01 January 2010

LGB trains and G scale, the first garden rail

This is an extract from an official LGB document (1998) explaining the meaning of “G scale” and the concept of “LGB”.

What is LGB?
LGB is many things…
LGB is big. In fact, the letters "LGB" stand for "Lehmann Gross Bahn"or "Lehmann's Big Train." LGB trains are G scale (1:22.5). That's almost four times larger than conventional HO-scale trains (1:87) and almost ten times larger than Z-scale trains (1:220). Because of their size, LGB trains are easy to put on the track, even for children. Details are big enough to see and strong enough to withstand frequent handling. Bodies are thick enough to survive accidents. Cars are easy to couple and uncouple. Trains stay on track, even on uneven surfaces.

LGB is for indoors and outdoors.
LGB is the first production model railroad designed for both indoor and outdoor use. Major body parts are made of  engineering plastics, like BASF Luran-S, an impact-resistant polycarbonate. Ultraviolet-resistant plastics and coatings are used to protect LGB trains from harsh sunlight, even in tropical climates. Gearboxes are protected from dirt and moisture. Control boxes can be permanently mounted outdoors without any special protection. Don't forget about indoor operation. LGB trains are both realistic and beautiful. They look good on traditional model railroad layouts and in unconventional displays, like shelf and ceiling layouts. Indoor LGB layouts can be found in basements, kitchens and formal living rooms. You can also find LGB layouts in commercial establishments, from McDonald's restaurants to five-star hotels.


LGB is simple.
LGB trains are designed for people who want to have fun with trains. You don't need to be an expert mechanic or electronics wizard to enjoy LGB. Track sections connect quickly without tools. Electrical connections are simple with color-coded wires and terminals. With LGB, you can start having fun right away. And once you start, you can keep going and going and going. Trains stay on track with oversized wheel flanges and rugged "hook-and-loop" couplers. Locomotives run for years with seven-pole Bühler motors and multiple electrical pickups. LGB's exclusive "EPL" train controls let you build a fully automated layout. Just start it up and watch it run!

LGB is complete.
The LGB program includes more than 500 quality G scale products. There are American trains and European trains. There are steam locomotives, diesel locomotives, electric locomotives. There are hand cars, rail trucks and even propeller-driven rail vehicles. There are over 30 different track sections, including crossings, turnouts and flex track. There are power supplies for small layouts and large layouts and multi-train layouts. There are signals, overhead catenary systems, bridges and figures. And all LGB products are engineered to work together. Even the biggest LGB freight car will run on the smallest radius LGB track. Even the oldest LGB loco can be used with the newest LGB digital controls. 


What is G scale?
LGB trains are "G-scale" trains. When Eberhard and Wolfgang Richter introduced LGB in 1968, they defined G scale as a model-to-prototype ratio of 1:22.5. In other words, a G-scale model train is 22.5 times smaller than the real train it represents. By comparison, an HO-scale model train is 87 times smaller than the real train it represents, and a Z-scale train is 220 times smaller than the real train. Although 1:22.5 sounds like an odd figure, it really makes sense. 1:22.5 is the proportion required to model real "prototype" meter gauge trains using 45 mm "Gauge 1" model track. The math is simple:

Distance between the rails of real-life meter gauge track     1.000 mm
Divided by the G-scale proportion                                             22,5
Equals the distance between the model rails                         45 mm


Why is it called "G" scale? The Richters chose the letter "G" because it describes LGB in many different languages. In German, G means "gross" or "garten." In English, G stands for "garden." In French, G is "grande." And around the world, G is "growing." Indeed, modeling meter gauge has many advantages for LGB fans. About one-third of the world’s railways are meter gauge or other narrow gauges, and those unique lines offer some of the world’s best modeling opportunities.

For example, Switzerland’s famous Glacier Express features spectacular scenery and modern equipment. Germany's classic Harzquerbahn offers breathtaking steam operations. In North America, narrow gauge is enjoying a renaissance, and narrow gauge lines can be found across the continent from Alaska (White Pass & Yukon) to Colorado (Durango &Silverton) and Pennsylvania (East Broad Top). Additional narrow gauge railways are active in South America, Africa, Asia and Australia. These lines are modelers' delights with scenic views, unique settings and interesting equipment rarely found on standard gauge railroads.