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Curves turn me on, especially 031 curves and O Gauge trains that run well through them.

For many years I had 027 until about 20 years ago when I switched to O Gauge, which I much prefer. I love the sturdiness of Lionel O Gauge tubular track, and the look and operation of independently powered 022 switch tracks with its 031 curves.

Having opted for a long and narrow layout (35 feet by 3 to 4 feet) with 2 main lines and reverse loops at the ends of each main line, the sharpness of 031 curves works for me. The layout's long and narrow design gives the impression that the trains are going somewhere, not just around in a circle.

Although many model railroaders prefer wider curves so they can run bigger engines, which I totally understand, I believe there are still many contrarians like me who are mainly into Postwar, and who are content with its 031 curves.

If all or part of your layout has 031 or sharper curves, what locomotives and trains do you think run best through those tight curves?

One of my favorites is the Lionel Postwar 646 (or 2046) Steam Engine. Here it is pulling a bunch of Postwar oil tanker cars:

No question in my mind that the 646 Steamer was made to run great through 031 curves. It's Magnetraction and heft make it a very good puller through those curves, and I love the smell of its puffs of smoke combined with ozone.

If you have 031 curves, tell us all what you think of them and what trains you have that run well through them. A picture or video is worth a thousand words, IMO. Arnold

 

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D500 posted:

I'd say those were more 072 than 031.

O36 seems more appropriate.

As to the question of what to run on O31 curves, I generally just use it for handcars, small motorized units (like snowplows, speeders, gang cars, burro cranes, etc)

While I've certainly got some PW style engines that may navigate O31, I also run larger stuff, so I wouldn't create a special loop just to run the smaller stuff, I'd just run on one of the larger loops.

Actually after thinking about it a little more, I did one time have an O31 dogbone that I ran elevated at the back of a layout in my old apartment years ago.  I ran some MTH RailKing Subway sets on that, IIRC.

-Dave

Last edited by Dave45681

Good stuff @Arnold D. Cribari ! Love the layout and really love how you filled in the space between the reverse loops. I have a 9.5 by 3.5 and I thought that was too little to work with(currently expanding by adding an new table to make an L-shaped layout).

Up until now, I’ve stuck strictly with O-31- once I make the above update I’ll go to some O-36 or O-42. I bought starter loops of each for future expansion when I found deals on them. 

Anyway, to answer your original question. I have an MTH Protosound AEM-7 that is 13.5’’, while it has taken in damage to inner part of the body because it requires O-42(yes the minimum actually matches up this time) it isn’t noticeable from the outside and I’ve dealt with it. Regardless, it looks really great carrying my passenger consist around O-31 curves. 

That said, surprisingly my most recent acquistion( Lionel Amtrak TMCC Dash-9) which is 4 inches longer somehow ALSO looks good going around the curves. A lot of that, however, I feel is likely due to finer speed control.

In terms of postwar conventional, it’s funny you mention the” 646(2046)” because my grandfather’s 2056 looks AWESOME around  those curves! Love running his original set.

For prewar/tinplate, none of the engines that I have are that terribly long(Marc CV, Ives 3250s) my FAVORITE to go around the O-31 curve, and I like diesel better than steam, is definitely my 203 B6 switcher- when it works lol.

If you want to talk about ones that don’t look great going around O-31 curves- Budd RDCs, at least in my own opinion. And I LOVE my RMT Buddy’s & my Lionel post war and post war celebration Budd cars, the later being clearly heftier in width and slight longer longer in length).

Again, nice layout, I hope to get to that level some day!!

Arnold D. Cribari posted:

Getting back to trains, with my 031 curves I like bigger locomotives, just not too big. This Lionel Postwar Berkshire 736, like the Hudson 646, was made to run great on 031 curves:

20190618_183154

Here it is in action:

Arnold

Holy Toledo, Arnold- this is all in that 35 by 3-4??? Color me doubly impressed because as I was  typing my last point you posted that. Those of us who can master that type of wiring, control, operation, and look is an amazing skill you appeared to have mastered. Myself- hey I’m getting there ha! But one day. After getting my layout settled at the size stated in my last post(it’s been over a year- have taken out a pair of switches connecting the loops since), I started to focus on accessories, then acquiring things that I would’ve used from the start on my current layout for the upcoming expansion. Hopefully, when I add the L piece on, it has the quality of your layout.

Thanks, Steve. My 35 by 3 to 4 foot layout has been a project I have worked on, off and on, since the mid 1990s, so it's over 20 years old, though I built most of it very intensely in about 6 months. It goes around 3 walls in each of the 2 rooms in my basement: the playroom and the laundry/furnace room.

