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Large scale seemed to go the way of the dinosaur in the late 1930s. Standard gauge disappeared, eclipsed by O. For a long time, Standard and other Large gauges were the realm of collectors and specialty makers. It looked as if the trend were for smaller trains, what with HO and then N making a big splash in the model train market.
Enter G Scale - a German variant on the old #1 gauge. The scale for #1 gauge is normally 1/32, but G used a #1 track as narrow gauge. The actual scale of the German trains from LGB was 1/22.5. Indeed, that is an odd scale! 1/22 is nowhere near as convenient as 1/24, 1/18 or 1/32. Of course, it originated in southern Germany, where convenience cedes ground to the typical off-the-wall ways of Bavaria. (There are serious reasons why Hessians, Sachsener, Preussener and Schwabener poke fun at Bavaria. For further information, ask a German from one of the aforementioned stadts.)
Some think G stands for German or Grosse (German for "Great.") In its evolution, it is more "Goofy." "G" has become the standard designation of large scale trains using 2-rail #1 gauge 1 3/4 inch track. Indeed, the actual scales commonly used include 1/20, 1/20.5, 1/22.5, 1/24, 1/29 and 1/32. 1/24 is common among model and slot cars fans. 1/29 is the scale for 2 1/2inch - 60mm soldiers that were common in the US. 1/32 is the international "standard toy soldier" scale, for figures of 2 1/4 inch - 54mm. It has all been classed as 'G'. Though it may be "G gauge," G scale is technically that silly German 1/22.5. Nonetheless, scale is up in the air here!
The current large scale trains are too large for average indoor operations. They have been marketed heavily during the holidays. The advantages are several. Aside from European imports, most G trains are affordable. They are large enough for the children to enjoy, and most are colored and fitted attractively. Steamers are the most popular G engines, with good reason. The large old-time steamers can be outfitted with ornate trim and all the fancy fittings.
G is really at home in the garden. Outdoor railways have grown immensely in popularity here in the US. G track, trains and accessories are built to run outdoors. Their large size (about twice that of O) makes them suitable for the garden or back yard. G trains can be to scale or a bit short. Some makers intentionally truncate cars for better running on tight radius track.
G is equally appealing for mining, logging and other narrow gauge roads.
We have just built our own garden railway, which is a pleasant touch to our backyard. Scale went out the window thanks to a couple of 1:1 scale animated accessories which reside in the yard: Mr. Woodchuck and Greedy Grable, the neighbor's cat. Any sense of scale is deflated when the cat chases the woodchuck across the railway.
Please note that our focus is on North American garden railways.
Our Garden Railway - The Conover Street Brick Mine Railway, with things in full bloom.
NEW - Our Garden Railway 2002, with photos of new additions and changes.
Garden Railroad, Step-by-step - how we built our railway
Landscaping - some of the tricks used to landscape our garden
Large Scales and Gauges - from old tinplate to modern Garden railways
Passenger Service on our Garden Railway - a different look for our pike
Whimsey - The Brick Hauler Express - humor on the railway
Garden Railway Trains, Spring 2002 - pictures of our Large Scale trains running in our garden
Animated Accessories in the Garden
Scratchbuilding and Kitbashing projects - a few to get you started, with more to come.
Can & Fruit crate labels, boxes and crates - download these PCX kits for large-scale projects. They make can labels, fruit crate and large egg carton.
The Conover Street Brick Mine Railway Game - download a free board game for children, based on our garden railway
More to come:
Online Garden Railway Video
Virtual Ride on our Railway!
More Scratchbuilding and Kitbashing projects
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