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Quick guide to scales in japanese railway modelling


Jaco3011

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Here's an overview of most common modelling scales used in Japan. Some little differences occur, but they don't annoy anyone, right?

H0

 

Let's start with h0, the most expected one. Japanese h0 is 1/80, which makes it neither h0 nor 00. Gauge used is well-known 16,5mm, which multiplied 80 times gives a prototype of 1320mm (4ft 4in), which doesn't match anything, with rough exception of the 1372mm (4ft 6in) gauge used on some part of Tokyo metro system and a few tram lines. That's nowhere close to 1067mm (3ft 6in) gauge used by nationwide railway network. 1/80 scale models running on 16,5mm track (let's call them #16) can be re-gauged to 13mm (often marked as #13 or JM), but that gauge means problem with track supply - I could barely find any. If you managed to somehow get your rolling stock onto the properly gauged track, don't mix up any other piece of your Japanese layout with your European/American/British/etc. layout, especially ISO containers - different sizes mean they're not cross-compatible and the scale difference is visible at the first glance.

Why not h0m, or, what we like to call it, h0j or #12? Well, models in this scale exist, but they tend to be rare and expensive, but this pretty KoKi 104 may be worth it (60.000 yen).

 

N

 

It's officially the most popular scale in Japan. Shinkansens at 1/160 look glamorously placed next to 1/150 commuter trains. Were can you find Shinkansen next to regular railway? On many stations, you can easily recreate one, just don't mix up the tracks, which can be tempting, because both run on 9mm standard gauge. Then maybe re-gauge those to 6,5mm? 1067/150=7,1, so 6,5mm is close enough, but that won't solve the problem of Shinkansens and non-japanese scenery pieces being slightly smaller than they should be. Containers also don't fit.

 

Z

 

1/220 all the way long, compared to H0 and N it's a huge progress, even containers are cross-compatible with ISO 20ft produced by Marklin. It would be great, if 4,5mm Zm track was widely available, re-gauging those wouldn't be such a pain in the neck then.

 

TT

 

TTm, knows as TT-9 is the golden middle between H0 details and functionality and N compact size. State-of-art models of steam locomotives can make your whole layout. Literally, there's not much besides those.

 

T

 

If we make completely new scale without relating to any already existing model railway gauge, then we can scale down both 1435mm and 1067mm gauges precisely?

No, we have it at home.

1/450 or 1/480, but track gauge is 3mm for all trains.

 

 

 

This post is a satire, I am struggling with custom Zm track to make it work.

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I've wondered why someone hasn't made replacement trucks for kato or tomix n-gauge to z-gauge.  Its close to 3'6", close enough, and z track readily available.  

 

It so close at 1/160 that it's almost regrettable japanese n is 1/150 aside from shinkansen. 

Edited by EdF
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4 hours ago, EdF said:

I've wondered why someone hasn't made replacement trucks for kato or tomix n-gauge to z-gauge.  Its close to 3'6", close enough, and z track readily available.  

 

It so close at 1/160 that it's almost regrettable japanese n is 1/150 aside from shinkansen. 


I manually converted one tanker (look here), but that's H0 to H0m.

I also haven't thought about calling it "Nj", because it's known on the west as Nm. If you're looking for tracks, check Marklin Z-scale, sleepers are quite bulky as for Z, so they make quite good Nm. Now we need either 1/150 Shinkansen or 1/160 regular trains and layout accessories.

EDIT: would you rather try Nm on Rokuhan-based T-Trak, home layout, or typical modules (don't know were you're from).

Edited by Jaco3011
Thought of one more thing
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7 hours ago, Jaco3011 said:

EDIT: would you rather try Nm on Rokuhan-based T-Trak, home layout, or typical modules (don't know were you're from).

 

I do T-Trak with my n scale club in the US, but I want to do a Hakone Tozan "wall" layout that would be nice in Nj. And limit the amount of stock to swap.

 

Doh! Hakone Tozan is standard gauge!

Edited by EdF
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If I ever won the time lottery and had the leisure of occupying myself with things like this, a limited-scope layout with scale-width track would be nice, but like ca. 99% of people, 9mm or whatever is a "good enough" compromise...

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Actually, Hakone Tozan had both standard gauge (1435 mm / 4' 8 1/2") and 1067 mm (3' 6") gauge and dual gauge in different sections, so you can choose whichever you like - or both!

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There is also a German company offering the Swiss prototype Kato Rhaetian Bahn models already converted to 6.5mm gauge.

 

http://www.n-schmalspur.de

 

The website is in German (mostly) but with some English sections. In the left side menu on the home page, click on Kato N/Nm to find these models. I don't know if or how easily these conversions might be adapted to Japanese prototypes.

Edited by Railtunes
spelling correction
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15 hours ago, EdF said:

 

I do T-Trak with my n scale club in the US, but I want to do a Hakone Tozan "wall" layout that would be nice in Nj. And limit the amount of stock to swap.

 

Doh! Hakone Tozan is standard gauge!


You can do any JR line, because it's narrow gauge all the way. You may even try to make some 3-rail track. If you're already into Shinkansen, you may try a yard with some facilities like rail crane, because rails and ballast are delivered by narrow gauge to Shinkansen yards.

 

15 hours ago, Railtunes said:

There is also a German company offering the Swiss prototype Kato Rhaetian Bahn models already converted to 6.5mm gauge.

 

http://www.n-schmalspur.de

 

The website is in German (mostly) but with some English sections. In the left side menu on the home page, click on Kato N/Nm to find these models. I don't know if or how easily these conversions might be adapted to Japanese prototypes.


What a pity they don't make Zm stuff anymore.

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On 12/6/2020 at 5:26 AM, Jaco3011 said:

1/80 scale models running on 16,5mm track (let's call them #16) can be re-gauged to 13mm (often marked as #13 or JM), but that gauge means problem with track supply - I could barely find any.


When I first got interested in modelling Japanese railways I gave serious consideration to regauging #16 gauge models to 13mm. I concluded that unpowered cars could be regauged easily, powered MU and DMUs, electric and diesel locos could be done with varying degrees of difficulty, and steam locos would be almost impossible without building entirely new mechanisms. I wasn't interested in doing that. I also concluded that I had no interest in hand-laying track again after the previous layout. So I decided to live with the compromise and use 16.5mm gauge track. The layout we're building now has benchwork at 1500mm off the floor, which means you're looking across the track, not down on it. At that height the discrepancy in gauge is barely noticeable.

 

Cheers,

 

Mark.

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