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This the first full system test of my new Funicular Railway in Tucson Arizona. Please excuse the hand-held camera shake!

See video here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jlcarmichael/49105795553/in/datetaken/  and here: https://youtu.be/SmoXgy7kNUo


I moved it to my garden railway yesterday for permanent installation where I'll build a mountain around it.  It features automated station stops, delay, and auto reverse- all programmable.  Speed is adjustable if necessary.  Also has an automatic warning bell, and extensive cabin and structural lighting.  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!  In fact, I know of no other G-Scale version in the United States. 

See: https://www.giessbach.ch/en/abt-switch.html

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 know 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.

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.


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 railroad magazines.  Everything, including the crazy tracks, had to be designed by just using old photographs of real funiculars.  I is the biggest railroading challenge I have ever met. Precision in all parts of the design and construction is imperative. The split-level cars must stop exactly in line with the boarding platforms. The cars had to travel at 3 inches/sec.  And 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 these 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, since funicular modeling information on the internet is almost nonexistant. See here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jlcarmichael/albums/72157711889718966

Meanwhile here are some of my diagrams and drawings for a quick overview:








I'll also post another video after outside installation.  I'd like to write an article for Garden Railways Magazine after final installation and landscaping is complete.

My Funicular was inspired in part by a G-Scale demonstration model of the Horseshoe Curve funicular that was made in Barcelona Spain.  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 took his idea and made several improvements. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TL0XYKtTEHw


My thanks go out to him and to Mr. Steve Worack, the man who designed and sold me the Circuitron AR-2 auto reverse & delay controller.  His helpful connection advise was critical to the sucess of the project. It works perfectly.  Thank you Steve.

If anybody has any questions, just ask. But please be patient as my reply may take time.  I'm very busy trying to get thefunicular landscaping done before our Christmas party.





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I've moved the funicular outside to the garden railroad and footings are on the 10" deep large crushed gravel foundations.  After the Thanksgiving storms, I'll start landscaping, install the buried electrical conduit, and build the ticket booth and stairs to the lower platform.






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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.


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.




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.

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. https://www.amazon.com/uxcell-diameter-Mounting-Bracket-Coupling/dp/B00TK0X03U/ref=pd_sbs_328_2/140-6459772-3863408?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B00TK0X03U&pd_rd_r=320e17da-87dc-11e9-9e76-bd9072b5bc3a&pd_rd_w=Yz3aL&pd_rd_wg=WrmA3&pf_rd_p=588939de-d3f8-42f1-a3d8-d556eae5797d&pf_rd_r=1JM79NHY318RMT45ZTQ3&psc=1&refRID=1JM79NHY318RMT45ZTQ3


Meccano 30m Bevel Gear 12 Teeth- L7.80- 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.



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.



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

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



Hard-to-Find Fastener 014973180973 Fender Washers, 1/4 x 1-1/2, Piece-10- $8.89 Use to modify standard wheel by adding a flange.https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00L1IYS6C/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1


Permatex 84109 PermaPoxy 4 Minute Multi-Metal Epoxy, 0.84 oz. - $3.17 Use to attach washer to steel wheel to make extra flange. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000ALDXV2/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1


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”



Meccano Blue Pulley 19b 3" Diameter Original - Used Condition- Ebay- $5.26



Make & Take Mini Flat Car Kit 2pcs. HLW15000- Reindeer Pass- $11.50 from Hartland locomotive works



uniquegoods 6V 12V 24V 28V 3A 80W DC Motor Speed Controller (PWM) Speed Adjustable Reversible Switch 1203BB DC Motor Driver Reversing- $8.45 "for 12v motor speed controller" 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: 3Ahttps://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00RYRXFW2/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1


1/4 inch to 6mm Stainless Steel Set Screw Shaft Coupler - $4.99 303 Stainless Steel . works great. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KVNA1IW/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1


Mean Well LPV-35-12 Power Supply / LED Driver 90-264 VAC Input 35W 3A 12V Output - $15.56 waterproof! https://www.amazon.com/LPV-35-12-Supply-Driver-90-264-Output/dp/B00IO1W38E/ref=sr_1_16?keywords=meanwell+waterproof+12v+power+supply&qid=1569615674&s=gateway&sr=8-16

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G-Scale Funicular Modeling Tips

Here are a few things that are important to know when designing a functional model funicular that’s driven by a motor. See separate list of Parts Suppliers. Consult design drawings to see where the parts go.

