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Convert scale between wargaming, diecast, trains, and slot cars

Borrowing materials and models from other hobbies can often be productive, and in the early stages of a hobby, often it’s a necessity due to a lack of products available. But it occurs to me that other hobbies borrow from model railroading more often than the other way around, and that means there are untapped resources available. To do that, you need a way to convert scale between wargaming, diecast, trains, and slot cars.

In that spirit, I present a chart of scales. Two neglected train scales, O and S, it turns out, can borrow heavily from elsewhere to make up somewhat for the greater selection of products available for HO and N scale. But this chart will, I hope, prove useful to other hobbyists as well.

Read More »Convert scale between wargaming, diecast, trains, and slot cars

European O gauge train layouts

O gauge is the size of train that most Americans associate with Lionel. It was actually invented around the turn of the century in Germany, although whether it was invented by Marklin or one of the many johnny-come-latelies is open to debate.

After World War II, O gauge faded very quickly in Europe, although in the United States it experienced a resurgence that helped make Marx and Lionel two of the biggest, most profitable toy companies in the world.

I’ve seen some pictures of European O gauge. You’ve got to see this stuff.The second picture on this Dutch page is extremely impressive. Bayko was an architectural toy made of Bakelite (an early plastic), available both before and after World War II. While the scale didn’t necessarily match O gauge precisely, it was more than close enough to the 1:43 scale used in the United Kingdom and 1:45 in Continental Europe, and it allowed the construction of a wide variety of very colorful and attractive buildings. It makes American Plasticville look downright monotonous.

Between the various construction kits available, buildings made by the train manufacturers themselves, the huge variety of 1:43 vehicles and figures, it was possible to build a miniature world that the American product lines just couldn’t match. And yet it died. I guess it fell victim to the smaller houses in Europe, which were much friendlier to HO and TT scales.

If I ever go to Europe and run across any of this stuff, I’m going to be in trouble.

A model railroad scale conversion chart

Plans in model railroad books and magazines are often in a different scale from your favorite. Having a model railroad scale conversion chart helps.

I’m into O scale and the rest of the world, it usually seems, is not. Dimensions for published plans are almost always sized to HO scale, or even S scale of all things. Of course, after A. C. Gilbert imploded in 1967 and took American Flyer with it, it seemed like the “S” is S scale stood for “scratchbuild,” because building it yourself was the only way you were going to get anything, so I guess that’s fair.

Here’s a cheatsheet you can use to convert measurements from one scale to another.

Assumptions: O scale is 1:48, G scale is 1:22.5. If you use a different measurement for either scale, I’m sorry. This won’t be much use to you.

G Scale O ScaleS ScaleOO ScaleHO ScaleTT ScaleN ScaleZ Scale
G Scale213%284%339%386%533%711%977%
O Scale47%133%158%181%250%333%458%
S Scale35%75%119%136%188%211%289%
OO Scale30%63%84%115%158%211%289%
HO Scale26%55%73%87%138%184%253%
TT Scale19%40%53%63%73%133%183%
N Scale14%30%40%48%54%75%138%
Z Scale10%22%29%35%40%55%73%

Find your scale in the table along the top. Then scroll down to the desired scale and find out the factor you need to enlarge or reduce. So, if, say, I have HO scale plans I want to enlarge to O scale, I run across the top to HO, then down to O scale, and see that I need to enlarge the plans to 181%. If I have O scale plans I want to reduce to S scale, I run across the top to O and down to S, and see I need to reduce the plans to 75%.

You can also do this if a building you want exists in kit form for a different scale. Measure it. Then do the math based on the chart to figure out what size to build everything for your scale of choice.

Further reading

I hope you find this model railroad scale conversion chart useful.

On a somewhat related note, if you’re unsure what scale something is, here’s how to figure that out before you convert it. You might also find my cross-hobby scale conversion helpful.

Roll your own router with an old PC

Freesco works. Yesterday was D-Day. I brought a copy of Freesco over to Gatermann’s, set it up, and watched it go. Well, at first it didn’t–it got the two Ethernet cards confused. So I switched the cards and it fired up. Absolutely smashing, as they’d say in Britain. I dumped it to his old 1.2-gig Quantum Bigfoot hard drive, and it boots up in about 35 seconds. When living on a hard drive, Freesco wants to dual-boot with MS-DOS. He didn’t have DOS on that drive, so Tom dug out an old Windows 95 boot disk, with which I SYSed the drive. Then I just took the file router.bat that Freesco dumped to the drive and copied it to autoexec.bat. Then I rebooted and we got a laugh.

