A reader writes:
Hello. I am hoping you can help me. I purchased a G Gauge, ready to run train for under the Xmas tree. The Hogwarts express. We have enjoyed it for 3 years. I was hoping to make the track bigger this year but am finding it difficult to figure out what track goes with it. Im sorry, I know nothing about trains. I just know that my grown daughters, their husbands and children, and myself have a blast with it each year. (I craft and have been working on a HP village if you will, and want the train track to drive through it. Anywho, Im having a heck of a time figuring out what to get. There appears to be a lot of polar express track sold on eBay. Are they the same? Could you share a brand specifically (train tracks for dummys)? I sure would appreciate it. Im hoping to surprise everyone this year with a bigger and more interesting track. Thank you in advance for your help. Have an awesome day.
Thanks for getting in touch. The quickest way to help you is to make certain you have the G gauge version. That version has the track 1.775 inches apart measuring between the inside of the rails. The newer "Ready-to-Play" version has the rails 2" apart, so they're incompatible.
The box for the G gauge set is mostly dark red.
The box for the "Ready-to-Play" set is mostly off-white.
I often shop for used Lionel G-gauge and RTP trains on shopgoodwill.com. I search on "Lionel Trains." You have to know what you're looking at, though. They mostly list O gauge, and they frequently mislabel the RTP trains as "G gauge."
The key thing to look for is the phrase "G gauge" under the name near the top of the box. When you see the track, you'll see pieces that are about 12" long and turn 30 degrees, so 12 make a circle. The "Ready-to-Play track has a bunch of short pieces, each about 6" long. 24 make a circle. It's easy to spot the difference once you know what you're looking for.
If that's what you have, then the track for any of the OTHER Lionel G gauge battery-powered sets is the same. There is a list here: https://familygardentrains.com/primer/s ... trains.htm
The complication is that several of those have been remade in 2" gauge, what Lionel calls "Ready-to-Play."
But if you can find any of the old "G gauge" sets with the track, that's likely to be cheaper than trying to buy the track separately. The most popular set of the originals so far is definitely the Polar Express. Look for the words "G gauge" near the bottom of the box front.
BTW, the original came with a shiny bell that doesn't actually ring and a couple figures. Those are always missing, sorry about that.
By the time you've won any of these you may have $50 into it, and the locomotives aren't guaranteed to run. But you'll have extra cars and track you can use for about the same price as if you had bought the track separately. Hope that makes sense.
I set these out for kids to run during "open railroads" at my house, so I have bought any number at auction, with mixed results, because I need backups and backups for backups.
But without more straight pieces those extra curves won't do you much good. If you try to add them by making "S" curves your train won't stay on the track very well.
Your train will run on G gauge brass track, by the way, and it will run better on wider curves (like 5'-diameter instead of 4'-diameter). But it will cost a lot more money.
As a bonus, here's an article on how I ran our Hogwarts Express last November for the kiddies to run. https://halloweentrains.com/primer/hogw ... astles.htm
I would love to see photos of your Harry Potter-themed village pieces.