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Bing Three-Rail Track

This Page last updated on .

In April of 2013, I was visiting Aliquippa and my sister and I went to the Rogers (OH) Flea Market. I enjoy it because of the large amount of junque that you can find there. Sometimes I find a model railroad related item.

That was the case on this trip where I found 9 pieces of three-rail track. I'd never seen this gauge before. It was about 1" between outer rails. Four pieces made a 16.75" circle (between center rails). Certainly not Lionel 027. The pieces were pretty rusty and really not usable but I thought they were interesting. I paid $5 for the bunch.

Here are pictures. I'm trying to learn more about this track. Can you help?

This is how I found them. Tied together with two pieces of wire

One section. Note the thumb screw electricity terminals.

About 1" between the inside edge of the outside rails.

Thumbscrew terminals

Superelevated ties.

Closeup of electrical connection.

"Made in Bavaria" (in English) and Bing trademarks.
I found this information from a Google search.
Look at Charles Cooper's Toy Train Track Museum pages 2 & 3.
I've sent this photo to Charles and he added it to his web page.

Four pieces make a circle about 16.75" between center rails.

Distance between center rails of a circle of 4 curved tracks..

Comparison to common Postwar Lionel O-31 track.

Can you tell me any more about this track?

I left an email for Charles Cooper at his web site and we traded a few emails:


I found some old track at a flea market and I found your web page when I tried to identify it. Its a superelevated 3-rail track. Appears to be 1" between outer rails. Looks like 4 curve tracks make a circle. One of the curve tracks has two thumbscrew terminals to power the track. The stamping between the rails looks similar the BW Bing symbol but there is another symbol next to it. (almost a combination of "D" and "E" symbols. Between the other two rails it says "Made in Bavaria". If you would like photos of this for your web page. I'll be happy to send them.
Hello Mark:

Thank you very much for getting in touch with me.

I have not seen that "combo" symbol before.

It seems to consist of both my example symbols D and E on page 2 of my article superimposed on each other, which would place this track in their logo transition period around 1923.

The letters in the top part of the logo would be GBN (Gebrüder Bing Nûrnberg - Nürnberg was the toy manufacturing capital of Europe in those days.)

The "Made in Bavaria" emphazises the importance of their export market to the UK and the USA.

The diameter of that circle would be what - 30 inches?

On page 8 of my article, I offer a snapshot summary of Bing, and here it is:


Bing was a German firm (Gebrüder Bing - Brothers Bing) founded in 1865 by Ignaz and Adolf Bing in Nürnberg, Germany to make kitchen utensils and toys. The Bing firm participated in Märklin's rationalization of track gauges at the 1891 Leipzig Fair and the consequent boom of the toy train system concept. Gauge 0 had been introduced by Märklin in 1895 and by 1900 the earlier larger gauges (II and III for Märklin and II, III and IV for Bing [Gauge IV for Bing was equivalent to Gauge III for Märklin at 75mm. Bing, along with Bassett-Lowke and Carette, had an in-between gauge at 67mm above Gauge II at 54 mm]) had given way to Gauges 1 and 0 that came to predominate in the toy train world in Europe. As for all German manufacturers, the export market was key to survival and Bing formed trading partnerships with
Ives in the US and with Bassett-Lowke in the UK, also being retailed there through Gamage's catalogue. The Bing firm was, despite its pre-eminence in the Germany toy industry with over 5,000 employees at the outbreak of WWI, caught up in the financial turmoil of 1929, and the subsequent advent of the Nazi regime in 1933 that caused its Jewish owners to flee to the UK. Bing's assets were subsequently acquired by the competing German firm of Karl Bub that continued until the outbreak of WWII.

The track in question is definitely Gauge 0 with a gauge of 1 1/4 inches.

Thank you for your invitation to put that symbol up on my website. I was able to save the image in question from your website. Thank you again for writing to me.

With my best regards,

Thanks for responding.

I thought this track was really interesting.

It's very narrow, though. I've added a photo to the web page showing a comparison to O-31. This track gauge appears tobe about 1" and a circle of four pieces makes a circle about 16.75" in diameter (center rail to center rail).

