Ron Dayes

"automobiles" for train layouts ... 5+ wides?

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Hey there,

i usually dont post in this forum (being an automobile builder mainly), but i just couldnt help but notice...
I do see many layouts where Train Mocs and City sets are assembled together (obviously out of practical reasons).
But the thing is, that it seems totally out of scale and relation to each other, not?

Now i know some here really take their train scaling to an extreme level of detail and even apply a proper mathematical scale to them (especially 7 to 8 wide fraction).
Yet, from my perspective adding City set vehicles or even Speed Champions into the same layout is kinda a bummer when it comes to size relations. It just makes the trains look small:look:

After trying out a few train cabs from 6 to 8 wide and comparing them to set vehicles and most 6 wide cars, it simply screams for the automobiles to be smaller in height, length and width.
Cause actually most vehicles are oversized compared to the trains - it makes em somewhat "alien" to the whole display - IMO.

Having lived through the 9V era, i think that even to this very day any 4 wide automobile will eventually look more true in scale to the layout than any 6 wide ever could.
Since the Train widths (offical Lego scale) havent changed, yet their City vehicle scale did, why not go back to the roots a bit more? ;)
4 wides in displays these days are quite rare and tend to look plain, so perhaps something in between?
I personally find that 5 wide is a good scale to work upon for standard automobile vehicles, since no matter if 6,7 or 8 wide trains, it simply passes as being in the same "universe" somewhat - just by being "smaller".

One might think the detail is getting lost with a smaller automobile scale, but actually, using some of the professional train techniques people use on their Train MOCs, i personally figured that its possible to have the cars "as good looking and detailed" as their counterparts on rails....or at least i believe so^^

Here a supercar example in 5+ wide compared to an offical SC car on a flatbed cargo wagon compared to the "scaling" of the Emerald Express Train Cab. I personally think it blends in better with the allready small 6 wide trains (or 7 wide aswell)...thoughts?

40177002301_f20594266a_z.jpgCars and trains - the scale issue. by Ron Dayes, auf Flickr

 


 

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I have given up trying to scale everything in my Lego city. TLG is extremely inconsistent on the width of their vehicles they offer.  I try to enjoy my sets and not look to hard at the scale.  Regarding trains, 4 wide only, no SC ever.  Think some the the SC cars are longer than the small train cars....go figure.

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5 wide cars are the way!!! :laugh:

Seriously thou, five wide cars is the perfect scale for minifigs and six to seven wide trains IMHO.

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Different builders will scale trains differently, especially given that loading gauges are not consistent between countries/continents. (E.g. here's a British Rail class 08 next to an American something: https://www.derbysulzers.com/lamco101.jpg). I find 6+ or 7 wide is best for British trains, and scales well to my 2007ish standard 4w cars and 6w trucks.

For everyone considering 5w cars and trucks, there's some excellent inspiration (and instructions) in @de-marco's impressive thread in town: 

I think that 5w cars are definitely the way to go, they just take a little more effort in designing and building.

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I have been thinking a lot about this lately. I really enjoy scale because its great to see things compared in size and just realize how BIG things are haha. I think that for my city, I have to get looser and looser with scale when it comes to many cars and trucks. LEGO is such a digital medium to build with that it is so hard to get things accurate and still fit a minifig at minifig scale.

But lets talk about "Minifig scale" I think that about 1:42 or 3 studs per meter is good for somethings but a lot of the popular train and city layout (PennLUG, TBRR) are using the .8 feet per stud which is closer to 1:48. 

@ER0L has some great threads about combining scale and he also has some beautiful trains at 9+wide and cars that are magnificent. 

Don't get me wrong, @Ron Dayes, I like your creations but for me and my city play value is centered around the minifig's small life so them fitting in the vehicles is one of the first requirements for building in my city.

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Well, there are many opinions around and of course it is obvious that LEGO itself doesn't always have consistent proportions. I try to get close to scale modeling, and in that sense I really love your cars beacuase they would be perfect. And I think trains should be 7 or 8 wide in that sense. But on the other hand sometimes making it true to scale doesn't necessarily mean it looks good as well. And sometimes getting the scale completely wrong results in a beautiful MOC. It's just a matter of taste I guess.

