|Written by Paul D. Race for Family Garden Trains(tm) and Garden Train Store(tm)
Bachmann starter sets, such as the ones shown on this page, make an excellent
initial investment, even if you're still trying to decide what kind of railroad
you want or exactly where you want it to go. If you later wind up modeling a
whole 'nudder different kind of railroad, the Bachmann trains are sturdy and
inexpensive enough to keep as backup, to use around the Christmas tree, or to
let the kids or grandkids run.
Bachmann's Large Scale trains are accurately detailed models of real narrow-gauge trains that used to run in North America. Most narrow-gauge trains in this country ran on tracks that had the rails 36" apart. (This was in contrast to "standard-gauge" trains, which had the rails 56 1/2" apart.) Such railroads included the Denver and Rio Grande (later the Denver and Rio Grande Western) in the West, and the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad (nicknamed the "Tweetsie") in the East. There were a host of other narrow-gauge railroads all over the United States, most of which were absorbed into other lines by the middle of the 20th century. But such variety leads many Garden Railroaders to invent their own railroad names and locations and feel good about it--since something similar most likely existed somewhere.
Models of narrow-gauge trains tend to be charming and to look old-fashioned compared to models of standard-gauge trains. They also tend to be larger in scale, so the figurines and accessories that go with them are larger and less likely to get lost in the undergrowth. If you want to know all there is to know about garden train scales, refer to the article Which Scale Should I Model on the Family Garden Train's Primer page.
These trains work great outside and are designed to hold up to sun, heat, cold, and dampness. However, when you do move outside, you'll want to purchase some track that is made for the garden (The track that comes with the trains isn't), and you'll want larger curves anyway--trains look better and run better on wider curves. Some other pages that might help you with such decisions include:
Update for 2016 - Bachmann manufactures these trains in huge batches, and doesn't make another batch until the previous batch of the same train has pretty much disappeared from the shelves. So from Bachmann's point of view, the second and third train on this page are - technically - discontinued. They are brand new, with a lifetime warranty, so you never have to worry about getting parts. The only reason I'm pointing this out is that supplies of these trains is getting a little "thin" in some areas, and we don't expect a new batch for a couple of years.
On the "good side," Bachmann made another batch of the Virginia and Truckee set that they call the "Silverado." Whether you are interested in modeling this particular Western short line or not, you have to admit that the locomotive has one of the fanciest paind jobs you've ever seen on a model train. I'm sorry not to have a REAL closeup of the locomotive, but mine's in storage due to a move.
A Note about "Buyer's Guides" We post these descriptions to help you make informed decisions and to learn what is available, even if the suppliers we usually recommend have a short supply. In some cases, we will allow a description to remain on line, even without a supplier link, if we have reason to believe that the product will become available again later. If you want a particular product, but we have no supplier button or the supplier's page says they are sold out, let us know, and we'll try to help you find one elsewhere. We apologize if this causes you any inconvenience or confusion.
For more detailed information about why model trains and related products seem to "come and go" and why I have stopped listing prices for products, please see our article "About Pricing and Availability."
Note about Suppliers: While we try to help you get the products you want by recommending suppliers with a good record of customer service, all transactions between you and the supplier you chose to provide your trains or other purchases are governed by the published policies on the supplier's web site. So please print off any order confirmation screens and save copies of invoices, etc., so you can contact the appropriate supplier should any problems occur. (They almost never do, but you want to be on the safe side.)
Bachmann Starter sets
Starter Sets include an oval of track (14-20 pieces), power pack and speed controller, and an illustrated Bach Man instruction manual. Many include a "how-to" video as well. Several of the most recent and most popular sets are shown below. For more information or to check pricing and availability from one or more of our suppliers, please click on a "check stock" button.
Bachmann Christmas Sets - To see Bachmann Large Scale trains that are painted specifically for Christmas, please check out our more track options for garden railroads, please check out our sister site's Large Scale Christmas Trains page.
Give your Trains Room to Run
Trains look better and run better on wide curves. The track packaged with the trains on this page uses narrow curves and is not designed for use out of doors. Save it to put around the Christmas tree or for other indoor uses and give your trains room to run outside.
The most widely used kinds of track for garden trains was invented by LGB. AristoCraft and USA Trains make a similar version with better connectors. And Bachmann has recently introduced their own solid brass track (don't order the "indoor track" by accident).
The following track products are compatible (although the shape and color of the ties might vary a little from one brand to the next. They all UV-resistant ties and solid brass rails in a formula that weathers to a nice realistic brown color in a few years outside. Think of your train as the "software" and your track as the "hardware." No matter how nice your trains are, they will never run like they should unless they are running on the best track.
Where we could find a working Amazon link we have included it. But we provided the product numbers of brands we couldn't find online in case you find them in a store and wonder what they are.
Although most Large Scale track circles use 12 pieces to make a circle, this track is designed to be mechanically compatible with LGB's 1600 curves (also called R3), which use 16 pieces to a circle.
To see many more track options for garden railroads, please check out our Track Order Page.
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