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What are Garden Railroads? What is G Scale?


Question: What are Garden Railroads? What is G Scale?

Garden Railroads are a large scale model railroads which are run mainly outdoors on permanently installed track. They get their name from the fact that they are installed in the garden, and usually landscaped with living plants to add to the scenery. These trains are available in a number of scales and gauges which are designed to represent tracks in the real world. Garden railway trains are available with a variety of running systems, from DCC (Digital command control) to some remotely operated children's trains.


What they are- Garden railroads are model railroads which have a variety of scales and gauges but which are large enough to require outdoor operation to allow proper layouts.

The most commonly used scale for garden railroads is G scale, which is a scale of 1:22.5 and which is usually operated on Gauge 1 track which has a width of 1 3/4 inches or 45 mm. This is a form of narrow gauge. Standard gauge for these railroads would be gauge 3 which represents 4' 8 1/4 inches in the real world (Gauge 1 is a narrow gauge which represents 3'3 1/3 inches in the real world.)

Scales- Garden railroads can be any of a variety of scales including :

  • 1:8 or 1 1/2 scale, commonly used for ride on trains, but also used to model 15" trains on gauge 1 track.
  • 1:13.7 (7/8 scale, where 7/8 inch = 1 ft.)
  • 1:19 (16mm) scale on gauge 0 track only, where 16mm = 1 inch,
  • 1:20.3 or 15mm scale, where 15mm = 1 inch
  • 1:22.5 'G' scale where .533 inches = 1 foot
  • 1:24 or 1/2 scale, also a commonly available doll house scale, where 1/2 inch = 1 foot
  • 1:29 used only for standard gauge on gauge 1 track, where .414 in.= 1 foot
  • 1:32 also called 1 scale, where 3/8 inch or 10mm = 1 foot.

Gauge- Gauge is the space between the tracks - for these trains, is usually either 0, 1, or 3 gauge, which will represent 3' narrow, 2' narrow, or standard gauge, depending on the scale of the train used.

Track types - These vary depending on personal preference. Some garden railways run on stainless steel track, while others use brass track from particular companies.

Permanent or Temporary - Most garden railways are run on permanent track which is left outdoors all year round. The rolling stock (trains) and sometimes buildings are stored indoors when not in use (depends on what the buildings are made of and the climate in which the system is operated)Some children's railways can run on the same track as permanent installations, others use temporary track.

Gifts for Enthusiasts - To buy a gift for a garden railroad enthusiast, or to run your own train as part of a club layout, you will need to know the gauge, scale, operating system, and type of railway they model (many enthusiasts model only cars that ran on a particular historical line during a particular period).

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