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So I really just got interested in the model railroad hobby after I found out that Large Scale trains existed. I have what is considered a large scale playmobil train from 1988 or something and have loved it for 20 years now. I never knew this was an actual hobby though!

My problem is that I have no space and no money (thanks Gov. Kaine!). I thought maybe N Scale would be good as they are cheap and require little space. Since I am a big computer guy, I figured I could do the programming and automation I wanted to do with the large scale trains including. So I went to a few train shows and looked at a bunch of stuff online and I must say, N Scale just doesn't cut it for me. The "Wow" factor just isn't there for a train that sounds like an annoying bug as it goes by. I also feel the main appeal for G Scale is that you are outdoors and can incorporate nature with your layout.


I was wondering if anyone else had this kind of issue sometime in their life and what did they do. Should I just hold out and perhaps help other fellow g scalers until I have the space and money or should I suck it up and get n scale for the time being?
 

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Sigh! I UNDERSTAND completely! Small trains are sure nice, but they just didn't hack it for me. I HAD to wait until I could get what I REALLY wanted when I could afford it (and I certainly pushed the envelope in that end of things!) I wanted Live Steam on only a certain "style" of Live Steam would work for me. $4,000 for an engine and another $1,000 for track and sundries to run it on made for a BIG step, but I am certainly glad I did it.

You just have to really get into your own head and determine what you can be satisfied with and then MAKE it happen. N, HO and O all have some pretty neat stuff available and if you get your head right down next to it, it can look pretty big!

Is it only Engines you are interested in? Whole Trains? Lots of scenery? Operations? Full "modeling" of something that is real? Or "fantasy" trains?

All are valid aspects of the hobby and all are really just "playing with trains". But what joy they each, individually or in concert with each other, can be!
 

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You might be surprised at what you can fit in "no space", I have a small lot, but about 450' of track now... it was a challenge, but fun task to accomplish.

Maybe you can "stay" in G scale.

Regards, Greg
 

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Steve,

My reasons for going into LS were several, here's the most important two: LS is BIG. You can see it, detail it, and more easily than other gauges, you can build it without a jeweler's glass. I'd had a huge Lionel layout 30 years ago, but I thought carefully and decided I didn't want to go there again. HO was definitely a no-go, because of the small size. I wanted, more than anything, a scale I could build in.

I can't run outdoors for health reasons. Perhaps that's no issue with you. If so, LS is perfect.

Ultimately, you have to choose.

Les
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the replies. I personally like the outdoor aspect of large scale along with the fact that they are, well, large. You are right about the detailing and just the greater since of realism.

The problem with space is a big one. I own a townhouse which means it has to be indoors or in my garage. This certainly limits me to about a 8 or 10ft radius.

Has anyone tried finding a location to do G Scale such as a museum? I have the VA Science Museum (old train station) here in Richmond...doubt they would let me use their space for a display though.

Snoq Pass, How does N Scale work for you? Is it fun if you really don't "feel" it for anything but G?
 
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Should I just hold out and perhaps help other fellow g scalers until I have the space and money or should I suck it up and get n scale for the time being?


you got a playmobil allready. you could begin by kitbashing these locos and cars. even with little money and little space you can have big fun.
look up the posts from vsmith. he made the smallest G-scale layout, i have ever seen.
start in your garage, buy what you can, use small locos and short cars with R1. while doing that, dream about your future mammoth layout in a laaarge garden.
but, the main thing is: THINK BIG!

ps: playmobil-brassrails combine well with a number of other rails.
 

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Steeeeve,

I had the same questions. As far back as I can remember, HO was the scale I dreamt of having. Space was an issue, then I discovered N scale. According to my "Reason For Life," I hang on to the past, which explains why I have my O27, HO, and N collections from the last 50 years. About a year and a half ago, I discovered G Scale. I was smitten by the large scale, the ability to run outdoors in all weather conditions, as well as having the expanse of the great outdoors (okay, deal is I suck at weathering and scratch building so I thought I could have it all in G scale). My "Reason For Life" tlaked me into buying a house on a little over a half an acre, which I agreed to based on visions of me rail empire. It was my eventual plan to part with my lesser scales, until I had my garage moment. My garage moment entailed the realization that I oculd have my scales and run them too. I will run a "test" track in G scale around the perimeter, about 20 inches down from the ceiling, with HO next to it, and the N scale inside the loop. This will give me the best of the past and the future, while feeding my need to run trains inside while I figure out what I will do outside (I still need to figure out what to do with the O27, even if it means running it up with the others). I may be hanging on to the little scales for sentimentality, but I see my future in G scale and I can hardly wait.

