Nuremberg, Munich, and Linz, later to have been expanded to cover an extended Grossdeutcschland (greater Germany).  Although serious planning was carried on throughout WWII, nothing ever came of the scheme (or, in the end, of the Third Reich).]

HO scale is a mix of metric and English measurements in a scale of 3.5mm to the foot or 0.138" = 1', which is about 1:87.1.  HO-gauge rails are 16.5mm or 0.650" (<3/4") apart.

Z scale is about 2 times smaller than HO!  In Z scale, a scale -mile is exactly (and only) 6 feet; in other words, a mile is only 24 feet!

    [That HO decimal proportion sure looks like a repeating decimal, doesn't it -


Just as examples, here are some of my WFEX reefers in N (1:160), HO (1:87.1), and O (1:48):

WFEX - N, HO, and O cars in storage
(29 Jan 99 photo by and © 1999 S. Berliner, III)

and here are two versions of Anzio Annie (the German K5 280mm railroad gun) in OO (1:76.2 - Hasegawa kit) and HO (1:87.1 - unidentified - Lilliput?):

(13 Mar 2002 photo by and © 2002 S. Berliner, III)


SCALE		TY	Z	Z	N	TT	HO	OO*	S	O	1	G	Maxi		1"	1"
Proportion	900	440	220	160	128	87.1	76.2	64	48	36	32	22.5	16	12	9
TY	900	\	{to follow}

Z	440		  \	.500	.364	.291	.198	.173	.145	.109	.082	.073	.051	.036	.027	.020

Z	220		2.00	  \	.727	.581	.396	.346	.291	.218	.164	.145	.102	.072	.055	.041

N	160		2.75	1.38	  \	.800	.544	.476	.400	.300	.225	.200	.141	.100	.075	.056

TT	128		3.44	1.72	1.25	  \	.680	.595	.500	.375	.281	.250	.176	.125	.094	.070

-	108 (1" = 9')@	[the scale used by Comet Metal Products for AUTHENTICAST tank and armored vehicle ID models]

HO	87.1		5.05	2.52	1.84	1.47	  \	.875	.735	.551	.413	.367	.258	.184	.138	.103

OO	76.2		5.77	2.89	2.10	1.68	1.14	  \	.840	.630	.472	.420	.295	.210	.157	.118

S	64		6.88	3.44	2.50	2.00	1.36	1.19	  \	.750	.563	.500	.352	.250	.188	.141

O	48		9.17	4.58	3.33	2.67	1.81	1.59	1.33	  \	.750	.667	.469	.333	.250	.188

1	36		12.2	6.11	4.44	3.56	2.42	2.12	1.78	1.33	  \	.889	.625	.444	.333	.250

Maxi	32										  \
       /29/24* - ?									  \
G*    <	22.5*		19.6	9.78	7.11	5.69	3.87	3.39	2.84	2.13	1.60	1.42	  \	.711	.533	.400
       \20.3* - ?									  \
"	16		27.5	13.8	10.0	8.00	5.44	4.76	4.00	3.00	2.25	2.00	1.41	  \	.750	.563

1"	12		36.7	18.3	13.3	10.7	7.26	6.35	5.33	4.00	3.00	2.67	1.88	1.33	  \	.750

1"	9		48.9	24.4	17.8	14.2	9.68	8.47	7.11	5.33	4.00	3.56	2.50	1.78	1.33	  \
SCALE		TY	Z	Z	N	TT	HO	OO*	S	O	1	Maxi	G		1"	1"
Proportion	900	440	220	160	128	87.1	76	64	48	36	32	22.5	16	12	9

Note:  HO scale of 1:87.1 used for calculations; actual scale is 1:87.08571428571------.

S. Berliner, III Berlinerwerke 14 Jan 1999 Rev.(*): 04 Jan 2002

* - "Garden" Railway Scales (moved here from Model RR page 3 on 04 Jan 2002):

  Garden Railway Scales - (Scales, as in proportion, not weighing)

There is certainly much confusion as to what garden railway scales are in use.  Quoting and adapting liberally from a text by Jim Banner's Virginia Creek Railway (on the Saskatoon Railroad Modellers site), garden railway equipment must have been built with a rubber ruler.  Some is 1/2" to the foot, others are 3/8" to the foot, and still others are 1/29 scale. A few are of no discernable scale at all.  That makes structures a good match for engines and rolling stock, which seem proportioned the same way.  The original New Bright engines may have been 1/36 scale; Aristo-Craft's RS-3 is 1/29 scale and Bachmann's Big Hauler is either 1/24 scale or maybe 1/20.3 scale narrow gauge; the VCR runs it as 1/29 scale standard gauge.  Jim says, "Go figure".  VCR rolling stock includes a number of Bachmann 1/24 scale cars, including 3 bay hoppers which the VCR shops measured and found to be exactly 3 times as large as similar Athearn's hoppers {HO}, making them closer to 1/29 scale.  Jim didn't even mention Mrklin's Maxi at 1:32!