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On 2/9/2018 at 8:35 PM, Ron Dayes said:

Excellent thread and excellent idea (though I'm old school and still have it in my mind that lego cars should be 4 wide (ignoring the the 6 wide trucks of the early 70's, grin). The 6+ wide road vehicles in the current sets bother me a bit for all of the reasons you mentioned. Makes sense that lego is going 6 wide cars from every angle except compatibility with trains. Your render above makes a compelling case. My problem is that I don't have time to build all of the cool trains I want to build. Then if I did, there are a couple of buildings. So road vehicles are #3 on the list. We need someone like you in my lego club (grin some more)

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Here's my rule of thumb:

Cars 4wide,

SUV 4wide+wheel arches => "5wide"".

Trucks 6wide.

Trains 7/8 wide. Typically my locos are 8wide and rolling stock 7wide.

Wheel sizes to scale

 

Edited by Selander

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I use 4-wide for cars, also because all my road plates are those from early 80s, too narrow for wider cars :look: The 6-wide truck and buses already look a little oversized in these.

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Nice thread! For my 4,5v / 12v trains I'd keep the 4-wide cars.

On 7/8 wide trains  a 5/5+ car and 6 studs truck in my opinion are perfect! :laugh:

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What really bugs me are the huge wheels that come with most of today's sets.

15 minutes ago, Paperinik77pk said:

Nice thread! For my 4,5v / 12v trains I'd keep the 4-wide cars.

On 7/8 wide trains  a 5/5+ car and 6 studs truck in my opinion are perfect! :laugh:

Same.

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4 hours ago, 3797 said:

What really bugs me are the huge wheels that come with most of today's sets.

I trust you aren't including the Palace Cinema Limo in that. The wheels are really out of proportion to the rest of the vehicle.

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3 hours ago, Kalahari134 said:

I trust you aren't including the Palace Cinema Limo in that.

That's right. I don't own the Palace Cinema. Always meant to pick it up but ended up missing out. I may have to get the parts off of Bricklink.

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As @supertruper1988 has kindly pointed out I'm also dealing a lot with the scale problem, also because of the collab layout I'm working on together with some fellow AFOLs for quite a while now. I agree in practically every aspect with Ron, and I also think it would be nice to have a completely consistent scale system.

However I've chosen a different way by using a variable scale system depending on the absolute size of an object within the layout which means that larger objects have a smaller scale. Also train modelers do that e. g. by combining 1/43 scale cars with 1/48 scale trains (if I'm correct). The main reason for this is that I'm a car builder in the first place, and a scale of about 1/35 for passenger cars allows me to build relatively good-looking and realistic cars of every kind - be it a vintage or sports car (usually 6w), a full-size car or a pick-up truck (usually 7w). It also allows me to fit in minifigs in at least quite a few cars (not all of them). Large trucks or semis are smaller in scale - as are trains which are 9 studs wide throughout our collab layout (quite exactly 1/43). 9w for trains also has the advantage that 7w containers fit in nicely - 6w containers are much too small in such a surrounding. Fellow builder Steffen builds his great passenger aircraft in about 1/50 - they are still huge and most impressive yet are going well with the vehicles.

The system is far from being perfect but works quite well for our purposes - like other scales may work for other FOLs with a different approach. Whoever is interested in what I call "Larger City Scale" may take a look at this album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/er0l/albums/72157658693815583

Edited by ER0L

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I build my trains in 10-wide simply because 1:38 scale matches the gauge of the track. 1 stud to the foot almost miraculously seems to match up all the windows on passenger coaches to the prototypes and makes aligning details on diesels and freight cars simple as well. Everything looks "just right" and functions very well at that scale as long as you're using BrickTracks wide radius curves.

Nevertheless, 1:38 scale isn't for everyone, and though I doubt it'll ever catch on and gain widespread popularity, it'll continue to be my primary scale of choice when it comes to all things LEGO. 

Edited by Aaron

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Speaking about  real trains circulating on 1435mm gauge, I've always calculated the Lego scale (in millimeters) starting from the gauge of Lego track.

Being the "gauge" the distance between the two inner parts of the rails , in Lego terms we should have 4 studs for 8 millimeters = 32 mm in total (same as O gauge? - it can seem this way, but if you put an O gauge train on Lego tracks you will find it narrower).

The true fact is Lego rails are have an inverted T form, therefore the real distance between rails is 5 studs (40 mm).

Therefore it depends what we intend for Lego Gauge (32mm or 40mm)

  • 32mm*45= 1440mm - 1:45 scale - tipically the 8-wide trains.
  • 40mm*36=1440mm - 1:36 scale - tipically the 10-wide trains (which in my opinion give the more correct look)

for narrow gauge it is simpler, taking a "quite" metric gauge (1000/1067/950) a 1:32 scale or 1:40 is good (I prefer 1:32).

