Large scale trains, also known as G scale trains, are one of the biggest model trains on the market.
These model trains are built for their added strength and durability because plenty of people like to run them outdoors due to their size!
They run at a 1:22.5 ratio to a full train and have a track gauge of nearly 2 inches! The size of the locomotive is adjusted according to this spacing.
Modern American trains and some European ones are mimicking the same standards. Some common names in G scale Manufacturing include Lehmann Gross Bahn, better known as LGB, as well as Aristo-Crafts, USA Trains and Piko as well!
But what does that all mean? Let’s take a better look at one of the most impressive scales of model trains!
What are G Scale Trains?
G scale trains were initially introduced by a company called Ernst Paul Lehmann Patentwerk in Germany in 1978. Called the Lehmann Gross Bahn, or the Lehman Big Train (LGB), they produced them up until 2006.
After a tumultuous few years, Lehmann Patentwerk declared bankruptcy and was eventually acquired by Marklin Trains, who have continued to produce them ever since.
They’re so big that a lot of people have to build them outside, which is why they’re commonly referred to as Garden Scale trains. In reality, the G comes from the German word “gros or groß” meaning big.
To build a G scale layout, the first thing you have to do is work out the kind of setting you want to create. For most people, this means that you’re going to be putting it outside in some way, like in your garden, or even out in your garage for more space!
This means that on top of thinking with different accessories and buildings you can add to your scene, you might also like to think about interacting with the landscape in some way.
Run it through your flower beds, build small hills out of the ground, etc. Stuff like this can really help to add a wow factor on a limited budget!
What is G scale
The distance between the rails is called a gauge whether on real railways or on a toy train, but a scale is the actual size of the train itself.
Scale trains are built to illustrate a real train as accurately as possible, although sometimes the gauge will be standard or slightly more narrow depending on the model of the train and the manufacturer.
G scale trains are built at a 1:22.5 ratio of a model train to the real thing. This means that the model train is 22.5 times smaller than the real thing.
Even though it doesn’t sound like it, that means these model trains are actually really big! The average train is about 4-5 meters tall, so shrunk down in G scale, they’re still 7-8 inches tall!
In comparison, the most popular model HO, is built at 1:87 so they’re tiny in comparison to!
In G scale production, manufacturers focus on how the trained model operates because they’re often used in outdoor settings and aren’t on a flat track like you usually find with other model trains.
What Is G Gauge?
The standard gauge in G scale trains is 1.772 inches or 45 mm across, as is proportionate to a ratio of 1:22.5 which is how LGB originally made them. This means that in real life, the track is about 4ft across!
Something to bare in mind however is that some manufactures in G scale are a bit of a wildcard, and some will make different gauges for different models! Confusing, I know!
MTH and early USA Trains are at 1:32 while some Bachmann and Accucraft are only at 1:20. So you just need to make sure that if you’re planning on running a lot of different locomotives, try and get them with the same gauge, so you won’t need a lot of different track sizes.
What Size are G Scale Figures?
Because everything is at about 1:22 scale, if you take a 6ft person (184cm) and shrink them down to G scale, they’ll stand approximately 8cm or 3 inches tall. Plenty big enough for painting even the smallest details!
Are All G Scale Trains the Same?
At the basic level, most G Scale trains work the same way. They are similar to indoor railway models and even include turnouts and turntables. However, they require special attention because they can be exposed to harsh weather conditions.
These models are constructed to withstand sunlight, water, dirt, and even wildlife and also to cover large distances. So, the electrical resistance must be stronger too as there is a high possibility of the power dropping towards the end.
To tackle this issue, some models use RC car parts like rechargeable batteries to help them depending on the size of the line. Some try to copy real steam locomotives and use live steam. Generating the steam can be quite tricky though and is probably best left to an intermediate-pro level train enthusiast.
The steam can come from solid messy pellets and even Sterno-fuel. Some burn butane gas like coal burners do.
How to make a G Scale Layout
The better you design your scenes and settings and the more details you use in your work the more your train layout becomes life-like and realistic. Even if you don’t come up with an amazing setting people will still enjoy seeing a huge train model on a railway anyway, so don’t stress.
You also need to make sure that there is a level of cohesiveness with your trains, your landscape, and your scenery. For example, if you place a very old G scale train in a neighbourhood with a modern context, the contrast could be interesting and still makes sense. But a brand new bullet train in a wild west setting makes zero sense and will break the immersion.
Apart from that, you also need to make sure that your garden scale train operates perfectly at all times. If you need to fix a problem you shouldn’t hesitate!
