What Is Large Scale?

Model trains are classified according to scale and gauge. "Scale" describes the size of a model in proportion to its full-size prototype. "Gauge" refers to the distance between the rails of the track.

A 1:24 scale model is 24 times smaller than its prototype. Keep in mind that as the ratio gets smaller, the model gets larger. A 1:32 model is 25% smaller than one in 1:24 scale.

Before LGB, there was a little known #1 scale (3/8" scale) primarily used in the USA for high end brass steam engines. It uses Gauge 1 track, 1-3/4" (45 mm) between the rails. When multiplied by 32, this represented 4 feet 8-1/2 inches or standard gauge.

When LGB created large model trains in 1968, they manufactured in 1:22.5 scale and used Gauge 1 track. 45 millimeters multiplied by 22.5 is 1000 mm or meter gauge, a standard for narrow gauge European trains.

They designed quaint little locomotives and rolling stock that could be run outdoors and would enhance a garden setting. They called them "G-Scale", which had no meaning in model railroading at that time.

For a size comparison, the picture below shows a locomotive in six different scales, measuring just 2-1/4 long inches in Z scale up to a whopping 20-1/4 inches long in large scale.

When LGB entered the US market in 1978 and was very successful, producing models of late 19th Century US narrow gauge trains, US manufacturers quickly got involved. But they went after a different market, producing models of more modern, larger standard gauge American trains.

The problem was that these models in 1:22.5 scale were too large for most gardens. So they started manufacturing in a smaller 1:29 scale. Other manufacturers, wanting to equate 1-3/4" gauge track to American 3-foot narrow gauge, produced small prototypes in 1:20.3 scale.

Then LGB started manufacturing 20th century American steam engines. They never cataloged the scale but it is believed to be 1:26.

All of these different scales from 1:32 to 1:20.3 have been lumped into the category of "Large Scale". Fortunately the one thing they all have in common is that they use gauge 1 track. So, if you ignore the slight differences in size, they can all be run together on the same model railroad once you overcome the coupler differences.

The same holds true for models of structures added to a garden railroad. The small differences in scale do not matter much. The same goes for plants. Most large scale garden railroaders are not "rivet counters" like their smaller scale counterparts. Our mantra is:

"Havin' Fun & Runnin' Trains - Runnin' Trains & Havin' Fun!"