[FoRK] and now for something completely different

Strata R. Chalup strata
Mon Oct 24 09:22:06 PDT 2005

On Saturday we went to the train shop, looked at stuff, and then went home and 
dug around on the web to find more FAQs so we could understand what the heck was 
going on.

Let's just say "G scale" is something of a misnomer: there's more than that 
under the hood, but I won't take the time to write it up here.  At least *now* 
we grok the relationship between Gauge 0 and Gauge 1 track and the various 1:N 
ratios that make up 'G scale'.  There's a great PDF chart via trains.com's 
Garden Railways site, and we found more explanatory stuff by digging in Google.

We also know how to match a loco to the rest of the rolling stock in a way that 
makes us happy, and doesn't end up in multi-scale looking dorky, and have 
identified the desired loco and livery.  So that's actually a good set of 

OK, what the heck, lemme write it up a little...

Long ago and far away (across the pond, mostly), folks make 1:32 scale models, 
very detailed, very expensive (thousands of pounds).  These models ran (or sat, 
in display cases) on 45mm track, which corresponds to standard 4'8" track. Wait, 
I hear you say, but Euro track is 4'4".  Shut up, I say, you're muddying the waters.

In the early 60's, a company called LGB said, gee, garden railways are fun, and 
SM45 track (also known as Gauge 1) is big enough that we could make 1:22.5 scale 
stuff that would look like it was scaled on 3-foot narrow gauge, like all those 
nifty Welsh mining railroads and whatnot.  And lo, garden railways became 
affordable and popular.  And that scale began to be known as 'G Scale'.

Then, either AccuCraft or AristoCraft (I think the former), took a look and 
said, hmm, basically there's all this track and side detailing, but you either 
have to get fiendishly expensive collector-quality models or fairly cheap 
toy-quality models.  There's a vastly unexploited niche here!  Now the original 
LGB company had tried to respond to that niche by creating spendier and more 
detailed models, but they had a particular handicap:  they had promised that if 
you went LGB, you would *always* be able to run any of their stuff on your 
existing track.  So when they started modeling rolling stock, which is typically 
much longer than powered stock (locomotives & other movers), they had to munge 
the scale of it so that it could negotiate a 2' radius curve.  Thus the prime 
mover might be in accurate 1:22.5 scale, but the consist was shortened, which 
miffed various purists.

Enter AccuCraft, which realized that they could serve similar track layouts 
(more or less) while getting much more detailed, by changing scale: they started 
using 1:29 scale, which on Gauge 1 track simulates standard gauge rather than 
narrow gauge.   Some mfrs, like USA Trains, commonly go in 1:24 scale, a good 
compromise, but have a 'premium' line which is scaled 1:29 and is more 
accurately modeled from prototype.  For other mfrs, like Bachmann, you gotta 
roll the dice and check the website.

We'll be creating an agricultural branch line similar to ones which ran here in 
Santa Clara in the 1930's - late 1940's.  Unfortunately nobody makes an Alco S1 
or S2 in G scale (it's all HO or N), so we're going to use a plausible, although 
not historically verifiable substitute, an early GE 44-ton switcher.  It was 
*very* popular, since it could handle multiple cars but just squeaked in under 
the 2-man crew limit, so only required 1 engineer as crew.  Much more economical 
for the yard/line.  We can't find any documentation on its use in "the Valley of 
Heart's Delight" in agricultural use, but we'll keep looking, and at least it's 
of the right period.

So here's our sample consist; clicking goes to the info page.

<a href="http://www.usatrains.com/usatrainslocos44ton.html"><img 
src="http://www.usatrains.com/jpg/r22154.jpg" width=200 height=110></a><br>
<a href="http://www.usatrains.com/r16505.html"><img 
src="http://www.usatrains.com/jpg/r16505.jpg" height=110 width=250></a><br>
<a href="http://www.usatrains.com/r16293.html"><img 
src="http://www.usatrains.com/jpg/r16293.jpg" height=120 width=204></a><br>
(and a generic flatcar or two, plus a generic stakebed of the type they used to 
fill with tomatoes).

Any other FoRK'ers into the model RR thing?  Got pix?  (we have none yet, of 
course, just exists on graph paper right now)

Strata R Chalup [KF6NBZ]                         strata "@" virtual.net
Virtual.Net Inc                                  http://www.virtual.net/
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