So, let's make a comparison - a tipical Italian diesel railcar vs a typical Italian car of the early 80s:

FS Aln668 railcar - 1435mm (a long one):

In 1:45 scale

  • Lenght   23.540 mm --> 23540/45= 523,1mm - in studs 523mm/8mm=65 studs (buffers included)
  • Width    2.878 mm --> 2878/45= 63.9mm - in studs 64mm/8mm=8studs

In 1:36 scale

  • Lenght   23.540 mm --> 23540/36= 653,8mm - in studs 654mm/8mm=81 studs (buffers included)
  • Width    2.878 mm --> 2878/45= 79.9mm - in studs 80mm/8mm=10studs

Alfa Romeo Alfetta 2.000 (it is quite a narrow car)

In 1:45 scale:

  • Lenght 4385 mm --> 4385/45=97.4mm  in studs around 12
  • Width 1640 mm -->  1640/45=36.4mm in studs it is 4.5...let's say 5.

In 1:36 scale:

  • Lenght 4385 mm --> 4385/36=121.8mm  in studs around 15
  • Width 1640 mm -->  1640/36=45.5mm in studs it is 5.69...let's say 6.

So I imagine a contemporary truck being 6/6.5 wide in 1:45 and around 8 wide in 1:36.

Tell me what you think about it :laugh:

 

 

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4 hours ago, Paperinik77pk said:

Speaking about  real trains circulating on 1435mm gauge, I've always calculated the Lego scale (in millimeters) starting from the gauge of Lego track.

Being the "gauge" the distance between the two inner parts of the rails , in Lego terms we should have 4 studs for 8 millimeters = 32 mm in total (same as O gauge? - it can seem this way, but if you put an O gauge train on Lego tracks you will find it narrower).

The true fact is Lego rails are have an inverted T form, therefore the real distance between rails is 5 studs (40 mm).

Therefore it depends what we intend for Lego Gauge (32mm or 40mm)

  • 32mm*45= 1440mm - 1:45 scale - tipically the 8-wide trains.
  • 40mm*36=1440mm - 1:36 scale - tipically the 10-wide trains (which in my opinion give the more correct look)

for narrow gauge it is simpler, taking a "quite" metric gauge (1000/1067/950) a 1:32 scale or 1:40 is good (I prefer 1:32).

So, let's make a comparison - a tipical Italian diesel railcar vs a typical Italian car of the early 80s:

FS Aln668 railcar - 1435mm (a long one):

In 1:45 scale

  • Lenght   23.540 mm --> 23540/45= 523,1mm - in studs 523mm/8mm=65 studs (buffers included)
  • Width    2.878 mm --> 2878/45= 63.9mm - in studs 64mm/8mm=8studs

In 1:36 scale

  • Lenght   23.540 mm --> 23540/36= 653,8mm - in studs 654mm/8mm=81 studs (buffers included)
  • Width    2.878 mm --> 2878/45= 79.9mm - in studs 80mm/8mm=10studs

Alfa Romeo Alfetta 2.000 (it is quite a narrow car)

In 1:45 scale:

  • Lenght 4385 mm --> 4385/45=97.4mm  in studs around 12
  • Width 1640 mm -->  1640/45=36.4mm in studs it is 4.5...let's say 5.

In 1:36 scale:

  • Lenght 4385 mm --> 4385/36=121.8mm  in studs around 15
  • Width 1640 mm -->  1640/36=45.5mm in studs it is 5.69...let's say 6.

So I imagine a contemporary truck being 6/6.5 wide in 1:45 and around 8 wide in 1:36.

Tell me what you think about it :laugh:

 

 

The track gauge is 37.5mm.

700px-TrackKeyDimensions.png

If we assume 1 stud to the foot is approximately 1:38 scale (1:38.1 to be more accurate) and we compare these figures to Standard Gauge, which is 4' 8.5", we come up with an almost exact match.  37.5mm x 38.1 is 1428.75mm. Convert 1428.75mm to feet and inches, and you get 4' 8.25". It is what it is.

Now if, for example, one were to build an 80' Budd streamliner coach to scale going by our calculations above, we can apply the 1 stud to the foot figure to an engineering diagram to get a width of 10 studs (10') and an overall coupler length of approximately 80 studs (80').

c-256.jpg

At this scale, a bald minifigure is approximately 5' tall, while a minifigure with hair is slightly taller, at roughly the same height as the average adult human. When placed next to or inside of trains built to 1:38.1, one will find that it is a highly proportionate visual representation of the human scale.