Power Source Selection: Use a 12V DC constant power source made for outdoor use. This voltage is more than adequate for the slow moving cable system, controller, sound module, and lights. It stresses the light bulbs less than a 24V source. A 35 watts output is more than enough.

Motor Selection: Use a small high torque 12V DC motor with integral gears. 60 rpm works great. If motor has integral gears then you will be able to use fewer reduction gears for a simpler system. Only use motors that can be securely attached to a motor mount of the correct size.

Gear Selection: To reduce friction, jamming, excess noise, over-complication, and headaches, use the fewest number of gears that will give you your desired gear ratio. With my system, only two gears are needed! Use only Metal Gears. Meccano Gears are the BEST! Keep gears greased and oiled.

Pulley Selection: There are two types of uses for funicular pulleys:
1) The big Drive Pulley (also called “drive wheel”) moves the cable. You want to maximize friction between the cable and Drive Pulley so that the cable won’t slip which causes jerky movement or no movement. It should have a “V” groove and be as large as possible (3” diameter is good). The cable should be in contact with the pulley along as much of its circumference as possible to maximize friction. To do this use two directional pulleys close together and close to the drive pulley. I call these two “pincher pulleys”. Use the Meccano 19b pulley. Don’t use plastic pulleys.
2) Directional Pulleys change the direction of the cable. You want to minimize the friction of the cable against directional pulleys. To do this, avoid large angle changes to the cable when you design your system. Pulleys with ball bearings have less friction on the pulley axle. Don’t try to minimize cable friction by using light weight cars! Model funiculars work much better with heavy cars of equal weight because they add friction between the cable and the Drive Pulley. Don’t use plastic pulleys.

Car Wheel Selection: Use the biggest and heaviest steel wheelsets you can find. Don’t use plastic. This helps keep a low center of gravity in the cars. Grind off the flange on one side of each set. Epoxy a ½” steel fender washer to the other wheel of each set to create a double flanged wheel. Remember, heavy cars are a good thing!

I'll add to this list as I think of other things..

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I'd like to add to my lists of Funicular Suppliers and Funicular Tips, but the "Edit" button has disappeared from the posts even though I am signed in.  Is this happening to everybody's posts or just mine I wonder?

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Yesterday, after 10 months, I finished installing the funicular outside within the Cholla Patch Railroad layout. It now has a new mountain range to climb. Most of the iron support structure is buried within the mountain. The entire mountain (except around the plants) is coated in a 2:1 water/Titebond III solution which solidified all the small particle sand and clay. This controls erosion and makes cleaning the leaves off easy with a leaf blower without all the sand blowing away. I use the same Titebond solution on my track ballast- like the HO guys do. I've designed and built a passenger boarding area with lots of anxious travelers and an ornate Victorian ticket booth (modeled after the precious upper tramway station booth at Saltburn Cliff Tramway in England- saltburn cliff tramway - Bing images ). This summer, I'll make a suspension footbridge from the upper station over to the Treehouse behind the mountain.

You can see photos of the installation details here: G-Scale Funicular Garden Railway


p.s. After Tucson's annual Rail's in the Garden home tour next weekend, I hope to make a more "professional" video with a tripod this time.




Funicular Before and After.jpg


G Scale Funicular Landscaping2.JPG


G Scale Funicular Ticket Booth5.JPG


G Scale Funicular Boarding Area1.JPG


G Scale Funicular Boarding Area2.JPG


G Scale Funicular Boarding Area7.JPG


G Scale Funicular Boarding Area10.JPG


G Scale Funicular Car and Station1.JPG




G Scale Funicular Boarding Area11.JPG


G Scale Funicular Car and Station4.JPG


G Scale Funicular Car4.JPG


G Scale Funicular Boarding Area17.JPG


G Scale Funicular Boarding Area16.JPG


G Scale Funicular Car3.JPG


G Scale Funicular Upper Station.JPG


G Scale Funicular Gear Room.JPG


G Scale Funicular Upper Station2.JPG


G Scale Funicular Lighting3.JPG


G Scale Funicular Ticket Booth9.JPG


G Scale Funicular Ticket Booth8.JPG


G Scale Funicular Car1.JPG


G Scale Funicular Overview1.JPG


G Scale Funicular Overview2.JPG


G Scale Funicular Upper Station4.JPG


G Scale Funicular Track2.JPG


G Scale Funicular Track.JPG


G Scale Funicular Lighting5.JPG


G Scale Funicular Lighting4.JPG

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Hello All:


Thanks to all for your kind comments.  I'm so glad that all you experts liked my work. That helps to make it all worthwhile.