Starting Windows 95…. Then it briefly displayed the Windows 95 splash screen. Then the splash screen went away. Loading Linux, it said. Ah, Linux comes and kicks Windows aside. We both got a chuckle.

And Tom had a great observation. “The only time I ever have to reboot Linux is when I take the system down to try a different distribution,” he said. That’s about right.

I was talking about what a great use this would be for old, no-longer-useful PCs–as long as it can run Linux, it can be a caching DNS, a router, or something else useful. That means any 386 with 8 MB of RAM is a candidate.

But don’t throw away the 286s yet. Then someone had to one-up me. Dev Teelucksingh, master of DOS utilities, sent me a link: .

What is it? A DOS-based router. System requirements: DOS 5 or higher, 286 CPU, 1 MB RAM. Astounding. So even a 286 can be useful, even in this day and age. Licensed under GPL, so it’s free. No caching DNS, but hey, on a 286 with a meg of RAM and running DOS, whaddya want? And just giving the program a quick look, a hard disk should be optional–the program is 430K zipped, so it should fit on a high-density floppy along with DOS, HIMEM.SYS, and packet drivers for the NICs. Boot it off a 5.25″ 1.2-meg drive just to see what looks you’ll get. 🙂

Come to think of it, I have a 286 with a meg of RAM around here somewhere. Part of me (the insane part, surely) wants to give it a go. The question is, can I get two NICs working in 8-bit slots, since I know that 286 only had one or two 16-bit slots and I think they’re occupied by the disk controller and video card…

Here’s Dev (his site’s definitely worth a look even if you have no interest in IP masquerade–I’ve never seen a better collection of DOS programs):

Been reading your posts regarding IP masquerading and I found two DOS solutions (just waiting to get a ISA networking card to try either of them 😉 )

IProute v1.10 is PC-based router software for networks running the Internet Protocol (IP). It can act as a demand-dial router between your LAN and a PPP or SLIP link, and allow transparent access from your LAN to the Internet using a single IP address through network address translation (NAT). It can also act as a PPP server for dial-in connections, or route between LANs. Other features include routing between multiple ethernet and serial interfaces, packet filtering, RIP, and event and packet logging to a remote syslog daemon. More recent features include proxy ARP, remote management via telnet and ftp, support for RealAudio & RealVideo, a RADIUS client, and a DHCP client. Shareware. (1 hour demo available for download)

Internet Extender

The Internet Extender is a DOS based program designed to function as an Internet Gateway Router that performs Network Address Port Translation. The program must be used in an multi-homed machine, or a machine with two network interface adapters connecting to separate networks. The two possible configurations are: 1.) Connected to the Internet through a Modem 2.) Connected to the Internet through a Network Interface Card

Freeware, (published under GNU license) so source code is also available

Dev Anand Teelucksingh
Interesting DOS programs at
Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society at

— This mail was written by user of The Arachne Browser —
—                          —



“Hacking setup; VCache”

I heard yesterday from the keeper of the best DOS utilities collection I’ve seen, Dev Teelucksingh. If you do much DOS stuff these days, you owe it to yourself to check out his site at Among other things, he’s got DOS-based CD and MP3 utilities and players, an executable file packer that also has Linux and Win32 versions (excellent for when you’re strapped for disk space), programming languages, replacements for DOS utilities like FDISK, and networking tips and tools.

Another non-computer topic. There’s a ton of computer stuff in yesterday’s mail, so once again, a non-computer topic here. This is just like sophomore and junior years of college.

On Christianity. I don’t want to steal Al Hawkins’ trademark, but I was occasionally posting song lyrics that seemed appropriate long before I first saw his site, and this seems appropriate.

I was a Catholic boy
Redeemed through pain, not through joy

They can’t touch me now
I got every sacrament behind me:
I got baptism,
I got communion,
I got penance,
I got extreme unction
I’ve got confirmation
‘Cause I’m a Catholic child
The blood ran red
The blood ran wild!

