Large Scale Central

G-Scale Funicular Garden Railway

This is a rare two rail G-Scale Model Funicular with the ingenious and revolutionary ABT Passing switch. (the only railroad switch without moving parts!)

See video of the first full system test here:

and another video here:

After seven months of design and construction, we moved it to my garden railway Nov. 23 for permanent installation where I’ll build a mountain around it. My funicular features automated station stops, delay, and reverse- all programmable. Speed is adjustable with a throttle. It also has an automatic warning bell just like the real ones, and extensive cabin and structural lighting. Controls are conveniently located outside of the rear of the Gear Room. Everything is weather resistant for outdoor use. The track slopes upwards at 30 degrees and is 72 inches long. I created the track and passing switch using LGB brass Flex track. I believe this is the first G-Scale fully functional garden funicular railway in the United States with the ABT Passing Switch. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find ANY G-Scale funicular anywhere in the United States or anywhere else for that matter.

See ABT Switch Info:

And see this VERY interesting article: Giessbach Funicular.pdf (2.1 MiB)

Most of the people I talk to- even railroad aficionados, don’t even what a funicular is. This is understandable since very few exist in the United States. But there are some incredible ones in the rest of the world.

To make a fully functional G-Scale model I had to teach myself everything about it since there is almost no information on modeling a funicular on the internet or in railroad magazines. Everything, including the crazy tracks, had to be designed by just using old photographs of real funiculars. It is the biggest railroading challenge I have ever undertaken. Precision in all parts of the design and construction was imperative. The split-level cars had to stop exactly in line with the boarding platforms. The cars had to travel at 3 inches/sec. so I had to teach myself all about gears and gear ratios and how to do the calculations knowing the motor’s RPM. Difficult but lots of fun!

I’m making the full design drawings, electrical diagrams and construction photos available to everybody hoping that more will be built. This way, future modelers won’t suffer the learning pains and design errors I had to solve teaching myself how to make it!

See G-Scale Funicular Album here:

commented on other thread where you posted same

That’s spectacular, John! Excellent track work and structure!

Your motor & house at the top is amazing, and your controls look very thorough.

How long have you been working on this?

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Beautiful work, really nice, can’t wait to see it installed outdoors…but you’re sadly mistaken if you think you can slip a famous Italian train / love song past me!

edit: not that you were necessarily trying to…thanks for bringing back some childhood memories!

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Dog gone it John, you got me on that. I knew I couldn’t get that song past you! Oh well, at least I tried…

I love that melody too. Have a look and listen to all these great versions of it on this website:

And FYI, here is the English translation:

I climbed up high this evening, oh, Nanetta,Do you know where? Do you know where?Where this ungrateful heartNo longer pains me! No longer pains me!Where fire burns, but if you run away,It lets you be, it lets you be!It doesn’t follow after or torment youJust with a look, just with a look.(Chorus)Let’s go, let’s go! To the top we’ll go!Let’s go, let’s go! To the top we’ll go!Funiculi, funicula, funiculi, funicula!To the top we’ll go, funiculi, funicula!Let’s go from here below up to the mountain,A step away! A step away!You can see France, Procida, and Spain,And I see you! And I see you!You rise, pulled by a cable, quick as a wink,Into the sky! Into the sky!We’ll rise up like a whirlwind all of a suddenKnows how to do! Knows how to do!(Chorus)Let’s go, let’s go! To the top we’ll go!Let’s go, let’s go! To the top we’ll go!Funiculi, funicula, funiculi, funicula!To the top we’ll go, funiculi, funicula!The car has climbed up high, see, climbed up high now,Right to the top! Right to the top!It went, and turned around, and came back down,And now it’s stopped! And now it’s stopped!The top is turning round, and round, and round,Around yourself! Around yourself!My heart is singing the same refrain:We should be wed! We should be wed!(Chorus)Let’s go, let’s go! To the top we’ll go!Let’s go, let’s go! To the top we’ll go!Funiculi, funicula, funiculi, funicula!To the top we’ll go, funiculi, funicula!

We have 2 here in Pittsburgh, and there is one in Johnstown that even carries automobiles up and down the mountain. But we heres in PA calls em Inclines.

David Maynard said:

We have 2 here in Pittsburgh, and there is one in Johnstown that even carries automobiles up and down the mountain. But we heres in PA calls em Inclines.

That’s because Funicular is a big word! (

David, you remind me of Dave Bodnar’s garden RR incline. Like Pittsburgh’s remaining 1:1 inclines, it has dual track all the way.

However, John’s model has the more difficult funicular arrangement involving a single track for most of its length, with a passing track & switches at the midpoint. Though trickier in the middle, it economizes on the track, and simplifies the stations quite a bit. Very impressive work, John.

