Is there a way to make O gauge Lionel weatherproof for outdoor use?

6 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    March 2022
  • 93 posts
Is there a way to make O gauge Lionel weatherproof for outdoor use?
Posted by on Wednesday, March 30, 2022 8:50 PM

 I can't afford most G scale rolling stock but I used to know Gargraves Track and I assume that 3 rail outdoor O gauge track using brass cant be that hard to make and a indoor engine house to keep O gauge Engines inside and warm woold work.

  • Member since
    January 2010
  • 16 posts
Posted by homo_habilis on Thursday, March 31, 2022 12:44 PM

You might perform an internet search such as "o scale" outdoors gragraves.  There are a number of results that should provide useful.

  • Member since
    February 2015
  • From: Ormond Beach, FL
  • 389 posts
Posted by chocho willy on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 8:27 AM

No, and graves track either, the ties are wood and will disappear over night, they do make a stainless rail on but they still have wooden ties. Remember LGB isn't water proof just resistent, Bill

  • Member since
    August 2021
  • 244 posts
Posted by Swiss-Colorado-Lines on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 6:36 PM

It sure would be fun! I've thought about it many times, but the basic problem that will never go away is the materials that are not intended for outdoor use. Yes, you can hand lay brass track, that is a step in the right direction.You would assume all risks of fading on the trains themselves, and possibly cracking of the plastics due to UV exposure. Magnetraction may pick up metal bits or filings.

Beyond these concerns, possibly experiment with your less desirable pieces. Not impossible, but an uphill battle for sure.


  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 9,497 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, June 26, 2022 3:46 PM

Outdoors O Gauge running?  No reason you can't, but I'd try and stick with track that's going to be as weatherproof as possible.  MTH nickle-silver RealTrack with its plastic base would work.  Lionel Fastrack has a plastic base as well but I'm not sure of the rail material, you'd have to watch it carefully for rust.  Some say Fastrack is stainless steel but I have my doubts. 

I wouldn't leave the transformer outside when it wasn't being used, or the engines and rolling stock as well.  

  • Member since
    August 2021
  • 244 posts
Posted by Swiss-Colorado-Lines on Monday, June 27, 2022 11:42 AM

Hey Bud! Nice to see you over here!

 I just want to warn about plastics in particular. We have had some brands of G gauge track that were supposedly for outdoor use, and the ties have cracked and disintegrated due to UV exposure. So, be careful! And especially with things that are intended for indoor use only...

This might be a big ask! 
Of course, you could experiment with different brands of track, leave them outside for a year or two and see what happens...

Don't mean to be such a downer, but I've had this experience already...

Burned and learned!


  • Member since
    July 2003
  • From: US
  • 1,384 posts
Posted by Curmudgeon on Thursday, July 7, 2022 6:12 PM

I remember 30+ years ago local guy insisted on running 3-rail outdoors. Ran into the rotting ties issue, worked with GarGraves to develop plastic ties. I think they were UV stabilized. With stainless rail, should work. More susceptible to derailment due to less bulk, but why not try.

I use all GarGraves in the basement. Flat top gives better traction than round top Lioenl and clones.


Search the Community


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