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HI All

I'm new to this and a little confused. I thought O scale would be the way to go because I can see them. Anyway I didn't know about the 2 rail and 3 rail thing. So my question is . How do I know if I am getting 2 or 3 rail trains and cars ? Also do most of the O scale trains makers trains and cars work together what I mean is can you mix and match them ? O one more thing I bought some real tracks because I thought it would be a good track to start with.

Thanks a lot Stan

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If you are interested in prototypical (real) trains, then you will probably want to look at 2 rail. If you want to pursue the toy side, go 3 rail. Three rail is easier to find than 2 rail, but it's all out there if you look. Your best bet might be to get on you tube and look at both and see which you prefer. There are plenty of videos of each to look at.  2 and 3 rail are for the most part not compatible. This is the readers digest version, but you have to start somewhere.

 

Simon

 

HEY STAN,

 

Three-rail track is unrealistic.  You don't see it on real railroads.

 

Two-rail track is realistic.  You see it on real railroads.

 

So if you want your model railroad to look like a real railroad, then you know which way to go.

 

That's it!

BAD ORDER HAL

 

 

 

Last edited by Former Member
Originally Posted by Bad Order Hal:

 

HEY STAN,

 

Three-rail track is unrealistic.  You don't see it on real railroads.

 

Two-rail track is realistic.  You see it on real railroads.

 

If you want your model railroad to look like a real railroad, you know which way to go.

 

That's it!

BAD ORDER HAL

 

 

 

Aw, Hal....!   There ya go a'gin  Now m' feelin's is hoit!  Why'd ya hafta try 'n make me regrets m' basement full of 3-rail trains????

 

 

 

KD

 

...gonna go pour me 'nuther glass of merlot!

 

 

PS...I just ventures over heah t' "The Dark Side of O" to see if there's any tolerance left!!

 

Nope, not today!

 

 

Last edited by dkdkrd
Originally Posted by dkdkrd:

...gonna go pour me 'nuther glass of merlot!

 

If you're going to drink, at least get a decent brew - Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) aged in bourbon barrels - ~12%

 

.........to see if there's any tolerance left!!

It's well within my NMRA gauge......

He has a legitimate question, but the answer is not here.  A partial answer is the suggestion to buy the OST primer, but the best way is to do that and also buy the equivalent OGR primer.

 

I suggest the following:  hold off, and do not ask us to make the decision for you.  Instead, subscribe to both OST and OGR magazines for a year.  Read each one cover to cover, including the advertisements.  You will then be able to make an intelligent decision - possibly after reading the first pair!

 

Opinion - I have no facts.

Three is where it's at, the third rail is where all the fun is. 2 rail = serious, 3rail = train fun. Don't let these 2 railers convince you theirs is the way to go. If you're into modeling and prototypes and railroad operating then 2 rail is for you if you just like trains and want to have fun building and playing and getting all kinds of neat operating accessories then you need to get the third rail. 

because I can see them

 

Go "G" Gauge, it's very easy to see

 

I'm 3-rail but I've replaced the lobster-claw couplers with Kadee couplers and fixed the pilots on all my engines so they don't swing with the trucks as the engine goes around a curve.  There's another sub-forum called "3 Rail Scale" that uses 3-rail track, but from track level up we try to make things as real looking as we desire.

 

To me (opinion as bob2 says) there's 3 "styles" of modeling:

 

1 - Toy train route using 3-rail track and ready-to-run equipment

 

2 - Semi-protoypical route (3-Rail Scale) using 3-rail track and equipment that comes with more detail or can be modified to have more/better detail

 

3 - Prototypical route (2-rail) using 2-rail track and equipment that comes with more detail or can be modified to have more/better detail

 

If you want to achieve a more scale appearance in your railroad you need to pay attention to every engine and piece of rolling stock you buy.  Most all makers offer different product lines that cover from the toy train to the prototype.

 

It's all fun, just choose which direction you want to go, AFTER reading up on all aspects of O gauge/scale model railroading.

Originally Posted by bob2:

He has a legitimate question, but the answer is not here.  A partial answer is the suggestion to buy the OST primer, but the best way is to do that and also buy the equivalent OGR primer.

 

I suggest the following:  hold off, and do not ask us to make the decision for you.  Instead, subscribe to both OST and OGR magazines for a year.  Read each one cover to cover, including the advertisements.  You will then be able to make an intelligent decision - possibly after reading the first pair!

 

Opinion - I have no facts.