This can be things like if you end up with some dirt from your garden blocking the track, or if other natural elements have caused a problem.
Something else you need to consider while making your train layout is to make sure that the scenery, especially the buildings and figures, is sturdy.
You don’t want anything fallen apart while you’re showing off your model, or even worse, having something falling and damaging your pride and joy train!
What products should you build your g scale train layout with?
The material that you can use in your craft is aluminium, plastic, cardboard, paper, wood steel or damn near anything else you can think of. Because you’re primarily building your G scale train outdoors, you want to use materials that are going to stand the test of time and anything the weather can throw at it. That’s why we’d recommend using wood or metal as a base material for your tracks.
You must carefully use outdoor strength glue to fasten the joints together to make sure they stay that way. You can also use either screws or nails depending on your design or your choice of material.
When you are building a G scale train model you need to realize that because the model is big, the details will be more visible. That means that you need to take greater care when putting everything together or it’ll be really noticeable if you make any mistakes.
What Voltage are G scale trains?
If you’re building G scale train models, you can use 16 volts at maximum throttle. To run your G scale model you can use between 10 and 18 volts to operate your train. This is the voltage used in most trains and is also suitable for your G scale model.
So, the voltage varies from zero which is when the train is not moving, and 16 at its maximum speed. There are many more electrical components that you need to consider while you are designing your model. If you forget about the wires you will have problems with the design later on and may have to remove parts of your track to put them in. Lighting both in your train and around your track can be especially eye-catching and look amazing!. But remember that you need to provide supplies for outdoor areas, especially if it rains or snows! So set your electronics up accordingly.
You need to think before you start the production about how you’ll use power to operate your train. So, you need to place all your power supplies, cords, and everything else that is necessary for this layout in a safe, dry space.
G scale Brands and Manufacturers
- Train World: They offer a very wide range of G scale trains. You can go through the products one by one and choose a ready to run a model. The products are also budget friendly for those who have limitations. great quality and reasonable costs make this manufacturer a very good option for someone who has started a train modelling hobby.
- LGB: Lehmann Gross Bahn cut their teeth making products that are based on 1:22.5 scale. They offer many different model trains with different scales but the dominant one is G scale. Most of the products are based on European prototypes as well as a range of US products. If you are going to start your model train hobby this company is great for you because they offer journals, experiences, clubs and many other starting points.
- Euro Rail Hobbies: This is one of the most popular and largest manufacturers to ever produce G scale train models. They also offer products for traditional indoor layouts.
This includes scenery, models, locomotives and building materials.
- Reynaulds: They offer G scale model trains with the best quality among manufacturers in the world. You can find nearly any item you need whether it’s the G scale locomotives themselves or items for the layout. If you are a new hobby train modeller and you want to make your first G scale train layout, this company is one of your best options.
Can You Get Lego G Scale Train Sets?
Unfortunately, you cannot. Lego Trains like the 60052 Cargo Train are not compatible with LGB’s G scale.
You can look into the L gauge instead which is a Lego-specific scale and gauge for lego enthusiasts.
However, you can create almost anything with Legos! So if you are willing to build a train from scratch with little direction, go for it! The only thing to keep in mind is that your minifigs are going to be relatively small in comparison.
Can G scale trains be used outdoors?
The best reason to use G Scale for outdoor use is its size. That goes without saying.
But because of this, it also means that manufacturers have spent the last 50+ years with G scale in mind for outdoor use.
So they’ve had plenty of time to make not only the locomotives but also all the tracks, scenery, and supplies weatherproof and ready to go.
Gardens are an integral part of G scale trains – plants are a common companion to these garden railways. Some users even utilize bonsai techniques to elevate the aesthetic!
Buildings are also a common sight – they require careful attention because the materials used must withstand the weather.
You can find ponds, tunnels, and even mountains as well. This is where you really let your creativity shine!
Something to keep in mind is that tunnels can prove to have their own challenges however – raccoons or other critters might invite themselves to hide in them to hibernate or nest.
If you own a lot of scale model trains, the scale you are going to use will be according to the space you can provide for them. So if you’ve got a nice outdoor area that you think will work, it would be a great time to start thinking about a G scale model train layout!
Check out our post here to learn more about other scales of model trains!
Or this one if you want to jump straight into the best brands of model trains!
Peter has been building model trains for longer than he can remember. An avid fan of HO and O scale this blog is a creative outlet to allow him to dive further into other scales and aspects of the model train community and hobby.