What are common causes of derailment?


Phil S
11 Sep 2015
Ann Arbor, Michigan
I would ask you to read my page and see after reading you agree with my logic and assessment.
Hi Greg,

I don't want to get in a pissing contest over this but I do have a couple of comments.

1. Let me begin by saying despite gauge 1 track existing before Lehmann came out with their "Gross Bahn" it was Lehmann's release of the "Gross Bahn" in the late 1960's that really popularized garden railroading for the masses. Primarily because of size - 1:22.5 scale based loosely on narrow gauge prototypes, the price - it was much more affordable than other existing large scale trains, it was well made and fact that it worked.

2. LGB models are hardly what we would call fine scale and neither is their track. LGB is renowned for their "rubber ruler". These are compromises designed to make the trains very robust so they can withstand the rigors of being played with both indoors or out. LGB trains are "toys" in this sense.

3. LGB engineered their model trains and track to work well with each other, particularly outdoors. They succeeded stunningly as can be judged by both their popularity and the major copycats that sprang up - Aristocraft, Bachmann, and Hartland Locomotive Works for instance. Even though these manufacturers came out with their own track systems they were all pretty much based around LGB's track design and rail size, code 332, as the standard.

I think most on this forum (dare I say even you?) would agree with the above.

LGB wheels and track (read turnouts) don't meet the NMRA/G1MRA standards. Not even the "Toy Train" NMRA standards you rail against (pun intended;)). Also, the earlier G1MRA standards on which the NMRA standards are loosely based were actually intended for the 1:32 scale not 1:22.5. LGB wheel flanges are too wide at the root - I measure around 1.98 mm and too deep at 3mm. Turnouts have flange ways that are far too wide at the wing rail as compared to the 3mm standard. Depending on the turnout (R1, R3 or R5) more than double. I measured 6.3 mm for the diverging route wing rail flange way at the frog tip on a R1 turnout. R5 flange ways at the frog tip measure around 5mm. The guard rail flange ways are closer to the standard at around 3.5 to 4 mm. I'm sure part of the reason for the "discrepancy" are the thicker than "standard" flanges on LGB wheels. In any case, LGB wheels and track work very well together. To expect LGB to significantly modify their designs to meet "standards" promulgated 40+ years after the craze they pioneered is, I feel, disingenuous.

I do, however, recommend people read the free to view Garden Railways Magazine series on these issues (In addition to your very helpful website): https://grw.trains.com/~/media/files/pdf/rapid/understandtrackandwheelstandards.pdf

In the end the point of this thread is to help Jim solve his derailment problem. Hopefully, with everyone's contribution, we have!;)
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DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
Well done Phil you have hit the nail firmly on the head.

I almost went for LGB 45mm with my first Garden Railway back in the early 70’s but was seduced by live steam and went for 32mm. A system that I stayed with till I moved to Hertford in 1984 or 5. I then went for LGB with R1 and live steam as well as by this time I was aware of not only Gauge changeable options but also being able to specify the Gauge which I was not aware of when I bought my first Live Steam Loco from Archangel. But I did have issues on gauge in that 2 of the 3 Merlin Locomotives I had at Hertford did not like the LGB back to back. This was resolved by widening the check rail just enough to get the Merlins across but not so much that the LGB stick would not pass. In more recent times Live Steam Mfg has gone for slightly coarser wheels rather tha the Gauge 1 finer scale standards that Merlin and Archangel used on their scratch built locomotives. The one Merlin that had no problems had continental LGB type standard of wheels and back to back.

It should be said that many of the issues created are caused by back to back standards. I find it interesting that Peco have hit a sweat spot in this regard with their G45 points working perfectly for not only LGB standards but Gauge 1 finer scale also.

Since my early lines I have become obsessed with Timetable running to such an extent that reliability rather than fidelity has taken precedence. Thus I use LGB stock with LGB couplings quite happily, Peco, LGB, TrainLine 45 and Aristo Track all feature and derailments other than wrong point setting or bad shunting are almost unknown. This despite some dodgy looking track that has appeared as wood baseboards have sunk or moved about a little. The lack of derailments is certainly aided by my slow speeds and chipped locomotives are scaled to 20kph as applies on my line of choice the Selktalbahn in the Harz Mountains in former East Germany. Thus it can be fairly said that many derailments can be caused by speedy running and one only needs to look at the many You Tube Vids of both Live Steam in 32 or 45 lines to appreciate what I mean, in all of the scales that apply to these gauges.

Wow that was a lot waffle to get to another cause if derailments!


UK/US/ROW steam narrow gauge railways 1:1
27 Oct 2009
Bucks/Oxon/Northants area
To add to PhilS's comments above - I have long held to the belief that most of the advise offered in "user forums" is in the main very much in the realms of, "In the land of the blind the one eyed is king". Thankfully there are instances where some contributors do actually have the benefit of 20/20 vision, i.e. they actually have the required depth of knowledge, and dare I say it "accreditation". That makes their contributions of a very definite value that should be taken careful note of. You know who you are, or maybe not because of my second observations about fora that follows.

However, it is also my experience that quite a lot of the time the key to unlock an individual's problem can and will come from left of field, offered by a certified one eyed contributor. Yes, they may seem to the expert eye to be a bit shonky, and unhelpful even, if you believe you have given the definitive answer, I'm guilty of that feeling too at times. But that's the point of these, and this particular forum, it benefits from the widest range of opinions going into the pot, and also a not just a little irreverence and levity to lighten the mood when thing seem insoluble or have run their course ;) ;) I rest my case. Max
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25 Oct 2009
Pennsylvania, USA

What are common causes of derailment? Answer..... Murphy.....:rofl:



DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK

What are common causes of derailment? Answer..... Murphy.....:rofl:

Ah hence those road signs of your “Go Slow Murphey”.

Greg Elmassian

8 Mar 2014
San Diego
Phil, no argument on anything you stated.

The OP is in the USA and NOT running LGB, but Bachmann cars.

The standards recommended on my page are not the NMRA one you quoted. If you were running:
  • LGB only
  • short trains
  • LGB track only
I would say the standard you quoted is fine.

But he is not running LGB only, and also he is having issues, so you need to hang your hat on a standard. I make a recommendation, but I doubt anyone has read the page through. I was hoping to get into a discussion of more details/reasons but it's probably too deep for this thread.

I recommend the NMRA standards 3.2 and 4.2, explanation, justification and links on my page.


Paul M

25 Oct 2016

What are common causes of derailment? Answer..... Murphy.....:rofl:

No, usually saying to people "watch my train go round this track perfectly" will guarantee an instant nose-dive, without recoursing to incorrect wheel standards, underweight wagons or any other possible defects

Gavin Sowry

Garden Railroader and Raconteur
27 Oct 2009
Hutt Valley, NZ
My closing quote to the 'you shoulders', and the 'why don't yous' that visit my railway, is 'oh, how many derailments did you see?'
I must admit to the odd off track excursion by my rolling stock, the causes being my size 9 that has encroached on the clearance envelope, or gusts of wind, they don't call this place Windy Wellington for nothing !