- The information on this page has been largely assembled from observation of the track in this museum. It is recognized that this is only a fraction of what was made, although I hope that the track in this museum is reasonably representative. It needs to be noted that it is often necessary to "connect dots" in arriving at a conclusion, and it is recognized that this can have limitations for totally accurate information. Any viewer who has new information or corrections to offer, is welcome to contact me, and I would be most happy to correct or update any information presented here.
- The identification of Gauge 2, Standard, Wide and Gauge 1 is usually made readily from embossed, stamped or decalled markings, or distinctive design features, on the track pieces.
- With the advent of Gauge 0, most manufacturers ceased to mark their track with embossed or stamped markings, with the result that its identification often becomes deductive based on one or more identifying features. "Track identification" is therefore substantially a toy train era Gauge 0 (and 027) issue. For additional identification information for Gauge 0 track, visit the Museum itself and scroll down to "Gauge 0".
- Inevitably, there are pieces that are a mystery in one way or another. Please check the Mystery Department.
Embossed Manufacturer Identification
Labels and Nameplates
The Track itself
Embossed or stamped Track Identification
Tie (sleeper) Design
Tie Design (Camber)
Distinctive Tie Holes
Distinctive Track Clips
Distinctive Third Rails and insulation
Today, all manufacturers of track imprint the make somewhere on the track, and with plastic as a major component of all types of track, this is of course much easier. In the toy train age (down through to Gauge 0), however, when tin ruled the rails, identification can be rather more difficult. Some major manufacturers, such as Märklin, Bing, Lionel, Ives and Hornby did use a variety of means to identify their track, but the American Flyer family (Hafner, Edmunds-Metzel, Chicago Flyer, American Flyer) is substantially by association (other than for American Flyer's Wide Gauge), although some versions of the American Flyer turnouts and crossings had labels, from which it is possible (in some cases) to make deductions about their track designs. Similarly Dorfan turnouts had distinctive throw-levers, and again by association it is possible to identify their track. A complication is that early manufacturers freely copied each other's designs, and also some toy firms, notably Bing, had alliances with other firms such as American Flyer, Ives, Hornby and Bassett-Lowke that can make real origins difficult to trace without reference to early catalogs that are now very scarce, if not nigh impossible to obtain.
Embossed or stamped manufacturer identification:
This form of identification was almost universal with all major manufacturers with the exception of American Flyer (other than their Wide Gauge), Lionel 027, Marx and Dorfan, although all of these usually identified their turnouts and crossings, from which it is often possible to deduce related track design by the shape of the ties and clamps holding the rails. It was less usual, if not rare, with lesser manufacturers.