Lionel Standard Gauge

Standard Gauge, also known as Wide Gauge was an early model railway gauge introduced by Lionel in 1906. As it was a toy railroad standard, rather than a scale modeling standard and as such the actual scale of Standard Gauge locomotives and rolling stock varied. It ran on tinplated tubular three-rail track whose running rails were 2 1/8" apart.

The third rail, although un prototypical, simplified the creation of elaborate track layouts without the polarity reversing circuitry required of two-rail electric model trains.

First called two-inch gauge in Lionel literature, the track began to be referred to as "Standard Gauge" and Lionel subsequently trademarked the name. Lionel's Standard Gauge should not be confused with standard gauge for real railroads, or the later 1:64 scale S Gauge popularized by American Flyer after World War II. Due to the trademark, Lionel's competitors mostly called their similar offerings Wide Gauge.

Whatever the reason for its initial creation, Lionel's Standard Gauge caught on at the expense of Gauges 1 and 2. No fewer than four American competitors adopted Lionel's gauge: Ives in 1921, Boucher in 1922, Dorfan in 1924, and American Flyer in 1925. While all the manufacturers' track was the same size and the trains and buildings approximately the same scale, the couplers for the most part remained incompatible, making it impossible to mix train cars from different manufacturers without modification.

The increased number of manufacturers seemed to give legitimacy to Lionel's gauge, and because the boom of the 1920s made large toy trains affordable, Standard Gauge had its heyday in the mid-1920s only to virtually disappear during the Great Depression. Ives filed for bankruptcy in 1928 and its offerings were off the market by 1932. American Flyer discontinued its Wide Gauge trains in 1932. Dorfan went out of business in 1934. Lionel discontinued Standard Gauge trains in 1940. Boucher, the last of the Standard/Wide Gauge manufacturers, folded in 1943.

The following links will take you to the specific product pages within the Lionel Standard Gauge line:

Standard Gauge Steam Locomotives

Standard Gauge Electric Locomotives

Standard Gauge Trolleys

Standard Gauge Cabooses

Standard Gauge Derrick & Crane Cars

Standard Gauge Flatcars & Searchlight Cars

Standard Gauge Gondola & Dump Cars

Standard Gauge Hopper & Ballast Cars

Standard Gauge Box, Stock & Refrigerator Cars

Standard Gauge Oil & Tank Cars

Standard Gauge Passenger Cars

 

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