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What is 16mm Narrow Gauge Modelling?

Live Steam!

A Model Railway in the Garden

The Association of 16mm Narrow Gauge Modellers


What is 16mm Narrow Gauge Modelling?

For a start it is a form of railway modelling but this word often gets left out, being implicit in the words Narrow Gauge. The term "narrow gauge" applies to any railway of which the rails are closer together than the standard gauge of 4'-8" (1435mm).

The "16mm" refers to the fact that models are made (or bought) to a scale of 16mm = 1ft (16mm on the model is 1ft in real life). Many 16mm Narrow Gauge modellers run their trains on "0-gauge" track (this was standardised many, many years ago and the rails are 1" (32mm) apart). It follows that if you run trains built to a scale of 16mm = 1ft on 32mm wide track the gauge in real life would be 2ft.

Many real-life narrow gauge railways used a gauge of 2ft. or thereabouts, for example:

Railway Location Gauge
Ffestiniog Wales 1'-11
Vale of Rheidol Wales 1'-11
North Wales NG Railway Wales 1'-11
Welsh Highland Wales 1'-11
Lynton & Barnstaple Devon, England 1'-11
Penrhyn Quarry Wales 1'-10"
Ashover Light Derbyshire,England 600mm
Darjeeling Himalayan India 2'
Avontuur Branch South Africa 2'
Sandy River Main USA 2'
Source of information:  "The Beginners Guide to 16mm Narrow gauge Modelling"   published by the Association of 16mm Narrow gauge Modellers Ltd.

...which perhaps helps to explain the popularity of 16mm Narrow Gauge Modelling on 0-gauge track (at least in England and Wales!).

Live Steam! To top of page

Another attraction of 16mm Narrow Gauge Modelling, for many, is that the scale is big enough to enable steam locomotives to actually run on live steam. You put water in the boiler, light a fire, oil everything while waiting for pressure to get up and then after a few minutes open the regulator and away goes the train puffing real steam!

Most enthusiasts run live steam loco's but even they do not always have the time or inclination and then the battery driven electric locomotive comes into it's own as a quick and convenient alternative. Battery drive means there are no problems picking up current from the rails, which is just as well since most 16mm scale layouts are out of doors.

A Model Railway in the Garden To top of page

Because the scale is rather large for indoor use, most 16mm layouts are out of doors in the garden.

There are many approaches to laying out a miniature railway in your garden and enough has been written about it. It is not necessary though to start by reading. You can start as many have done by laying a small length of 0-gauge track in the garden and carrying on from there.

The Association of 16mm Narrow Gauge Modellers To top of page

The Association of 16mm Narrow Gauge Modellers, based in England but having world-wide membership, is the society for ALL narrow gauge modellers.

SMT116.jpg (118206 bytes) The quarterly magazine 16mm Today (SMT), which you receive as a member of the association is a mine of information on the hobby and often referred to on the mailing list. The editor is David Clark.

Although the 16mmngm mailing list is not an initiative of this society, the majority of the members of the list are members of the Association.

To join the Association write (snail mail) to the Membership Secretary:

Steve Clarke,
43 Bollington Avenue,
Cheshire CW9 8SB,