That doesn't even begin to compare to Jim Thiewes's RMI 2.5" scale (2½" to the foot (1:4.8 scale) boxcab in Phoenix, all 1,200# of her!  That one runs on SIX actual miles of 7½" gauge track and she's a full 84" x 36" x 24"!  That is one BIG loco!  They also make them (probably far more) in ~1.9" scale.  But those don't really count as "Garden Railways"; they are more on the line of "Township" or "County" Railways!  Hell, there are real revenue roads that have smaller equipment!

Just for laughs, let's go a bit further with all this and show you how long a scale mile is in each of these scales:

SCALE		TY	Z	Z	N	TT	HO	OO	S	O	1	G	Maxi		1"	1"
Proportion	900	440	220	160	128	87.1	76.2	64	48	36	32	22.5	16	12	9
1 Scale Mile =	5' 10½"	12'	24'	33'	41' 3"	60' 6¼"	69' 3½"	82' 6"	110'	146' 8"	165'	234' 8"	330'	440'	586' 8"

Note:  HO scale of 1:87.1 used for calculations; actual scale is 1:87.08571428571------.

In the giant 2.5" scale, that's 1,100' and even in ~1.9" scale, it's ~836'!  Those are almost in the range of an actual quarter mile!  Why bother with a model; buy the real thing!

In the foregoing, I have not (yet) added ZZ scale (1:300), with a standard gauge of only 4.8 mm (0.189"), a product of Bandai in Japan, nor have I covered the finesse of Britsh N scale at 1:148 (vs. 1:160).  And then there's the up-and-coming V scale, but "V" stands for "Virtual", i.e. computer generated and there isn't really any physical scale involved. (18 Nov 2011)

You might also like to look at Jos Lopez, Jr.'s The Scale Card, for a most extensive discussion of scales.  I have a write-up and photo of his Z-scale Scale Card and Scale Rule on my Z-Scale page 2.

@ - While Comet's AUTHENTICAST line did include some true HO RR models, most of it was military vehicles at 1:108 with soldiers advertised as that but actually HO; a very few figures at 1:108 accompanied Korean-action era missile launcher models.

Other scales used refer to the height of miniature figures (especially military), such as 30mm, 40mm, and 54mm (this latter is 1/32 Scale); I hope to post more of these as I find them.  One of such is 28mm scale at roughly 1:60 (1" = 5') or nearly "S" scale (which is exactly 1:64 or 1" = 5' 4").  A common variation is that the height in millimeters refers to the height to the eyes (to avoid headgear interfering with measurement), thus resulting in an automatic difference of a few scale inches.  Differences in body build will also cause variations in appearance, so height scales, rather than precise proportions such as 1:100, are fraught with confusion.  Then, to further confuse matters, some manufacturers have made figures a bit larger than the stated scale - so, "ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances"!

In addition, there is a scale called 2mm Finescale (1:152) active in the UK; one good introductory site is David Mallott's site; track gauge is 9.42mm (4' 8⅓"), so it's a sort-of-N gauge offshoot.  There is also a 2mm Scale Association.  The Brits also have a 3mm Society (Tri-Ang TT3, 12mm gauge, 1:101.6) and a Scalefour Society( 4mm scale, 18.83mm gauge, 1:76.2), but that latter is basically a fine-scale version of OO.

Mondo MRR Trivia! (a.k.a. "Didja Know Dept.) - famed model RRer David K. Smith notes on his A Brief History of Z Scale that "At 1:220,Z is about three-fourths the size of N, 1:160".  Well, that got me wondering.  160/220 turns out to be exactly 0.727272---.  Just as HO scales out to 1:8708571428571428571428571428571428571---- (see above), which sure appears to be a repeating decimal, so the relationship of N to Z seems to be one also [just.what you ALWAYS wanted to know, eh?]   added.gif (13 Oct 2012)

BW Script

The BERLINERWERKE SAGA, the story of the HO Berlinerwerke pike,
is now on its own page with the Horseshoe Curve story.

Berlinerwerke-Z Script

The full BERLINERWERKE-Z SAGA, the Z-scale pike story
now appears on its own page (and continues onto several more).

Visit these courtesy and official home pages:

Long Island Sunrise - Trail Chapter
(National Railway Historical Society)

Sunrise Trail Division
(Northeastern Region)
(National Model Railroad Association)

Ztrack Magazine
The Newsletter for Z Scale Model Railroading

Long Island Live Steamers

Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal Railroad

Degnon Terminal Railroad

Marion River Carry Railroad

You may also wish to jump to SB,III's RAILROAD Page, et seq., and

If you like model railroading nonsense (and good tips), take a gander at Jim Wells' incredible

[The AW NUTS Magazine site of the A.W. N.U.T.S. Garden Railway Society is no longer available.]

You may wish to visit the Model Railroad page, et seq.

of this series of Model Railroad pages.


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.


See Copyright Notice on primary home page.

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