Monthly Archives: September 2008

Why choose O14?

While many of the contributors to this blog are experienced and talented modellers, I am taking on O14 from very much a beginner’s perspective. Having started out in OO9, using N scale mechanisms under body kits for prototypes of varying gauges, perhaps a more logical step up would have been to follow a similar process in O16.5. So why did I choose 14mm?

The larger scale makes building small industrial locos and stock a more practical proposition for me, but that could apply to any track gauge in 7mm scale. However the same small stock highlights the extra 2.5mm between the rails when you are aiming for a 2′ railway, either through the need for frame extensions or elongated proportions. So as I was moving to 7mm for greater detail and accuracy, and starting with a blank slate, I thought I might as well try O14.

All fine, except the next realisation was that 14mm implies hand-built track and hand-built loco mechanisms – another big step up from my OO9 world. Well, it can, but it doesn’t have to.

At the risk of sounding like a bit of an advert, I had the good fortune to meet David Janes shortly after he had taken over Roy C Link’s range of kits. Learning that the Ruston LBT came with a pretty much RTR mechanism, and the track system simply required rail to be spiked to correct gauge holes in the sleepers, I thought I didn’t have much to lose trying it out.

Reality has been slightly more convoluted. Plain track is fine, but I’m still tackling my first turnout. It took a few months to pluck up the courage to add the tiny feed wires and pick ups to the Ruston chassis, but the same process would have been much more daunting in 4mm.

I am still in two minds over whether 7mm will become my “main” scale, but my experience with O14 so far has inspired me to try and stick to the right gauge for the prototype – whatever that might be. Hopefully I can continue to provide useful updates here as I get to grips with it all one step at a time.

Prototype and Model Flat Bottom Rail

The weights of flat bottom rail used in typical prototype 2′ narrow gauge railways ranged from 20lb-30lb (per yard) for small industrial use up to 60lb for ‘main’ lines. Nowadays some of the modern restored railways use even larger weights. Flat bottomed rail of these lower weights typically have square dimensions, in that the height of the rail matches the width of the rail foot, whereas the larger rail sizes such as used on modern standard gauge railways tend to be taller than the foot width.

Most model rail is a representation of a mainline rail size in a smaller scale so when used as narrow gauge rail in our scale it will either be too tall or too narrow. Usually the head width is noticeably too narrow as well.

The attached Rail Comparison Diagram (PDF) shows various model rail sections compared with typical prototype sections. More details are provided in this attached table of Prototype and model rail dimensions (PDF). Both include the dimensions of the rail sections from Karlgarin Models specially designed for 7mm narrow gauge.

Track Gauges

Precision turned Track Gauges are now available from KBscale. Produced in brass with grooves to suit Peco IL-115 code 82 rail. The outer grooves are for setting the 14mm gauge and the inner grooves give a 1mm gap for the check rails as per the published O14 standards.


The gauges have a machined flat at one end to give clearance when used over a turnout crossing (frog).

They cost £4.50 from KBscale (website has online ordering).

Templot turnout templates

Users of Templot may be interested in obtaining two templates for prototype turnouts as follows:

The first turnout is based on the drawing of a Robert Hudson 6′ 1 in 6 turnout as published with the track articles in issues 63-65 in the NG&IRM Review and also available on this site as a 1 in 6 Turnout Template

The second turnout has been produced from a de-perspectified drawing (using GIMP) of the turnout on the loop at Chelfham on the Lynton & Barnstaple. This appears to be a 1 in 8 turnout with 10′ switch blades, however I understand many of the main turnouts were 1 in 10 and this adjusts to this OK.

The templates themselves are available from the Templot Forum here.

RP25 & ScaleSeven Wheel Comparison

This shows a comparison of the NMRA RP25 110 wheel profile commonly used for O14 and the ScaleSeven wheel profile for standard gauge locos, established from published web sources.

Given that most narrow gauge locos had a similar flange profile to standard gauge locos often with a slightly narrower tread, the profiles compare well enough for the RP25 wheels to be used for exact scale modelling.

RP25 and ScaleSeven Wheel Comparison
RP25 and ScaleSeven Wheel Comparison

A site for The Brickworks

Arthur Budd has set up a website for his O14 layout, The Brickworks. The article first appeared in the 7mm Narrow Gauge Association magazine Narrow Lines but it’s great to now have an online record of it. Arthur is also promising updates to come on his new home layout, Wigmore.

Arthur’s site