Large Scale FAQ

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Large Scale

Garden railroads
Getting Started
DCC in Garden
G Scale Details
FAQ
Track Cleaning
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Frequently asked questions about Large Scale / Garden Railroads.

FAQ

Are there beginner sets available?

Yes. There are sets from many manufacturers. The most common one are the Christmas sets. Before you dive in, you should spend a little time deciding what your goals may be before investing in these sets. Sets usually contain items from only one manufacturer. Do you like everything in the set? If not, perhaps you’ll save money in the long run purchasing everything separately. The big downside of a set is its power supply. It is only enough for that train around a small loop of track. As you expand you’ll need a better transformer or power supply. Most of these sets are not DCC equipped.

You might be better served by getting a DCC Starter Set and adding trains and track separately if you plan on running more than one train.

The track gauge is the same, the scales are not.

Can I run these inside?

As with all scales, indoor railroading is only limited by the space available. Developing a permanent layout indoors often requires a lot of compromise on your part. You may not be able to model a mainline with broad sweeping curves, however a logging or mining railway with tight radius curves will often work. The big advantages of being indoors are:

  1. You don'€™t have to worry about the weather
  2. You can leave everything where it sits when you'€™re ready to quit for the day.

Limited space in a room can be overcome by going through walls into different rooms.

Minimum height & height clearance?

See Standard Dimensions article for details on clearances and tolerances.


Can I leave my transformers out this winter?

It all depends... How severe are your winters? Are you in Tampa or Buffalo? What are the manufacturer's recommendations?

Anything electrical needs to be protected from the elements. Are the transformers in weatherproof boxes? Who rates them as weatherproof?

Heat, cold, and sunlight will accelerate deterioration of anything left outside, especially plastics. UV will damage any unpainted plastics, so they must be painted.

It sounds like we could write a who section on this. If it gets big enough, we can move it to an article later. Who's up for it?  :-) TazzyTazzy 11:21, 17 March 2006 (EST)

Where can I build my railroad?

Somewhere out in the garden-- in a very large basement-- in a spare 2 car garage--

Many layouts include a tunnel or doorway into the interior of the house or garage. This makes it simple to let the train chug its own way out of the weather. The interior can be a 'fiddle' or 'staging' yard (either a through or stub yard), or just a short track over the workbench to park the trains.

Out in the garden I'd recommend several things. First, make a scale plan of your yard. As most of the house and garden magazines tell you, include trees, flower beds, pathways, etc. etc. Figure out which parts of the yard are available for the layout, and which are out-of-bounds.

Next, see the next section, "How much space is this going to take," and mark the layout area in 'squares.'

Play around with track plans in the layout area. Pay attention to places where the layout will cross driveways or pathways, you will need to reinforce or protect the track at these points.

Make a trip to the garden, and make rough notes about the grade changes from place to place along the planned route. Notes concerning where the track will change elevation, and where bridges will support the track should be noted.

Also note places that are 'under' or 'over' things-- under trees that drip sap, over the gully across the yard, under the deck, over the flower beds. The transitions from one area to another may need special treatment-- track under the trees may need more cleaning. The gulley may need a bridge or trestle.

Plan for bridges and tunnels. Make sure to allow for access! Your hands may need to reach into the tunnel to give a nudge to a stalled train; if the bridge is a truss, can your hands fit between the struts to clean track or rerail trains? Will you need a hinged lid over the tunnel??

Evaluate construction techniques-- poured concrete roadbed or deep gravel?

Where will you put the power feeds? Will the turnouts all be accessible? Will you need additional power feeds to the far ends of the layout?

How much space is this going to take?

Short answer: How much space have you got?? (:

Longer answer: Get the book, "Track Planning for Realistic Operation" by John Armstrong, or one of the recent (March 2006) issues of Model Railroad Planning, which has a supplement titled, "Workship Tips: Introduction to Track Planning." These include articles on "Sketching by the Squares."

The basic idea is that you decide what your minimum mainline radius is, then calculate the size of Square that will contain a 90 degree corner. You then measure your available space, and mark it off into squares of the standard size. Then, sketch away! Your sketches will be realistic, as opposed to the optimistic sketches most folks end up with.