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Thanks to all who have commented on my funicular. After all that work, your kind words mean a lot to me. If you hadn’t liked it, I think I would be devastated. So thanks, I really mean it.

Cliff: You are absolutely right. The ABT switch was an instant hit when it was invented so most funiculars made afterwards were of the ABT design. There are basically three types of funiculars:

the least expensive but hard to make two rail ABT Switch system, the moderately expensive and harder to build three rail system, and the easy to build but expensive four rail system.

See Diagram Here:

This brochure is the best source of information about ABT funiculars available and is a MUST READ! Giessbach Funicular.pdf (2.1 MiB)

John C.

Do you have a diagram of the original ABT switch layout? From reading the document, it appears you have made the improved version.

Very interesting.


John, in view of wheel flanges being only on one side, and the angle of the operation, how’s the behavior of your cars? Like, do they want to stay firmly against the rail without bouncing, especially when going over the switches? Did you have to weight them down a lot? Just curious.

John, here’s a similar project I expect you’ve seen. Doesn’t strike me to be as advanced as yours (though the doors are cool), especially in all the structures and drive system.

I’m glad you posted this video Cliff. My Funicular was greatly inspired by this video of a G-Scale demonstration model of the Horseshoe Curve funicular. The model was made in Barcelona Spain. (You Tube doesn’t give the maker’s real name.) It was the ONLY video I could find of a G-Scale funicular with an ABT passing switch. Although his model is a little “rough around the edges”, it proved to me that an ABT Passing Switch was possible on a G-Scale track. I might not have made mine without the inspiration from his video, and must have watched it a dozen times to find out how he did it. I even took screenshots of individual frames and enhanced them in Photoshop for deep study! I copied his wise use of a 3" Meccano 19b ‘V’ groove pulley for the main cable drive pulley. I could not find a better 3" ‘V’ groove pulley anywhere on the internet. Although I Really wanted a ‘V’ groove pulley with pretty spokes, but could not find one. I took his great idea and made several improvements. By the way, Meccano makes the best solid brass beveled gears available. And you’re right, the automated sliding doors are fantastic!

My respect and thanks go out to the unknown man in Barcelona…

p.s. If you watch it carefully, I think he had some problems with the cable and hook arrangement. Note that the cable hooks on the front of the cars are ABOVE rail level, so the hooks don’t pass between the rails as they should. As the car moves over the switch, the cable hook is up in the air and does not guide the cable between the rails. I think he saw this and tried to correct the problem by adding vertical wires with a slight bend that would sort of hold the cable down some. These curved cable guards lessen the problem but don’t fix it. Nevertheless, it works because it is not essential on a model that the cable pass through the rail gaps. Tension from the weight of the model cars is enough to keep a lightweight cable above the rails. Getting the hooks and cable and cable crimps to pass through the narrow rail gaps is how the real funiculars work because the weight of the cables is so much that the cable would not stay above the rails from tension alone (like on his model). This would cause the cable to droop and drag against the top of the rails- A big NO NO in the funicular world! My cable is very taught because each car weighs 750 grams. It is so tense that I was able to eliminate the many support pulleys you can see in this photo of the real Horseshoe Curve Funicular in Pennsylvania. Getting the cable and hooks to pass smoothly through the rail gaps requires great precision in design and construction. Tolerances are down to 1/32". To do this, the cable must be as thin as possible and the cable crimp must be as tiny as possible. You must also use tiny rail spikes hammered tightly in place. Even a miss-placed rail spike can screw things up!

Thanks for the further background, John!

And please post pics of it installed, maybe another video of it working outside? (hint (

( the Forestry Forum this is called a

Molly Hogan. you open and rebraid an eye in the end. The wire has twists in it already and they retwist together fairly easy, rarely do they slip.

My eye didn’t like the look of the crimp. This should help smooth out the run…

Thank you for your thoughts and photos on the “Molly Hogan” cable braiding. Very interesting!

I hope I did not imply that the tiny cable crimps I used were too big and causing problems in the rail gap which is not the case. They are small enough to pass very smoothly through the gaps so I am happy with the results. The proper crimps for this size cable are included in each cable order, which is convenient. They are also very easy to crimp using pliers.

On your photos of the braid, it looks like the braided part has some sort of covering to keep the braid from unraveling (tape maybe?) that creates a" lump" on the cable that is similar in appearance and size to my cable crimps. So it appears that both the crimps and the braids have “lumps” that are much wider than the cable diameter. The difference may just be cosmetic. I can’t say… But there is wisdom in the old saying: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” So I think I’ll keep the cable crimps.

