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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Garden Railroading, The Best of Two Worlds!

Besides having indoor railways, many people who don't have the space necessary for large trains indoors, create a different world in miniature, outside!
 It all started with a German toy company called Lehmann Gross-Bhan or LGB.  This company produced large trains that were about the size of 1:24 scale.  However, these trains were very different from other trains such as Lionel and American Flyer, these trains were made from UV resistant plastic compared to the die-cast steel that other companies made.  for those who don't know, sunlight produces UV wavelengths that can bleach-out most paint that is on plastic and turn the plastic back to its base color.  And because of that major difference from Lionel trains, LGB trains were able to be outside in any weather.  these trains also had track that could stay outdoors with massive .332 code rails made from solid brass and aluminum.
After a time other companies like, USA trains and Bachmann began to make their own large scale trains.  these companies all made their trains to different scales, Bachmann is 1:22.5, USA trains varies between 1:32 and 1:24 scale.  However, despite the lack of a uniform scale, anything between 1:32 and 1:22 is now under one letter scale, G, which is the largest that the letter scale spectrum for trains go to. T-G and in between, from small to large goes; Z, N, TT, HO, S, O.  Plus all of the scales that represent narrow gauge which would look like this; HOn30 or HO scale narrow gauge, 30 inches.  This is another unique thing about these outdoor giants is the fact that they don't often include the narrow gauge format but rather state the scale.
So now in present day, Garden railroading is becoming very popular with families because it combines gardening, a traditional favorite pastime, and Model Railroading, the most popular hobby of the 20th century, and mixing it all with the excitement and tranquility of the outdoors.  Another reason why it is so popular is because you don't have to set aside a spare bedroom or any shelf space to run large trains,  All that is required is at least a 5ft by 9ft piece of property that is unused in the backyard.  this can include a steep grade that doesn't allow for children play or even for grass to grow, flat shady land that looks barren, or any other piece of real estate that looks like an eyesore.  And to drive that point home, I have a couple photos of my garden railway from a few years ago:
complete with a mill pond and a small yard in the center, the West Side Lumber Railway was an attractive site that other kids loved to look at and play in.  Notice the railroad tie bench in the fore ground and the deck in the back.

the view from the deck reveals the overall track plan of the railroad.

The plan looks simple, it was very fun to operate and it was built on the north side of the house where the grass doesn't grow as well.  Also worth mentioning is that it was built on a slope.

So go ahead and try it there are many sources avalible to those who are starting out.  A great investment would be to buy Jack Verduccui's book, "How to Design and Build Your Garden Railroad."
Another reference is the Peckforton Railroad blog.  Dedicated to garden railroading, it is more established and is full of articles such as this one.  Go to this site: http://riksrailway.blogspot.com

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