Planning a G scale outdoor model railroad is not as complicated as it may seem. Like any project there are challenges, but there are also many resources available to help someone new to the hobby. All it takes are basic skills and common sense to achieve a great first railroad. Let's get started!
First Steps For a Simple Layout
Planning a garden railroad can be as simple as answering questions like:
- How much space does a garden railroad need?
- What skills and tools are needed to build a garden railroad?
- How much money will a garden railroad cost?
There aren't any absolute answers to these questions since each person's vision of their desired garden railroad is going to differ. There are, however, guiding principles that will apply in most situations.
Space Requirements for a Garden Railroad
The space needed to create a simple garden railroad will depend on the type of trains that will run on it. Using smaller locomotives like those available from LGB or Bachmann will offer more latitude with curves and operating opportunities since they can operate in confined areas. An area as small as 4 feet by 8 feet would be about the minimum size to accommodate these smaller trains.
Using a satellite view of the property courtesy of Google Maps (a free service) we determined that the best track plan for the available space was an oval.
It's important to know the minimum turning radius of your trains — especially the locomotives — when planning the layout. Make sure to allow plenty of room for larger locomotives to make it through turns. The larger the curves the better.
Our goal for this project was to create interest in model railroading within our community, so it made sense to build the railroad in the front yard where others could experience the hobby. That gave us a space approximately 30 feet long by 20 feet wide, with a grade difference of about 10 inches due to the slope of the yard. This is plenty of room to accomplish our goal and run our largest equipment.