If you could add a link to my web page, that would be great.

 I've carefully looked at the ties of all 9 pieces that I have and I see that some ties just have the "BW" logo between one pair of rails and just "Bavaria" between the other pair.

Hello again Mark:



I attach two pictures from my track museum.

The circle (the three-rail one) is about 18.5" diameter from centre rail to centre rail, and because of the BW trademark, would be post 1923. The close-up picture shows the BW logo, with "Trademark" stamped above the logo, and "Germany" at the other end of the tie. There were certainly gadzillion variations on track manufacture.

Yours is the first "Made in Bavaria" I have seen.

Thank you again - I have linked your website as I have credited your contributions, and have also provided a link to your website under "Links".

Your observations about and pictures showing the gauge are a bit of a puzzle, I am not aware that Bing made anything other than Gauge 0 and Gauge 1. (The track I have pictured in IMG 6098 and 6101 is 1 1/4" inside rail edges - measured at the top inside edge, not at the bottom edge of the rail.)

However, the inter-manufacturer definitions of track widths were a bit "loosey-goosey" before around 1923 - I have some Märklin and Karl Bub tracks that only measure 1 1/8". Your image IMG 2384 seems to come pretty close to 1 1/8" too. Also I note that your track does not have any Bing style track connectors - I wonder if this might have been a "lightweight cheapie" edition, akin to Marx v Lionel?

The 0-31 Lionel track you compare it to, judging by the tie design, is later - 1930s and onwards - higher rail and more robust according to all manufacturers in that timeframe, and definitely at the 1 1/4" standard by then.

I would place yours at between 1920 and 1923. Early on for 0 gauge. North America then still favoured the Wide Gauge and in Europe Gauge 1 still had some command of the market, in Germany at least.

I sent 4 pieces of this track to Charles.
From:    Charles Cooper
Subject:    Re: Bing track
Date:    Fri, 24 May 2013 14:36:46 -0400

Hello Mark:

Arrived today - thank you very much indeed.

Well, I know you described it all to me - but this really is remarkable track - and it's not really 0 gauge at all - it's only 7/8th of an inch between the tops of the rails, so it's actually S Gauge.

S gauge in the 1920s?? Wow.

I must do a little more research on Bing, but this is really quite a find - and I am grateful that you sent me a whole circle anyway - I'll find room for it - as you advised, it's not a very large circle anyway - and this is a real curiosity..

The other thing that is interesting is that the track pins are "all three at one end" - for the export market that would be intended to match with Lionel, and if anything, Bing was in competition with Lionel.

The real puzzle though is the gauge - it's so early for S.

Still - "table top" 00 came in around 1924 - also by Bing.

I have some toy train history books, and I will do some reading, and get back to you with anything I can find out..

Thank you again - what a find. With my kind regards,  CharleBing S-gauge 3 rail train 1s

Mystery Solved

From:    "Charles Cooper" <>
To:    "'Mark DiVecchio'" <>
Subject:    Mystery solved
Date sent:    Fri, 11 Nov 2016 21:26:43 -0500

Hello Mark:

This has been a very long time in coming, but I had an email from Fred van der Lubbe in the Netherlands the other week.

Please see

Fred also has a train that ran on that track, and I attach pictures (Fred has the train, but not the tram car - the track was only sold as a circle.) The remarkable thing is that it was made so early - before WWI - and that it was rather low voltage - only 2 to 3 volts at 1/4 of an ampere. I have a completely new appreciation of your kind donation. What a remarkable find.

Best regards,

In July of 2019, I posted about this on the toytrains group on Yahoo!

Here is a story about some 3-rail track that I found at a flea market in Rogers, OH.

<link to this page>

Mark DiVecchio
From:    M Cesa <>
Date sent:    Fri, 12 Jul 2019 09:48:32 -0400
Subject:    Bing 3 rail electric track

Hi Mark
My friend, John Warren, sent me a link to your Bing 3 rail S gauge track.  I have a 3 rail Bing (the BW trademark is hidden under the center pick-up) S gauge electric  loco. I thought you would like to see it.
Mike Cesa
1a. Bing Three-Rail Track
    Posted by: "John deTreville" jdetreville
    Date: Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:05 pm ((PDT))

I know some German companies had 2 rail S-gauge track post war (Bub I think -- I have some at home, but on the road at the moment) and I read where Marklin experimented with it before the war but never produced it.

