Frequently Asked Questions


Does everything stay outside all year?

All rolling stock, engines and cars, is stored indoors except when it is actually being run. All track and structures remain outside year-round. During the winter months, track switches are covered to prevent ice damage.

Was it all built from scratch?

No, only the buildings, bridges, and track support structure was built from scratch. The track is manufactured by Aristrocraft (brass) and is intended for outdoor use. Rolling stock is mostly Bachmann, with some built from kits, or altered from existing cars. Much of the rolling stock was custom painted and lettered.

What is the scale and gauge?

Those are two independent values. The gauge is the distance between the rails of the track. It is #1 gauge which has been around for a long, long time but only recently adopted by garden railroad enthusiasts. The distance between the outsides of the rails is about 2". Since the same track is used by both narrow and standard gauge model railroads, the scale depends on the prototype gauge. In the case of the MW&W, the prototype is narrow gauge which is 36 inches. (Standard gauge is 56.5 inches) The scale works out to 1:20.3, sometimes called F scale. Some of the MW&W rolling stock is true 1:20.3 scale, and some is 1:22 or even 1:24. 

Sometimes garden railroads are called "G scale" and is generally understood to represent all scales running on #1 gauge track

What makes it run?

Trains and rolling stock lighting are powered directly from the track which is connected to a DC power supply. The track voltage is 0-20 VDC and the voltage controls the speed. Direction is controlled by polarity. A switch panel controls the power and polarity of 20 electrical blocks distributed over the tracks. In September 2012, the control panel was rebuilt to provide for two train operation.

What are those colorful cars with names?

Those four cars are the private business cars of the four members of the MW&W Board of Directors. They are used for official railroad functions, such as the opening ceremonies for major facilities, inspection trips, entertaining important clients, and the like. They are not used in regular scheduled trains nor are they available for charter service. The color schemes are as follows:

Business car Katherine: Purple being a favorite color of this Director, the primary color is Atlantic Coast Line purple.

Business car Alex: Alex is a fan of the University of Texas, Austin, thus orange is the primary color.

Business car Owen: Owen is a University of Wisconsin Badger fan (his parents are UW Band alums), therefore red was chosen

Business car Sophie: Sophie is the newest member of the board, and since the Badgers were already represented, it seemed appropriate to have a Packer themed livery. Fortunately, C&NW green and gold fills the bill.