You will be able to get a good idea of how much layout will fit in your available space. Or, to answer the question, you can design a layout and see how much space you'll need.

If you're familiar with T-Trak, the corner and straight modules seem to fit this kind of layout planning quite well!

Use Roundup on the tracks?

This, and other products, has been used with and without rail power just fine. Even with weed barriers, weeds still grow. Apply your weed treament chemical to a small section of track to test first. Check ties, and power conductivity. Sprinklers/rain should wash it off the rails but still keep the weeds gone for a while.

Note: Roundup and similar herbicides may be restricted or illegal in some jurisdictions. There are other solutions.

Note that Roundup takes a full week to kill a weed! For the first few days it looks like nothing is happening, then, all of a sudden, WHAM! The weeds are wilting and falling over.

Other products will give the appearance of a faster kill (see all of the TV ads), but give Roundup time to do its thing!

Roundup does not work very well on blue violets. Violets spread by underground risomes, and, although the foliage will wither, the plants will come back! You may have to break down and dig.

Scale & Gauge

What is the differance between Scale & Gauge?

SCALE describes the size of a model compared to the real thing. For example, "HO" scale is 1:87 (1 to 87; 1/87 of life size; you'd need 87 of an item strung end-to-end to be the same length as the real thing). "O" scale is 1:48 or a quarter inch to the foot. Therefore, one inch in O scale would represent 4 feet (or 48 inches) in the real world. For example, a door 7 feet high would be 7/4" high in a model. (Or in metric, about 2.1 cm to the metre.)

GAUGE refers to the distance between the rails. The rails on life-sized track are 4' 8-1/2" (56.5") inches apart (measuring the inside edges). Narrow gauge track has the rails closer than that, such as 36", 24" or in Europe, 1m; many variations of narrow gauge exist.

In the model world, "O" Scale is 1:48. The Gauge for most "O" track is 1.688" between the rails. "On30" trains (On30 - that's "Oh" scale n="narrow gauge" 30 inches between the rails) are normal 1:48 Scale, but run on rails that are closer together than regular "O" gauge track. On30 track just happens to have rails spaced the same distance apart as the track most HO scale trains run on! So modelers can use regular HO gauge track, but run narrow gauge O Scale trains on it.

Confused yet?

What does Large Scale, Garden Railways, G scale all mean?

These are all terms given to model railroads that are often built in an outdoor garden. Most use trains built to one of the Large Scales.

What are the scales in Large Scale Model Railroading?

The list of scales in the garden was borrowed from the Model Railroader web site.

Large scale can range from 1:32 to 1:20.3, with 1:22.5 the most popular. All large scale trains use the same track gauge.

Model Railroader Web Site

This means that you can have trains of different sizes all running on the same track! So you need to pick one -scale- and stick to it!

What scale is right for me?

Your best bet is to look at all of the available equipment for Garden railways, and settle on the manufacturer(s) that provide equipment you prefer. Make sure the items you select are the same -scale.-

Will all these trains work together?

How to keep cats off the tracks?

Cayanne pepper, sprinkled liberally around your layout, works wonders, they hate the stuff. It does have to be reapplied after it rains, however, eventually the cats will associate the pepper with the tracks and learn to avoid it.

Secondly, if you can get Lion Piss from a local zoo or find one that sells the stuff thru the mail, this is the ultimate of animal deterents. Like the pepper, the urine has to be reapplied after each rain.


Other question suggestions

Do I have to do anything special to run these trains outside?

Do I leave things outside, or do I have to bring them in?

If you don't bring them in, your models -will- be "weathered!"
Plastics tend to age in sunlight-- colors fade, plastics become brittle
Wood will weather to a silvery gray unless stained or painted.
You'll have to add building maintenance to your layout maintenance!
Things will drip on your layout from above
Animals and small children may make off with your trains, or walk around on your layout
Electrical items don't normally do well when wet
Do you want your trains rained upon and weathered?

How hard is it to maintain a Large Scale Railroad?

How long does it take to build my railroad?

What is the most important part of a Large Scale Railroad?

What kinds of costs are associated with Large Scale Railroads?

Who are the major manufacturers?

See also

  1. Garden railroads - Main garden railroads article