What is N Gauge?

The ‘N’ refers to the distance in millimetres that the rails are apart – nine -, which is the gauge of the track. The scale ratio for British outline is 1:148 which means that a real life item one foot long would be represented in model form by being a one hundred and forty eighth of a foot long (a fraction over two millimetres). The ratio varies slightly for Continental and American railways at 1:160 and for Japanese is 1:150, but all the models run on the same track – N Gauge.

In general terms N Gauge is about half the size in linear dimensions, a quarter of the area (squared) and an eighth in volume (cubed) as that of 00 gauge. Which, of course, means that you can get a lot more model railway in the same area as you can for 00 gauge. Because of this N Gauge is the only scale that allows the spacious natural look and feel of real railways. It gives you the opportunity to create dramatic landscapes and run full scale length trains. N Gauge and its fine scale equivalent of 2mm, enables realistic layouts to be built in a small space.

British N Gauge

  • Scale ratio – 1:148
  • Track gauge – (N) 9mm

Scale equivalents;

  • gauge: 4ft 4.5ins
  • scale: 2.06mm represents 1 foot

Continental and American N Gauge

  • Scale ratio – 1:160
  • Track gauge – (N) 9mm

Scale equivalents;

  • gauge: 4ft 8.5ins
  • scale: 1.9mm represents 1 foot

Japanese N Gauge (and professional architectural modelling)

  • Scale ratio – 1:150 (3ft 6ins gauge trains) 1:160 (4ft 8.5ins gauge trains)
  • Track gauge – (N) 9mm

Scale equivalents;

  • gauge: 4ft 5.1ins
  • scale: 2.03mm represents 1 foot

The above variations are only very slight and in many cases hardly noticeable. Locomotives and rolling stock from each can be run on standard N Gauge track.

2mm fine scale

  • Scale ratio -1:152
  • Track gauge – 9.42mm

Scale equivalents;

  • gauge: 4ft 8.5ins
  • scale: 2mm represents 1 foot

This is a specialist scale and is not really part of the N Gauge family. However, although locomotives and rolling stock are not compatible with N Gauge track, the buildings and accessories from the scale can be used on N Gauge layouts.