If you keep at it, little by little, you can accomplish more than you can imagine, over time. Some of our Forum friends have spectacular layouts because of this.

I think my long and narrow switching layout with 8 sidings is a pretty good design for a modest-sized layout. I only half a half basement, not a full basement under the entire house, which I wish I had.

It's such a luxury for a model railroader to have a great big space for the layout. Arnold

Oh, by the way, a big advantage for having 031 curves is that they tend to be very affordable now, especially Lionel Postwar 031 tubular track and 022 switches, because so many hobbyists are getting rid of their Postwar 031s and 022s, in order to have wider and more modern curves and switches.

For a while, I was like a kid in a candy store, getting my used Postwar track and switches dirt cheap at train shows. I believe it is still very affordable at train shows and LHSs. Arnold

Last edited by Arnold D. Cribari

Arnold,

I'm always impressed with your layout, irrespective of the O-31 curves. You have an interesting track plan, multiple tracks and sidings, lots of switches, long straights, reverse loops, lots of accessories, a baseball stadium, many little people, and many types of rolling stock. Very creative - like your Forum posts. All in all, watching trains on your O-31 layout is more interesting than on either of my two loop-type layouts that are O-54 and O 72.

MELGAR

Last edited by MELGAR

I have O96, O72, O54, O42, & O31 to use on this new layout of mine, I like the O96 & O72 for my passenger cars and Atlas 33,000 GL tank cars. just looks more real to me as they don't over hang a lot. O54 is fine to me for the 2500 series passenger cars I have. The rest of my freight and all can run O42 or O31 and look okay to me. I prefer wider curves when I can. I'm getting ready to build a layout and I have 12' x 16' to play with. I have one more 4' x 8' sheet of 3/4" plywood to put in place and I will be ready to put down the carpet I bought ( basically a tan earth tone ) and then the fun will start. I have about twenty O22 switches to work with, Some how I will work it out lol. 

Last edited by rtraincollector
scale rail posted:

Arnold, what percentage of the layout is 3ft and 4ft? Why did you have to go to the three ft. section. Don

The width of most of the layout, which runs along the walls, is 4 feet. But some sections are between 3 and 3 and one-half feet in width. The sections of shorter width are about 25 % of the layout, and were the result of smaller pieces of plywood that remained when I finished building the layout. Arnold

Last edited by Arnold D. Cribari

So I figured I would ask in an older post that Arnold created since its been idle for a while. Hope you dont mind.

I have a layout that has o31 curves. I recently purchased my first Legacy model that is the new Camelback and I absolutely love it. It is o31 capable so that was the reason I jumped on it because there are not many steam legacy models that run those tight curves.

My layout only has one half circle of o31. It does have an exiting opposite curve that I guess is called an "S" curve. The other areas of o31 are only quarter (2 pieces) turns that go back to straights.

I was wondering if I could get more legacy models that call for o36 or o42 that will run on my layout if I change my half circle with the exiting "S" curve to a wider radius track.

I was thinking that the quarter turn o31 sections I have would handle models that require larger radius curves since they are only quarter turns and not a full half circle.

Any input would be appreciated. I am hooked on legacy now having this Camelback. I love the whistle steam.

Also I know this has been asked before but I was wondering if Lionel states a minimum operating curve of 036 because that is the smallest they produce. Could these o36 requirements work on o31 but they do not mention o31 because Lionel does not produce o31. I know they mention operating requirements of o31 currently but I figured that was because of MTH. Now that Lionel is not affiliated with MTH I wonder if they will stop stating o31 minimum requirements and default to o36.

Brad

Lionel does make 031 curves in FasTrack, they come in 45 and 11.25 degree arcs.

http://www.lionel.com/products...urved-track-6-37103/

and

http://www.lionel.com/products...urved-track-6-81662/

They also make O31 FasTrack switches.

To answer your question about running locos on curves that are smaller than they're designed for, maybe or maybe not.  Others here have previously said that it sometimes works and sometimes not.

Last edited by SteveH
@SteveH posted:

Lionel does make 031 curves in FasTrack, they come in 45 and 11.25 degree arcs.

http://www.lionel.com/products...urved-track-6-37103/

and

http://www.lionel.com/products...urved-track-6-81662/

They also make O31 FasTrack switches.

Thank you for that information. I did not realize lionel offered o31 with their track. I do not use any switches.

Last edited by B rad
@SteveH posted:

Lionel does make 031 curves in FasTrack, they come in 45 and 11.25 degree arcs...  They also make O31 FasTrack switches.

@B rad posted:

Thank you for that information. I did not realize lionel offered o31 in anything. I do not use any switches.

