See also Peco track and track bender.
Tracks are defined by a rail space (internal) and code. Beware that for a given code track, there could be compatibility problems. Tracks type '1', also called '#1' or 'I' are NOT compatibles with 'G' tracks (the rails are not sufficiently high for wheel clearance).
Materials are brass, silvernickel (less corrosion/fouling), stainless steel and plastic. Aluminium was sometimes used as it is of much lower cost but drives to electrical conductibility problems and connections.
Anti-UV treatment is critical for plastic ties which could be destroyed in just a few years by sun. Some suppliers propose real wood ties. Other coat plastic ties to protect them from sun. You can found tracks in plastic for battery operated train, but this is more for indoor use.
LGB brass track have a rail space (internal) of 45mm and a code of 332, which means that rail height is est de 0.332 inches, so 8.4 mm. At scale of 1:22.5, this will gives a rail height of 190mm, which is a lot for a metric track and is not much realistic.
These tracks are heavy and very strong. You could walk on them without any risk.
LGB tracks are often supplied in small length, which makes a lot of junctions, which is a bit problematic for track power supply because you shall weld wire bridges between rails for good electrical continuity. Such welding is difficult to do for these large brass rails.
LGB curve radiuses
- R1: 600 mm : For short equipment, this is what you found in starter sets. The train behaviour is not very realistic so this is a radius to avoid but it can have some use in station operation. 12 elements for a circle.
- R2: 780 mm : To prefer in all cases, note that it is designed to have the track circle concentric with the R1 radius. 12 elements for a circle.
- R3: 1195 mm: The good solution if you have sufficient space. 16 elements for a circle.
- R4: 2320 mm: Even better, but need really a lot of space. 24 elements for a circle.
Present trend is to use flexible tracks of a minimum length (at least 900 mm), which allows adaptation of radius to local requirements. When you bend a track, you shall cut the internal rail to adjust its length. It is good to slightly shift rail cuts to have them not crossed at the same moment.
It is useful to buy a track bender (~240 Euros at , see also at Dragon-G-Scale), which are more practical than simple rail benders. For a code 250 bender, you can find at Train-Li. a set of rollers for another rail code cost approximately.
I designed and built my own track bender, with two alternatives, one in oak wood, the other 3D printed.
You can find brass flexible tracks compatibles with LGB with a code 332 at:
Peco (UK) makes a code 250 (height 6.35mm) track G-45 in silvernickel. It is of lower cost (~12 Euros/m) and more realistic. That is the ideal track for an elevated network.
THese tracks of 913mm length are sold notably by Track-Shack. These tracks can be connected to LGB track with special junctions to compensate the height difference.
Warning, PECO also manufacture a 45mm spaced track for trains ate scale 1 (1:32), which is NOT compatible with G45 track.
Silvernickel contains in this case less than 10% Nickel, which explains the slightly yellowish rail color. It is approximately 20% more stiff than brass. Its best quality is however a lower corrosion which need less frequent track cleaning.
AMS manufacture brass track code 250, also distributed by Track-Shack. The problem is that its length being 1.5m, it cannot be shipped everywhere... It is sold at lower cost in the USA.
The basic switches (points) built by LGB have a radius of 600mm (R1), which may be too small fore some equipment (LGB own vehicles can run on these tracks, but not other brand large equipment). It is better to use larger radius switches but the price is much higher. It is common to see tracks and switches mix between brands.
LGB track accessories
|12000||Manual right switch, radius R1 (600mm)|
|12100||Manual left switch, radius R1 (600mm)|
|12010||Switch motor (actuator)|
|12030||motor position electrical switch|
|12070||Electrical switch for motor|
|12050||Motorised right switch, radius R1 (600mm)|
|12150||Motorised left switch, radius R1 (600mm)|
|12060||Switch manual control|
|10319||Track bumper (with coal box)|
|1055||Uncoupler (old model, 3 wires)|
|1056||Uncoupler (new model, 2 wires)|
|1015U/10153||Simple track cut -> it is simpler to use insulating junction|
|1015T||Track cut with diodes|
|1015K||Track cut with diodes|
|5180||Control box for 4 switches|
Switches (points) motors
There is two types of switches motors:
- Motors needing an impulse for each direction.
- Motors with a return spring which need to be continuously power supplied in one direction.
Having a return spring motor does have two advantages:
- There is a default position when current stopped.
- Only one channel needed to command the switch. This is interesting for a radio command, but sensitive to transmission loss.
Most common motors are the LGB. Position contacts are sold separately.
They are 'two channels' type (voltage in one direction -> position in one direction, reversed voltage, other position). They shall NEVER be supplied permanently, only impulse.
They are based upon an electro-magnet mechanism which operate very quickly. The current call during operation is large.
Other suppliers propose motors with gears and more realistic slow movement, which are needing a lot less current.
- Aristocraft motors (Aristocraft closed its doors in 2013) are nearly interchangable with LGB motors and does incorporate position contacts as standard. They are less reputed than LGB motors.
- Piko motors with optional separated contacts
- Böehler motors with slow movement.
- TrainLine45 motors with slow movement. They have position contact in standard. See review by Railway garden club
Motors for indoor use only
- Tortoise motors with slow movement are used on all train track sizes. They shall be installed *below* track.
- BK motors.
To avoid all problems related to outdoor use, it is possible to install pneumatic actuators which are simply small pneumatic cylinders with return spring. Instead to route a cable, you use an air tube. The air tank can be as simple as a pressurised soda bottle at 2 bar (such bottle can stand up to 10 bar).
Pneumatic control can be done either with pneumatic manual switches or with electro-valves controlled by the control box. The electro-valves which are the parts sensitive to outdoor use can be installed indoor. This can be found at Sunset valley (USA).