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@Railrunnin posted:

I can see this easily with a battery powered engine, but a huge pita with electric.



If you're thinking about a short circuit between the rails you need to know that snow is generally not as conductive as you think, unless it's very wet, because it's mostly air.

On the other hand if it's not powder or fluffy, but heavy wet snow, then both weight and electrical conductivity might be problems for traditional O Gauge stuff.  Then again heavy wet snow might not work with battery powered 'G' stuff either because of the weight.


Last edited by Mellow Hudson Mike

Long time ago, I posed some MTH (Proto 1) locomotives on a track set in the side of a snowbank as a sor-of-diorama re-creating a plowing scenario: a couple of Conrail diesels pushing a Premier plow, and a Big Blow pushing a Jordan Spreader plowing snow off the side of a steep drop-off.

One precaution I took was to sit the equipment outside on the porch, allowing it to come down to ambient air temp before sitting them in the snow (and brushing enough atop them to look like they were actually running in it), Once done with the photos, I brushed off as much snow as possible with a soft paintbrush, then sat them inside to bring their temps back up to room temperature (my house has forced-air heating and tends toward low humidity in winter).

No ill effects or traces of oxidation were noted afterwards. If one were running indoors-to-outdoors-to-indoors during a snow event, it would take a bit of doing to compensate for the fact O-gauge equipment is not weatherized.


Hi Mike…here is a video of the float that my Rotary Club had in our town’s Christmas Parade last year. Just as the parade was starting, the snow started coming down…it was like being in a giant snow globe…and somebody kept shaking it up! The photo shows our float at about the 1/2 way point…almost Norman Rockwell worthy. And by the time we finished the parade…about 2 inches of powdery snow had fallen. The train was a Lionel Polar Express G Scale…battery operated…and it was still running strong at the end…in 2 inches of snow…pretty amazing!

Really fun along the parade route…was hearing the kids yelling “it’s a train…look, it’s a train”!!!

Getting a float ready for this year’s parade…and yup…that train will be the centerpiece again…🚂🎅🏻🎄



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I used to run my track powered G scale trains in the snow. I would run USAT diesel locos because they had track sliders for additional power pickup which really helped. Light powder snow snow was the best. Wet and heavy snow wasn’t worth the effort.
I would stage the plow, loco and a caboose in a tunnel so it would be cold saturated when I was ready to plow.
Most G scale are built for running in the garden so exposure to wet environments are not as much of an issue as O scale may be as O are normally considered in door trains.

I loved getting up around 5am to run my trains in the snow before work. I’ll try to find some of my videos.

And by the time we finished the parade…about 2 inches of powdery snow had fallen. The train was a Lionel Polar Express G Scale…battery operated…and it was still running strong at the end…in 2 inches of snow…pretty amazing!


Very impressive. I bet the crowd really loved that display. I certainly would have.


Last edited by Larry Sr.

Running in the snow with live steam in G or O scale is like nothing else and loads of fun!   Trying to run track power usually creates ice on the rail heads and you quickly get power pickup issues.  So for non live steam, onboard battery power is the way to go.  Most G scale, especially LGB is made for use in ANY weather, be it rain or snow.  I converted all of my track powered locos to either onboard battery or they are fed from a dedicated battery car(like my tiny LGB Stainz loco).  Here is an old video of a Merlin brand live steamer running during the winter time.  The colder weather enhances the steam plume from the chimney as well.  Engine is RC controlled. 

@mike g. posted:

Dave I watched tons of the G scale this morning! I love it, but I think they get away with it because it is 2 rail. But then again, I have no idea! That is why I was asking.

They (those of us who also operate and enjoy Large Scale) get away with it because the trains--many or most of them, at least--are intentionally designed for outdoor, all-weather running. I have an outdoor G gauge barrel layout (a circle of track around the top of a half whiskey-type barrel) that stays up year-round and I operate a small Piko battery-powered/remote controlled train on it for my grandsons' enjoyment. I wish I had more space to run my fairly large G collection that is mostly LGB, but condo living really doesn't provide the opportunity. Will likely be selling most of my LGB in the near future, but keeping my decent collection of LGB trolleys.