Phil
 

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Steve,

If you like the large scale stuff you already have, I'd suggest you stick with it. There's no sense spending money on stuff that you won't enjoy.

Take a look at this site. Micro/Small Layouts I think you'll be surprised at how much you can get into a very small space. Just keep your expectations realistic - you're not going to run a prototypically correct Empire Builder or 200 car coal drag on a shalf layout, but you can have a lot of operation and fun by keeping the size of your equipment proportional to the space you have available.


And remember, have fun!
 

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You should join (or at least attend) a garden RR club or Society... (most clubs welcome non-members to visit and enjoy watching trains... some visit so often they are considered members even though they don't pay dues) Here in Eastern Iowa, the Cedar Valley Garden Railway Society, I would guess that less than half of the "active" members actually have track on the ground (or elevated or in the basement or garage either) Some have an engine or two and maybe some cars or some scenary components, but many don't have anything but a "desire".
 

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Try a narrow, out and back, line with some live plants. You could even hang it from the railing of a balcony using planter brackets. This would be impressive AND small! When the nice weather is over it could be moved inside as a shelf layout or suspended layout.

I know one guy who wanted a large bridge. So he started the whole layout with a single large bridge.

If you want to have two tracks or a yard arrangement you might consider Large Scale Modules. The legs fold and they could be stored under a bed (less the buildings or tall scenery of course).

Make a deal with someone with space. Set terms that make it fun for you. Don't limit your thinking. Hospitals, nursing and retirement homes activities directors would love something like this.

I have N and G (as do many of my modeling friends). Each has its advantages. The key is that they are fun. Let us know what aspects you enjoy.
 

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hehe


I'm the definition of that situation! I live in a motel room. My track is in a storage locker along with almost everything else I own.
My long passenger train decorates a book store. My short passenger train is usually in a tub under the credenza in my office and my mallet occupies a piece of track on the credenza. My employer graciously allows me to occupy a shelf in the back room.

I do my railroading at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

There's a 3ft diameter table in my office, I've tought about getting Aristo's 24 inch track circle and putting an 0-4-0 on it.
 

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Before I had the house, I lived in a variety of apartments.

Temporary layouts around the living room can be fun. They are easy to set up and take down. Another option is to rip a 1" x 4" board in to 4" squares, and set up tracks temporarily in the grass. I did this to run trains in my garden apartment. Never left the tracks out, but it was set up and taken down quickly.

My first apartment I set up a lionel O gauge layout on the floor. That was fun for a long time. Then, I set up a G scale on the floor, which was also fun. Living by myself, I did whatever I pleased!!

I still do temporary layouts in the basement on the floor. I like them because I can do whatever for a while then change it when I get bored.

Temporary tables can be set up in the garage or get invovled with a modular group.

Mark
 

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I run indoor with 6.5' daim Curves on my mainline and 5'diam curves on my inner loop...
All my switches are 4' diam...
My layout is 12x24 approx with 2 main loops... a few sidings and a small yard...

You would be surprised how much stuff you can fit if the layout is planned well...

And... good N scale stuff costs as much as G scale...

A good N scale hopper would be in the $30-40 range...
You can get G scale ones for under $50 if you look...

I would stick with the G... do a small indoor layout and when you move... expand outside...

By the way on the 6.5 and 5' diam curves I run the following with no roblems...

Pacific, 0-4-0, LGB 2-4-0, Critter, GP7/9, GP38, GP40, FA, RS3, U Boats...

most 4 axle locos will should run fine..

Philip
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I like the idea of finding a place to have my large scale layout. A childrens hospital or Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens or the Science Museum of VA all seem like good choices. This gets me the outdoors I want (well maybe no the hospital but it would be a good cause) and I get my G-Scale layout.

For those that do this, did you get funding or is it your stuff and you just get to use the space? Meaning if you leave you take it with you.
 

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Out here in Denver, we have a fair number of club members who are "spacially limited." Some build small shelf-type switching railroads, and use the mining-type equipment. Some collect and build larger models, and run them on others' railroads or the club's various public displays. We also have the advantage of the permanent club display at the Colorado Railroad Museum, which serves to fill the void as well.

I don't know off the top of my head if there is a group in Richmond, but both the DC area and Tidewater area have very active large scale clubs. If there's not a group in the Richmond area, I'm almost positive there are members in either of these other two groups who live in the region. I have yet to meet a garden railroader who doesn't enjoy company, so I have no doubt that you'll be able to find an outlet for your garden railroading.