Now I’m a Catholic man
I put my tongue to the rail whenever I can.

–Jim Carroll Band, Catholic Boy (1980)

Dan Bowman sent me this link, from Shoot the Messenger, about someone raised Catholic going back to a Christmas Eve mass. It didn’t sound to me like a particularly powerful or effective service. Tradition for tradition’s sake. The message is good enough for you because it was good enough for some previous generation.

Being raised Lutheran, which I’ve heard described as Catholicism without the Pope (that’s an oversimplification but there is a great deal of truth in it), I can relate. Traditionalists want us to come to God, but on their terms. But that’s wrong. Their terms and God’s terms aren’t interchangeable. They often aren’t even compatible.

God uses language we understand. The message of Christmas is full of them. Many religious heroes are said to have been born of a virgin: Buddha, Zoroaster, Lao-Tse. So Jesus, also, is born of a virgin. God didn’t want His Chosen One to seem inferior. And the magi. They were astrologers. God doesn’t approve of astrology, but He wanted them to know, so he lead them to Him, using language they understood: a star.

God went to a lot of trouble to draw outsiders to Him. Today, many churches want outsiders to go to a lot of trouble to understand and become them.

This is wrong, wrong, wrong. Read the book of Acts, the story of the early church, again. Is there any mention of the Latin mass there? Peter and Paul spoke Aramaic and Greek. Where’d Latin come from? Rome. What’s so special about Rome? That’s where the early church grew, the base from which it really took off. Fine. Why’d the early church really take off? Because it related to people.

So, it’s not the tradition we need, but rather, the spirit of the tradition. You can, as I cynically say, “Wait, therefore, for 15th-century Germans (or 2nd-century Romans) to come to you, and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” or you can do what we’re actually told to do: Go to all people and baptize. Yes, all people. And that includes 21st-century Americans. And in order to go to those people, you have to be accepted by those people. You have to understand them and relate to them.

Let me tell you about my Christmas Eve experience, as a Lutheran boy who left the tradition and then came back after finding and experiencing the spirit of the tradition.

I went to a service at my old church in Columbia, Mo., on Sunday morning. The service was OK. But it’s not like I go to that church for the services. I go for the people. They’ve got great people. I drew energy and encouragement from them, and I think they got the same from me, and every time I go it’s like I was there just last Sunday and we pick up right where we left off, even if it’s in reality been a year since I was last there. It’s like family. For some people, it’s better than their blood family. That’s special. That’s real Christianity.

I went to a candlelight service that night in Kansas City, Mo., at the church my sister Di has been attending. It was a great service. Pastor talked about the true meaning of Christmas: Christ, who was missing from our lives and is so often missing from Christmas, came. If there’s an emptiness you can’t explain and you can’t fill, why not let Him in? No dwelling on details that seem trite today. The big problem today is that people feel insignificant and  lonely. Everyone is afraid of being alone.

Here’s your problem today. Sound familiar? Here’s God’s solution. Do you want it? It’s yours.

And that, too, is real Christianity.

That philosophy makes me a rabble-rouser and a troublemaker. But that’s OK with me. A lot of traditionalists in the first century thought Jesus was a rabble-rouser and a troublemaker too. That was why they killed Him.

So, thanks for the compliment. I’ll be a rabble-rouser and a troublemaker. That’s real Christianity.

Too bad so few people have ever seen it.


“Hacking setup; VCache”

Ultra-useful Windows and DOS utilities (plus Linux stuff)

There are loads of links in this mail. Explore them; you won’t be disappointed.

Hello. I maintain the Interesting DOS programs website and I was pleasantly surprised when I got an email telling me my site was mentioned in your book as a download reference site for XMSDSK.

While I only provided a link to the XMSDSK file on Simtel, it was still great to see my site which I never thought will ever get mentioned in any book, especially a Windows one 🙂

I got your book and I like it (a lot). However, there were some tools I thought should have gotten mentioned (most are mentioned on my site)


On Page 65, you mentioned FIPS as a tool to resize partitions. While I haven’t tried FIPS, there is another freeware utility which I’ve used several times :

Partition Resizer v1.33 It resizes/moves your FAT16/FAT32 partitions safely without losing the data on it. It doesn’t eliminate the need for FDISK. You use Partition Resizer to resize and rearrange the FAT16/FAT32 partitions to create free space on your drive and then run FDISK to create the partition.


