Live steam locomotives are classified into several types according to track
gauge, namely, the track width. Common types in Japan are currently the number
one gauge (45 mm), the 3-1/2" gauge (89 mm), and the 5" gauge (127 mm). The
number one gauge is mainly for enjoying free runs, where one cannot ride and
operate the locomotive. Methanol is the commonly used fuel.
The 3-1/2" gauge allows one to ride and operate the locomotive (locomotives
carrying more than 10 passengers are not unusual). Furthermore, even though the
locomotives in this class are scaled down from the real thing, they have a
relatively easy to handle size and can be easily transported and stored, making
them ideal for enjoyment with family and friends. The 3-1/2" gauge also has many
enthusiasts throughout the world and is expected to gain even more popularity.
The 5" gauge conceals even more power than the 3-1/2" gauge. These
locomotives are larger and their weight approaches 100 kg. Some locomotives have
a tractive force capable of carrying 20 or more people! This class is popular
among enthusiasts wanting to carry and move many people.
There is also a larger 7-1/5" gauge and a 4-3/4" gauge that is commonly used
in the US. Although there are many classes of live steam locomotives such as
these, layouts centering on the 3-1/2" and 5" gauges are appearing in various
places. Some layouts have a track length of 300 meters or more and they are
expected to continue to increase. Why not join this richly rewarding hobby of
live steam locomotives?