The Fascination of Large Scale Model Railways

Gartenbahn-Werkstatttranslates to “Garden Railroad Workshop” and is Germany’s only bi-lingual model engineering magazine. We focus on model railways of a scale large enough for the constructor to be able to ride on or behind his own locomotive.

The range of gauges is from 3½" (¾" scale) to 5" (1" scale) through to 7¼" (1.5" scale). Although railways with the gauges of 2½", 4¾" and 7½" play no role in Germany, the principles shown in our technical articles are as equally applicable to, say,  4¾" as they are to 5". On 7¼" gauge, models up to 4" scale are possible if two-foot prototype vehicles are considered. This can make for locomotives weighing more than one metric tonne.

Common to all the model railways covered in this magazine is the ability to have people riding on them. Starting from 4¾" gauge, passenger trains made up of special carriages with seating are usual. This sort of railway is sometimes referred to as a park railway, a miniature railway or a fairground railway, and may employ gauges up to 18". Trains of this size are also occasionally covered in Gartenbahn-Werkstatt.

Most of the locomotives used on these railways are steam powered, working just like the prototypes. This we call “Live Steam”, which has become a synonym for all large scale model railway engineering. A good number of locomotives are, however, driven by an electric motor or a combustion engine. This is all part of the scene, as well as the prototypical coaches and wagons constructed to form the best possible model trains.

Where do these railways operate? Some Live Steamers have their own tracks, circling around their homes or properties. More accessible to the public are the Live Steam clubs which own club layouts and regularly offer public running days. Such clubs also serve as a community for modellers where technical advice can be shared as well as providing access to machinery that individual model engineers may not have at hand in their own workshops.

You can easily buy a ready-to-run locomotive if you are willing to spend the money, but scratch building something of your own from iron or steel is much more challenging and satisfying, particularly once it is up and running. Gartenbahn-Werkstattfocusses on precisely this almost euphoric feeling. We cannot teach you how to operate a lathe or a milling machine in our pages, but we can give you some ideas and show you some ways to use your own skills to manufacture the valve gear of a locomotive or even to build a boiler. Intrigued? Come and join us.