To remain consistent with FasTrack geometry, and in a departure from tubular "O" geometry, FasTrack O31 really is 15.5" radius, with an overall diameter including ties & roadbed of 35".

"O" is 14.14" radius, so there may be some wiggle-room on what will run on the FasTrack version.

Last edited by ADCX Rob

Brad, since you have 031 track on your layout and Legacy locomotives are not cheap, my recommendation is to only purchase  Legacy locomotives that are 031 capable, and not take a chance on those in which the minimum radius is higher.

I have a Legacy NY Central 10 Wheeler with whistle steam (my only Legacy) and 031 is the minimum radius. It runs fine through my 031 curves. I even have 031 S curves (adjoining 022 switch tracks) and my Legacy navigates the S curves just fine. Arnold

Brad, since you have 031 track on your layout and Legacy locomotives are not cheap, my recommendation is to only purchase  Legacy locomotives that are 031 capable, and not take a chance on those in which the minimum radius is higher.

I have a Legacy NY Central 10 Wheeler with whistle steam (my only Legacy) and 031 is the minimum radius. It runs fine through my 031 curves. I even have 031 S curves (adjoining 022 switch tracks) and my Legacy navigates the S curves just fine. Arnold

Thank you Arnold. I have been looking at the newer 10 wheeler with bluetooth. I have heard others state they require o36 curves even though I remember lionels website stated o31. If your 10 wheeler operates well on o31 that gives me much hope for sure.

Brad

@ADCX Rob posted:

To remain consistent with FasTrack geometry, and in a departure from tubular "O" geometry, FasTrack O31 really is 15.5" radius, with an overall diameter including ties & roadbed of 35".

"O" is 14.14" radius, so there may be some wiggle-room on what will run on the FasTrack version.

Rob, since I know how much you like accuracy, I thought I'd share this with you and anyone else who may be interested.  On FasTrack the outside diameter including roadbed is 3 1/2" inches wider than the center rail diameter.  Here are the real world measurements I have taken of actual FasTrack and other bits of related info about FT curves:

FasTrack Curve Specs

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I run several 031 locos, mostly diesels, on 027. Most run fine but some clearance issues have been dealt with.

I'm considering the Camelback LIRR version. Steamers are less forgiving than diesels so I'm still on the fence.

Although the fence is quite rotten and I may fall off soon.....🤣🤣🤣

I currently run O27 track.  I bought four #1122 switches before I learned about O gauge track and O22 switches.  All future additions will be O gauge track and O22 Switches.  Live and hopefully learn.  My LC+ Mikado runs fine on everything.  I'm starting to feel some prewar fever coming on.  Don't tell my wife!

Bill, my first layout had mainly 1121 and 1122 switches with O27 track. I started accumulating K-Line O42 switches which have independent power, not track power. New layout uses 42", 54", and 72" curves in lower-profile O27 track, just a little O27 track in the yard. Not trying to talk you out of switching to O gauge, but there are alternatives to throwing out all your O27 track.

@RSJB18 posted:

I run several 031 locos, mostly diesels, on 027. Most run fine but some clearance issues have been dealt with.

I'm considering the Camelback LIRR version. Steamers are less forgiving than diesels so I'm still on the fence.

Although the fence is quite rotten and I may fall off soon.....🤣🤣🤣

I will say at medium + speeds my Camelback front truck has derailed coming out of my o31 "S" curve. Only once though and could just need a good breaking in period or lubing. Everything seems built correctly on the locomotive. I'm a slow speed runner so not an issue for me but something to think about if your considering one for o27 curves.

Brad

Curves turn me on, especially 031 curves and O Gauge trains that run well through them.

For many years I had 027 until about 20 years ago when I switched to O Gauge, which I much prefer. I love the sturdiness of Lionel O Gauge tubular track, and the look and operation of independently powered 022 switch tracks with its 031 curves.

Having opted for a long and narrow layout (35 feet by 3 to 4 feet) with 2 main lines and reverse loops at the ends of each main line, the sharpness of 031 curves works for me. The layout's long and narrow design gives the impression that the trains are going somewhere, not just around in a circle.

Although many model railroaders prefer wider curves so they can run bigger engines, which I totally understand, I believe there are still many contrarians like me who are mainly into Postwar, and who are content with its 031 curves.

If all or part of your layout has 031 or sharper curves, what locomotives and trains do you think run best through those tight curves?

One of my favorites is the Lionel Postwar 646 (or 2046) Steam Engine. Here it is pulling a bunch of Postwar oil tanker cars:

No question in my mind that the 646 Steamer was made to run great through 031 curves. It's Magnetraction and heft make it a very good puller through those curves, and I love the smell of its puffs of smoke combined with ozone.

