Can someone please explain Lionel's use of O-gauge?

I put an engine up for sale on eBay (Lionel #6-18080). A bidder asked me if this is a "scale engine". An apparently simple question, but the more I look into it, the more confused I get.

I understand the difference between O-scale (1:48, 1:43 etc) and O-27. What I can't seem to find is any info on which Lionel model numbers fall into each of those categories. This model# is listed as requiring a minimum O-42 curves, which I thought must make it standard O-scale, but then I stumbled on this page from Lionel:

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It shows O-42 curves as being O-27 gauge??

Utterly confused.

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the more I look

Take note of the height of the rails in the diagram in your example. O-27 rails are shorter. A quick way to diffrentiate them is by the color of the crossties. O-gauge has black ties, O-27 ties have a medium brown color.

Happy railroading!

Reply to
video guy -

I hope the following will help clear up the confusion.

Gauge: the distance between the rails, measured on the inside edges. O gauge is 32mm, or 1-1/4". Lionel tracks are O _gauge_.

Scale: the relationship the full size thing and the model, expressed as a fraction (1/48th), or a ratio (1:48), or as a drawing scale (1/4" to the foot). Very little of Lionel's output was O _scale_. (Most of it was

3/16" to the foot or 1/64th scale.)

Lionel Nomenclature: refers to sectional track, and describes the diameter of the circle made with the curved pieces: O-27 = a circle of

27" diameter. O-72 = a circle 72 inches diameter. IIRC, this is the diameter measured across the outer ties ends (so an O-27 circle will fit on a table 27" across - just.)

To find out whether a particular item is O scale (1:48) or not, you will have to consult Lionel catalogs and/or Lionel collectors websites. At present, Lionel offers two series: "Traditional", which are remakes or reissues of Lionel products from the 1950s or thereabouts; and "Standard", which are supposedly 1:48 scale (but Lionel, both the original company, and its revived versions, has been rather cavalier in its attitude towards scale.)

AFAIK, 6-18080, is a "Standard" engine, which means that it is close to

1:48 scale, and may even be exact 1:48 in its major dimensions.


Reply to
Wolf Kirchmeir

Thanks Wolf (and the other person who responded). Very helpful info.

Reply to

Part of the confusion lies in the fact Lionel offers O42 tubular track curves in both O27 (low rail, low brown ties) and O-gauge (high rail, high black ties).

To add to the confusion, since all of the starter sets have come with FasTrack for the last 5 years or so, Lionel alone now calls O27 (1:50 - 1:53) "Traditional O" and O-gauge (1:48 - 1:43) "Standard O".

Which has people using old "Standard Gauge" (wide gauge 3-rail track) further confused, and coming into the LHS looking for the new Lionel "Standard" equipment they can use on their layouts. Which doesn't exist, except for what MTH makes.


Reply to

if this is a "scale engine".<

Don't know much about Lionel but they produced a "scale" Hudson either just before the war or just after. By today's standards it wasn't very scale but for it's time it was considered a very good scale engine. This might be what the person was referring to. I think these engines command a very good price now days!

Reply to
Jon Miller

At least one on line dealer describes it as O gauge with a length of 20-3/4 inches.

I've not run a standard mike for a while, but given the original price of around $800 and equipment for the period of production, I'd think it was Standard O.

Reply to
Carl Heinz

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