The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Included with a recent purchase I was very interested to find two issues of Scalefour News and also their Digest, which is a compilation of various standards for Scalefour.

To completely explain Scalefour would take a long post. It is a British fine scale modeling group in 1/76 using a track gauge of 18.83 mm; it is also known as P4 or Protofour. American OO uses different (NMRA) track standards and 19 mm gauge track, but in all cases the scale is 4 mm = 1 foot. For the full story on P4 you should check out the website of the Scalefour Society, but the following excerpt from their site will serve as an introduction.
The Scalefour Society caters for the needs of railway modellers working to the scale of 4mm to the foot (1:76.2), the most popular of the British model railway scales. It promotes and encourages the use of efficient modelling techniques and fine scale standards among all 4mm railway modellers but with particular emphasis on the use of scale wheels and track….

Protofour was developed in the late 1960s and set out track and wheel standards as close in accuracy as possible to a true scale reproduction of the UK standard gauge prototype track. It was a concept developed and introduced by the Model Railway Study Group (MRSG) who started the 'Protofour Society' to assist in its promotion. The MRSG arranged for components to be marketed under the trade name Studiolith, trying to keep close control on production to ensure that the concept did not suffer from supply of poor quality parts. This policy backfired somewhat as demand increased and Studiolith could not keep pace. The Scalefour Society evolved in 1975 as a breakaway from these constraints, whilst retaining the basic dimensional principles and concept. Eventually the two Societies were reconciled and merged under the Scalefour name.

The Scalefour Society remains as the primary custodian and promoter of the original P4 standards, these being basically the use of accurate scale wheels on a track gauge of 18.83mm for UK standard gauge, and 21mm for the Irish 5'3" gauge. P4 principles are also applied to other prototype track gauges modelled at 4mm scale. The Scalefour Society also encompasses the overall concept of finescale modelling - models built as closely to true scale dimensions as is practical, and operated as authentically as possible.
It seems like a very active group. Their website has a number of photos of beautiful models in Scalefour, such as on this page (scroll down). In the United States I know of no fine scale models in American OO; those interested in American OO tend to be more into the collecting side of things, but a big salute to our British cousins! Beautiful models in a great scale.

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