Here is a description and the supplier of the cable and crimps made for it:

Marine Grade T316 Stainless Steel Wire Rope Cable, 1/32", 7x7 with 25 PCS Sleeves,100 ft: $24.99 (Amazon)

1/32" T316 Stainless steel Marine Grade cable & Sleeves Stainless Steel Type 316 Wire Rope 7x7 , 1/32" Cable Marine Fishing - Works well around salt water. Will not rust as fast as Galvanized Aircraft Cable. Construction 7x7 strand cable is 7 bundles of 7 strands of cable It is a fairly flexible cable and the most popular in snare building. High Quality - Marine Grade For Maximum Corrosion Resistance Working Load Limit: 30lbs

DO NOT use any kind of fiberous rope (nylon, cotton, etc) or fishing line! This is very important. The ropes will stretch and will cause the cars not to pass correctly in the switch and will affect where they stop.

Also, I’m not thrilled with using ball chain, (the chain of little balls that hangs from light fixtures) See this guy’s ball chain in his attempt to make a three rail G-Scale funicular: . He wouldn’t need the unrealistic and noisy ball chain if he had used cable with a 19b Meccano ‘V’ groove pulley: see: I wonder if it’s dawned on him that he will need to design and make a three rail passing switch too!

Hi John, It’s a wonderful model and very nice rendition.

My only thought was the side crimp didn’t look prototypical.

On the site where I found those pics, other’s had rewoven the ends and either cut the ends to fit inside the eye or were left long and rewove and bound beside the main lead. The tubing is optional. just the best pics to understand the idea.

Welcome to the tribe.

Hi John,

Thanks for the kind words and explaining that what’s around the braid is a tube. That makes sense. Just for fun and my own education, I think I will attempt to braid a piece of spare 1/32" cable. I’m thinking I’ll need to put on my jeweler’s glasses because the little individual strands are as thin as a human hair! I suppose instead of a tube, one could use shrink wrap instead for a tighter wrap. It might even be thinner than a tube. A dab of super glue on the braid before wrapping couldn’t hurt.

Stay tuned, I’m preparing for everybody a list of important parts suppliers with links, prices and descriptions…

G-Scale Funicular Parts Suppliers

This is a partial list of the most important parts used in the construction of the G-Scale Funicular by John Carmichael. I recommend using these parts for ANY type of G-Scale funicular. J.C.

Mean Well LPV-35-12 Power Supply / LED Driver 90-264 VAC Input 35W 3A 12V Output - $15.56 waterproof! Powers the entire system.

Circuitron 5401 AR-2 Auto Reverse Circuit with Adjustable Delay- $49.99 requires a 12-18 volt AC or DC power supply. Will work with a reed switch for detection rather than IR detector. The perfect controller for the motor.

uniquegoods 6V 12V 24V 28V 3A 80W DC Motor Speed Controller (PWM) Speed Adjustable Reversible Switch 1203BB DC Motor Driver Reversing- $8.45 Nice compact little throttle with reverse switch. Very good! Item size: 1.3 x 2 x 0.4 inches; Net Weight: 1.13 ounces

Duty Cycle adjustable: 5%-100%, potentiometer with switch function. maximum output power: 80W, maximum continuous output current: 3A

ITT GL sound module version 2018- $39.95 A GL sound module is a 1.50" X 2.40" X 0.75" circuit board that consists of a voltage regulator, a preprogrammed sound module, a volume control, and a 6 pin terminal strip. (Requires any size 8 ohm speakers. #’ sounds best.) These modules have a maximum play time of 2 minutes depending on the scenario programmed into them, and can be played one time, or continuous looping until turned off. Use the sound of two trolley bells. Requires two reed switches- one on the tracks at each station

Nextrox Mini 12V DC 60 RPM High Torque Gear Box Electric Motor- $11.99 60 RPM |Torque: 30 N*cm |Diameter: 37mm |Shaft length: 21mm |Total length: 68mm. All Metal Construction. 100% metal gears, designed with high temperature-resistance, high abrasion resistance, more sturdy and durable. Integral gears make Gear Box design smaller and simpler.

Diameter: 37mm
Length [excluding shaft]: 47mm
Shaft length: 21mm
Total length: 68mm
Shaft diameter: 6mm
Weight: 138g

uxcell GA/GB 37mm diameter DC Geared Motor Mounting Bracket Holder- $7.80 + 6mm Hex Coupling. A necessary part for mounting the motor to the Gear Box floor.

1/4 inch to 6mm Stainless Steel Set Screw Shaft Coupler - $4.99 303 Stainless Steel. Use to connect motor shaft to a Meccano axle with the small 12 tooth bevel gear.