 John deTreville
1b. Bing Three-Rail Track
    Posted by: fredlubb
    Date: Fri Jul 12, 2019 5:44 pm ((PDT))

BUB from Germany indeed made S gauge after WW 2. I wrote a short article (with pictures) about S gauge in Europe; I have uploaded it to the yahoo files: 

Page 1
Page 2

1c. Bing Three-Rail Track
    Posted by: tpr23047
    Date: Fri Jul 12, 2019 6:51 pm ((PDT))

Would make a good article for TCA Quarterly

Tim Ring

2a. Bing Three-Rail Track
    Posted by: "John deTreville" jdetreville
    Date: Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:33 am ((PDT))

I might add that Bub S gauge is not exactly the same as American Flyer, being slightly larger than Flyer.  Some will fit, but most won't. Some of my Bub is wind-up, others electric two rail.  John deTreville

2b. Bing Three-Rail Track
    Posted by: jlechner2001
    Date: Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:56 am ((PDT))

Is there an official name for the gauge of Mark's 1" (25.4 mm) gauge track?  It is not the same as S gauge (7/8", 22.2 mm; almost exactly correct to represent 4' 8.5" prototype in 1/64 scale ratio).

Toy train wheels are usually much wider than the correct scale dimension.  I suspect that American Flyer S gauge trains would fit on the 1" gauge track (but couldn't operate on it, because it's not insulated for 2-rail operation); on the  other hand, a Bing train made for 1" gauge track probably would not fit on Gilbert AF track.  Has anyone tried?

 Did Bub ever use the S designation?
 Joseph Lechner

2c. Bing Three-Rail Track
    Posted by: fredlubb
    Date: Sat Jul 13, 2019 12:32 pm ((PDT))

The 1" gauge track was called gauge 00 by Bing and the track was mentioned having a gauge of 28 mm. Track gauge was at that time measured from the middle of one rail to the middle of the other and not between the rails, so the actual gauge was about 1". Later the designation 00 was used, also by Bing, for smaller gauges. Both JEP and CR (Rossignol) from France also made trains for this 1" gauge and called these 28 mm trains. And this gauge (although close to S) is indeed different.

Bub (and the German company Stadtilm) did indeed use the S designation; also JEP used the S designation, but normally called these train 25 mm gauge trains.

2d. Bing Three-Rail Track
    Posted by: fredlubb
    Date: Sat Jul 13, 2019 12:32 pm ((PDT))

I mention in my article on European S:

Since I have some S trains by various makers I added another rail to my gauge 1 garden track such that I could run this S trains. I looked at the NEM and NMRA standards and since I do not use any switches I just kept the gauge to (approximately) 22.5 mm. During the construction I checked with an American Flyer bogie whether the gauge was right but when the track was finished I pushed some cars from different manufacturers around the track to further check. Then I found that BUB S did not fit. I looked on the internet and found a German forum post mentioning that BUB S is close to 24 mm since BUB made an error when translating from Inches!

2e. Bing Three-Rail Track
    Posted by: "Russell Courtenay" cottonwoodhobbies
    Date: Sat Jul 13, 2019 1:40 pm ((PDT))

Interesting, so the intercontinental ballistic errors continue to separate all! Thanks for the interesting history guys!
Russell Courtenay
From:    M Cesa <>
Date sent:    Mon, 2 Mar 2020 10:21:54 -0500
Subject:    Bing 3 rail track

Hi Mark

Last year I sent you a picture of Bing train set that would run on the three rail track (that you had obtained at a flea market in the past.)  I initially identified it as S gauge , but in retrospect after further research and reading  in “ Riding the Tinplate Rails”, I now feel that the gauge is more appropriately OO and not S gauge ......something other readers have noted.  Just want to try and set the record straight by correcting my error.


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