Railway Modellers

4mm Scale and Gauges – 5th June 2019

Talks by Stephen Duffell, Gordon Woods and Tim Lewis


At our meeting on 5th June were treated to a tripartite presentation  (if that is the correct phrase) by in the following order Stephen Duffell on the history of model railway scales and gauges, Gordon Woods on the delights and foibles of continuing to model in 00 gauge and Tim Lewis on the continuing development of his P4 layout.


Stephen Duffell started first by taking us through the history and early developments of model railways which began with no particular scale or gauge in mind as they were static exhibits which did not run on track. Early models which did  run on track were primarily of larger scales. Over the years developments in manufacturing techniques enabled smaller models to be produced in smaller scales and with the arrival of companies such as Bing and Basset-Lowke in the 1930’s 00 and H0 gauges were beginning  to be developed. Towards the end of that decade Hornby Dublo came on the scene with their three rail 00 system. With an interruption over the war years production took off thereafter and Rovex-Triang appeared on the scene with a two rail 00 system which proved more popular than Hornby’s earlier three rail. Stephen gave us full details of all the various gauges and scales bringing us right up to date with his and Tim Lewis’ current interest and development of P4. His talk was a fast track review of the model railway hobby from its earliest beginnings right up to current thoughts. One of his computer slides gave a useful definition of the oft misused words scale and gauge which I hope I have paraphrased correctly:-

                Scale – is the ratio between the size difference of your model and its full size equivalent

                Gauge – is the distance between the rails of  track


Gordon Woods in his talk said he did not go down the P4 route like Stephen and Tim but was keenly interested in making use of finescale 00 track on which to base his layout in the north east of England. He explained and showed examples of current available track for 00 gauge.  For many years Peco produced and still does code 100 track and more recently code 75 track. The difference between the two is that code 100 running track is made at 0.1” depth whereas code 75 is made at 0.075”. There is a difference in appearance but it should also be noted that as Gordon pointed out some older stock with coarser wheel flanges e.g early Lima items will not run on code 75. Alternative wheels sets are available to overcome this problem. In more recent times Peco announced that it was going to produce code 75 bullhead track which would be finer scale looking with sleeper arrangement much more in accord with British practice. This will be much welcomed but does require full turnout support. Alternatively one can build your own track from components supplied by other companies which manufacture such items and which with the aid of a computer software programme called Templot one can bring one’s own layout and track plan to light. (I will mention the use of Templot under Tim Lewis’ contribution which follows).

Gordon produced examples of the various types of track along with leaflets and booklets to illustrate his point that it is indeed possible to model in 00 gauge at finescale level. I was convinced but I am a 00 gauge modeller!


Tim Lewis has talked to Members on previous occasions about the P4 layout he is developing and which is intended to replicate the station layout at Coldstream in the north east of England. P4 with a track gauge of 18.83mm is his chosen format to complete this task and much research and time has been taken to reproduce the track layout as accurately as possible. He showed photos as well as books and leaflets needed to undertake this task.

He referred to the broad mix of NER and LNER track lengths and turnouts used in the Coldstream Station area as well as the different types of chairs, switches and sleeper usage. The number of sleepers in track sections of different lengths which were either interlaced at some turnouts or were full length timbers in others had to be calculated. All this with the configuration of the turnouts was then plotted on the computer software programme called Templot printed out on to a master sheet which was then stuck to the layout and upon which the track components could be fixed starting with the sleepers. This is an enormous task but from first hand experience of having seen Tim’s layout on a number of occasions I can say it is progressing well.

The wealth of detail provided by all three speakers was excellent far beyond what I could hope to include in such a brief report as this.


Nick Coppin thanked them for all their efforts in giving Members such stimulating talks. If following their talk and this note, you want any further information on any topic they raised I am sure they will be more than willing to help.

As ever I am indebted to Sam Ryan for the photos and to Ian Payne for not only making sense of my ramblings on the website but for also assisting Stephen Duffell in getting to show the short Network Rail Video Clip on track and turnout maintenance and construction which in itself was very interesting.

David Evans