I would never even consider operating MTH DCS motive power outdoors in the snow. They definitely could not be considered to be weatherproof by any stretch of the imagination. Outdoors on a decent sunny day, or in a warm climate may be a possibility, but the DCS electronics will almost certainly not hold up well in rain or snow.

Last edited by Allan Miller

That would be my first thought as well. Then I start thinking about it (Uh-Oh!) it, I start to wonder how exactly would a destructive amount of moisture find its way into a typical O-gauge loco's circuit boards? In a diesel or electric the electronics are perched inside the shell atop the chassis, with the only obvious points of entry being near the running gear for the truck wires and maybe the speaker if it's in the fuel tank. On a steam loco the boards are usually in the tender with the main exit being the tether opening, so opportunities-for-intrusion wise, they're pretty much the same as a diesel.

Assuming you had your track already plowed and 'flangeways' cut in the remaining snow by a less sensitive loco beforehand, and you're not running in an active snowstorm with high winds blowing flakes into every nook and cranny, how many easy pathways exist for snow to reach vulnerable electronics from track level? Sure, there is "A" risk, but how big is that one compared to other mishaps known to KO a board? (personally, I'd be more concerned about cold plastic couplers in a heavy train being stressed by slack action)


Last edited by RailRide
@mike g. posted:

Thanks Allan, that is the answer I was looking for. I would love to do it, but it is not worth wrecking an expensive engine! If you don't mind me asking what your thoughts is on running a conventional engine with no command control?

Still not something I would choose to do unless it is an "expendable" engine. O gauge in the snow or rain is simply going to experience problems, long term, because none of the components are really designed for exposure to moisture and temperature extremes. Now, if you have a locomotive that you don't mind sacrificing for such use, by all means go ahead and give it a try. Take photos and let us know how it all works out.

The problem with most O gauge is the exposed gearing.  LGB and most G scale use gearboxes that are sealed or fairly well sealed against water getting in there.  The plastic and paint is designed to get wet.   Running O gauge outdoors in nice weather is ok, or in the snow with the track already cleared off and not snowing while running might be ok.  The British run O outdoors quite a bit, not sure if they run in the rain.  I do know the gearing on UK tinplate steamers are inside the frame, not outboard where it can get both wet or pickup debris off the layout.  My Bassett Lowke O gauge  live steam mogul looks good running on a snowy layout btw. 

I interpret "Running train in the snow" as running trains when it is active snowing and or plowing of snow is needed.  

Running trains after the snow has stopped and has been cleared off of the tracks is simply running trains in the cold. In the cold both scales have to be mindful of how the cold will affect the materials, especially making plastic much more brittle, but electronics will probably not be affected unless they are stressed by taking them out of a warm house into bitter cold then back into a warm house.   My G scale was stored in a unheated shed.

When I open up an O scale engine I see it full of electronic circuit boards with tiny components on them. Circuit traces are very thin and therefore appear to be more fragile. Electronic reverse boards are basic in most every modern O scale.

Opening up a G scale engine you'll most likely see circuit boards with thick electrical traces, larger but more basic and robust components.   Track powered G scale doesn't need any reverse running circuitry, you just change the polarity to the track.    

Granted, I'd never run my G scale Blue Comet with smoke, full sound and remote control with detailed passenger cars in any kind of foul weather.   I always chose basic locos that I was sure could handle damp conditions.  (only a couple were allowed to go out and play in bad weather)

I hope to have a small O Scale outdoor layout some day but it will be strictly a fair weather layout. None of my O scale equipment will be allowed out to play in the snow.

I'm always amazed when I watch G scale outdoor train layouts in all weather conditions.

Out of curiosity, what is the maintenance that is required for some of these outdoor layouts? Seems like there would be tons of it but maybe not or maybe yes and some folks just enjoy that part of it.

I think I would worry too much about corrosion in locomotives and on track as well. Maybe certain areas have a better climate for outdoor electronics than others.

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