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While its fairly common in the UK due to small house sizes and lack of space indoors, it seems less common here in the states with G scale being more predominate outdoors.   Yet we have 2 excellent track systems for use that are easily found here, Atlas O and Gargraves(stainless rails w/plastic ties).  While the trains cannot be left outdoors, which I never did with my G scale either, running on a raised railway outdoors really is very enjoyable and opens up the space for wider radius curves and no getting choked out from modern smoke units!  Even live steam for outdoors is possibile, granted nothing USA style is made with mostly older UK locomotives being the norm(one can always bash one into something more USA looking).  I have run a 10' wide by 40ish foot long raised railway in G and recently did a hack job 3rd rail for O gauge, but keeping it in gauge is a constant chore.  I rarely run the G side of things anymore, with many items I want selling for prices I refuse to pay.  Combined with my love of UK scale like tinplate and diecast trains that need bigger than 042 curves, is pushing me to rebuild my railway next spring.  Looking at going with Gargraves with 0113 diameter, single track main line with passing sidings thru the station area.   My only struggle has been buildings, granted I only desire a few key structures.  A nice station with glass canopy over the platforms, signal box, some houses or a row house and an industry or two.   Thinking one of the stained glass platform canopies would be perfect, but use plexiglass instead to survive our occasional storms with hail, unless someone feels the thick glass would be ok as well(layout is under a tree, so it rarely really gets pummeled).   Anybody else enjoying O scale 3 rail outdoors?   Post up your pics and experiences.   AD

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I built an outdoor O layout a few years ago.  3 loops, Atlas track.

One piece of advice:  I should have soldered the track joiners.  When winter in CT is over, I have to work for a while to make all the connections work again.   Problem is that the joiners get corroded where they meet the track sections.  Had I soldered then joints when new, it would have been easy.  Now I would have to take the track apart, clean the ends, add joiners and solder while clean.  Joints won't solder once a layer of corrosion is on them.

Other than  that, the trains run great outside!  Mostly MTH DCS running...

I've looked at it several times over the years, but my new location doesn't really have a suitable back yard for it. Fortunately, I have the third bay in the garage to work with. Ron Karlsson did one which he documented in a series of YouTube videos using PVC "ladder" roadbed and Atlas track. I still think about it, but I'm also wondering if the HOA will give me grief about it.

About twenty-five years ago a group in Bakersfield, California was building a raised right of way three rail scale layout.  On private land, I think plans included an area with a roof under which rolling stock was parked.  I do not have a point of contact.

There was/is one on the Ohio State Fair grounds which when run in the winter used model snow plows to clear the tracks.  That layout may have been G.   

John

Last edited by rattler21

My thought was to use tubular track, let it rust, and use battery powered engines and radio control to run the trains. I have the track, have read about converting conventional to battery power, however I have not done it yet. The track would need to be elevated, and would have to be designed to survive a harsh winter environment. I was thinking that a steel support with a sheet metal C-channel would hold the ballast that would hold the track in place. Support would have to be designed so it could be easily "re-levelled" each spring.

Something I may do if I get enough time to make this project a priority. Advantage of using O-gauge is that I already have excess engines and rolling stock that does not fit on my layout. I have lots of track. Just need the time and will to do the work.

Only thing I would have to purchase is the battery conversion & radio control equipment as well as design and build the track support structure.

What is stopping me? this project would force me to keep the garden under control, as it would interfere with the train operation.  I have a large garden and that would be a lot of work,

Atlas O and Gargraves are the only common 3 rail track in the USA that will tollerate being outdoors.  The rails wont rust and the ties are UV stabilized plastic like is used in better G scale track.   In the UK they have Maldon track, which while still a solid T rail profile, it keeps more of the "Tinplate" look.  But once you pay to get it here, you spent more than the Atlas O track, which is over $200 more than the Gargraves for my simple loop.  Hence why my plan is for Gargraves.  You do have to watch soldering rail joiners as when the mid day sun is beating on the rail, it will expand quite a bit, and in the winter cold, it will shrink and something has to give.  The better option is LGB makes a conductive paste for rail joints.  I plan to coat every pin before its inserted into the next section.  This, combined with power feeders every so often should keep the voltage flowing and stable.  Most of my running is live steam, but I want to be able to run all 3 modes of power outside.  Electric/Clockwork/Live Steam(with rail wipe down prior to running electric again). 

@eddiem posted:

I built an outdoor O layout a few years ago.  3 loops, Atlas track.

One piece of advice:  I should have soldered the track joiners.  When winter in CT is over, I have to work for a while to make all the connections work again.   Problem is that the joiners get corroded where they meet the track sections.  Had I soldered then joints when new, it would have been easy.  Now I would have to take the track apart, clean the ends, add joiners and solder while clean.  Joints won't solder once a layer of corrosion is on them.

Other than  that, the trains run great outside!  Mostly MTH DCS running...

You do not have to solder the rail joints using Atlas track.  Soldering rail joints eventually breaks your track because it prevents the track from expanding and contracting as it expands and contracts.  

The best practice is solder a jumper wire across the rail joint and leave a small loop in the jumper.  We have been doing this on the G&O layout for over 10 years.  This is also the way real railroads connect their track circuits across rail joiners except, of course, they weld  the track jumper.  NH Joe

The G&O is an outdoor railroad located in the San Francisco Bay Area.  It has both G gauge and O gauge displays.  The layout is almost 13 years old.  The O gauge uses Atlas track.  O gauge trains can be run conventionally, with Legacy/TMCC, and DCS.

Here is the link to the G&O Story on this forum:

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/.../the-gandamp-o-story

Running O gauge outdoors is fun.  NH Joe

I’ve thought about it but the weather down here in Florida and the tropical overgrowth would make it a chore to maintain.  However, this hobbyist used to regularly post videos of his tinplate and other trains operating on his exquisite outdoor layout. I think his name was Fred and he resided up north. Looks like a great option for someone with a yard up North -

https://youtu.be/xttzifCiqqw

https://youtu.be/xfdFuyRXKwg

https://youtu.be/PlTy0U5It5k

Having an outdoor three rail O scale layout is very possible, I’ve had one for over six years now with no adverse effects from the elements. I used Atlas silver nickel track through out the layout. I also use a simple ladder line and stanchion system to lay the track on. Which hass also withstood the elements all these years. I have recently began to run my train on dead rail ( RC battery power ). I get several hours of run time and no need to clean track between run sessions. Here’s a few photos, and check out my website and YT channel.99CF7C2C-2130-4FF9-B849-982BBCC35CF4

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Last edited by sjbuff

I've done it when I didn't have space and it was a lot of fun.......you can't beat natural lighting when taking pictures.....these are from about 2007-10.......

IMG_0944IMG_1982IMG_1959100_0032

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As kids moved out after college, I moved to the garage, then the basement and next is the attic.....but, outside was fun, except for having to set up and take down.....

Peter

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