The Infozip link at is orphaned and is no longer updated. An updated link is at


On Page 209, you mentioned that internal Zip drives lack DOS drivers, this is not true as I have an internal ZIP drive and I access them from DOS. Perhaps you were trying the older drivers that came with the first Iomega parallel port drive?


FastVid v1.10 Improves video performance on Pentium Pro and Pentium II PCI/AGP systems. I haven’t tested this myself but you may want to check it out.


LFN Tools v1.48 These are DOS commands (as stand alone EXE’s) that can handle long filenames in plain DOS. Supports FAT32

For example there is LCOPY which works like XCOPY under a DOS window (copying the long filenames) but in plain DOS. This is useful for diaster recovery situations when you can’t get into Windows and you need to get files off your Windows drive. Other commands include

LMD – create a long directory name LRD – remove a directory with a long directory name (e.g lrd “Program Files”) LDIR – like the DIR command showing long filenames.

The Tools are released under the GPL so source code is available and it is free.


AVPLite Build 134 Free (yet powerful) command-line antivirus detection and removal program.

The engine is only is only 49K (the antivirus updates are about 1.7MB) but it can scan inside ZIP, TGZ, CAB, mail folders in Netscape and Outlook, DOC files). If there is a virus on a machine, you can have a bootable disk with XMSDSK to create a ramdisk, then have the AVPlite and the antivirus update on separate floppy disks unzipped to the ramdrive and then run AVPlite from the ramdrive.


Some Linux links :

SET’s editor v0.4.41

GREAT text editor with the fimiliar Borland IDE interface with syntax highlighting. This is literally the FIRST app to install after you boot Linux. Editing text files with Joe, Vi and Emacs were ummmmmm….. kinda difficult ;-). Released under GPL.

(SET edit is also available for DOS with a built-in MP3 player 😉 )

The one page linux manual A PDF containing a summary of useful Linux commands You mentioned on your Silicon Underground that you wished there was a command reference for Linux. This one is close

————————————————————————- Since you mentioned Win3.x program manager, thought I’ll mention this

Calmira II v3.02 Freeware Win95 shell/interface for Windows 3.x, including explorer, etc.

Mask for Windows – PRWin98 Gives Win3.x apps the look and feel of Win9x apps


Looking forward to your upcoming Linux book (I agree with your sentiments on Silicon Underground – documentation is the main holdback for Linux)

Dev Teelucksingh
Interesting DOS programs at
Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society at

— This email sent with Arachne, the ultimate Internet client —
— —

Wow. Thanks for all the links. That’ll keep my readers busy for ages and ages to come. I did immediately go download SET edit. Very, very nice.

I’m very glad you like my book and look forward to the Linux book. It’s coming along, faster than the Windows book did, but not as quickly as I’d like. I’m not even willing to hazard a guess when it will be finished at this point.

A year from now, there will probably be twice as many Linux books available as there are now. Maybe more. The quality will vary widely. But we need them. The stuff coming out of the Linux Documentation Project is getting better (or maybe I’m just getting smarter) but the stuff available even six months ago very frequently had gaps that a newcomer wouldn’t be able to climb over: missing steps, poor or inaccurate description of output–all kinds of little things that suggest the author didn’t take the time to step through the process one last time. A plethora of available Linux books will help in more ways than one.

Back to DOS and Windows… Although many people deny it, DOS is still an integral part of Windows, and some things just can’t be accomplished without diving into DOS. Even under NT, I always keep a command line open. I can tell you the last day I didn’t use a command line. It was in June of last year. I know because I was in New Mexico, far away from work and from any of my computers.

So Iomega finally got around to releasing Zip drivers that work with the internal IDE and ATAPI models? About time. We bought a big batch of them at work about two years ago, and I needed to access them from DOS, and nothing. The drivers wouldn’t work. We contacted Iomega, and their line was, “These drives require Windows 95 or newer.” A year later, when I was writing that chapter, drivers still hadn’t appeared. But better late than never.

Thanks again.