About the Society
Four millimetres to the foot (4mm/ft.) is the most popular scale for railway modelling in the UK but it isn’t often realised the OO models offered by Hornby & Bachmann etc. in fact run on ‘narrow gauge’ track! The anomaly dates back to the 1920s when manufacturers attempted to fit the then popular German HO (3.5mm/ft) mechanisms into the smaller British prototype locomotives. The solution to this problem was to make the bodies to the slightly larger scale of 4mm/ft. Rather than produce compatible 4mm:ft trackwork, the manufacturers took the easy option and used the HO track gauge
for the new British outline 4mm/ft. scale models to run on!
Unfortunately this track, whilst accurate for HO, was under-gauge for 4mm/ft. models; it scales out to 4ft 1in instead of the 4ft 8½in of the prototype. The spacing and size of the sleepers also reflected the smaller HO scale and, furthermore, compromises were also made in the width of the wheel treads and in other areas to accommodate
the hybrid scale/gauge.
The anomaly of the incorrect gauge commercial OO models remains today, primarily because the market for OO is so dominant in UK model railways and it just isn’t cost-effective for mainstream manufacturers to produce correctly gauged 4mm/f.t scale track for a much smaller market.
To overcome this situation a number of individual modellers began making their own trackwork with the gauge increased to 18mm and beyond to give a much more realistic appearance to their model railways. These modellers formed The Eighteen Millimetre Gauge Society in 1955 with the aim of promoting and supporting railway modellers working to a scale of 4mm/ft. with a track gauge of 18mm, and the use of fine scale standards more generally. The letters EM reflect the original 18mm gauge standard although this was further refined to 18.2mm. In addition we also support modellers working to the more demanding Protofour (P4) standards, with a track gauge of 18.83mm. Based in the UK, we also support worldwide membership.
On the 8th May 1985 the Society was incorporated into a Company Limited by Guarantee which absorbed the original Society status.
Conversion of models to EM
Virtually all current ready-to-run and kit locomotives and rolling stock, both steam and post-steam era can be quite easily and quickly converted to run on both EM and 18.83 trackwork. In many cases only a basic tool kit and replacement of wheels and axles are required (many of which are available from the EMGS Trade Officer). Or you could go the whole way and build new loco or rolling stock chassis, perhaps incorporating compensation, springing or other refinements – the choice is yours!
There are a number of options for trackwork. In EM, the easiest route is to use the new ‘ready-to-lay’ EM gauge track from the Society – both plain track and left/right hand B6 radius points. However, traditionally a majority of modellers chose to build their own track and points and with the necessary experience this remains a popular approach. Indeed, in 18.83 for pointwork at least, this remains the only option
(though kits of parts to build pointwork are available through the relevant trade).
Whether working in EM or 18.83, the important thing is not to be put off by the thought of building track to hundredths of a millimetre accuracy – correct use of track gauges and various jigs available from the EMGS Trade Officer, simplifies all the
hard work for you! The EMGS Manual gives full details of the techniques used and also includes set of point and crossing plans (for either EM or 18.83mm) plus a set of pointwork wiring diagrams.
What the EMGS has to offer
On joining the Society each member receives a CD containing about 400 pages of material which currently contains much of the information required to work in either EM or 18.83mm gauges. The Manual sheets are produced by members, for the benefit of the membership. Subject matter is wide-ranging with track building, loco and rolling stock conversion and wiring comprehensively covered; along with motor characteristics, baseboard construction, coupling design, prototypical operation and many other subjects. The Manual is regularly added to – you will receive any new sheets published during each membership year together with the Newsletter mailing shots. For members the Manual sheets are also available on-line via the website: www.emgs.org
In addition to the Manual, members also receive four mailing shots per year, each including a Newsletter containing Society and Trade news, Area Group reports and other interesting items. Members’ sales and wants also feature, along with prototype and modelling articles. The Society also has a thriving network of Area Groups, and EM sections exist within several Model Railway Clubs; these are located in many parts of the country and contact details are provided via the members’ area of the website.
The website (www.emgs.org) includes a link to the Members’ area which provides amongst other things, access to the Stores, the Manual and the web forum. Information on the public side includes details of forthcoming events, both nationally and at the Area Group level, the Gallery section featuring layouts appearing at our shows over the years (see below), plus a News Section keeping you up to date with the latest information and other important announcements.
A selection of EM and 18.83mm layouts from both individual members and Area Groups or local clubs are invited each year to show their work at our two annual ‘flagship’ exhibitions; expoEM Spring in May at Bracknell and expoEM Autumn in September at Wakefield. As well as the layouts, these events also feature ‘show you how’ demonstrations, a wide range of specialist trade stands – including EMGS Stores, and the ever-popular Members’ Sales. A further benefit to membership is reduced price admission to these two events. We also have at least one ‘Skills Day’ event
each year, in addition to the Members’ Day & AGM get together.
The Society functions to promote an ever-growing interest in finescale 4mm modelling. A wide range of goods are available for sale at expoEM events and at the AGM. In addition, items can also be purchased through our online shop which can be accessed within the Members’ area of the website. The range of items available includes our ground-breaking ready to lay EM flexi-track and B6 points. Other products include track construction materials such as sleepers, crossing timbers, turnout construction jigs, track and turnout gauges. We also have a good selection of items to assist with converting RTR models to EM & P4 including complete loco ‘conversion packs’, together with axleboxes and W irons of various types, plus a variety of wagon and coach wheels……….. and much more. New items are always being sought and added to the range.
The Society’s financial year runs from 1st September to 31st August but members joining late in the year (at expoEM Spring or later) will also receive membership for the following year. If you are interested in joining the EMGS you can download membership application form or contact our Membership Secretary by post or email:- firstname.lastname@example.org