I have been keeping sane distracting myself by making several cool G-Scale funicular railway videos including the very first known ONBOARD video of a model funicular!

We’ve really tried to do a good job of filming using the GoPro camera and special lighting effects.

Here is a photo of the little funicular movie camera car that we used for the onboard shots. Note the cable hook and flange-less wheel.

What you can't see are the 453 grams of lead weights underneath the car!  The total weight of the camera car exactly equals the 753 gram weight of the passenger cars. (for cable weight balance)





We published all the funicular videos in SD in a playlist on You Tube located here:




We had a good time making these and hope you enjoy them.




p.s. If you listen carefully to the audio of some of them, you can hear the same groans and creaking noises that real funiculars make.  I love that!

p.p.s. Here are the higher resolution HD funicular videos on Flickr:













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This is our last and best funicular garden railway video that contains many short clips edited together- some with onboard video.  Makes you feel like a passenger!

We worked real hard on getting the perfect angles, lighting and editing.


Filming it was a good distractive  quarantine project.

Hope you like it!


Funicular Garden Railway Ride: https://youtu.be/2xV-1awAJOs







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Here is a helpful diagram showing three basic types of funiculars. The earliest ones were four rail (two track) funiculars, but they are the costliest to build because rails are expensive, they take up a lot of space, and they need double stations. More advanced three rail funiculars are less expensive but a little harder to build because they require a passing switch. The least expensive is the modern two rail funicular. They use less iron rails, don’t need double stations, and occupy less real estate, but have the harder to build passing switch. This unique type of funicular was invented in 1890 by Swiss engineer Carl Roman Abt (1850–1933) for the Giessbach Hotel funicular which is still in operation. It was made possible by his innovative and revolutionary ABT passing switch - the only railroad switch without any moving parts!  Abt called it the “automatic turnout” solution. It became an instant success and most funiculars constructed afterwards use the ABT design to this day



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The funicular now has a reason for being.  I've connected the upper station to a 104 ft. long (at 1:24 scale) suspension foot bridge that leads to the re-modeled Treehouse Complex. The two supporting cables of the bridge run through holes drilled in each plank, and are attached to steel disks on the station by magnets to prevent any damage to the station from a heavy falling branch or strong winds. If the bridge is overly stressed, it will automatically disconnect and protect the station.  The other end of the cables are attached to the elevator boarding platform at the tree house with miniature turnbuckles for adjusting tension and extension springs to allow for slight motions.  The stainless steel cables are the same 1/32" stainless steel cable used in the funicular. The tree house along with a restaurant, salon, gazebo and lodge now has a new Victorian elevator to travel between levels,  and it really works!


see photos (after Supercar and Trolley) here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jlcarmichael/



Garden Railway Treehouse Remodeled-65.JPG


Garden Railway Treehouse Remodeled-10.JPG


Garden Railway Treehouse Remodeled-31.JPG


Garden Railway Treehouse Remodeled-38.JPG


Garden Railway Treehouse Remodeled-40.JPG


Garden Railway Treehouse Remodeled-41.JPG


Garden Railway Treehouse Remodeled-42.JPG


Garden Railway Treehouse Remodeled-54.JPG


Garden Railway Treehouse Remodeled-59.JPG


Garden Railway Treehouse Remodeled-60.JPG


Garden Railway Treehouse Remodeled-33.JPG


Garden Railway Treehouse Remodeled-56.JPG

Garden Railway Treehouse Remodeled-53.JPG



Garden Railway Treehouse Remodeled-53.JPG

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Fantastic work and atmosphere. So nice to see these small people having a real life and sharing tea.


Thank you for that vision of beauty and fresh air.



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