As for a single-person public display, I'd be a bit leery of committing to something of that magnitude. On our individual back-yard empires, if circumstances crop up to keep us from the railroad for weeks or months at a time, there's no harm done. A public display garden needs to be maintained constantly, and that kind of "scheduled" committment--even to a hobby--can quickly lead to burn-out. I'm not trying to scare you off from the notion, just providing a bit of perspective.

Later,

K
 

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I'm surprised Rocky has not chimed in here. Talk about a drastic change. He also lived in an environment that forced him to quit for a while but now he is back and doing a small out door at his condo. Where there is a will there is a way. Later RJD
 

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You mentioned you have a garage. If you're willing to sacrifice garage space for the railroad, you're on your way.

If you're still looking for larger, wide open outdoor space maybe you can make a deal for someone else's property. I've done this kind of shopping for space for a local train group. It's not easy, if you basically want it for free. Patience can be rewarded. It's a like like kissing frogs. It's unpleasant to start, but great when you find a prince. They're out there, so it's worth looking.

Personally, I wouldn't give away my equipment, buildings, track, or plants, if I'm already providing my time for free. Usually, the property owner wouldn't know what to do with them anyway.

I strongly suggest that you get a signed agreement that makes certain things crystal clear. More than one club has been badly burned when their space changed owners or life happened. A lease can make ALL the difference. It can be a simple two page agreement that says what you agreed to in plain words (that can't be twisted later), or as complex as you wish.

I'll start the ball rolling below.

It sounds a little formal and harsh, but it can save you when you need it most.[I've seen the anguish not having a written agreement has caused grown men after working on a model railroad for years.] Think in terms of your worst enemy kicking you when you are down. When writing the contract, "hope for the best, prepare for the worst". Leave no wiggle room.

Actually, property owners are rarely your enemy. They just think you're a little crazy and want to sell their property or expand the parking lot or building. Trains are OK, until things change. Usually, they just don't get trains and have a totally different agenda.[ Make sure the lease is binding on the current owner, its agents (owner's puppets), successors (the next guy), lenders (if he goes broke), and assigns (also the next guy).]

You might even want to put it in the form of a ground lease that says they give you permission to enter into the property at any time and occupy and use it for the purpose of preparing and operating a model railroad display, and activities related to that. Specifically mention access to electricity, bathrooms, storage, parking, pesticides, drainage, and possible plantings or changes in the soil. The lease could be in exchange for some small fee such as $12 dollars per year for 10 years, payable annually.[This is a bargain price for space, but it's real too. All deals relating to real estate must be in writing to be legally enforceable.] [Make sure to send a good check with the memo part filled in, certified mail return receipt requested. Keep the cashed checks and signed C.R.R. cards to maintain a record of payments.] You could also open the layout two times a year for display for their employees, members, or public as they choose. Make clear it would be opened on dates and such time as you will set in consultation with them. [Also make clear the rest of the time is yours and they do NOT have the right to have visitors come in.] They may waive having an open display date at their option and shall give you 30 days written notice in advance if they plan to do so. [So they can't blame you and break the lease] [Add any such letter to your permanent file.] The display will be "As Is", "Where is", and reflect the current state of work based on your own schedule and designs. [The "don't rush me, this is a hobby" clause.] The layout may be changed from time to time in your sole discretion. [The "I'm an artist" clause.] [Take dated photos of visitors and add them to your files.] Make sure Lease is automatically renewable and extendable at the same rate and terms for two more 10 year periods. [Or some other agreeable automatic renewals.] [Yes, thirty years. You'd be amazed what how long these things can go on. One club in our area regretted not making their deal even longer.] All equipment, track, and other improvements are and will always remain your property. At the end of the lease you will remove your track, buildings, equipment, and plants, but not the gravel or soil. You will have your own equipment insurance for fire, theft, and vandalism. They will provide liability insurance for you and all visitors. Throughout the lease they will provide security and lighting equal to the rest of the public areas of their facility. In the event of a dispute the dispute shall go to American Arbitration Association arbitrator according to their rules, and the result will be binding and enforceable in local court. (This could save months and months of delays in some some Court calendars.)

This will show the property owner that you are serious about this relationship and most business-people would rather know what to expect than wonder if there's going to be a bunch of disagreements later.

It all sounds a little scarey, but can work out very well. And you can have years of fun! :)" align="absmiddle" border="0" />
 

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Please expalin, how much area do you actually have? I'm also space challenged, and have gotten very adept at small layout planning.

I'm in the garage along the back walls. But all you need is the will to do it,


heres a 3' square portable I built:

 
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