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First Look Review
Garden Railway Basics
Garden Railway Basics, From concept to construction to upkeep
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

Garden Railway Basics
From concept to construction to upkeep
Author: Kevin Strong
Format: Softcover; 8 1/4 x 10 3/4
Length: 96 pages
ISBN: 9780890248355

Unless model railroaders want to venture into live steam and inch-to-foot scales, nothing provides the heft and conveys authentic mass like garden railroads. It is hard to beat the scenery potential as many miniature plants scale nicely to this modeling genre. Many of the photos of these models in this title will make you take another look to discern that it is not a full-size train. Garden railroading also allows people to combine the joy of model railroading with the beauty of fresh air and sculpted yards.

Outdoor model railroads do present challenges not faced by traditional model railroaders, such as animal droppings fouling the line (Although I met a modeler who often had to suspend operation on his HO layout to clean big mangled wolf spiders out of his track and locomotives!) and chance of being electrocuted if it is wet outside. Indeed, outdoor railroaders must contend with track shifting as the seasons change and weeds sprout, real life wash-outs after hard rains, fallen branches and heat kinks - just like 1/1 scale railroads!

Garden Railway Basics is brought to you through 95 pages in 12 sections and chapters:
    11. GLOSSARY

Author Kevin Strong writes in a personable manner that is easy to follow and learn from. The text is comprehensive and easy to follow. As a veteran garden railroader he relates ideas about how to get started, where to buy, who to mentor.

The joys and history of standard vs. narrow gauge track is explored. As is scale and gauge. 'Garden railroading' - commonly called 'G gauge', encompasses several 'main' scales from 1/32 to 1/20:3. This is discussed and illustrated to warn the G-gauger to be wary of scales.

Power is a fun chapter. G scale can run with electricity by battery or track power, or by steam and even wind-up springs! Quite a number of pages are devoted to powering the train. The arcanum of electricity discomforts me so I appreciate his useful explanation of how the magic occurs and how to harness it. Included is how to used DDC or radio CCC (Command Control communicate). All the pleasures of DCC can be enjoyed in G. Mr. Strong demonstrates installing and tweaking control and sound systems.

What will your trains run on but track, of course. Pros and problems of planning and placing your pike are discussed. Raised or ground level; through woods; terraced yards, so many possibilities. Calculation of grades is discussed, as is surveying. How to dig and build the roadbed and physical plant is discussed in detail. As is selection flora for 'ya layout.

Next the author delves into how to run your model railway: prototype or freelance? Do you like to operate or play with trains. What is the purpose of a real railroad and how can you simulate one? Read on! How to create a manifest and switch list is shown. You will find many good ideas to make your G rail empire even more enjoyable.

Tools for building and tools for maintaining take up a good sized chapter, as does the part about laying track. Aligning, stabilizing, setting out track, these are necessary skills to make your train run its best. He also demonstrates how to protect your wiring and roadbed.

Protecting and maintaining your rolling stock is important and the author devotes a chapter to it; check those coupler heights! Are your wheel gauged too tight? There’s an easy way to correct that which is demonstrated.

So everything is running well. Proper track upkeep helps keep it that away and Mr. Strong shows you how. Track gauges and levels are very important. You will learn different types of switches and how to tweak them for best operation.

Finally, several pages contain a good glossary so that we can all speak the same language.

Graphics, art, photographs
Strong photographic support enhances the text. Advertised are 250 color photographs! These are supplemented with several vintage prototype black-and-white photos used for reference material. Those demonstrate a variety of concepts such as the size of a narrow gauge box car next to a standard gauge one – also shown in model form. These should inspire modelers as a section of four such images are used to illustrate just that.

There is plenty of artwork, both color and black-and-white. These illustrate, among other things: electrical and wiring concepts; track planning; three types of sub roadbed; operating and switching planning.

G is an amazing scale. In images it can be tricky to tell a photo of a large scale model from a life-size prototype. Garden railroads convey the heft and mass of prototype, too. It can help combine family outdoor hobbies with model railroading and be fun for the family. Yet garden railroading now has the flexibility for operating sessions with friends and clubs.

I find this book to be a great resource for model railroaders in general and garden railroaders in particular. It is very well written, efficiently laid out, smartly presented, and illustrated with good graphics and excellent photography. I think it strikes a concise balance between delivering knowledge and readability. I have no complains of consequence and happily recommend it.
Highs: Well written, efficiently laid out, smartly presented, and illustrated with good graphics and excellent photography.
Verdict: I think it strikes a concise balance between delivering knowledge and readability.
  Scale: G Gauge
  Mfg. ID: 9780890248355
  Suggested Retail: $19.95
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Apr 30, 2013

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2020 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. All rights reserved.


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