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Written by Paul D. Race for Family Garden Trains(tm)
This page lists products that are especially useful to beginning Garden Railroaders. If you don't know what Garden Railroading is, my article "Go Outside and Run Your Trains," on the Family Garden Trains Primer page will give you some idea.
Another helpful Primer article is "Building a Garden Railroad on a Budget." That article gives you some idea of the sort of expenses you may incur as you begin to move your trains outside. That article argues in favor of taking "baby steps" when you're starting out. But if you work your way through the sample budget sheets in that article, you'll soon realize that:
A Note about "Buyer's Guides" We post these descriptions to help you make informed decisions and to learn what is available, even if the suppliers we usually recommend have a short supply. In some cases, we will allow a description to remain online, even without a supplier link, if we have reason to believe that the product will become available again later. If you want a particular product, but we have no supplier button or the supplier's page says they are sold out, let us know, and we'll try to help you find one elsewhere. We apologize if this causes you any inconvenience or confusion.
For more detailed information about why model trains and related products seem to "come and go" and why I have stopped listing prices for products, please see my article "About Pricing and Availability."
Note about Suppliers: While we try to help you get the products you want by recommending suppliers with a good record of customer service, all transactions between you and the supplier you chose to provide your trains or other purchases are governed by the published policies on the supplier's web site. So please print off any order confirmation screens and save copies of invoices, etc., so you can contact the appropriate supplier should any problems occur. (They almost never do, but you want to be on the safe side.)
Notes for 2009! More Trains, Additional Suppliers In mid-2009, Bachmann Trains reintroduced several "old favorite" sets that have been missing from its lineup recently. In addition, more Large Scale trains are begin carried by more vendors on Amazon, so if you click on an Amazon "check stock" button, you will often have your choice of vendors. Finally, on several pages, we have added links to relevant pages on the Trainz.com store sites, since they often have "onsies and twosies" that we can't keep up with listing separately. We hope that's not TOO confusing. Please contact us if you have questions about availability, quality, or, suitability of any product listed on this page.
Note for 2011: The AristoCraft train sets are in very short supply this year. I'm leaving them posted because they're still among my favorites. I hope to see them back in stock soon, and in the meantime, I wanted you to be able to see my reviews of these delightful products. If you click the Amazon buttons and nothing happens, try the "Trainz" link at the bottom of the page. If TRAINZ is out of them, you'll probably have to "google" them yourself and try to find them. My apologies, but as we used to say when I worked at Radio Shack thirty-odd years ago, "We can't make them here."
|Bachmann ET&WNC Passenger Set - The East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad Company ("Tweetsie" for sort) ran from 1881 to about 1940 in North Carolina and adjacent states. This recently improved locomotive (with headlight, smoke, and sound) pulls a coal tender and two lighted passenger cars.
To check availability of this train, please click a button to the right.
|Bachmann ET&WNC Freight Set - This freight set shows how smaller railroads sometimes had to acommodate passeners and freight on the same train - a baggage/passenger combine with metal wheels and interior lighting has been substituted for a caboose, so the handful of passengers the line expects can ride in comfort. By the way, this is the largest single starter set anyone sells for garden railroads.
To check availability of this train, please click a button to the right.
|Bachmann Durango and Silverton ("Bumblebee") Passenger Set - Built originally as a mining line, the scenic value of the Durango & Silverton was quickly recognized in passenger service. After surviving natural disasters, wars, and financial instability, a determined staff (and starring roles in several Hollywood movies) promoted the tourism that ensures the line’s survival to this day. Now recognized as a National Historic Landmark and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, the Durango & Silverton continues to provide year-round tourist service. Our Durango & Silverton Passenger set comes complete with a 4-6-0 steam locomotive (with operating headlight, smoke, and speed-synchronized sound), coal tender, coach with lighted interior, observation car with lighted interior, 8'2" x 4'3" oval of track (20 pieces), power pack and speed controller, illustrated instruction manual, and DVD format video instructions.
To check availability of this train, please click on a button to the right.
