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Most frequently asked garden railroading questions

Garden Railways magazine answers the most often asked questions about the garden-train hobby
By Rene Schweitzer
Published: June 26, 2009
Every day Garden Railways magazine receives questions from readers by letter, phone, and email. Below are the most common questions.

1. Where can I get information on starting a garden railway?

There is a wealth of information available on garden railroading. You might want to read Building the Colorado & Pacific beginner's series, which ran in the April, June, August, and October 2000 issues of GR and which is available on our website under "Landscaping and construction." We have also published several other project railroad series. Most of them are now available as online article collections.

Visit a local hobby shop to look at the variety of available products. Find a hobby shop near you at www.hobbyretailer.com. You can also gain experience from others by joining a club. To find one near you see the Club Directory or at www.gardentrains.org.

You may also watch our online video for beginners.

2. Is there a garden-railway club near me?

Visit www.gardentrains.org to search for clubs by ZIP code.

3. Where can I find information on ride-on trains?

We recommend buying a copy of Live Steam & Outdoor Railroading magazine, as it regularly covers this subject. 2779 Aero Park Drive, Traverse City, MI 49686; www.livesteam.net.

4. When did you do an article on. . .?

GR publishes a free annual index of articles, which can be obtained by sending an SASE to Garden Railways index, Box 1612, Waukesha WI 53187-1612. Several years' worth of these indices are available as downloadable PDFs at www.GardenRailways.com.

You may also search the online Magazine Index. You must be registered with trains.com (it's free!) to search.

5. Did you ever review a particular product?


GR's annual index (see the question above) contains a separate product-review index. Subscribers have free access to over 300 product reviews in our product review database. Product reviews are also indexed in the Magazine Index.

6. How can I contact an author?

Our editorial policy prevents us from giving out our authors' contact information. If you'd like to correspond with an author, send a letter or email in care of Garden Railways, P.O. Box 1612, Waukesha, WI 53187, and we will be happy to forward it.

7. How can I get my garden railroad featured in your magazine?

Send a brief description of your railroad, noting any unusual or special characteristics, along with some snapshots to our editor, Marc Horovitz, at Box 460222, Denver, CO 80246. You can also send an email (do not include high-resolution digital pictures, please) to Marc at mhorovitz@gardenrailways.com. Find more information on how to submit articles to the magazine.

8. Can you explain the difference between scale and gauge?

Scale and gauge are two different things. Scale is simply the proportion of the model to the full-size object. Gauge is the distance between the rails. While there is a relationship between the two, the terms are definitely not interchangeable.

There is no "G gauge" - this is a commonly used misnomer. Most large-scale trains run on gauge-1 track (45mm between the rails). If you are modeling full size, 3-foot narrow-gauge trains, then gauge-1 track is the correct gauge for 1:20.3-scale trains. If you are modeling full size, standard-gauge trains, gauge-1 track is the correct gauge for 1:32-scale trains. However, little is available in this scale. The scale of 1:29 (about 10 percent larger) has come to be the accepted for standard-gauge trains on gauge-1 track.

Although "G scale" has come to take on a generic meaning, it is, in fact, 1:22.5 scale, which is the correct scale for modeling meter-gauge trains on gauge-1 track. It is probably best not to refer to any scale by letter, but only by its proper proportion: 1:32 scale, 1:20.3 scale, etc. This would help to avoid further confusion in this already confusing topic.

We also have a free, printable scale and gauge chart in PDF format that explains this subject in detail.

9. What can you tell me about suspended railway systems?

Each issue of GR usually contains advertisers who sell suspended railway systems. We recommend reading their advertisements and contacting them directly for more information.

10. What's the best kind of track to use?

The "best" track for your railroad depends on a number of factors, including your climate, budget, and preference. Read rail basics in our "For beginners" section.

11. I thought I saw an advertisement for . . .

We will try our best to assist you in finding advertiser information. Please remember that advertisers may change location or close their business, and we may not be informed of this. Searching on Google or another search engine is another way to find an advertiser.

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