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You are right, I made a mistake in explaining -  I used the centreline gauge for calculating the bigger scale, since I measured the gauge approximating it in studs (and then calculating the resulting millimeters) and not directly measuring it in millimeters. The correct inner-rail gauge is 37.5mm.                                                                   

 

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First thank you all for your amazing lots of feedback into this topic, nice to see the discussion/input getting along! If i have the chance i will post a few more 5 wides next to trains soon.... Dont have time to quote you all, but i did read em and will conclude some of my thoughts in the following quotes ;)

On 12.2.2018 at 10:52 PM, ER0L said:

@supertruper1988 ....I agree in practically every aspect with Ron, and I also think it would be nice to have a completely consistent scale system.....

....scale system depending on the absolute size of an object within the layout which means that larger objects have a smaller scale. Also train modelers do that e. g. by combining 1/43 scale cars with 1/48 scale trains...

Yeah, that would be quite something - allthough i believe with a bunch of people all agreeing to a certain scale that shouldnt be a problem.
Didnt hear about that with the train modelers since i knew they had lots of different scales to buy from, but perhaps the cars wont be too "unseen" then...

About the sizing depending on "what is larger to what is smaller" - i think thats like the best idea if you really want figs fitting at least in some of the vehicles. I think that works out great in the links provided!!
 

5 hours ago, Paperinik77pk said:

Speaking about  real trains circulating on 1435mm gauge, I've always calculated the Lego scale (in millimeters) starting from the gauge of Lego track.

Actually a good point to start from there - since its the only constant factor in this case. However, what tells you the gauge is great in scale when compared to the minifig height? Perhaps assuming that a minifig is 175 cm high irl (average height), a minifig scale might need a different gauge alltogether - Some very serious math you did there aswell. I personally strongly believe that TLG intended the whole minifig world to be around 1/42 - 1/45 in scale when inventing the minifig. Especially if you look at their early era 4 wide cars fitting no figs inside at all and especially the still used bicycle mould from 1985.

If you measure their diameter compared to an average real life bicycle, you will eventually end up in that scale range. Same goes for the old motorbike mould or 2x2 stud wheels (tiny turbo diameter) in total. Compared to real life, thats about the size of a tire when you look at it height wise.
As for the gauge, the european 1435mm is the closest it gets (according to 1/43 .,  4 studs = 1333mm, so the lego gauge is actually too narrow). But not by far, so it definately works....

5 hours ago, Kalahari134 said:

The trouble with trying to do things to scale is that minifigures have really odd proportions. 

Yes and no really, just cause the minifigs proportions are odd, doenst mean you cant scale or will always encounter "trouble". You need to choose either going with the minfig width or the minifig height. If you do both, only then it will get messed up. I am very fond of going by minifig height only. Keeps everything small and realistically looking in proportion to human height (which does matter more than width imo since our perspective of surrounding is rather height biased). But indeed, fitting the figs is a real bummer!

1 hour ago, Aaron said:

[....]At this scale, a bald minifigure is approximately 5' tall, while a minifigure with hair is slightly taller, at roughly the same height as the average adult human. When placed next to or inside of trains built to 1:38.1, one will find that it is a highly proportionate visual representation of the human scale.

Definately the correct math and very good example - but perhaps the fig relevance does get kinda lost here. I mean, how many 5 feet tall people do we see - (not meant in a discriminating way!) - its possible, but not very realistic. In that case one might also consider building figs with bricks to accomondate the scale to the correct human heigt.  1/38 is still in a good looking minifig fashion, but technically speaking - when going with 10 wide trains, the figs do look a lil tiny....especially given their width which then additionally creates the illusion of even smaller height. Must not bother ones layout really since its mainly about the trains, but the issue certainly is there ;)
Nice demonstration of scaling btw! cheers!

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41 minutes ago, Ron Dayes said:

Definately the correct math and very good example - but perhaps the fig relevance does get kinda lost here. I mean, how many 5 feet tall people do we see - (not meant in a discriminating way!) - its possible, but not very realistic. In that case one might also consider building figs with bricks to accomondate the scale to the correct human heigt.  1/38 is still in a good looking minifig fashion, but technically speaking - when going with 10 wide trains, the figs do look a lil tiny....especially given their width which then additionally creates the illusion of even smaller height. Must not bother ones layout really since its mainly about the trains, but the issue certainly is there ;)
Nice demonstration of scaling btw! cheers!

