New to the larger scales?
Scale and gauges
Generally, the most popular gauges for locomotives capable of passenger hauling are 5" and 7¼" (sometimes written as 7.25") gauge. This refers to the distance between the rails they run on.
True scale locomotives are built to a scale of 1.0625in to the foot and 1.54in to the foot.
This is gives an accepted scaling of 1/12th and 1/8th of full size. There are many variations of scale and historically there have been lots of different gauges.
We build all our scale locomotives such as the Class 50 and Class 42 using the scale figures above, this ensures that the locos will be in scale with rolling stock or other locomotives on a scale railway. Our freelance and narrow gauge designs are built to a size that will accommodate larger batteries and larger motors which gives a lot of hauling power in a compact design.
For passenger hauling most clubs and a lot of garden railways use sit-astride passenger cars on a raised track for 5" gauge. This gives a lower centre of gravity and improves stability and passenger comfort.
7¼” gauge tracks are usually ground level; the wider gauges give greater stability and often use sit-in style carriages.
Locos are available in all shapes and sizes. Our smallest loco is the 5" gauge Project Loco, which is just 22 inches long and will haul 4-5 adults comfortably on a club track or a garden railway.
The smaller locos usually have a shorter wheelbase and they will run on a tighter radius which is often the case on a garden railway. However, if you have a smaller railway with tighter turns you can also opt for a bogie loco which has the shorter wheelbase in the bogies and has the advantage of more driven axles and greater hauling capacity.
Transporting your loco is also a major factor. Project Locos in both gauges will fit in a small family hatchback. The larger locos such as the ride-in Geep will need a large van or a trailer for transportation although many of the large locos tend to live at their home railway and rarely need to be transported.
All our bogie locos are designed to be split into their main components such as bogies, chassis and body-shell in minutes. This can often make transporting your loco a lot easier.
Battery-electric locos are very efficient and will run for several hours on one charge; they can be recharged overnight and ready for duty the next day. Being low maintenance makes them ideal for garden or club railway.
Sit in locos
Ride on or sit-in locos are useful as they are a self contained unit and don’t need a riding car or driving truck for the driver. The Scooter is based on a simple narrow gauge trolley style loco which can be driven whilst sitting sideways making it ideal for out and back railways. The Geep is a larger sit in loco which combines a comfortable driving position with plenty of capacity for hauling passengers all day long.
Building your own railway can be a great experience; a little contractor’s loco can help the building process by delivering track, ballast and essentials like tea and biscuits to the right place at the right time. We have supplied a lot of Project Locos as the first loco of many garden railways. The riding cars are easily converted into ballast trucks and other useful vehicles and once the railway is established they can be converted back to passenger carrying or permanent way service vehicles. We have a standard offer we make to the original owners of all our project locos that we will make an allowance of 75% of the original purchase price if they wish to upgrade to a larger loco. The offer has never been taken up as most owners tell us they will keep the loco as it is too useful!
Most club tracks have speed limits between 5 and 8 mph, doesn’t sound particularly fast when compared to the family car, but on track it is plenty fast enough. The main aspect is safety, these scale speeds allow passengers to enjoy a safe and comfortable ride without being thrown about or unbalanced at each curve. The lower speed also gives passengers a longer journey time. These rides are for the pleasure of riding the train, it is not a roller coaster and there is no rush to complete the journey in record time.
Garden railways often require slower speeds and so we have introduced a geared down system in the new Comet loco and the Scooter. These two locos are great for the garden railway especially if you are a narrow gauge enthusiast.
All our locos are fitted with a speed limiting switch which allows the driver to select full or half speed running.
Safety is paramount; we fit safety features such as battery cut out switches, Deadmans switches, speed limiters, diagnostic read-outs to all our locos. We design and engineer our locos for safe and reliable operation. Correct size cables rated for the current used, fuses and cut-outs where they are necessary. Remote handsets with large rotary throttle controls enable the driver to adopt a comfortable driving position and keep an eye on the road ahead rather than the back of the loco.
If you have any other questions, we're always available for a chat