Question: What is G Scale?
G Scale is a size of model railways at a scale of 1:22.5 (or thereabouts) on 45mm wide (or gauge) track. This was largely created by the German manufacturer LGB in the 1960’s establishing the modern popular “Garden Railway” hobby, with their weather resistant and robust but realistic models.
Because of their size models in G generally tend to be stronger than the smaller “indoor” railways and thus stand up to being played with by children better. Many people find great pleasure in being able to share their hobby with all their family, together with the added benefit of everyone being in the garden.
Question: What happens when it rains / snows?
This is perhaps one of the most common questions we get asked and the short answer is almost everything is designed to run outside in different weather conditions – rain, snow and sun are no problem.
The rails used for the track is commonly made from brass which does oxidise outside but doesn’t rust. The other rail type used in the hobby although a little less common is steel which is also fine outside. Constant exposure of UV can also make some plastics brittle, which is why the plastic sleepers that hold the rails in place are designed by all the manufacturers to be suitable for decades of exposure to the sun.
The locomotives and wagons from most of the manufactures are also designed so dampness from the rain or snow won’t stop play.
The thing that often worries those of us with layouts outside are the effects of the wind (when buildings go rolling away) or furry friends jumping on or around the buildings. But generally they’re harder and any damage is easily repaired.
Question: How do you power and control the trains?
One of the best way to start a friendly debate in the G Scale community is to ask what is the “best” was to power and control the layout. There are 3 main ways of powering the locomotives:
- Track Power where the two rails conduction electricity from a transformer plugged into the mains to the locomotive
- Battery Power where the locomotive is connected directly to a battery.
- Live Steam where a fuel source burns to heat water just like in the full-sized version.
Each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages and it really depends on the individual and their circumstances what is best for them. Most commercially available G Scale Starter Sets are track powered.
Question: Do you have to put the layout outside?
Certainly not! There are plenty of examples of excellent indoor G Scale layouts.
Question: How much does it all cost?
As with most hobbies – it really depends. Most starter sets are available for a few hundred pounds. These generally have a small circle of track, one locomotive with a couple of wagons or coaches and will be powered by analogue track power. Such starter sets can quite happily run indoors around the lounge, but readily will run outside on the lawn or patio.
From there, it is about expansion – track, locomotives, rolling stock and scenery. The hobby has a healthy scene around it so whether you want to buy new, second-hand from retailers or auctions or trying your hand at building your own contributions there are ways to enjoy the hobby.
The final point on this isn’t it doesn’t have to happen overnight. Although we may look at some of the massive railways in some gardens, many G Scalers grow their railway over years and even decades as space and situation allows and gives them they enjoyment they’re seeking from the hobby.
Question: How much space do you need?
Again, it depends. The smallest circle in G scale is a 1290 mm (4ft 3inches) but there are also many condensed shunting layouts possible. Our members’ layouts vary from the temporal to the modest to the extensive. It depends on your space, situation and enjoyment.
Question: Where can you buy G Scale?
There are a number G -Scale and Garden Railway retailers across the UK with both physical and online stores. These retailers often have a selection of both new and second hand products from both the major manufacturers and the specialist productions.
Some of your friendly local hobby stores will carry G Scale but it is less common in the UK than scales such as O, OO or N.