Two neat Proto87 articles

This is another of those posts that is a bookmark, for me, to remind myself of something I’ll want to come back to.

Individually these would have been terrific finds but, for some reason, they appeared back-to-back in my search results. Both articles discuss Proto87 standards.

Proto 87: A Practical Option for Modelling Better Trackwork and Wheels

Ian Millard posted the above PDF to his Liverpool Range blog. Instead of simply presenting a direct comparison between the typical (NMRA) track and wheel standards for HO, it is the story of one modellers relationship with adopting finescale standards for his own work and appropriately annotated with just enough technical notes to provide dimension. Maybe it’s just me, but I relate better to this style of presentation and its more conversational tone is something that I can respond to it – if only just by talking to myself over a Sunday morning’s coffee.

The document includes a rather nice diagram illustrating the role of each component of a typical turnout and their affect on the wheel. I’ve led several “learn to handlay a turnout” workshops and a diagram like this would be useful to helpful explain why each rail is important.

P87: What will it take to successfully promo?

This next link comes from the forum:

Prof Klyzlr asks a question of what might be done to promote the Proto87 standards and increase its visibility in the American model railway scene? In the pages that follow his original post flows a unique conversation that, I feel, quite nicely and maturely works through the question and helps frame something of a response.

I enjoyed the comments that made the original question, posed to discuss the state of Proto87 in America, somewhat borderless by introducing the German approach to finescale standards for 1/87 models and the British 4mm standards. More than debating the relative pro’s and con’s of each, this is one of those threads that helped me understand the role of these standards in American HO.

Categories: How I think

Tags: , ,

8 replies

  1. I think the biggest obstacle for P87 in North America is the mantra everyone has had drilled into them “the layout must be massive and completely fill the basement or it is not worthy”. Granted many in NA have the advantage of a rather large basement to contemplate but mainstream press and perceived experts on the hobby keep telling us it has to be filled. As long as that is the mindset P87 doesn’t stand a chance.

    Recently there has been some promotion of smaller layouts and that may help modellers realize maybe smaller it better. A small layout is more manageable to build and maintain, is not (or does not) have to be a financial burden, and can bring just as much enjoyment to the owner. If one wants to push his modelling skills then a small P87 layout may fit the bill. But, P87 or P-Anything will always be a specialist niche in the hobby that only a few will desire to take on.

    Not everyone is up for handlaying track, even on a small layout, especially when there is good looking track and turnouts off the shelf As others have mentioned there is not the big difference in track gauge and using the smaller profile, “more correct” wheel sets available can go a long way to enhancing the appearance along with the detailed commercial track to getting 90% of it right is good enough for many folks.

    The Protoscales will always be a minority challenge that some will embrace while others are happy doing what they are comfortable with. As long as they are having fun are they wrong?

    • Hi,

      I think we get ourselves into a mess trying to group decisions in the hobby as either right or wrong and then ascribe some sense of universality to them. The only “right” is that combination that brings you to the work that best communciates that story deep inside in a way that the rest of us get to see it too. At least, that’s what I’d advise or how I think about it.

      Thinking more closely to Proto87. I can’t even begin to comment from experience since I have none. We like to contrast Proto87 in America to similar efforts in Britain centred around 4mm scale and wish we had the same coverage or ask if it could be possible? I don’t know if that’s a fair comparison. Proto87 becomes a decision we make in an effort to create models of higher fidelity where EM/P4/S4/etc. fall from a fundamental issue of trying to create a standard that corrects a track gauge issue tempered with still trying to use proprietary stock – originally designed to ignore that problem.



  2. For Proto:87 to become established, it simply needs some layouts to be built to the ethos as well as to the standards. Ideally one of them would be in a large basement, but would have lots of open running between few stations, rather than barely more than a train length between lots of stations. It doesn’t have to be complicated.


  1. Fear of change? | The Erratic and Wandering Journey
  2. Brain Dump Post – Matt's Railroad Blog
  3. Wither Proto:87? – Pembroke:87

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