Not a bad suggestion since that will foster an independent process.  I would have suggested an OGR primer (if there is such a thing), but I doubt it would be even handed.

Like many things in life it's a personal choice and no one can answer it for you. But, it sounds like you're a newbie to model trains in general, not just O gauge/scale. If that is the case, just go to any hobby shop and pick up a copy of just about any model train magazine and you will be surprised at how many of your questions are answered. 

 

Butch

 

HEY STAN,

 

Don't let us 2-railers influence you...just do as we advise!

 

After consulting all the O-Gauge/O-Scale Magazines, Primers, and Videos, then come back to what your conscience and your heart tells you that the only way to go for realism is: TWO RAIL!

 

BAD ORDER HAL

 

Last edited by Former Member

I have 3 rail.    I just love the look of "toy trains". If you have any interest in running postwar, then 3 rail for you.  If you want realism, then go two rail.  I may be wrong, but I think there are more things being produced for 3 rail than two.  I know this-if you go to a train show, it will be packed with 3 rail stuff!  

Over the years, I have modeled in most all of the scales from "N" to "G", including forays into narrow gauge such as On3, Sn3, and most recently On30, but never anything in 3 rail up to now. Recently, I have found the "Plug & Play" aspect of recent 3 rail scale and near-scale equipment to be appealing, so my long time dislike of that 3rd rail has diminished somewhat, though I still have little or no interest in conventional 3-rail toy trains that are not scale looking.

 

All of the sizes and gauges I have tried up to now have been fun, and that's the point. If the appearance of that middle rail bothers you greatly, then go to 2-rail. If you can't stand the big clunky bear-claw couplers but can live with the oversized rail and pizza cutter wheels, go Hi-rail or scale 3-rail. If the coupler & wheel appearances don't bother you you, then go 3-rail. It's strictly a matter of personal choice, as long as you are HAVING FUN...

 

Bill in FtL

 

No, you're not wrong, Baemr...there ARE far more trains and accessories being produced for 3-rail than for 2-rail, and there's a good reason for it!

 

Non-discriminating model railroaders with insufficient room for prototypical large radii curves will go for 3-rail.

 

BAD ORDER HAL  [Two-rails to my grave!]

 

          [click to enlarge]

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Last edited by Former Member
Originally Posted by Stan N:

HI All

I'm new to this and a little confused. I thought O scale would be the way to go because I can see them. Anyway I didn't know about the 2 rail and 3 rail thing. So my question is . How do I know if I am getting 2 or 3 rail trains and cars ? Also do most of the O scale trains makers trains and cars work together what I mean is can you mix and match them ? O one more thing I bought some real tracks because I thought it would be a good track to start with.

Thanks a lot Stan

Basically, there is O gauge and O scale. Unfortunately, the two are all-to-often used interchangeably on eBay and other sites.

 

O Scale is the proportion and, since you're coming from H.O., this should be your focus. There are O scale "purists" who, accurately, include the track as part of the equation. Then there are the OS3R (O Scale on 3-Rail)/hi-rail operators like myself (though I also have pure 2-rail equipment.)

 

Since you're starting out, there really is no practical reason you should pick 3-rail over 2-rail unless your space is seriously restricted.

 

Atlas, and Weaver make scale-sized equipment in both 2-rail and 3-rail and it is clearly labeled as such. 2-rail rolling stock will work perfectly on good 2-rail track work, and pretty well on good 3-rail track work (flat-top rail like Atlas, Gargraves, amd MTH ScaleTrax). On 3-rail turnouts, you may have some problems with the frogs on #6 and above or curved turnouts. 3-rail equipment will NOT work on a 2-rail layout.

 

MTH is an oddball in this mix. MTH primarily makes 3-rail equipment. The wild card is that MTH also makes many of its Premier line diesel locomotives with scale wheels (fixed pilots on the diesels.) The fun part here (and I personally love this) is that the locomotives available with scale wheels (and their hi-rail versions) can switch between 2-rail and 3-rail operation and alternate wheelsets are available. Several MTH Steam locomotives are also available with scale wheels and can operate in either 2-rail or 3-rail mode, but don't have interchangeable wheelsets. All MTH rolling stock so far (with a couple of special run exceptions) are hi-rail out of the box, but MTH sells replacement trucks with scale wheels (just did one a few days ago).

 

MTH also ratcheted things up a bit by making their locomotives operable under AC, DC, DCS (MTH Proprietary command system) and DCC (more common in 2-rail operations). I recently got a chance to run one of my favorite diesels under DCC and it worked great right out of the box.

