This page is written for someone who is considering getting started in Garden Railroading. It contains my personal opinions of the essential steps to get off on the right foot. It covers the basics. It covers the minimums. Hopefully, if you follow this advice, you won't go wrong and you will go on to a lifetime of garden railroading.
My first piece of advice is to make sure that the track, locomotive and freight cars you purchase are all from LGB. LGB is the leading manufacturer in G Scale, and their equipment is fantastic. If you only remember one thing when you go into the Hobby Shop, remember to buy from LGB. As you get more into the hobby you will find that there are other great manufactures out there, but stick with LGB in the beginning.
LGB equipment is manufactured in Germany, and much of it has a European look. If you like that look, fine. If not, just look closely. Much American equipment is available from LGB. Just pay attention to what you are buying. You should have no trouble finding American looking locomotives and freight cars with just the slightest effort.
I usually am not in favor of buying beginner sets. Sets are often not a good buy. However, LGB sells several beginner sets in the $250 range that are quite acceptable. Avoid Bachmann starter sets. LGB starter sets are ok because they contain LGB locomotives, freight cars and track. Bachmann makes a great line of G Scale locomotives called the Spectrum line. However, their starter kits do not contain these engines.
The most important item needed is track. LGB track is not cheap. But cheap track will be a constant source of irritation and will end up being replaced anyway, if it doesn't make you give up the hobby altogether. My strong advice is to buy LGB Brand track. It is the best track available. It can take abuse and it will last forever. Other track is available for less money, but don't buy it. Everything depends on the track.
Also, we must address the matter of curve diameter. LGB track comes in three diameters: four foot (LGB Part Number 1100), five foot (LGB Part number 1500) and eight foot (LGB Part Number 1600). Although LGB manufactures its equipment to work on even the sharp curves of 1100 track, please avoid buying the four foot diameter track. Even five foot diameter track (1500) will perform much better. Go with the eight foot diameter if you have the space. Your trains will look better and perform better on the larger diameter curves.
Expect to pay around $3.00 to $4.00 per foot for the track.
The next thing you will need is a locomotive to haul the freight cars. LGB locomotives start at around $200. They will give you lasting satisfaction, even if you only run them at Christmas. Of course, you can spend over a thousand dollars for a locomotive with digital sound, but the short engines I am recommending will always be worthwhile, even as you acquire more loco's in the future.
You will also need freight cars. LGB freight cars run from $50 to $l00. They are substantial. Their parts are rugged and they have sufficient weight to stay on the track. I recommend gondolas and box cars for your first purchases.
A power pack is needed to provide electricity to the rails. LGB power packs are excellent, but expensive. I recommend you get a MRC 6200 power pack. It is rated for G Scale and should run around 65 to 80 dollars. It is a lifetime investment you will not regret. MRC power packs are widely available, but make sure whatever power pack you get is designed for G Scale trains.
Well, there you have it. Get some LGB feeder wires (LGB part Number 5016) to bring the power from the pack to the rails and you have what you need to get started. And just as importantly, you have quality equipment that won't make you cuss, and will work without hassle for years. Welcome to G Scale.
Last revised October 28, 2001
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