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Thank you for allowing me to join. Hope you all are ready for a lot of questions. I have played with several gauges/scales in my life and I still do. But now I want to expand my play into the world of G-scale. So for starters here is my first round of questions. Please note that I live in Michigan so we can have a long drawn out seasons or we can have all of them in a 12hr period. My plan is just to start off with 2 loops of track. Then add as money permits.

1, Thinking of going R-3 for curves as it looks like it would allow a vast array of motive power.

2, Given freeze and thaw then freeze again. what switches hold up to that environment. I am thinking going all manual for switch operations. For that matter track in general.

3, Given my health(especially my back) and thinking of the health of others. My thought is not to have this on the ground but on a pier system. What's a good height. Pros and cons of it.

4, How big is too big for operational power

5, Speaking of operational power. what is good or bad. My plan or thoughts for starters are 2 main lines with switching in between them and a couple of passing's taking up a area of approximately 45 X 26 foot area. The track plan with expand over time but the area will not. It could but.....nope.

6, What 2 brands of track should I stick with ? I currently have 3 new boxes of 4' LGB sections of track.

Well I think that is it for questions as of now. You thoughts and suggestions are greatly appreciated.
 

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Hope you all are ready for a lot of questions.
You are not kidding.

There is a wealth of information answering ALL your questions, and more, on this website. All you have to do is search for it. I use the google: "site:mylargescalecentral.com xxx"

Sorry to be so unhelpful, but your questions are a bit vague. What exactly is "operational power"? Are you asking how big an engine do you need to operate?

Put your location in your profile and then we can see what freeze/thaw cycles you are talking about.
 

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1) R3 (just under 4' radius/8' diameter) is a good practical minimum which will allow you to run almost everything produced. The bigger stuff may still look silly, but it will at least fit. If you can fit 5' or even 6' radius, that would be better. Rule of thumb is to use the largest size curves that will fit.

Note A: Many manufactures use "R#" to identify the size of their curves, BUT not all manufacturers use the same numbers. Don't assume that brand X's "R3" will be the same as brand Y's "R3." ALWAYS check the actual measurement.

Note B: Determine whether that measurement is referencing the radius or diameter of the curve. Again, mixed bag, and some manufacturers have been known to use them both.

2) Most switches from the major players (LGB, Piko, USA, Switchcrafters, etc.) will hold up well to freeze/thaw cycles. Since you're planning on elevating your railroad, they'll be on a base of some kind, which will also help their longevity.

3) If you have back issues, then elevated is definitely the way to go. Many folks use the concrete block post supports and 4x4 posts as a foundation, as this does not require digging a bunch of post holes. Many live steam enthusiasts build elevated railroads; I'd perhaps ask in the Live Steam forum how folks have built their tracks. If you want scenery to surround your trains, consider building planter boxes instead of just a flat table.

4) There's no such thing as "too big." ;) Well, it needs to fit around your curves. That's your only limitation. As I stated above, a 4' minimum radius will work with 90% of what's out there. The 10% would be large live steam locos which may require 8 - 10' minimum radius. But--again--whether it fits and whether it looks good are two different things. The latter is a matter of personal opinion.

Having said that, there's also the matter of visual balance with regard to the space available for the railroad. Larger locomotives may tend to visually overpower your railroad depending on how it's built/landscaped. For instance, my railroad has 6' radius minimum curves, and runs the perimeter of my 30' x 65' back yard. On paper, that looks suitable for pretty much anything. I find, however, that larger locomotives tend to visually overpower the scenes I have set up along the line. My passing sidings are between 10' - 12' long, so a 4' long locomotive will take up nearly half of the siding just by itself. Smaller locomotives (between 2' - 3' maximum) give a much better visual balance to the landscape. Purely subjective; you'll have to build your railroad and determine what looks proper to your own eyes.

