Can I leave my trains outside?
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Author:  paulrace [ Tue May 31, 2022 11:44 am ]
Post subject:  Can I leave my trains outside?

A reader writes:

1) I would like to know if I can really leave my trains outside without damage to them. Or do I need to bring them in every night? I would like to be able to leave these trains outside, even when I'm not running them.
2) Can these trains run outside during inclement weather?


Thanks for getting in touch. Most Large Scale equipment can run in the rain, but because the track is wet, you have to run very short trains - otherwise the drivers slip too much. I've even had slippage be an issue in late Ohio summer evenings when there is dew on the rails.

But the big question is whether you can leave your trains out when they're not running. The answer is no.
If you're trying to avoid "schlepping" them in and out, you might consider building a "tunnel" or "train shed" or such to run them into between sessions. I built a train shed on the side of my railroad where I can keep very short trains on the track and ready to run at a moment's notice. It's unheated and uninsulated, and the wind blows right through the openings, but it helps a great deal.

Have I tried the alternative? Yes. Because I run trains right up until New Years, I have had trains buried in snow twice, and the results aren't pretty. Most parts of Large Scale trains are immune to rust, but not all of them are. It also seems to speed up the failure of plastic handrails and other small parts.

In addition, UV turns plastic handrails brittle, so the handrails on trains that were left outside all summer may fail in a year or so, when they would otherwise have lasted for years. Worse yet, even though Large Scale trains are all made with UV-resistant plastic or paint, I have seen trains that were significantly lighter on one side than the other.

Even leaving trains outside year-round in my damp train shed is speeding up their aging to some extent.

Don't let this put you off the hobby. Like I said, a dry tunnel or something similar can provide most of the protection you need when the trains aren't running.

Best of luck with your plans. Please keep me posted,

- Paul

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