Garden Gauge Model Railways


Gauge 1, or G scale is a model railway and toy train standard that was popular in the early 20th century, particularly with European manufacturers. Its track measures 1.75 in (44.45 mm), making it larger than 0 gauge but slightly smaller than wide gauge, which came to be the dominant U.S. standard during the 1920s.

Gauge one was standardised, according to Model Railways and Locomotive magazine of August 1909, at 1.75 in (44.45 mm). An exact 1:32 scale would yield 1.766 in (44.85 mm) for standard gauge prototype. The distance between the wheel tyres was set at 1 17⁄32 in (38.894 mm) and between the centre of the track 48 mm (no inch equivalent suggesting it was metric users' requirement only). The wheel width was set at 19⁄64 in (7.541 mm).

Definitions using gauge, rather than scale, were more common in the early days.


There was a time when some people thought G Scale would overtake O gauge in popularity. It didn’t happen, but neither is the most popular scale of train. HO and N overshadow both of them.

So when it comes to cost and popularity the Larger scales do lose out. However Gauge 1 / G scale do have something the others do no not, robust reliability for outside running. Most Gauge 1 stock could be permanently set up in your garden. Something that would be difficult with the smaller gauges as debris and weather would constantly hamper train operations.


For someone who just wants a train to run during the holidays, from sometime around Christmas until about New Year’s Day, G gauge offers a cost advantage. It’s not hard to find a G gauge starter set for around R1000, or even sometimes less. These generally aren’t hobbyist-grade sets, but there’s little point in paying enthusiast prices for a train that’s going to run around in circles under a Christmas tree and spend the remaining 10 months of the year in a box.

Even though it’s smaller than G gauge, it’s hard to find an O gauge starter set for much less than R4000 unless you buy used. Once you get into hobbyist territory, O gauge can have a cost advantage over G gauge, but only if you let it. If you want to spend R1000 on a locomotive, you can find locomotives that expensive in either gauge.


If you like the look of a big train running around your Christmas tree, get a G Scale train. If you want a Lionel because that’s what your dad or grandfather had, a vintage Lionel like he had probably costs less than you think. Or you can probably get a more recently manufactured one that looks just like the one he had if the original actually is expensive today.
Whatever you choose if you want a railway in your garden it’s always best to go for the bigger gauges.