The average global height of humans is between 5'2" and 5'6". With hairpieces, minifigures fall into that height range at 1:38. While they are proportionately a bit wider than most real people, building at smaller scales such as 1:48 only increases the width impact. I've been building all of my trains in 10-wide for the better part of the past decade and can definitely assure you from experience that minifigures are in no way undersized or out of scale in comparison, and I've spent enough time in railroad museums and excursion trains to have a photographic memory that can automatically detect when something is out of scale.

The main reasons most people build in 8-wide (or smaller) are practical ones, such as the ability to pack more in smaller/limited space, to have tighter curve and switch radii, to be able to utililize O scale components interchangeably and to be able to build more on a budget. If scale is really important to someone, and space/budget constraints are of little to no issue, it should be understood that anything other than 10-wide is a compromise.

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I also agree on the fact that 10-wide is currently the correct proportion track/train. It is a size not all builders are ready to manage (it is big, heavy and  standard Lego train wheels are too small, buildings become enormous). But it is very pleasing to the eye, especially now that large radius curves are available from third parties or somehow can be created using Lego flex track.

Sincerely, on my big 10-wide trains I never thought about minifigures, since I focus more on functional technical implementations (transmissions, suspensions, onboard cameras) than Minifig transportation. But It is the way I build them, and not at all a general rule :laugh:

For practicality, 6 or 8 studs are still the most common  choice also for me, they work on standard radius curves, their proportions match more the buildings and the scenario, especially during meetings or shows (and especially at home where even standard Lego scale is pretty big and not so easy to manage).

Lego train track will always be bigger than it should be, cars will always be too small inside, and standard Lego trees will always be  no more than a Bonsai. But since we're used to it, after all, it seems not a big problem :laugh:

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Paperinik77pk

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On 14.2.2018 at 2:54 AM, Aaron said:

The average global height of humans is between 5'2" and 5'6". With hairpieces, minifigures fall into that height range at 1:38. While they are proportionately a bit wider than most real people, building at smaller scales such as 1:48 only increases the width impact. I've been building all of my trains in 10-wide for the better part of the past decade and can definitely assure you from experience that minifigures are in no way undersized or out of scale in comparison, and I've spent enough time in railroad museums and excursion trains to have a photographic memory that can automatically detect when something is out of scale.

The main reasons most people build in 8-wide (or smaller) are practical ones, such as the ability to pack more in smaller/limited space, to have tighter curve and switch radii, to be able to utililize O scale components interchangeably and to be able to build more on a budget. If scale is really important to someone, and space/budget constraints are of little to no issue, it should be understood that anything other than 10-wide is a compromise.


Indeed, the width in smaller scales is an issue making it hard to build any vehicles fitting figs in properly, but if you accomondate the width its actually far worse imo, since then the figs dont just look "too wide" but small aswell. There will always be a "too widish" appeal to them in any scale, thus having at least the height more in the "western world" average heights (175 cm with hairpiece), it will only be "one" flaw to their design.
The Thing with trains is (or at least i guess) that they vary a lot in sizes also depending on gauges.
I personally think 1/42 to 1/44 to be the best scale range, making the figs average high in height, which sets most trains i googled (european) to 8,5 wide. So from there it might be practical issues if you decide to go 8 or 9 (or even do the exact 8,5 somehow with SNOT), but i dont think that 8 wide is based on practical reasons alone. Or is it a known fact around here that trains should be 10 wide?

Do you have some pics or a flickr account displaying some of your 10 wides next to figs so i can get a complete picture of your scaling thoughts?

I also did an 8 wide next to the 5 wide (which would perhaps be my minimum with of train cars for future builds in my scale).

40312241332_aaf74dfb62_z.jpg5/6 wide cars to 8 wide trains by Ron Dayes, auf Flickr

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I guess train width is a matter of choice, but you are right that for the scale range of 1/42-1/45 8 wide is perfect at least for the European trains and to me looks best as well.

Personally I do not like the 10 wide trains, but on the American continent trains I believe may be wider in real life anyway so... 

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1 hour ago, Man with a hat said:

Personally I do not like the 10 wide trains, but on the American continent trains I believe may be wider in real life anyway so...

I feel exactly the same; for British trains, 6+ or 7w works very well, and considering the loading gauge differences (seen here, as I posted earlier in this thread, a BR 08 shunter is rather dwarfed: https://www.derbysulzers.com/lamco101.jpg), American locomotives would be naturally larger. The only reason I'm not as much a fan of wider trains is they look different to what I'm used to.

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