5) "Good" and "bad" has different meanings to different people. Some are fiercely brand loyal or equally vehemently opposed to a given brand regardless of actual quality. Some like certain types of locos to the exclusion of others (steam vs. diesel, etc.) My advice - find a locomotive you are interested in, then ask specifically about that locomotive. Every manufacturer has produced great locos and dogs alike. Pretty much everything out there is a known commodity, and in most cases the weaknesses can be fixed one way or the other.

6) I wouldn't limit myself to just two brands. So long as the rail is the same size (most manufacturers use code 332 rail), then the track is interchangeable. I find Piko, LGB, and TrainLine45 track to be very good. They also use the same (or nearly similar) brass alloy and have ties which are similar in size. Aristocraft track is also common on the used market, but they are no longer in business. USA Trains also makes track, but for some reason has never carved out too much market share. Bachmann makes two kinds of track. Their brass track is good, their steel track (included in their starter sets) is good for display, but not much else.

Hopefully this will get you going, and welcome aboard.

Later,

K
 

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Since you selected LGB track, you will find that the USA trains and Aristo of old are black ties and a brighter brass color. Trainli track is brown ties and similiar brass color as LGB. OF course after many years outdoors, brass gets to be a dark brown, it just takes longer for the bright track to do this.


Also there is a tie type difference between all the manufacturers.
 

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Actually the USAT is black, the Aristo dark brown but still brown, and the LGB lighter brown.


After the track is ballasted much of this disappears though.


Stick with clamps and use whatever fits your budget.


Greg
 

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If by R3 you mean 8' diameter then, as others have said, most everything will at least run on it. However longer passenger cars like the heavyweights are probably going to look a bit silly. I run a lot of smaller trains, think Porters and Stainz, with two axle cars and they look lost on my larger loops so I have another line that is all 5' diameter curves.

I am partial to the USA Trains curved track over LGB. If you take the factory joiners off to use clamps the LGB track the rail is free to slide around on the ties where the USA track is screwed to its ties.

Edited to fix type
 

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Sophie,
8 inch diameter is awfully tight!
Maybe it's 8 foot diameter, 4 foot radius!
Stay safe,
David leech, Delta, Canada
 

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Sophie,
8 inch diameter is awfully tight!
Maybe it's 8 foot diameter, 4 foot radius!
Stay safe,
David leech, Delta, Canada
Oops. This isn't the T Gauge forums? <laugh> Edited to fix diameter that's even a bit small for me.
 

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So, to agree here, 8 foot diameter will allow small trains and most locos, but not a "vast array"...


Don't try long trains if you have grades, don't try the 60' cars like the car carriers, super long box cars, SD70, Dash-9 etc.


Simply moving to 10' diameter curves minimum will make a huge difference. Even on perfectly flat track, the longer locos will give you issues on 8' diameter curves.


Don't limit yourself, do it right the first time. Can't tell you how many people wished they went the larger curves, and after all the track is down, would you throw all the curves away, do all the work to re-grade and install 10'? NO you would not.


If you want the "vast array", then go at least 10' diameter.



Do it right the first time...


Greg
 

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My outdoor railway has 10' diameter curves as I enjoy live steam operation and this is the min radius for many locomotives. I did away with track powered trains several years ago and put onboard battery power in my LGB, Kalamazoo, Bachmann and USA locomotives. All I have to do is clear the line of any leaves/sticks and I can run trains. NO worries about track joints, cleaning rails or the added expense of rail clamps. My railway is raised as I am getting real close to the big 50 and do not care to be bent over or squat to put trains on the track. My railway goes from waist height to nearly chest height as it stays level as the ground slopes away. I also put my railway under a large shade tree to help with the hot Indiana sun as I work 2nd shift, so mid day/early afternoon is when I enjoy my trains. All of my buildings, switch lanterns and such are lighted using a dusk to dawn power pack for outdoor path lights. Many times I will run a train around 1 to 2 am after I get off work, so having everything lighted adds to the experience. Mike
Here is a pic right after the railway was built

Here is a pic of my Aster live steam Shay in front of the engine house
 
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