There probably isn’t a human being in any industrialized country that has not been to an amusement park or some version of an amusement park and seen a large scale version of electric model trains. Most could not resist taking a ride on these fascinating mini-engines. Some are steam driven and others electric but the appeal remains the same.
In the 1960’s, bringing scaled models into the home becomes a national past time in America and other countries. In America the term used to describe a train enthusiast, to include electric model trains, is “model railroader”. Britain also has a huge following of these hobbyists and refers to themselves as “railroad modelers”.
Any industrialized nation has long used train transport to move goods, especially large quantities or heavy items from one place to another. Although train travel is not the latest and fastest, vacations by way of train are still very popular. These types provide the train enthusiast a way to construct railways and systems. An electric system can range in size from something one could put on a shelf to a ride on version as seen in many amusement parks.
At one time, it was difficult to collect items from different vendors due to the variance in each vendor’s product. Now all major electric model trains have a scaling system that is used to keep items standard and allow for interchangeability.
The smallest standard scaled train is the Z model. The Z model is 1:220. The largest is the G model. The ratio for G is 1:22.5. The electric model train in a G model is the one that is used outdoors or at the parks. Grown men look quite funny riding on these miniatures but it is a testament to the true model railroader.
The most popular electric train for a model railroader is the H0 model. The H0 model is 1:87 and has the largest selection of types of trains and accessories. One further model that needs to be mentioned is the 0 model which is 1:48. If one was purchasing an electric model train as a toy, this would be the model most suitable for a child.
Now that this industry is standardized and uses the same scaling system to measure and produce products, model railroaders can mix different manufacturer brands to get a customized one and system erected. There are many manufacturers such as Lionel, American Flyer, Marx and Bachmann. These are large companies and most have heard of Lionel in some form or fashion. If a child receives a toy train from the industry, it will likely be a Lionel.
Since the inception of electric model trains, many things have changed. They began as a battery operated unit but has evolved to a more consistent power source. Since almost all homes have electricity readily available, AC or DC power is used today.
Model railroaders have more options and accessories to choose from than ever before. Societies, clubs and associations exist solely for the purpose of sharing the joys of model railroading. Electric model trains still provide countless numbers of individuals with the “magic” of running a railway system.