Meccano Standard Axle Rods: Standard Stainless Steel and Zinc Coated Steel Axles Axle Rod 16" (405mm). 8 SWG (4.06mm) diameter. Stainless Steel. Reproduction and Pre-Owned Original Meccano. Shorter sizes available.

Meccano 30m Bevel Gear 12 Teeth- L7.80- Solid Brass Bevel Gear. 12 Teeth. ½" (13mm) Diameter. ½" (13mm) Long. Brass. Requires 1 Grub Screw (69a). Only meshes with 30n to give 3:1 ratio and 90 degree drive angle. Cable should move at 2.88 inches/second with this gear ratio and throttle at 9 volts.

Meccano 30n Bevel Gear 36 Teeth- L20.50- Bevel Gear 36 Teeth. 13/16" (30mm) Diameter. 7/16" (11mm) Long. Brass. Requires 1 Grub Screw (69a). Only meshes with 30m to give 3:1 ratio and 90 degree drive angle. Cable should move at 2.88 inches/second with this gear ratio and throttle at 9 volts.

Marine Grade T316 Stainless Steel Wire Rope Cable, 1/32", 7x7 with 25 PCS Sleeves,100 ft: $24.99. For cable hooks on car. Add eye loops at both ends either by braiding or with included cable crimps.

Minimum Pulley Diameter is 1.25”. Wire Thickness: 1/32” = .03125”= .79375mm.

Meccano Blue Pulley 19b 3" Diameter Original - Used Condition- Ebay- $5.26 all metal. Use for Cable Driver pulley with Meccano Axle.

Bearing Steel V Grooved Wire Pulley Bearing Wheels Roller 5x22x5mm, 5 Pcs- $15.11 For pincher and redirection pulleys. Hole: 5mm=.1969”, Diameter: 22mm=.8661”, Thickness: 5mm=.1969”, V-groove width: 3mm= .1181”, V-groove deepness: 1.5mm= .0591”

Hard-to-Find Fastener 014973180973 Fender Washers, 1/4 x 1-1/2, Piece-10- $8.89 Use to modify standard wheel by adding another flange.

Permatex 84109 PermaPoxy 4 Minute Multi-Metal Epoxy, 0.84 oz. - $3.17 Use to attach steel fender washer to steel wheel.

Make & Take Mini Flat Car Kit 2pcs. HLW15000- Reindeer Pass- $11.50 from Hartland locomotive works. Use for making the cars. Perfect size for small passing switches like mine. Great little kit!

K&S Percision Metals 16408 Brass Sheet Metal Rack, 0.040" Thickness x 6" Width x 12" Length, 18 Gauge, 3 pcs. $21.99 Use to make the Gear Box. Cut with Demel cut-off disk.

K&S Round Rod 1/16" D X 12" L Stainless Steel - 304 Carded- $5.20 Use this strong thin rod to make cable hooks for cars. Don’t use thicker rod because it might hung up in the ABT switch cable gap. Don’t use brass rods which might bend under load. Cut with Demel cut-off disk. Bend with needle nose pliers and hammer. Insert stem of hook into an attachment bracket (I used ¼” acrylic sheet) at the bottom of the front of each car, slightly off-center on the same side as the double flanged wheels. The hook should be as small as possible and be slightly below the top of the rails so it passes through the gaps in the switch.

K & J Magnets, Inc. Neodymium Mounting Magnet MM-D-10 $1.78 The MM-D style is a flat mounting magnet with a female threaded shaft permanently attached. Screw a short piece of threaded rod into the hole under the flat car that was meant to attach a coupler. Screw the small threaded flat magnet in the other end of the rod. The screw allows you to easily adjust the height of the magnet. This is the perfect magnet for a funicular.

See location and/or electrical wiring of most of these parts in these two diagrams:

John, These are the instructions as per the Forestry Forum;

“You start with a clean end on your cable. Split and unwind the cable so that you end up with say 3 strands on one side and 4 strands on the other (seven strand is pretty common). Unwind enough so that you get the loop size you want. You want the ends of your strands to stop just inside of the loop. You can check roughly by just bending the two sides to form a loop. Make sure the strands in the two sides are wrapped tight, you should notice a spiral in the strands. This spiral is what is going to lock the two sides together when you wrap them back together. Bend the two sides together and start wrapping them back together at the top of the loop, working your way down both sides toward the bottom of the loop (cable). You have to wrap the two sides ( groups of strands) so the spirals fit together. If the spirals don’t fit, you need to wrap in the opposite direction. I’ve used this with a lot of cable and never had it fail. Braiding cable is easier than braiding most ropes… you don’t have to worry as much about securing the ends of the strands.”