AristoCraft Freight Train - The 0-4-0T locomotive pulling this freight is based on a real railroad prototype, the Pennsylvania A-5. This version of the model has been reengineered to provide years of trouble-free service indoors and out. This train set also comes with a very handy remote control (MSRP $83 when sold separately) that will work with any train on this page.
|AristoCraft Passenger Train - The same sturdy locomotive also pulls a passenger train that is available in several road names. This train also comes with a remote control. Most dealers only carry a couple of these, so they are constantly running out. If you have to have one at a particular time, say for an "open railroad," or for Christmas, don't wait too long.|
|Track with Solid Brass Rail||Std. Gauge (US) # (for a more modern US look)|| Narrow Gauge (Euro) #
(for an old-timey or
|12 pc. 1' Straight Track||30030||11000|
|12 pc. 2' Straight Track||30060||11060|
|12 pc. 3' Straight Track||30090||11070|
| 12 pc. (1 circle) 4'-Diameter Curve Track
(This is the same size curve that comes with the starter sets. You should probably consider using larger curves outside.)
|12 pc. (1 circle) 5'-Diameter Curve Track - Good||30110||11500|
|16 pc. (1 circle) 8'-Diameter Curve Track - Better||30115||11600|
|12 pc. (1 circle) 10'-Diameter Curve Track Best!||30120||11800|
|Right Manual Turnout (for 4'-Diameter Track)||30300||11200|
|Left Manual Turnout (for 4'-Diameter Track)||30350||11210|
|Rerailer (12" straight)||10350||10350|
|30 degree crossing (diamond)||30405||11300|
|Extra Track Joiner Screws with Screw Driver||11910|
| Extra track to pack connector wires (an easy way to run
light-duty jumpers as you install the track)
|Plastic Track Joiners - use to connect rails between "blocks" (So you can run electricity to one section and not to another-- this is especially helpful for sidings.)||11901|
| Lighted bumper without track (Order one for each siding
you plan to have)
Reversing System (for back-and-forth running)
Hundreds of building kits are now available for Garden Railroaders to use in their gardens. Many of them make great Christmas gifts, since you can spend February getting them ready for spring. On the other hand, when you're first starting out, there's a lot to be said for a little bit of instant gratification, especially when the cost of a structure you can simply set in place is comparable to that of a similar kit. The buildings below are affordable, sturdy, and attractive. Each of them can easily be detailed further as time allows.
|AristoCraft Built-Up Passenger Station - This station is one of the best values in Large Scale. It represents thousands of small country stations that once served communities all over North America. I repainted mine in a more conservative color scheme, but I have seen at least one real Ohio train station that was the same yellow. This station is about 1:24; it is proportioned to fit well with any large scale train. Althought it may not have exactly the same level of detail as some of the expensive kits, it is extremely sturdy, and the fact that it comes on its own platform (unlike most kit stations) makes it easy to add accessories such as benches and streetlights to give it more character. So, if your Large Scale train needs a reason to get from point A to point B, you know what to do.|
My 7200 station, painted red and white and caught in an early snowfall.
|AristoCraft Pre-Built Freight Depot - Although this structure was designed to handle freight near the Built-Up Passenger Station above, there's no reason you can't use it as another general-purpose station somewhere else on your railroad, at least until you get around to building something fancier. Like the Built-Up Passenger Station above, this building offers excellent value. It is also sturdy, and the platform gives you many detailing options.|
|AristoCraft Pre-Built Farmhouse - Another cost-effective prebuilt structure is this farmhouse, designed and finished like many in the Heartland. Again, the detail may not be as great as on some expensive kits, but this building has a very nice paint job and is very sturdy. You can always go back later and add details such as glazing, curtains, and a dog asleep on the porch.
New colors available! Check the Buildings for Garden Railroads page for more details.
Springhill Nurseries, a reputable sponsor, offers several which you may find useful. Simply click on the button on the right, then use the following plant names as search terms to get started early. Note: Some groundcovers that are sold for general use are too invasive to use on garden railways. If you have a question about any particular plant, and I haven't discussed it in my "Groundcover 101" article, please contact me and I'll tell you what I know about it.
Trainz.Com's Starter SetsTrainz.Com is a train superstore that is constantly looking for hard-to-find trains. They often buy overstock and closeout merchandise from other suppliers and wholesalers that the rest of us don't usually have access to. As a result, at any given time they have a handful of Large Scale starter sets in "onesies" and "twosies," some new in box, and some mint in box, and some from broken sets. Today, they are advertising three used but great condition Bachmann starter sets for a very good price, and four used, but great condition LGB starter sets that are almost impossible to find period. Tomorrow some of those sets will be gone and others will be listed. In fact, two more sets appeared while I was typing this note, and one disappeared - that's how fast things change on this page. So you'll understand why I just link to their page and not to the individual trains.
To go to the Trainz.com's starter set page, click on the following line:
To go to the Trainz.com's Structure page, click on the following line:
Note: Family Garden Trains™, Garden Train Store™, Big Christmas Trains™, BIG Indoor Trains™, and BIG Train Store™ are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications (www.btcomm.com). All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically
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