TLRS 0 Gauge Standards

SCALE/GAUGE NAME 0 Gauge Prototype
Standard track gauge32mm4ft 8 1/2in
'Narrow' track gauge24.5mm3ft 6in
Rail profileCode 100Grooved girder
Groove width, straight track1.25mm1 1/4in
Groove width, curved track1.5mm1 1/2in
Minimum radius curve, older trams250mm (10in)45ft
Minimum radius curve, modern trams330mm (13in)66 ft (20 metres)
Double track distance apart (track centre lines)76mm (3in) Minimum8ft 6in (minimum)
Recommended to "OO" Gauge BRMSB standards (ie Jackson or Romford). "OO" Gauge BRMSB------
Back to back Standard Gauge30.3mm------
Back to back 'Narrow' Gauge22.7mm------
Axle diameter2mm------
Minimum height above road140mm20ft
Wire type and diameterNickel silver 0.3mmCopper 0.32in
Length of traction pole above ground178mm (7in)25ft
Distance apart of traction poles on straight track280mm (11in) average120ft(maximum)
Distance apart of traction poles on curved trackAs requiredAs required
Position of overhead wire relative to track, trolley poles. Straight trackOver centreOver centre
Position of overhead wire relative to track, trolley poles and pantographs centrally mounted on long bogie cars (like Blackpool). Curved track.Over inner railTo a complex formula
Position of overhead wire relative to track, bows and pantographs over bogie pivots. All track.Over centreOver centre
Trolley pole from Terry Russell.Use Commercial items.Various



Commercial 'O' gauge track is not recommended because it is too big for tramway standards. The recommended rail is Code 100 solid nickel silver, flat bottomed. Separate rail of this type is produced by Peco and other manufacturers and is recommended. Track and points are usually made using copper clad sleepers and soldering the rail to the sleepers. If a live overhead supply is used there is no reason to insulate the rails. For two rail operation then cutting an insulating gap in the copper cladding is required. Because the track is buried under the road surface the sleeper spacing can be around 50mm (2in) apart on straight track, closer for curves and special work.


The width of tramcar wheels are much less than railway wheels, with a smaller flange width and depth. In 'O' gauge to use exact scale wheels would require very precise track construction and wheel setting. To get reliable running, most modellers use commercially available wheels and track, that is to BRMSB 'OO' gauge railway standards. The wheels and groove are slightly wider than true scale, though visually it is acceptable. Similarly the diameter of tram wheels is generally smaller than railway wheels. In O gauge there are three main wheel diameters; 16mm, 14mm and 12mm. The 16mm represents 28/31 inch diameter wheels and these are found on most four wheel trams and older bogie trams and the driving wheels of some maximum traction bogies. The 14mm diameter are found on modern low height four wheel trams, modern equal wheel bogies and the driving wheel for some maximum traction bogies. 12mm are found as the pony wheel for maximum traction bogies and on some very modern low floor trams. All three diameters are commercially available under the Romford name. It is usual to use a 30:1 gear ratio.


In "Distance apart of traction poles on straight track" we recommend that the poles are closer than prototype, as this increases the apparent length of small layouts and makes them look more realistic and interesting.

Hard drawn nickel silver wire 0.3mm diameter (or 33swg) is available from Eileen's Emporium. This is soldered to the ears.

Terry Russell makes assembled working trolley poles for open top or enclosed top trams. These all have swivelling trolley skids which are appropriate for the overhead system. Working pantographs are available ready made from Sommerfeldt.


The standard power supply is 12 volts DC, using model railway controllers. The recommended controller is the electronic feedback type and the handheld (HH) from Gaugemaster has been used with great success. It requires a separate 16 volt AC supply from a transformer (also available from Gaugemaster). The controller is very small and can be carried around the layout with ease.

The way tramways are operated in 'O' scale is by using either a live overhead system or a two rail power supply. In the live overhead system the power is fed through the overhead and returns via the rails, just like the prototype. However, there is one major difference between model and the real thing. In the model the overhead is one continuous electrical supply. All sectioning is done through the track. This makes modelling much easier and prevents stalling on overhead dead spots. The two rail system is exactly like that used for model railways.


List of TLRS standards for other scales.

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