Interview of the month: Double O Gauge Association

06 September 2022
Howard Smith uncovers the present-day role of this association and the benefits of membership with its Chairman, Colin Snowdon.

The Double O Gauge Association (DOGA) has long battled for better standards and refined detail in the gauge. However, with the quality and detail on new ready-to-run OO gauge models at an all-time high, is its role as great? Absolutely it happens, if a little changed...

Howard: Thanks for your time, Colin – so where do the origins of the DOGA lie?

Colin: The Double O Gauge Association (DOGA) was founded in 1994 by Messer’s Aldridge and Pitty. They were concerned over the lack of a standard in OO gauge products which led to incompatibility. It was quite difficult to build a good layout in OO gauge, without extensive rebuilding, because of this lack of compatibility.

Although there was a British Railway Modelling Standards Bureau (BRMSB) standard for OO gauge, it was almost totally ignored, particularly by major manufacturers. It was clear that a common standard needed to be set and a range of tools, improvement items for rolling stock and maintenance equipment was required. The DOGA went forward from there.

H: Has the role of the DOGA changed over the years?

C: In 1994 we were pressing for better quality commercial products, better mechanisms, better detail, and closer fidelity to the prototype. Manufacturers have listened and what you buy in the shops is a long way from those standards. Now we look closely at manufacturer’s quality control and how well they consistently meet OO gauge standards. We maintain good relations with manufacturers but raise issues which arise if needs be, but in a way which is helpful and supportive, rather than combative and showing a lack of understanding.

When it comes to our members, DOGA does its best to encourage and support them to learn more about the skills and techniques needed to create the kind of layout they want. This allows people to gain the most amount of fun and enjoyment from their work. It isn’t much fun if your model continually falls off the track and moves in fits and starts.

One of our greatest strengths is our members and their knowledge which can answer most problems which arise and thwart other members in their aims. In order to do this alongside our journal we have a private online forum and we're present on Facebook. We are looking at forming a YouTube channel, too. None of this was around in 1994, so you could say we've changed. We still publish our quarterly all-colour journal with 'hands-on' articles, assessments of products, plus hints and tips.

Double O gauge association shop

The Double O Gauge Association online shop retails a range of commonly-required items for railway modellers.


H: How does the DOGA differ from manufacturers’ clubs?

C: Manufacturers’ clubs are primarily promoting their own products. Why would they promote another's output? They tend to be called 'collectors clubs', not modellers clubs which seems to promote the idea that you buy their products to put in your secret stash. DOGA promotes all good productions which benefit members and their pursuance of their hobby. We also promote small suppliers for products other than rolling stock and for kits and parts.

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Although it’s true that all modellers are collectors, not all collectors are modellers. DOGA wants you to open the boxes, lay the track, connect up your chosen control gear and run trains. Railway modelling is a creative hobby which you can share with your family and friends.

H: What does membership of the DOGA entail?

C: It's about joining in with the community, helping when you can, and asking when you’re stuck. It's also about pushing your boundaries so that your work and creations are just that bit better, or that bit easier. It's about never having a closed mind, about getting your hands dirty, and laughing – a lot. You get to read a quarterly journal and make use of our online facilities if you so wish. We are there to help members and you can still write in to the journal editor rather than use online alternatives if you want to do it the older and more relaxed way. We do our best to get information out to members through out the world, as we should, being a world-wide organisation. It can be startling to ask a question and get an answer from Tasmania or New Zealand, but it does happen.

Double O Gauge Association Wheel Standards

The Double O Gauge Association's published set of wheel standards. Its track standards can be found on its website, too.

H: Your website says that you ‘liaise with manufacturers to achieve your aims’ – have you examples of such partnerships?

C: There are very few manufacturers who don't know the DOGA Chairman, or one of the officers. Some are members of DOGA, so perhaps we are doing something right. Being on good terms with our manufacturers and understanding the problems they face is far more productive than being unpleasant to them.

What have we achieved? Well, almost everything on the shelves at your supplier is as close as you can get to DOGA standards for a mass-produced model. If I look back to 1994 in our first printed production, there are those very standards.

H: Have membership numbers fluctuated?

C: Unfortunately people pass, change scale or gauge, or even stop modelling railways! So there is always a certain level of loss. However, since the Covid lockdowns we have had a surge of people new to the hobby wanting to join. DOGA layouts appear all over the country at local shows. We have an extensive portfolio of member layouts available for shows which is popular with exhibition managers. Our stand can also be found at exhibitions from Glasgow to Brighton, so look out for it and call-by.

WOR+.... What's that? Well... it's this...


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