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HO and OO scales are the most common scales in the model railway hobby as they offer the largest number of products to the hobbyist. However, the two names, and being interchanged with each other, often causes some confusion as to what the differences are and if they are compatible with one another.
It’s important to note that both HO and OO Scale are compatible with each other as they share the same gauge of the track (16.5mm, which is the distance between the rails). This means you can interchange locomotives, rolling stock, track and accessories of both scales and won’t experience any running concerns.
The difference between the two scales comes down to size. HO Scale models are built to 1:87th scale, meaning 87 packed together will in effect be the same size of the real thing. This is the correct scale for 16.5mm gauge track. OO Scale models are built to 1:76th scale (again, 76 crammed together will recreate the same height), however, this is not true to scale when using 16.5mm gauge track.
The main difference modellers will spot between the two scales is the size (but sometimes it takes a fine eye to pick it). OO Scale will appear slightly larger to HO Scale models and accessories.