 

The ONE major advantage of 3-rail at this point is space. Everything produced to date to run on 3-rail track will negotiate a 36" radius (O-72 in 3-rail speak). That means you can have that UP Big Boy and run it on 36" radius instead of 72" radius. It will look a bit strange, but hey, fun is fun.

 

The old issues regarding reverse loops, wyes, etc. that gave 3-rail an electrical advantage have pretty much been eliminated with reasonably priced electronic components.

 

If you buy 2-rail scale cars with Kadee couplers, you do have to be mindful of the curve size. You're not going to run an 85-foot passenger car on a 36" mainline curve. But your 60-foot box cars will work fine. My new rolling stock purchases are exclusively 2-rail and I'm converting others even though I run at a 3-rail club. They look better, roll better, and are less prone to false-uncoupling problems. The down side is I have to be a lot more careful when setting up the train due to weight distribution issues.

 

I pretty much concur with the posts above. Do more research, assess your available space (and the type of layout operation you want to do) and the answer will come to you. The bottom line is it's your railroad and you should enjoy yourself.

 

As for me, I live in both worlds for now and I'm having a good time.

 

    Stan, 

      Definitely do some research. If you're new to model railroading then do a lot

    of research. I liked the idea Simon had about checking out some videos on 

    Youtube. There are plenty on both 2 rail and 3 rail. Since this is the 2 rail

    forum here is a 2 rail video that gives you an idea of what's possible. Best

    of luck.

 

          Geoff

 

         http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCo1hVRcICM

 Listen, look at a three rail diesel engine at a hobby store. If the floating pilot with a gap between the steps doesn't bother you:

 If the oversize couplers that are G scale sized doesn't bother you:

 If the huge wheel flanges that can double on Fridays cutting pizza doesn't bother you:

Then buy three rail. Heck they sell curves so sharp you can make a layout on top of your dresser.

I won't mention hiding the middle rail by painting it black!!

 (and I have three rail trains too)

Last edited by Engineer-Joe

 

HEY BOB,

 

I had a Ford in high school too...a 1936 fordor, with 85HP flathead V-8 and mechanical brakes! (Ford didn't get juice brakes until 1939)  The car was the same age as me! (17)

 

I stripped 2nd gear in a drag race and bought a used transmission at a wrecking yard for 8 bucks!  Did the switch myself.

 

Those were the days! (1953)

Bad Order Hal

 

 

Originally Posted by Rail Dawg:

My only observation is there are many folks that convert 3-rail to 2-rail but never the vice-versa.

 

There are those who have gotten away with running 2-rail rolling stock on sufficiently well-constructed 3-rail track.

I myself have considered purchasing and converting some 2-rail interurban equipment (i.e. streetcars on steroids), the biggest obstacle being the complete lack of appropriately sized separate-sale 3-rail power trucks.

 

---PCJ

The price of playing poker in 2-R is large radius curves, because most anything (other than traction) is going to take a 36" radius curve, which means a turnaround curve is going to take a 7'wide space when allowing for equipment clearances. 

 

That's  minimum...a lot of equipment will require a much larger curve, including most steam locomotives. O scale layouts with curve radii of 60" and 72" are not uncommon.

 

Pretty much everything in 3-R will run on a 36" radius curve (072), and many fairly large steam locomotives with go around an 054 diameter curve, which is 27" radius. 

 

That's the big difference--3-R is more space friendly than 2-R, and that's why a lot of people put up with the three rail track.

It can be argued that there is nothing in 2-R that can't be converted to run on smaller radius curves, but be prepared to tinker in order to make it happen, and tinkering with an expensive 2-R locomotive can be a bit intimidating For many of us....

 

Jeff C

Originally Posted by Stan N:

HI All

I'm new to this and a little confused. I thought O scale would be the way to go because I can see them. Anyway I didn't know about the 2 rail and 3 rail thing. So my question is . How do I know if I am getting 2 or 3 rail trains and cars ? Also do most of the O scale trains makers trains and cars work together what I mean is can you mix and match them ? O one more thing I bought some real tracks because I thought it would be a good track to start with.

Thanks a lot Stan

This is your very first post on the forum? You might want to start out by telling us what experience you have in model railroading so far. And tell us something about your available space and budget for a possible model railroad project. All very relevant.

 

If you have any other model railroading experience, it would be useful to outline that for a starting point.

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