If you have 031 curves, tell us all what you think of them and what trains you have that run well through them. A picture or video is worth a thousand words, IMO. Arnold



Arnold....another aspect that makes O31 curves great is your choice of the 646..... the 646/2046/2056 was a well-engineered loco and when properly maintained (like yours are, never disappoints!

Peter

I love o gauge trains mostly for the nostalgia. Nothing is more nostalgic to me than Lionel tubular 031 o gauge and 022 switches. My layout even has 027 for the inner loops. Reminds me of my childhood building floor layouts under my bed and everywhere! I love my Lionel f3s and 726,736 steamers on my 031. My 675s get a good bit of run time as well. Lionel 2037s and alco fa do great on 027 track and switches paired with the 1940s and early 1950s Pre 6464 rolling stock.

dogdoc

@B rad posted:

I will say at medium + speeds my Camelback front truck has derailed coming out of my o31 "S" curve. Only once though and could just need a good breaking in period or lubing. Everything seems built correctly on the locomotive. I'm a slow speed runner so not an issue for me but something to think about if your considering one for o27 curves.

Brad

Thanks for the info. I also run at slow speeds but do have a back to back set of switches but they are 042 so it should be OK. I need to stop in at Trainland one day and see what I want to do.

Bob

031 curves allowed me to add three rail to my 2 rail layout.  The only space available to add a right of way was out side of my 0144 two rail curves.  So any 3 rail trains would be running on a 0156 centerline.  Nice!

Problem:  No place to go.  W/O the small curve loops at each end there would be no 3 rail.   So I am using MTH Rail King locomotives to run along 58' of walls on very wide curves then disappear into yet to be build mountains on eased tight curves.

IMG_8803South loopIMG_8682 [2)North loopIMG_8846Pop up access inside mountainIMG_8850Frame work and wiring

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All of the curves in my layout are 031, due to size issues in my layout.  Good enough, . . . but not great.

I've had larger modern engines slow down considerably on these curves, which I just hate because I only run conventional and have to keep nursing the throttle.

And with the S curves, and any new locomotives, the stiff new couplers throw the first car off the track for months, unless I strongly intervene and start bending or weakening the coupler springs.  This forces me to run a really heavy car behind the locomotive, which really restricts the remaining number of cars that can be pulled.

I tried to put 042 curves on the outer ends of my main oval loop, but there was not enough room to put the track switches into them, to create my interior runs.

So, the 031 curves are adequate, . . . but I'm definitely not in love with them.

Mannyrock

Our under the Christmas tree layout uses mostly O-36 Fastrack curves for the double loop under the tree (think figure 8 folded over on itself), but an "extension" that runs out from under the tree and back uses the O-31 Fastrack curves due to space limitations on the return section at the end of the extension.  This works fine since the Christmas train is a "traditional sized" Lionel Disney Christmas train (0-8-0 engine, 6 cars and a caboose.  I did run a few laps around with the Disney "polar express" sized Berkshire and it handled the O-31 with no problems - but I then changed back to the red 0-8-0 since it looked more "Christmas" (red engine vs black engine).

The Fastrack looks nice, and, for temporary layouts like the under the Christmas tree, it stays together better, but sometimes I do miss the old O-gauge track.

My layouts have always featured 027 track - and 027 curves. I always liked the lower profile of 027 track, its ready availability, and general inexpensiveness.  It works for me because I have always run short trains featuring short-wheel-base engines. Past layouts have featured interurbans and trolleys, Thomas the Tank Engine's branch line, and the current Ivor the Engine theme.

@Mannyrock posted:

All of the curves in my layout are 031, due to size issues in my layout.  Good enough, . . . but not great.

I've had larger modern engines slow down considerably on these curves, which I just hate because I only run conventional and have to keep nursing the throttle.

Mannyrock

Mannyrock, to ease yourself into speed control, you might try a LionChief Plus or LionChief Plus 2.0 locomotive. All you need to do is set your transformer at 17 or 18 volts, control the speed of the train with the dedicated remote, universal remote or smartphone app if it has Bluetooth, and no special wiring is involved.

That is how I got started with speed control. Then, with a little help from my Forum friends and Barry's DCS book, I installed DCS to run MTH Proto 2 and 3 engines. Dcs does involve installing a TIU and special wiring. Arnold

Last edited by Arnold D. Cribari
@Mannyrock posted:

All of the curves in my layout are 031, due to size issues in my layout.  Good enough, . . . but not great.

I've had larger modern engines slow down considerably on these curves, which I just hate because I only run conventional and have to keep nursing the throttle.

You can minimize that by adding cruise control to locomotives with DC can motors.

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