I am thinking of building a simple garden railway, and have in mind
either Gauge 1 or G scale. I understand that the gauge of track for
both is the same, but the rail heights differ. Will engines built to
either scale run on either type of track? If not, which has the
better availability of engines and stock?
Look up the US Garden Railroads magazine and I believe that there is one
in the UK. If you live anywhere near the south coast there are a couple
of guys that belong to South Shore Model Railroad Club (based in
Worthing) who model G scale.
Contact me if you want further info.
G gauge is a mishmash of scales running on 45mm gauge track. Most of the
equipment is based on narrow gauge prototypes (European metre gauge and
US 3 ft gauge). Depending on the narrow gauge, the scales range from
1:20.3 on down. There is a huge range of equipment available, of
generally good to excellent quality. There is also an increasing amount
of detail and other parts for scratch building. Most garden railway
modellers use 1:24 for buildings, as that is one of the two widely used
a doll house scales, so there is an enormous amount of stuff available.
No. 1 scale is 1:32, as 45mm gauge in that scale represents 4' 8-1/2"
gauge about as exactly as model gauges do. There is not as much
equipment available for it, and it is pricey. It is a dying scale for
operating layouts, but still quite viable as a model builder's scale.
1:32 standard gauge trains are actually smaller than 1:20.3 3ft-gauge
ones, so they will look wrong next to each other. Don't mix these scales.
You can mix the narrow gauge scales because there was no universal
standard clearance diagram for narrow gauges. This means that narrow
gauge equipment varied a lot in size, the result being that 3ft gauge
models at 1:20.3 scale and metre gauge models at 1:22. 2 look just fine
next to each other.
Unless you are fussy about exact scale, go with G gauge, and buy what
you like, in the best quality you can afford. Do not compromise on track
or fixed structures such as bridges that must suffer the indignities of
weather and wildlife. Use best practices to protect wiring and control
element from the weather. You can go with cheaper rolling stock and
buildings, since they can be brought indoors for protection. But if you
spread out your purchases, the garden railway will cost you less than
smoking. If you smoke, that's a good reason to quit. If you don't, it's
a good argument if your other half objects to "wasting money." ;-)
The only area in which wheel standards of #1 scale conflict with
commercial G gauge track is at turnouts (points). That is, 1:32 rolling
stock built to NMRA or similar standards will not play nicely with
commercial G gauge turnouts.
Googling on "G gauge" and "garden railways" will bring you lots of hits,
and many hours of enjoyable surfing.
When I was in the G1MRA some years ago, the membership then always
adopted a pragmatic approach to the values of rolling stock and
refused to consider "Antiques Roadshow" prices. So I suspect that
that attitude still holds firm and new, as well as second hand,
prices are set to suit.
From what I've seen/experienced of Gauge One, the interest in in the
individual models/train formations, not building a scale 'train set',
so if one set of stock (train formation) is built to 10mm scale and
another is built to 3/8" scale no one really cares!
Apparently 10mm has become the "standard" over here now (I nearly
went for gauge 1, but chickened out at the last minute) hence
the likes of Tenmille Products - those that do UK outline 3/8 have or
are converting their kits to 10mm, or offering both. Aster don't
actually say which they do on their UK site, but they do associate
themseleves with the Gauge One Model Railway Association - who don't
make it clear which standard to use.......!
I feared that it might be a little fragile for my garden, given that I
share it with a toddler, a dog and a cat.
Send a live steam loco around every so often. The cat and dog will soon
learn to leave them alone.
I can remember debates on 3/8" scale in the G1MRA newsletter getting
heated in the 1970s, requiring the editor to apply some heavy
moderating. :-) At that time the general feeling was that there
should be one scale in Gauge One, and that should be 10mm. However,
I believe that 3/8" scale is becoming more popular since its more
accurate scale/gauge ratio attracts people who want to model to finer
Also, that's the international standard of 1:32 (cp. 1:30.4 for 10mm).
FWIW, Aristo Craft offer 1:29 models for G gauge. This scale was chosen
so that standard gauge models would look suitably bulky next to narrow