G scale model trains are the largest of the model trains in production. Although G scale railroading is often referred to as “Garden Railroading,” because many of these railroad layouts are set outdoors, the “G” originally had nothing to do with Gardening.
The G scale model train was popularized by Ernst Paul Lehmann Patentwerk, out of Germany, with the brand name of Lehmann Gross Bahn (LGB), which translates to “Lehmann Big Train.” These models were meant to be used both indoor and outdoor. The “G” is short for the German word “groß”, which means “big.”
The size of the trains that are grouped in the “G” scale varies from one system to another, and even between different countries. The correct usage would be “G gauge,” because it is the gauge of the track that is consistent. G gauge is 45mm (about 1.75”). This is also known as Gauge 1, popularized in the early 20th century in Europe.
Originally, G scale was used to model 1,000 mm narrow gauge (European) railroads. The track gauge being 45mm, this gives a scale of 1:22.5.
G scale is used in the US to model narrow gauge prototypes (the real thing), narrow gauge is commonly 3 feet. To model this accurately with 45mm track scales to 1:20.3, and this is used by most American manufacturers. (Note the difference between the American and European numerical scales). Some modellers (and the NMRA) refer to 1:20.3 as “F scale.”
G scale model trains are durable, with brass components and track (no rust, low maintenance). There are many examples of outdoor tracks, as well as indoor/outdoor layouts. Other track materials include aluminum and stainless steel.
The durability of G scale model trains makes them very popular – parents can feel comfortable with their children playing with them, knowing they will last for many years. Of course, grown up “kids” can have their fun with them too! These trains are easier to work with, especially when eyesight is not what it used to be.
There is a wide variety of G scale equipment at the 1:22.5 scale, including locomotives, rolling stock, scenery, buildings and more. 1:22.5 scale has low radius curves, which allow for shorter rolling stock and locomotives.
Some of the manufacturers of G scale equipment and supplies are Aristo-craft, Aster, Bachmann, LGB and others. Note that these manufacturers all have a variety of scales of equipment, they all operation on the 45mm G “gauge” of track.
Beyond the usual joys of model railroading, having an outdoor railroad allows for many more variations in scenery, just think what you can do with landscaping, plants, outdoor lighting, structures and more. You can see the possibilities are endless with G scale model trains.
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