Outdoor O gauge? Is there a way of weatherproofing O trains to run outside?

658 views
8 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    December 2019
  • 287 posts
Outdoor O gauge? Is there a way of weatherproofing O trains to run outside?
Posted by divebardave on Friday, January 31, 2020 3:09 PM

My budget is limited so I am going with O gauge as I have inherted a O Gauge car fleet of 300 cars and 15 engines

  • Member since
    February 2013
  • 561 posts
Posted by PVT Kanaka on Friday, February 7, 2020 1:50 AM
Divebardave, I have seen photos of O-scale garden railways, so clearly this is "doable." While I have no experience in this myself, I would imagine keeping them out of the rain and dust would be key, as I doubt they are "hardened" to the elements. Still, I opine good maintenance practices good mitigate this. Also, I talked to a fellow once who said sun was an issue on models not designed to be outside, as it embrittled the plastic. I cannot imagine this would be an issue if you brought them inside after the day's operation, though. Eric
  • Member since
    April 2002
  • From: Wisconsin
  • 1,721 posts
Posted by Rene Schweitzer on Friday, February 7, 2020 3:48 PM

In years past, we've run two articles on outdoor O gauge. One guy used Gargraves track installed outdoors running modified Lionel postwar engines and equipment. The track was left outdoors but the models were brought inside after running. 

The other issue is that structures and etc. will have to be either weatherproofed or scratchbuilt because they aren't meant to be left outdoors either. I can't imagine a Menards MDF buliding lasting long outside, but you may be able to put a coat of house paint on a plastic strucure and give it a try.

 

Rene Schweitzer

Classic Toy Trains/Garden Railways/Model Railroader

  • Member since
    November 2011
  • 1,660 posts
Posted by Postwar Paul on Sunday, February 9, 2020 5:17 PM

There was an article in GR back in 2000 with a man in Pennsylvania running Postwar Lionel in the garden. I always loved that article !

It is possible, but another thing to consider: exposed gearing. Many times I have been outside with the G, and a sudden gust of wind has blown leaves or twigs onto the track. The LGB engines have sealed gearboxes, and they will be fine. Many Postwar engines have exposed gears, and may not fair well. If you chose carefully which engines to take outside, you may be o.k. I wanted to build a loop of Lionel outside with this current garden line, but decided to build the cog line instead.

It is possible,and could be a lot of fun! Maybe elevate the track  to keep it debris free?

Paul

the Turbines and Berkshires do not have exposed gears,might be good candidates, for example

  • Member since
    January 2006
  • From: Florida
  • 2,171 posts
Posted by traindaddy1 on Sunday, March 1, 2020 9:28 PM

Hello: A follow-up question along this thread......Mention was made about Gargraves track. Would anyone know if there is a specific brand of 3-rail track designed to be left outside? As always, many thanks.

  • Member since
    November 2011
  • 1,660 posts
Posted by Postwar Paul on Monday, March 2, 2020 11:33 PM

I remember the article from GR with the man running Postwar Lionel outdoors. I still have that magazine, but it's still packed away after moving a year and a half back. I remember he treated the Gargraves ties with something.

But, I think the best bet would be to hand lay some brass rail. No rust.

Also, even some brands of G track are supposed to be UV resistant,but some do much better than others. I have LGB track that is 25 years old, and the ties are only a little faded. Another brand I bought at the same time has no ties left, they crumbled outdoors in the sun.

So, choose materials carefully. I don't think there is 3 rail O gauge track currently manufactured for use outdoors, so, I think hand laying is the way to go.

It is totally possible, but there are many challenges to adapt these trains to use outdoors. It was not part of the original design,so it becomes more difficult. Could be fun, though...

Paul

  • Member since
    February 2013
  • 561 posts
Posted by PVT Kanaka on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 2:18 AM
Depending on the size of the proposed railroad, what about a "horizontal sail" to block the UV? I read here or on Large Scale Central about a fellow who did that for his "G" scale railroad. As I recall, though, he did it for reasons of plants, not plastic! - Eric
  • Member since
    January 2006
  • From: Florida
  • 2,171 posts
Posted by traindaddy1 on Thursday, March 5, 2020 8:48 PM
Thanks, Paul.
  • Member since
    November 2011
  • 1,660 posts
Posted by Postwar Paul on Friday, March 6, 2020 8:28 PM

I have to admit that I keep wanting to build a Lionel loop for the garden. The thought keeps coming....

But I don't want to fade or damage these trains, and I've already got a track indoors. I think this works best for these vintage trains...

It is a beautiful thought, though....

Paul

Search the Community

FREE EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Get the Garden Railways newsletter delivered to your inbox twice a month

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Garden Railways magazine. Please view our privacy policy