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Friday, August 7, 2015

A different scale

By Mike Lafond
Track Owner:Mike Lafond
Live Steamer/ Father: Paul Lafond
The track is all home made with 1/8 by 3/8 cold rolled steel.  There are two generations of track design.  The first is largely hand made with slots cut in the ties for proper gauge.  This caused a derailment issue on Friday because track movement had caused a tight spot in one location and a lose spot in another between the steel slotted ties.  The second generation of track uses laser cut steel roadbed with the rail welded on.  Very reliable, but it doesn’t look much like track.
Garden size model railroads are anarchy when it comes to scale.  All the various scales of garden railroad run on one gauge of track and that is 1 ¾”.  This is standard gauge for 1:32 scale trains.  Simple right? Well, not so fast.  1:32 scale standard gauge trains have been popular in Europe for a long time. When people wanted to run narrow gauge trains instead of staying with the scale and creating an appropriate gauge track like for instance HO is 1:87 scale and so is HOn3, they made the scale larger and stayed with the gauge like for instance HO and On30.  Unfortunately, the early days of mass garden railroading were for the most part ruled by LGB (a German company) who modeled European narrow gauge trains that used a scale of 1:22.5.  This was fine for what they were doing, but when demand for North American narrow gauge prototypes began to build they offered a small 2-6-0 steamer to the same scale as their other products.  This set in motion the anarchy that was to become garden railroading, because the 2-6-0 was to the wrong scale for the gauge, it should have been 1:20.3.  If it had been built to the correct scale the loco would have seemed quite large.  Demand then began to grow for standard gauge North American prototypes.  However many people had a hodge podge of European /North American  LGB narrow gauge equipment and didn’t want to just dump it all and replace it with what at the time was virtually non existant 1:32 scale models, so Aristocraftjumped into the market with 1:29 scale standard gauge models.  These are standard gauge models made to a strange scale so that the models are close enough in size to that of the narrow gauge trains that the two can be run together without the size difference being jarring.  Eventually demand grew from purists who wanted true scale standard gauge and narrow gauge trains.  These are now both well served markets and the people who bought the odd scale stuff are out of luck as both companies (LGB and Aristocraft) have gone out of business.  
This is where Mike’s and Paul’s equipment comes in.  They are running 1:20.3 F scale 3 foot narrow gauge trains modeled after Southwestern US prototypes.  Mike’s train consists of highly modified Bachmann ten wheeler that is battery powered, radio controlled DCC.  The only parts on the loco that haven’t been rebuilt are the domes and the headlight.  The two passenger cars are completely scratch built from laser cut polystyrene.  The trucks are completely scratch built as well.
Paul’s  live steam loco is a 4-4-0 made by Accucraft.  He modified it with radio control so that he can control the forward/reverse and throttle.  It is butane powered, and runs about twenty minutes on one fill.  He also has a live steam 2-6-0 and a Bachmann battery powered K-27.
adding water
Mike loading cars
live steam 4-4-0
Paul shutting engine down
Mike's 10 wheeler
scratch built passenger car
scratch built baggage car

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